UIA is a European initiative created to test new solutions and to tackle emerging urban challenges.
Some of these solutions were collected by Nils Scheffler, UIA expert for the Use-It project, in his paper “UIA innovative approaches to tackle urban poverty “.
In fact, among the difficulties faced by the various urban contexts, there is the one concerning poverty.
This article, written after the seminar on 11 October 2018, during the European Week of Regions and Cities, quotes as an example the six cities Barcelona, Birmingham, Lille, Nantes, Pozzuoli, Turin, which participate in the first call for proposals on the theme of urban poverty and which are adopting, with the support of UIA, innovative solutions to tackle this problem.
One of the most interesting aspects that emerges from the article is the one concerning the Public-private-community partnerships. In these particular types of partnership there is a more specific focus on what concerns the local foundation and the local development. In fact, the various target groups have been involved in the projects since the beginning.
A good example of how the Public-private-community partnerships can be particularly effective in combating the poverty is in the Co-city project from Turin where the municipality collaborates in the governance of the Commons with the various local associations and residents through the “Pacts of collaboration “. These are described by Christian Iaione, professor at Luiss Guido Carli and expert of the Co-City project, as “legal tool through which the forms of cooperation between city inhabitants and the City administration address urban poverty through an urban commons-based approach i.e. stimulating collective use, management, ownership of urban assets, services, the way infrastructure is implemented”.
In occasione dei 50 anni dall’approvazione del Decreto Interministeriale 1444/1968, meglio noto come Decreto sugli standard urbanistici, si terrà a Venezia presso il palazzo Badoer il seminario nazionale del SIU (Società Italiana degli Urbanisti), “CINQUANT’ANNI DI STANDARD URBANISTICI (1968-2018)”.
Nel seminario ci sarà occasione di rileggere la norma sugli standard urbanistici in correlazione al tema del welfare urbano, per poter così riflettere su quelle pratiche e discorsi che hanno determinato i suoi enunciati e i ruoli.
Sarà inoltre dibattuto il ruolo che il decreto ha avuto nella edificazione delle città, nel patrimonio di suoli e manufatti pubblici, nel benessere collettivo e nella democratizzazione dello spazio urbano.
Vi sarà poi modo di analizzare la nuova rotta che sta prendendo la società e la città contemporanea nella indagine sperimentale di nuove dimensioni del benessere individuale e collettivo, e di conseguenza come il decreto possa essere considerato ancora attuale e in grado di far fronte alle prorompenti novità, oppure si debba cominciare a pensare a una sua revisione.
Nella due giorni prenderà parte, in rappresentanza di LabGov, la dottoressa Elena De Nictolis, la quale parlerà dei nuovi usi e gestioni delle attrezzature di interesse comune.
In 2010 the City of Ghent, together with other four cities – Aberdeen, Rotterdam, Montreuil, Ludwigsburg – engaged in the European project Music, aimed at catalyzing and mainstreaming carbon and energy reduction in urban policies, activities and the build environment. The project represented an opportunity for decisive local actions to address sustainability challenges. In particular, the City of Ghent pointed at becoming a climate-neutral city. To implement the project, the City gathered around twenty people of Ghent society, who were involved or interested in topics such as pollution, sustainability, urban livability, though in different ways and with different roles. After the first meeting the civil servants in charge of conducting the brainstorming within the group realized that the topics mentioned above were not cause of concerns, while mobility and the way through which urban streets get used by their inhabitants were fundamental in the conception of a livable city. Addressing these topics, indeed, the group found the inspiration to think about different possibilities to approach urban space, reducing parking slots and car access to streets, implementing socialization spaces and outdoor activities. Therefore, new ideas and proposals were presented at the final event of Music, with the hope to see them realized, but the reaction of the City and its representatives was cold and doubtful for a lack of resources and for the proximity to municipal elections.
Therefore, the group of frontrunners decided to set up the organization Lab Van Troje, in order to try out one of their proposals using their own resources and their own energies. The chosen idea was Living Street – Leefstraat in Dutch – with the aim to turn Ghent into a sustainable, liveable and climate-neutral region. Concretely this was translated into planning a different way to live the street of residence for few months: the street was closed, usually during the summer months, reducing the area dedicated to the traffic and the parking but increasing the green areas and creating spaces for socialization activities.
