Not private, not public, but common: the experience of the Italian consortia for water management

Not private, not public, but common: the experience of the Italian consortia for water management

When it comes to discussing the role of civil society in water management, the experience of the Italian “consorzi” (consortia) is worth of attention. Similar examples, representing the material implementation of the horizontal subsidiarity, result in being particularly successful in cases of small communities with a high degree of social cohesion. However, its applicability in medium to large contexts becomes more problematic[1] because, as “The Tragedy of the Commons” theory reminds[2], a shared power of a large group on water is likely to generate an uncontrolled exploitation of the resource. As a matter of fact, the wider becomes the community of reference, the least the inhabitants feel themselves bound by the limits necessary for a proper common governance of the resource and the more they are tempted to waste it. This risk makes often preferable solutions like the exclusive control of the State on water or privatization of the water system[3].

In this contribution, the “consortium approach” to water management is presented as a successful experience in the Italian scenario. The consortium model consists of the entrustment of the service to cooperatives where users directly participate. Although this approach has been limitedly adopted in Italy, it is growing in other European countries[4]. Efficient examples can be found in Holland – the Waterschapenn – and in Wales – for example, Welsh Water.

These solutions share the feature to be an alternative to the direct assumption of the water service’s responsibility by the State. The key advantage here identified is that the service is directly supervised by the citizens, which are incentivized to participate in water management.

For the Italian case, a relevant example is represented by the Consorzi di Bonifica and the Consorzi di sviluppo industrialeThe first entities mainly operate in the agricultural sector, although there are hypothesis in which they have also the task to manage public services and to take care of water supply infrastructures. The second bodies are located in industrial areas and manage not only the industrial infrastructures, but also water treatment plants, acting in synergy with the authorities entrusted with the water service[5].

Specifically, it is noteworthy the experience of the small-sized municipalities in the northern part of Italy, where a solution neither privatenor publicbut common has been adopted for water management. For example, in the Oltrepò Pavese, the 24 hamlets of Varzi have joined their efforts to govern the water service through a communitarian approach. A similar solution has been chosen by the communities of Mezzana Montaldo in the Alto Biellese and of Cerveno in the Alta Val Camonica. Furthermore, the experience of the Consorzio acque delta ferrarese (now transformed in a stock company under the name of C.A.D.F. Spa) is particularly timely as it represents an example of water management in common through a consortium created in reaction and opposition to the HERA model, the PPP dominant in the area.

These consortia fight to defend their autonomy; they are reluctant to give away their know-how and resources to the private market and resist to the pressure of political interests. Indeed, these consortia have to resist the centripetal pressure of the State which, for economic and logistical reasons, tend to consolidate them in a few ATOs (Ambiti Territoriali Ottimali), which arguably is the first step which will lead to the conferral of the ATO to private operators[6].

It could be affirmed that there are certain similarities between this communitarian approach and the approach adopted by the medieval municipalities in which the public goods, like the woods, the fields, the springs etc. were managed in common. This ancient solution might result in being an efficient alternative in a moment of public utilities’ crisis. An antique practice can be the answer to modern difficulties of the actual society.

Moreover, the consortium approach represents the fulfillment of Article 43 of the Italian Constitution which states that essential public services can be conferred to workers or users communities  (the case here analyzed) in order to better represent the general interest. Nevertheless, numerous challenges hinder this approach, for example the scarcity of financial resources that make for the consortia hard to cover the service’s expenses.

In conclusion, it can be argued that these alternative solutions demonstrate that – in certain instances – a communitarian management of the water resource could be more efficient than a rigid assignment of property rights to private operators or to the State. Nevertheless, the outcome of the “in common solution” depends on the awareness of the relative community, on its willingness to participate, and on its capacity to respect common rules.

 

[1] Interview with Andrei Jouravlev at the Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe – CEPAL.

