The Co-Cities Recipe for Just and Inclusive Cities

The Co-Cities Open Book is the result of years of research and experimentations on the field to investigate new forms of collaborative city-making that are pushing urban areas towards new frontiers of participatory urban governance, inclusive economic growth and social innovation.

This open book has roots in our conceptualization of the ‘City as a Commons,’ the emerging academic field of urban commons studies, and the work developed in 5 years of remarkable urban experimentations in Italy and around the world. Structured around three main pillars, the Co-Cities open book will first provide scholars, practitioners and policy-makers with an overview of the theory and methodology of the Co-City with the “Co-Cities Protocol”.

The open book also presents the “Co-Cities report”, the results of an extensive research project in which we extracted from, and measured the existence of, Co-City design principles in a database of 400+ case studies in 130+ cities around the world. Ultimately, thanks to the Co-cities report we were able to create the first index able to measure how cities are implementing the right to the city through co-governance. Thus, the Co-Cities index serves as a fundamental tool for the international community in order to measure the implementation of some of the objectives that have been set by the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The last section of the book presents a collection, or annex, of articles of some of the most important researchers and practitioners studying the urban commons. These essays were conceived and offered as part of “The City as a Commons” conference, the first IASC (International Association for the Study of the Commons) conference on urban commons, co-chaired by Christian Iaione and Sheila Foster that took place in Bologna on November 6 and 7, 2015.


This work is the result of a wide collaborative effort. It benefited from close collaboration of Sheila Foster, Christian Iaione, Elena De Nictolis with the P2P Foundation; the Transformative Actions Interdisciplinary Laboratory (TrailLab) of the Catholic University of Milan, in particular Professor Ivana Pais and Michela Bolis; the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC). Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Niaros contributed to the data selection and collection during the exploratory phase (November 2015 through August 2016). An analysis on the findings from the first 30 relevant case studies provided by Michel Bauwens will be made available on the Co-Cities Open Book, forthcoming on Constant supervision and guidance for the theoretical framework and the methodological approach was provided by Sheila Foster and Leonardo Morlino.

For case studies in Latin America we have leaned heavily on direct suggestions from Thamy Pogrebinschi. We also relied upon the invaluable data and analysis collected by her and her research team on LATINNO, Innovations for democracy in Latin America. We are grateful to Aaron Maniam and the team of Oxford Urbanists for their feedbacks and comments that enriched our work. The contribution of LabGov research associates for building the database and carrying out the empirical analysis was precious and indispensable: Chiara De Angelis coordinated the data production team and provided support as lead research associate (2016/2018) and Cosima Malandrino supported the data analysis and communication strategy of the report, first as a graduate intern and later as research associate. Crucial was the research carried out by Chrystie Swiney, Sumedha Jalote and Zezhou Cai that contributed with data entry, data collection and detailed case studies’ analysis in US, India and China under the supervision of Sheila Foster at LabGov Georgetown. Lucia Paz Errandonea provided critical support in data entry and graphic visualization during their curricular internship with the LabGov project (spring/summer 2017); Monica Bernardi provided support with data collection in Seoul and Boston.

We would like to express our deep appreciation to Alessia Palladino, Chiara Prevete, Benedetta Gillio, Anna Berti Suman, Sofia Croso Mazzuco, Alessandro Antonelli for their contribution to the data entry and data collection tasks. The research and papers of graduate and undergradutate students of the course “Urban Law and Policy” in the Department of Political Science at LUISS University have been of help in a variety of ways. A special obligation goes to Gresia Bernardini Marino; Mattia Lupi; Paolo Marro; Serena Ragno; Giulia Balice; Federico Pieri; Elisa del Sordo; Martina Rotolo; Guglielmo Pilutti; Marina Gascòn; Marta Pietro Santi; Greta Bertolucci; Charlotte Poligone; Zita Kučerová. We would like to express our deep appreciation to Alessandra Pirera, Andrea Posada, Eduard Eldman and Danila D’Addazio, the team that designed the visual identity communication and dissemination strategy of the Co-Cities Open Book.