Living Street in Maurice Verdoncklaan, Ghent. Source: interviewed resident.
One of the fundamental aspects of Living Street is the voluntary engagement in the project. The first group of frontrunners gathered by the City accepted to meet and to spend time on the issue for free; as well the citizens were involved only if they were interested in the experiment. Lab Van Troje, indeed, never opens applications or contacts anyone, it just receives the request of citizens. The latter, after a first informative meeting, are asked to ring the bell of all their neighbours collecting dreams and fears related to the street, on basis of which a plan is projected and then proposed again to every resident. If everyone agrees, hence, it is possible to organize the activities to create the Living Street. As the website reports, Living Street functions as a common project and a learning-by-doing process. Citizens, indeed, have to communicate, collaborate and interact with many different actors living and experiencing urban spaces daily. Both the implementation of the idea and the concrete realization of the Living Street become processes of commoning, as the practice of the creation, preservation, and use of commons is called.
Citizens working for the realization of structures to install in Kozijntjesstraat, Ghent. Source: interviewed resident.
The activity duration of Lab Van Troje has been settled for five years until 2017, hoping in the meantime to spread its insights into Living Street to the current system of residential street design. In total 50 Living Streets have been experimented from 2012 to 2016, with an increasing involvement of the City of Ghent, that acted more as a spectator in the beginning, while it took part into the project as an active partner in the last few editions. Considering the imminent end of Lab Van Troje, in 2017 the latter and the City of Ghent collaborate for the transition of Living Street under the guide of the City. The Meeting and Engaging Department has been appointed to continue building on the experiment by creating a new Living Street 2.0 project. The intention is to try out the experience implemented by Living Street in different environments or situations, by involving partners with diverse roles and functions and focusing also on the social aspects of urban life. One of Lab Van Troje’s volunteers has been hired by the Department, together with another dedicated civil servant, in order to give continuity to the project. Moreover, citizens who already implemented Living Street in their streets are involved in the transition from Lab Van Troje to the City, during a completely accountable process used to explaining them the reasons of the change and to collect by them past experiences of the experiment, suggestions and ideas for the future, and expectations towards the City.
Taking a look at the type of actors involved from the beginning – UE, City of Ghent, Lab Van Troje, research institutes, private companies, citizens – it is notable that the project crossed many different levels, depicting the concept of multi-level governance. In this particular case, I believe it is possible to use the notion of bottom-linked governance, achieved 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 alternative creative strategies. I add, though, that the subdivision of society in top-down and bottom-up actors is not sufficient anymore to explain the current complexity and therefore it needs to be substituted by another representation. A complementary and parallel process can be identified in the conception of citizenship: in the last twenty years, debates about the re-scaling of individual rights and duties at transnational or local levels different from the nation-state level, have increasingly arisen; connected with the movement of the right to the city, also the vision of citizens claiming actively rights and responsibilities is more acknowledged. However, I argue that neither an idea of citizenship received as a “package” from the State or an idea of citizenship achieved by citizens as consequence of their activation in the making of the city are fully satisfactory. Citizenship is, nowadays, a set of rights/duties co-shaped by different actors, tracing various dynamics at multiple scales to obtain or to concede benefits and responsibilities in the public arena. Thus, it is necessary to find a model that, always maintaining the idea of peer actors, interacting on horizontal basis, with principles of subsidiarity and accountability, in a reflexive and dynamic process, can better help in representing both this type of governance and this perception of citizenship.
L’articolo riflette su processi di governance urbana e sulle trasformazioni riguardanti il concetto di cittadinanza attraverso il progetto Living Street, implementato dal 2010 ad oggi nella città di Ghent, Belgio. Principale scopo del progetto è trovare soluzioni innovative al fine di rendere la città maggiormente vivibile da un punto di vista socio-ecologico. Dopo aver descritto lo sviluppo del progetto come pratica di commoning, viene sottolineata la necessità di andare oltre sia la ripartizione, ormai inadeguata, tra attori bottom-up e top-down sia l’idea di cittadinanza concessa dallo Stato o ottenuta attivamente dai cittadini. È indispensabile, infatti, trovare un nuovo modello che descriva la complessità attuale delle dinamiche sociali e la diversità degli attori che ne prendono parte.