[2] Hardin, G.. 1968. The Tragedy of the Commons. Science, New Series, Vol. 162, No. 3859, pp. 1243-1248. Available at http://www.geo.mtu.edu/~asmayer/rural_sustain/governance/Hardin%201968.pdf.

[3] Segerfeldt, F. 2011.  Acqua in vendita? (2003), trad.it. Torino: IBL, p.52.

[4] Santi, F. 2011. Amministrazione e controlli. Società di persone. Imprese gestite da enti collettivi. Consorzi. Gruppi europei di interesse economico. Imprese Famigliari, Associazioni in partecipazione. Padova: Cedam.

[5] Massarutto, A. 2011. Privati dell’Acqua? Bologna: Il Mulino, p.115.

[6] Ambiti Territoriali Ottimali are territorial subdivisions for water management and were created by the Law “Galli” of 1994. Legge 5 gennaio 1994 n.36, G.U. n.14 del 19-1-1994.  


Il presente articolo illustra l’esperienza dei consorzi italiani per la gestione del sistema idrico. La relazione di proporzionalità inversa tra la dimensione della comunità di riferimento e il grado di riuscita della gestione in comune della risorsa idrica viene discussa. Alcuni esempi in Europa ed in Italia di consorzi di gestione in comune dell’acqua vengono presentati. Segue una riflessione sulle sfide che il mercato e gli interessi politici presentano all’approccio comunitario. In conclusione, si auspica l’adozione e la preservazione di tale approccio, tuttavia tenendo presente il necessario sussistere di alcune condizioni, come per esempio la capacità della collettività di auto-porsi limiti e regole.

 

LabGov EDU’s presentation day

LabGov EDU’s presentation day

Friday, October 6th, LabGov EDU held the first 2017-2018 meeting, which main aim was to present the year’s team to the labgovers and to inspire them with its mission and objectives.

The meeting was introduced by Chiara de Angelis, LabGov EDU’s coordinator, who explained to the class the past projects and future objectives. The best way was to tell the experience of those who have already participated to the course such as Elena De Nictolis, currently Labgov EDU’s scientific coordinator, who suggested to enjoy this experience, Alessandro Antonelli and Paola Todisco, LabGov EDU’s tutors, who talked about their experience and how engaging it was.

Soon with the students we decided to move outside, in the community garden, to show that LabGov is a research-action project and that they will be involved a lot in practical activities.

The session in the community garden begun with the presentation of the new labgovers, who talked about their passions and expectations, skills and attitudes.

When the students finished to introduce themselves, Chiara de Angelis explained the rules of the course, that contemplates 50 hours “in class” (workshop and co-working sessions), and 50 hours of on field activities (community gardening and teamwork). About the community gardening, LabGov’s expert Alessandra Noce illustrated her experience. She has devoted particular attention to her experience in the district of Centocelle and the Co-Roma project. In Centocelle the association “the happy island” (“L’isole felice“) was born, and she explained ahow through it she has been able to give a turn to the district.

Then, some “ex labgovers” from last year’s course were invited to “join the circle” and to tell their recent experience with LabGov, why and how they liked it and in which way they decided to collaborate with the team even after they finished the course.

 

The meeting was concluded by Prof. Iaione, expert of urban politics and LabGov’s co-founder. He explained how Labgov is a place where everyone is able to express freely and to experiment own limits collaborating with other people.

ICity Lab 2017 in Milan

ICity Lab 2017 in Milan

On October 24th and 25th, Milan is going to host ICityLab 2017 “Towards a sustainable city”, the annual FPA meeting focused on cities, sponsored by the Municipality of Milan.

The opening of the meeting will be dedicated to the presentation of ICity Rate, the first FPA annual report that draws a ranking of Italian Smart Cities in relation twith the objectives of sustainable development proposed by the ONU 2030 Agenda.The report will help us to understand where are we in relation to those objectives: the results of the research will be presented during the first meeting, held in the innovative spaces of BASE Milano, on Tuesday, October 24th from 10 AM.

