Agenda Tevere was born in 2017 thanks to the action of a group of citizens and NGOs determined to improve the situation of the Tiber, the river that flows across Rome (and of its riverbanks).
Their purpose was to follow the example of the “Central Park Conservancy” of New York City. They wanted to replicate what the Conservancy did in NYC, and to apply it in the city of Rome. The Conservancy, a private, not-for-profit organization, started in the ‘80s a process that has led New York to be the city that we know today (you can read more about the “Central Park effect” here, on the website dedicated to Central Park). In their opinion, imitating this model and reshaping it for the city of Rome, and for its peculiar conditions, could result in numerous benefits and positive changes.
The initial coalition could count on a small group of experts in different fields (such as professors of various Roman and Italian universities, architects, journalists and so on) and local NGOs. This number rapidly increased and more NGOs, experts and competences were added to the working group. The merging of different backgrounds and competences brought to the project a broader perspective.
LabGov – LABoratory for the GOVernance of the City as a Commons is among the founding members. LabGov added to the working team its expertise and its competences, acquired through years of experiences and theoretical, empirical and applied research projects, both at a national and international level (many projects could be mentioned, for example: CO-Battipaglia, CO-Bologna or Collabora Toscana).
The LabGov team is composed of Professor Christian Iaione (co-founder of LabGov), expert in urban law and policies, professor Paola Cannavò (member of the scientific committee of LabGov and active in the CO-Roma project), landscape architect, Alessandro Antonelli (member of the board of LabGov and tutor of the non-formal educational platform based on the model of the in-house clinic “EDU@LabGov”, active at LUISS University), Chiara Prevete, lawyer and expert in urban and environmental law (in particular of the instrument of the river contracts). Other NGOs were active in this first phase of the project. Today 23 NGOs are members of the ONLUS (here the complete list).
Agenda Tevere was created following the model of Agenda Comune. This model aims to implement already existent projects and ideas and to create new ones, supporting them in many ways. The key element of the model is the “ecosystem approach” of collaboration. NGOs, public institutions, active citizens and the private sector find fertile ground in this civic ecosystem, in which they are facilitated in realizing their common objectives. This process brought the first group of active citizens to the creation of Agenda Tevere. Claudio Gatti, journalist born in Rome and based in New York, Luigi Zingales, Fabrizio Barca, Salvatore Settis, Tomaso Montanari, Luca Enriques, Cesare Romiti, Milena Gabanelli, and Corrado Formigli are among the first members and represent the driving force of the project.
Four elements are at the basis of the model ideated by Agenda Comune:
- A “founding core” of active citizens, who come together for a shared social/civic project;
- A supporting network, composed by experts in different fields who are willing to put their time, expertise and resources at disposal of the project;
- A strong governance model;
- Collaboration with and support to the public institutions.
The model of Agenda Comune and Agenda Tevere was firstly tested in Praiano (Southern Italy) through the creation of Agenda Praiano, a successful story of shared and co-designed innovation and social empowerment. The objective of this pilot project was to turn the city of Praiano into an “open air museum” of the ceramics (here the description of the project).This museum has been created through a crowdfunding campaign. A dedicated app has also been created (Amalfi Coasting APP). For this experience, Roberto Pontecorvo, co-creator with Claudio Gatti of the project of Agenda Praiano, has been selected by the Obama Foundation as one of the 500 most influential social innovators of the world.
Now Agenda Tevere represents a perfect example of the quintuple helix model. In fact, the forces that are supporting the project represent the five actors of this model. Agenda Tevere has the support of many civil society organizations (as above mentioned, today 23 NGOs are members of the Agenda), of the local public authorities (the municipality of Rome and the Lazio Regional authorities have supported the initiatives of the Agenda), of the social innovators that had the idea of creating the Agenda, of various enterprises (such as TIM Foundation, ACEA) and, last but not least, of different Universities (such as Roma Tre, La Sapienza, the faculty of architecture of the Technischen Uuniversitat of Dresden, and LUISS University).
Since its recent foundation Agenda Tevere has already accomplished many goals. In fact, through the campaign conducted by the Agenda in order to increase the awareness regarding the Tiber and its critical conditions, the two institutions involved in the management of the river (the Lazio regional authorities and the municipality of Rome) have strengthened their actions. The municipality of Rome has created a dedicated office, the “Tiber special Office” and the Lazio regional authorities have implemented their intervention of requalification of the river.
Furthermore, the Agenda has started the procedures that will conduct to the creation of a river contract for the Roman urban course of the river. River contracts are innovative methodologies for water management, based on the active participation of local actors. Moreover, the Agenda is working for creating an instrument that will reunite all the information on the state of the river and its riverbanks.
Finally, many projects along the river are starting through its support. Those project (experimental places) are often based on already existing ideas, that did not succeed in the making. Agenda Tevere offers to the associations that are working on these projects its financial support, its expertise (from the crowdfunding campaigns experts and architects, to the marketing experts or the public relation experts) and many other kinds of support.
 You can read more about the “Quintuple helix” model here: Urban Pamphleteer #5 University College London pp. 29-31