 Linebaugh P. 2008, The Magna Carta Manifesto. Liberties and Commons for all, London: University of California Press.
 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.
 Isin, E., 1997, Who is the new citizen? Toward a genealogy, Citizenship Studies, 1, 115–132; Sassen S., 2000, The global city: strategic site/new frontier, in: E. Isin, Ed. Democracy, Citizenship and the Global City, New York: Routledge;
 Baubock R., 2003, Reinventing urban citizenship, Citizenship Studies, 7, 139–160; Smith M. P., McQuarrie M. Eds. 2012, Remaking Urban Citizenship. Organizations, Institutions and the Right to the City, London: Transaction Publisher.
 Lefebvre H., 1996, Writing on Cities, Cambridge (MA): Blackwell; Harvey D., 2003, The Right to the City, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(4), 939-941; Purcell M., 2003, Citizenship and the Right to the Global City: Reimagining the Capitalist World Order, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(3), 564-590.
 Dahlgren P., 2006, Doing Citizenship. The Cultural Origin of Civic Agency in the Public Sphere. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 9(3), 267-286.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative has released its new whitepaper on «Collaboration in Cities: From Sharing to ‘Sharing Economy’».
The concept of Sharing Economy during the last years has become quite mainstream, even if the phenomenon represents one of the major disruptive innovations of the last century. Sharing is not something new of course, as it is an old concept as old as human civilization, to quote Gregory Hodkinson (Chairman, Arup Ltd and Chair of the World Economic Forum System Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative). But in the last years, thanks to the Internet and to the ICTs, new trends and mindsets about sharing have emerged. The proliferation of peer-to-peer social networks, together with global recession, an increased environmental awareness and the desire to rebuild social bonds and communities, have brought to the development and spread of the Sharing Economy. The WEF whitepaper underlines that the popularity of the phrase “sharing economy” has increased sixteenfold since 2013 according to Google Trends. Nevertheless, since there is not a common and unique definition, the term is often confused with overlapping terminologies such as “collaborative economy”, “on-demand economy”, “gig economy”, “freelance economy”, “peer economy”, “access economy”, “crowd economy”, “digital economy” and “platform economy” (see the distinction proposed by April Rinne on the WEF blog).
The spread of the phenomenon is having impacts on our way to consume, produce, distribute, work and travel, ultimately transforming our lives, boosting social cohesion and offering chances to reduce the environmental footprint.
As noted by Cheryl Martin, Head of Industries, World Economic Forum “while sharing may often decrease the cost of access, it also has the potential to address long-term societal challenges such as making cities more inclusive and building social connections between groups that might otherwise never have interacted. In experimenting with sharing practices, however, cities will also have to be agile in addressing externalities and disruption to their planning processes, policy formulation and regulatory structures”.
Gregory Hodkinson takes the same view: “The sharing economy is making cities redefine land-use strategies, minimize their costs, optimize public assets and collaborate with other actors (for-profits, non-profits, social enterprises, communities and other cities) in developing policies and frameworks that encourage continued innovation in this area”.
The WEF with its whitepaper is indeed exploring potential opportunities and challenges of the sharing economy in cities offering examples and solutions from cities around the world. It makes the case that sharing in cities can have a transformative impact – boosting the economy and nurturing a sense of community by bringing people into contact with one another, facilitating neighborliness, and improving the environment by making the most efficient use of resources. Cities have a potential role in facilitating/enabling and harnessing the sharing business models by fostering partnerships that shape a “sharing and collaborative” culture across all industry sectors.