Gianni Dominici, FPA General Director, explains that Milan has benn chosen because it is actually the city that is working more than the others in the logic of an “urban lab“, focusing on all the actors of the city.

The program provides 40 sessions in two days: conventions, labs and working tables where local entities, public administrations, innovative entreprises, local actors, the third sector and representatives of the active citizenship will participate actively. The themes of the events will focus on policies and platforms for civic participation and civic crowdfunding, tools for urban regeneration and re-use of public spazes, digital innovation for the city, the new borders of 4.0 manifacture, big data and IOT, participatory budgenting and so on.

LabGov’s co-founder Christian Iaione is going to attend the meeting, and in particular:
– the convention dedicated to “Regenerating the cities: a national perspective“. The focus is going to be on the national and international measures taken by the Italian government and the EU to answer the local needs of a participated solution to the re-use of spaces. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, 25th from 9.30 AM to 11.30 AM, in Sala 2;
– the convention on “Innovative and circular Procurements“, fundamental elements when speaking about innovation processes and urban Living Labs. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, 25th from 11.45 AM to 13.45 AM, in Sala 1

The full program of the event is available on the official website: http://icitylab2017.eventifpa.it/ 


Milano ospiterà il 24 e 25 ottobre ICityLab 2017, “Verso una città sostenibile”,  l’appuntamento nazionale sulle città organizzato da FPA, quest’anno con il patrocinio del Comune di Milano.

Il programma dell’evento è disponibile a questo link: http://icitylab2017.eventifpa.it/

 

Social Street: different directions towards commons’ management of public spaces

Social Street: different directions towards commons’ management of public spaces

Credits: pictures from http://www.socialstreet.it

Four years ago, in September 2013, the Facebook group Residenti in Via Fondazza – Bologna was born: after a fast growth of its members and thank to a strong mediatic interest, the group triggered the Social Street phenomenon. The Social Street is a form of neighbourhood communities, whose purpose is to «promote socialization between neighbours in the same street in order to build relationships, to interchange needs, to share expertise and knowledges, to implement common interest projects, with common benefits from a closer social interaction […] It is a no-profit activity with social purpose. Social Street is not pursuing any political, religious, ideological view. It brings people together with the sole criterion of the proximity between area residents»[1].

Indeed, since every group is organized around a specific urban area – street, square, park, part of neighbourhood – the territory takes on strong importance, because it becomes the basis for the construction of a shared identity among Social Street members. These ones share, moreover, three main values:

  • Sociality;
  • Gratuitousness;
  • Inclusion.

The sociality, as well as being the primary need from which the experience was born, also becomes the most important goal to reach. All the initiatives organized have the single purpose to stimulate citizens in socialising and participating in common projects. Semantically the gift implies gratitude and allows to activate virtuous circles of reciprocity and trust[2]; in addition, every donated goods and services implies a bonding value[3]. Lastly, the access to Social Street is open to everyone for total participation, regardless any ethnical, political or religious differences.

Currently there are 397 Social Street in Italy and 8 abroad – Portugal, Netherlands, Poland, US, Canada, Brasil and New Zealand. In Italy they spread more in the North and gradually less in the Centre-South of the country: Milan 86, Bologna 67, Rome 45, Palermo 21 (data are updated on 13/10/2017). Among all neighbourhood groups there is a huge diversity due to:

  • geographical position;
  • collocation within cities;
  • birth year;
  • type of activities;
  • internal/external governance.

Here what I want to focus on is the external governance, meaning the relational network established by every Social Street with other socio-political subjects of the territory, such as the Municipality, the local administrative institutions and any other kind of associations belonging to civil society. From the beginning Social Street groups chose different approach to deal with this issue. The website, opened by the first Social Street’s founders, underlines that reaching the goal of sociality does not require funding, private spaces to be rent or any formal collaborations with municipalities. Therefore some group decide to follow strictly these guidelines and maintain just an informal dialogue with other urban actors. The fear to be exploited by public administration and the will not to be identified as a possible solution to local collective problems affect this choice as well. On the contrary, other groups that engage in urban regeneration or participatory projects feel the necessity to collaborate closely with public administrations, sometimes even applying for common projects with other civil society actors.

