Neighborhood, Common Good: Democracy and Urban and Climate Justice in Reggio Emilia

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, a seminar coordinated by Prof. Christian Iaione was held at the Luiss Campus on Viale Pola:

“Neighborhood, Common Good: Democracy and Urban and Climate Justice in Reggio Emilia. An integrated public policy to achieve urban co-governance as a function of sustainable urban development”, to address the feasibility of introducing a Title V dedicated to collaborative democracy tools in the “Regulations on Democracy and Urban and Climate Justice in Reggio Emilia.”

The seminar represents the latest episode in a 10-year journey of administrative and legal innovation and experimentation conducted by the Municipality of Reggio Emilia that began in 2015 with the public policy “Neighborhood, Common Good” and the subsequent 2015 “Regulation of Laboratories and Citizenship Agreements.” In the past two years, thanks to the collaboration with the Luiss Guido Carli Law Department, the Municipality of Reggio Emilia has continued on the path of innovation through the establishment of the City Science Office – made up of industrial doctoral students with scholarships funded by the Municipality – and with the approval of the Regulations on Democracy and Urban and Climate Justice in Reggio Emilia in September 2022.

In addition to contemplating institutes of local direct democracy, the new Regulations also provided for in an innovative way: the establishment of the Area Councils, deliberative democracy bodies with mixed composition (elective/non-elective) conceived within the Horizon 2020 EUArenas.EU project. These are representative institutions of citizens and local stakeholders pertaining to the nine Areas into which the municipal territory has been divided by grouping the 55 neighborhoods of the urban plan. The councils are mainly concerned with stimulating public debate and co-programming of public policies relevant to urban and climate justice to be conducted together with the relevant departments of the municipal administration, the outcome of which is the signing of an “Ambit Pact.”

The seminar discussed about the introduction of a Title V dedicated to collaborative democracy tools already partly covered by the 2015 Regulation on Citizenship Workshops and Agreements. This title would provide for a phase of co-design, at the outcome of which public policies co-programmed through the Area Pact would be implemented through multi-actor partnerships that would be named “Partnerships for Sustainable Development and Innovation,” a formula that would summarize innovative forms of partnership introduced into the legal system through various regulatory provisions at the European Union, national, regional, and local levels.

The seminar began with an explanation of the virtuous case of the city of Reggio Emilia, led by Councillor Lanfranco De Franco and Headmistress Nicoletta Levi, followed by a talk by Council of State Section President Giancarlo Montedoro on “The new forms of partnership in the light of the public contracts code and the third sector code.”

Also participating in the seminar focus group were professors from Luiss Guido Carli University, La Sapienza University of Rome and Milan Polytechnic University, with specializations in administrative law and public law; representatives from Save the Children Italia; ANCI; INVITALIA S.p.A., National Governmental Agency for the Territorial Cohesion; and the Luiss LabGov ETS research team.