The whitepaper is structured on answering 7 main questions:
1. What does Sharing Economy mean for cities?
“The collaborative dynamics of the sharing economy have creative implications for cities. Sharing can create a sense of community among strangers, which helps to facilitate trust and social inclusion. From an environmental perspective, sharing can reduce overall use of resources through practices such as carpooling and co-working facilities. Sharing can also supplement supply in periods of peak demand […] rather than turning to additional construction”. The sharing economy platforms are growing in number and size all over the world and more and more people affirm to use their services. In some cities sharing practices are specifically used to increase inclusiveness (in US good example are Los Angeles and Minneapolis).
2. Who are the actors of the Sharing Economy?
The whitepaper identifies 6 categories: 1. Individual users (those who use P2P or B2P platforms for economic, social or environmental reasons); 2. For-Profit enterprises (profit-seekers who engage in buying, selling, lending, renting or trading with the aid of digital technologies – platforms, to lower transaction costs); 3. Social Enterprises/cooperatives (primarily motivated by social or ecological reasons); 4. Local Communities (Actors at the local or neighborhood level / non-profit and informal models; transactions are mainly non-monetized, inter-personal connection is emphasized); 5. Non-profit Enterprises (non-business actors with the primary motivation of advancing a mission or purpose); 6. Public Sector/Government (using public infrastructure to support or forge partnerships with other actors to promote innovative forms of sharing).
3. What are the drivers of sharing?
“The economic, social and environmental drivers of participating in the sharing economy vary across sociodemographic groups and between users and providers”, for this reason, as reported in the whitepaper many cities have now offices and strategies for promoting sharing.
4. What is being shared in cities?
Individuals and collectives (social enterprises, cooperatives, for-profit and communities) can share a wide range of things, related to nine major groups: 1. Mobility and transportation; 2. Spaces; 3. Skills and talent; 4. Financing; 5. Health; 6. Utilities; 7. General Goods; 8. Food and 9. Learning.
The whitepaper emphasizes what can be shared by the city government since cities “can leverage the potential of the sharing economy in municipal goods, municipal spaces, civic assets, municipal services and skills and talent of city resident such as:
- Municipal goods: City-owned equipment, machinery, vehicles and other goods can be shared among departments or with neighboring municipalities;
- Municipal Spaces and Civic Assets: these include civic amenities or spaces such as gardens, subways, city run schools, hospitals and libraries, and city recreational centers. Idle capacity in municipal spaces can be used for urban farming, pop-up shops, parking and start-up hubs, supporting local business and culture. For example, Seoul operates a website to reserve sports facilities, lecture halls and meeting rooms for educational and cultural events;
- Municipal Services: municipal governments in many areas have collaborative agreements to facilitate providing services to the citizens they serve, and have been working together in this way since long before the sharing economy”
5. How can cities share?
Sometimes cities directly facilitate sharing practices, in other cases, this role is covered by non-governmental entities (private sector, local communities, non-profit and social enterprises). The report identifies a two-step process:
- Focus on the purpose of a sharing city: economic, socio-cultural development or environmental sustainability;
- Focus on government role(s) in a sharing city: government can act as a regulator; facilitator/enabler; integrator/implementer; collaborator.
6. What are the issues and challenges in the sharing economy?
Recalling the work of Agyeman and McLaren, the white paper remembers that sharing economy practices can increase multicultural interactions through 1. Revolution; 2. Subversion; 3. Reinvention. According to the two authors, the best opportunities for a systemic change come from combining reinvention and subversion to “seek interlinked opportunities to enhance well-being, increase justice and equity and spread participative democracy”.
The report identifies 6 main challenges divided into two groups:
- Challenges in market-driven sharing:
- Establishing trust and reputation
- Ensuring safety and security
- Uncertain effects of social equality
- More exclusive than inclusive
- Challenges in purpose-driven sharing (for social and/or environmental reasons):
- Guiding sharing towards improving public infrastructure and services
- Accountability and transparency in collective/collaborative governance
For each challenge, the whitepaper reports cities examples.
7. How should sharing be regulated?
“Governments first have to understand the intricacies of the specific operating model and its implications – whether economic (taxes, monopolies), legal (redefining labour laws that cater to freelancers) or social (protecting the rights of participants). Cities have to work to involve all necessary levels of government: Seoul illustrates the challenge, as the city government is promoting sharing initiatives within its own scope but higher-level laws and administrative regulations have not caught up”. The whitepaper identifies some key points:
- Striking a balance: governments should encourage innovation and competition and protect the interest of citizens at the same time; adopting a bottom-up approach or a top-down one.