The structure arising from these practices recall the concept of multi-level governance, namely new forms of state power organization based on a double process: an increase in the distribution of power between different levels of government and the creation of policy making coalitions that only in part consist of representatives of the state, opening the participation to private and civil actors[4]. These network-based forms of governance, though, do not always have codified rules and regulations that shape or define participation and identify the exact domains or arenas of power. On the one hand, such absence of codification potentially permits socially innovative forms of organisation and of governing; on the other hand, it also opens up a vast terrain of contestation and potential conflict[5]. The innovation occurs when bottom-linked governance is achieved, that is when bottom-up initiatives combine with top-down policies, including alternative mechanisms of negotiation between various groups and networks, potentially empowering local government and embracing who disagrees with mainstream policy formulation and who presents alternative creative strategies[6]. In Italy, already in 2001, the constitutional reform of Title V – Article 118 – defined the principle of horizontal subsidiarity, underlining the support that State, regions and municipalities must give to the free exercise of general interest activities by citizens as individual and as organizations. Moreover, in 2014 the City of Bologna implemented the Regulation on civic collaboration for the urban commons, that allows to establish collaborations between local governments and citizens in order to care, re-generate and manage urban commons, tangible and intangible, functional to the individual and collective wellbeing.

Going back to Social Streets, there are many examples of both choices.

The first Social Street, Residenti in Via Fondazza, strongly claims its independence from every type of stable and formalized relationship with the public administration. This choice, nevertheless, does not prevent its members from organizing many activities and events for the realization of which they regularly ask for permissions about public spaces’ use to the City of Bologna. One of the services that this group has implemented is a system of bike sharing, after the request to the public administration to install more bicycle parking spots. Some residents have offered unused bicycles to the neighbours; now these bicycle are identified by a signboard saying that they belong to the Social Street. When one of the members needs a bicycle, he/she can directly ask for the key to the greengrocer of Via Fondazza, use the bicycle until he/she needs it and bring it back to the square at the end.

Credits: picture from the Facebook group “Residenti in via Fondazza – Bologna”

From three years, Via Fondazza is also the location of Muri Di Versi, an event of poetry, music and culture aiming to animate the surrounding area and to invite everyone to socialise exchanging every existing type of art.

Credits: picture from the Facebook group “Residenti in Via Fondazza – Bologna”

Similarly, one of the Social Streets in Verona, Residenti in Via Venti Settembre, refused the Municipality request to work closely for drawing a call for new Social Street creation. Furthermore, even if the members adopted a garden placed along the street and the small building inside it as location for their weekly meetings, taking care of both regularly, they prefer to ask the City for permission about public space use each time, instead of setting a permanent collaboration.

Credits: picture from Facebook group “Residenti in via Venti Settembre – Verona – Social Street”

Opposite attitude characterizes decisions taken by other groups. Another Social Street of Bologna, Residenti in Via Duse, was the first group of citizens to sign a collaboration pact with the Municipality through the Regulation mentioned above. Thanks to this partnership, citizens have obtained the possibility to use and take care of a public notice board, otherwise left unused, for advertising their activities/events/projects and for exchanging useful information. Moreover, they managed to associate with other civil actors active in the same urban area, such as a neighbourhood committee and a cooperative of architects, in order to develop together participatory projects and to rent an indoor space where to gather in.

Credits: picture from Facebook group “Residenti in Via Duse e dintorni Bologna – Social Street”

Similar is the case of Residenti in Via San Pio X, Social Street in Trento, where the members, animated by strong interest in networking with the local area and in spreading a conception of common management for public spaces, are collaborating with public institutions and many associations and schools. They took care of regenerating a public wall along the street; since one year and a half they garden regularly local flowerbeds; a notice board and a book-crossing library have been installed. Besides, the Social Street implemented a project within schools, spreading among students the idea of active citizenship and of common responsibility towards the local territory.

Credits: picture from Facebook group “Residenti in via San Pio X e dintorni Trento – Social Street”

Preferring to avoid the use of money, other Social Streets simply signed the collaboration pact with their own Municipality: it is the case of Residenti in Via Pitteri, in Ferrara, for example, where members, among many other activities, take care of a little urban area and a park, receiving in exchange from the City the material to keep it clean and the maintenance necessary for structures.

Credits: picture from Facebook group “Residenti in via Pitteri e dintorni – a Ferrara”

In conclusion, Social Streets can take different directions when they network within the city. This does not mean though that the groups, not willing to establish collaborations, are less careful about the local territory or about collective needs, but it only means that the latter are diverse in every context. Different are also the population living in a specific area, services offered by public institutions or third sector, the geographical configuration of the space. Therefore, it is unreasonable to identify the most efficient practice, rather it is important not to forget an analysis of geographical, social, economic and political aspects of local contexts, considering the path-dependence rooted in every Social Street and, generally, in every bottom-up movement.

 


Il fenomeno Social Street ha appena compiuto quattro anni dalla nascita del primo gruppo di residenti. Dopo una breve introduzione riguardo ai principali valori alla base dell’idea, in questa riflessione si vuole portare l’attenzione sulla differenza che caratterizza i vari gruppi. In particolare, i diversi approcci con cui ogni Social Street si rapporta alla pubblica amministrazione e agli attori di terzo settore, delineando diversi assetti di governance.

[1] http://www.socialstreet.it/

[2] Riccardo Prandini, 1998, Le radici fiduciarie del legame sociale, Milano: Franco Angeli.

[3] Jacques T. Godbout and Alain C. Caillè, 1998, The World of the Gift, Canada; McGillQueen University’s Press.

[4] Pradel M, Garcìa M. & Eizaguirre S., 2013, Theorizing multi-level governance in social innovation dynamics. In: Moulaert F., MacCallum D., Mehmood A. & Hamdouch Abdelillah (Eds.), The International Handbook on Social Innovation. Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research, pp. 155-168, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

[5] Swyngedouw E., 2005, Governance Innovation and The Citizen: The Janus Face of Governace-beyond-the-state, Urban Studies, 42 (11), 1991-2006.

[6] Eizaguirre S, Pradel M., Terrones A., Matinez-Celorrio X., Garcìa M., 2012, Multilevel Governance and Social Cohesion: Bringing Back Conflict in Citizenship Practice, Urban Studies, 49 (9), 1999-2016.

Urban commons initiatives in the city of Ghent: a Commons Transition Plan by Bauwens

Urban commons initiatives in the city of Ghent: a Commons Transition Plan by Bauwens

Credits: picture from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:In_Ghent,_Belgium_J1.jpg

 

 

Commons represents an issue which has been subject of many studies and discussions. LabGov used to deal with the topic of the commons and its co-founders themselves (Prof. Sheila Foster and Prof. Christian Iaione) talk of  “The City as a Commons”.

Today, indeed, we witness a rise of commons-oriented civic initiatives as a result of a growing inadequacy of Market and State. A commons can be intended as a shared resource co-governed or co-owned by its user community according to their rules and norms. In both Bollier, Bauwens and Helfrich’ opinion there is no commons without commoning, namely without active co-production and self-governance.

A commons emerges from the dynamic interaction of three related aspects: a resource, a community that gathers around it, and a protocols for its stewardship. As pointed by Bollier, it is simultaneously:

  • a social system for the long-term stewardship of resources that preserves shared values and the community identity;
  • a self-organized system by which community managed resources with no reliance on the Market or State; the wealth that we create and pass on to the next generation (based on gift of nature, civic infrastructure, cultural and creative works, traditions and knowledge);
  • a sector of the economy that create values in ways that are often taken for granted – and often jeopardized by the Market-State.

The commons becomes a challenge for the city, that should become what Bauwens defines a “partners city”, enabling and empowering commons-oriented civic initiatives. For the market, that should sustain the commons and create livelihoods for the core contributors; and for the civil society organizations, that still have bureaucratic forms of organization and management, not in line with the commons initiatives.

Bauwens has recently released a report based on the study of the City of Ghent, conducted together with Yurek Onzia – project coordinator and editor-in-chief, with the support of an artistic makerspace (Timelab), the P2P Lab scholar Vasilis Niaros and Annelore Raman from the city council. The study was commissioned and financed by the City of Ghent, in the northern Flanders, with the support of the mayor, Daniel Termont, of the head of the mayor’s staff, the head of the strategy department, and the political coalition of the city (Flemish Socialist Party SPA, Flemish Greens – Groen, and Flemish Liberal Party – Open VLD).

The main request of the administration was to document the emergence and growth of the commons in the city and identify strategies and public policies to support commons-based initiatives, involving the citizens. The three-month research took inspiration from other cities (such as Barcelona, Seoul, Bologna) already engaged in the recognition and promotion of commons practices. It culminates in a Commons Transition Plan that describes the role, the possibilities and the options for optimal public interventions in terms of reinforcing citizens initiatives.

During the research, the team:

  • Mapped 500 commons-oriented projects per sector of activity (from food to transportation, energy, etc.) using a wiki
  • Interviewed 80 leading commoners and project leaders
  • Administered a written questionnaire to over 70 participants
  • Managed 9 open workshops divided per theme (Food as a commons, transportation as a commons….)
  • Developed a Commons Finance Canvas workshop based on the Hinton methodology (economic opportunities, difficulties, models used by the commons projects)

Bauwens described the city of Ghent (300,000 inhabitants) as a city with a distinct presence of commons-oriented initiatives (more than 500), a lively urban tissue sprinkled by smart young, as well as coworking, fablabs and maker spaces, active civil society organizations that support urban commons projects, and an active and engaged city administration. The city indeed is already involved in actions for carbon and traffic reduction, and it has a staff of social facilitators, connectors, street workers engaged in enabling roles at the local level. In addition, there is an important policy to support the temporary use of vacant land/building by community groups.

Nevertheless, the research highlighted some weakness points of the city:

  • the initiatives are often fragmented;
  • there are some regulatory and administrative obstacles (especially about the mutualized housing);
  • fablabs and coworking spaces lack of real production’s activities;
  • there is no connection between university and the commons project, neither a propensity to open source and design projects;
  • many commons-project are set in post-migration communities and limited to ethnic and religious memberships;
  • civil society organizations often perceive the projects as mainly directed towards vulnerable categories and not as general productive resources; the cooperative sector gives a weak support; the major potential commons are vulnerable to private extraction.

Despite these weakness points, the City showed a great commitment in finding ways to improve and expand the urban commons at local level since it is aware of its potentials for the social and economic life:  1. “the commons are an essential part of the ecological transition”;

  1. they “are a means for the re-industrialization of the city following the cosmo-local model which combines global technical cooperation in knowledge commons with smart re-localization of production”;
  2. they “are based on self-governance of the value producing systems and are therefore one of the few schools of true democracy and participation”

The report is divided in four parts:

  1. The context on the emergence of urban commons (largely increased in the Flanders in the last ten years). This part provides information on the challenges for the public authorities, for the market players and for the traditional civil society organisations and on the opportunities related with the spread of the commons (i.e more active participation of citizens as city co-creators, in solving ecological and environmental issues and in creating new forms of meaningful work at local level).
  2. An overview of urban commons developments globally and especially in European cities.
  3. The analysis of the urban commons in Ghent with its strengths and weaknesses.
  4. A set of 23 integrated proposals for the creation of public-commons processes for citywide co-creation.

The part 3 with the map of the urban commons projects highlights some similarities with the commons-driven digital economy, demonstrating some specificities:

  1. productive communities are based on open contributions;
  2. the urban commons and their platforms may bring to generative market forms;
  3. the communities, platforms and possible market forms require, and receive, facilitative support from the various agencies and functionaries of the city, and the civil society organisations.

About the proposals in the part 4, the report presents:

  • some public-social or public-partnership based processes and protocols to streamline cooperation between the city and the commoners. Taking as example the Bologna Regulation for the Care and the Regeneration of the Urban Commons, the report suggests that commons initiatives present their projects and ideas to a City Lab in order to sign a “Commons Accord” with the city. With this contract the city sets-up specific support alliances combining the commoners and civil society organisations, the city itself, and the private sector;
  • a cross-sector institutional infrastructure for commons policy-making and support divided in transition arenas and based on the model of a pre-existing practice around the food transition.

Among the recommendations and suggestions listed in the report there are:

  • The creation of a juridical assistance service consisting of at least one representative of the city and one of the commoners, in order to systematically unblock the potential for commons expansion, by finding solutions for regulatory hurdles.
  • The creation of an incubator for a commons-based collaborative economy, which specifically deals with the challenges of generative start-ups.
  • The creation of an investment vehicle, the bank of the commons, which could be a city bank based on public-social governance models.
  • Augmenting the capacity of temporary land and buildings, towards more permanent solutions to solve the land and housing crisis affecting commoners and citizens.
  • Support of platform cooperatives as an alternative to the more extractive forms of the sharing economy.
  • Assisting the development of mutualized commons infrastructures (‘protocol cooperativism’), through inter-city cooperation (avoiding the development of 40 Uber alternative in as many cities).
  • Make Ghent ‘the place to be’ for commoners by using ‘Ghent, City of the Commons’ as an open brand, to support the coming of visitors for commons-conferences etc.
  • As pioneered by the NEST project of temporary use of the old library, use more ‘calls for commons’, instead of competitive contests between individual institutions. Calls for the commons would reward the coalition that creates the best complementary solution between multiple partners and open sources its knowledge commons to support the widest possible participation”.

In addition, the team also propose:

  • A specific project to test the capacity of “cosmo-local production” to create meaningful local jobs (organic food for school lunches) and to test the potential role of anchor institutions and social procurement.
  • The organisation of a CommonsFest on the 28th of October, with a first Assembly of the Commons.
  • A pilot project around circular finance in which “saved negative externalities” which lead to savings in the city budget can directly be invested in the commons projects that have achieved such efficiencies (say re-investing the saved cost of water purification to support the acquisition of land commons for organic farmers).
  • The setting up of an experimental production unit based on distributed manufacturing and open design.
  • Projects that integrate knowledge institutions such as the university, with the grassroots commons projects.

The report is the executive part of a short book on the Ghent experience that will be soon available. Many useful indications and more precise recommendations can be found in the “COMMONS TRANSITION AND P2P: A PRIMER”. This Commons Primer co-published with the Transnational Institute, explains the Commons and P2P, in terms of interrelations, movements and trends, and how a Commons transition is poised to reinvigorate work, politics, production, and care, both interpersonal and environmental.



La città di Ghent nell’estate del 2017 ha promosso una ricerca sui beni comuni con lo scopo di mappare le iniziative commons-oriented e identificare le migliori strategie e politiche pubbliche per supportarne lo sviluppo coinvolgendo i cittadini. Il team di ricerca era guidato da Michel Bauwens della P2P Foundation che ha lavorato con Yurek Onzia, Vasilis Kostakis e Annelore Raman del Comune di Ghent, insieme a un makerspace artistico locale. La ricerca ha portato alla realizzazione di un Commons Transition Plan. L’executive summary è disponibile sul sito http://commonstransition.org e l’articolo di LabGov inquadra e presenta i principali risultati del report.