- Playing fair (legal): cities have to ensure healthy competition among traditional and new business models, identifying where to apply a different regulatory treatment.
- Defining applicable taxes and fees (legal) avoiding unclear or unfair taxation structures; cities should define a regulatory framework that incorporates the views and concerns of all stakeholders (the sharing platforms, traditional market players and participants across different sectors).
- Self-regulation (legal) that can decrease the pressure on regulatory bodies and allow the government to observe trends before taking corrective steps.
- Protecting data (social): sharing platforms collect, store, analyze a lot of valuable data of their participants (including transactional and non-transactional data) that should be protected; they are also useful for city government in the urban city planning
“The challenge of regulating sharing-economy platforms is complex. Governments have to avoid deterring innovation while trying to achieve economic, social or environmental goals. It is, therefore, important for them to have flexibility in their regulatory approach”.
As Hazem Galal, PwC Global Cities and Government Leader, said: “Regulatory and tax structures need to be revisited to address these concerns as sharing platforms begin to scale across different sectors of the economy. At the same time, developing a culture of sharing within cities to improve services with accountability and transparency would go a long way in shaping the ‘sharing cities’ of the future.”
Very interesting and useful is the presence in the whitepaper of many different examples coming from cities all over the world.
- Melbourne has become a global leader in the food-sharing sector (144 technology-mediated food-sharing initiatives). The city has a strong start-up and sharing-economy culture driven by entrepreneurial knowledge workers in co-working environments. Increasingly, this is becoming the cornerstone of the central city economy and its real-estate market. There are many enterprises that contribute to the local economy and social causes with their platforms scaling to different parts of the world (see 300 Acres, a community-sharing initiative that facilitates community access to unused city sites, enabling neighbours to establish communal gardens) and the City of Melbourne Open Data platform is a public-sector platform that releases municipal data to encourage innovation by businesses, researchers, students, programmers and data scientists.
- Seattle has six “libraries of things” in lower- and mixed-income areas, where citizens can borrow tools. None is run directly by the government, but most have received support through grants or in-kind services to get started. The city, in addition, will invest the taxes it collects from the short-term rental market in community-led projects and paying off bonds for affordable housing.
- New York, with the organization 596 Acres, supports residents to reclaim and manage public land for communities. New York, together with Seoul, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Toronto joint the Sharing Cities Alliance. The Alliance aims to enable cities and their citizens to shape their own future through city-to-city collaboration and its main goal is to enable city leaders continue to address the sharing economy.
- Barcelona is driving a time-bank project where people exchange their time for doing everyday tasks (currently there are 28 time banks listed on its website). The city is also discussing the idea of the “urban commons” implementing the “Reglamento do Participacion Ciudadana”
- London has a crowdfunding platform where citizens can propose project ideas and get City Hall’s support.
- Seoul has started in 2012 the “Sharing City, Seoul” project, organizing a sharing promotion committee, a Sharing economy Advisory Board, a Sharing Facilitation Committee and institutionalizing sharing economy practices through an innovation office (Seoul Innovation Division); now it has 97 distinct sharing schemes, from public bicycles to parking spaces to children’s clothes, and it operates a website (http://yeyak.seoul.go.kr/main.web) to shared municipal spaces and civic assets. Seoul is also collaborating with other cities to provide sharing services. In November 2016, the city government and seven other local governments adopted a joint declaration on policy cooperation for the sharing city, including developing and promoting joint programmes for sharing enterprises and groups, exchanging policies, improving the legal system and strengthening cooperation with domestic and overseas cities.
- Kamaishi City in Japan is partnering with sharing platforms to prepare for hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
- Kigali motorbike taxi app SafeMotos uses smartphone data to distinguish safe from unsafe drivers.
- Amsterdam opened the reflection about sharing economy thanks to the private social enterprise ShareNL that was instrumental in launching the “Amsterdam Sharing City” initiative in early 2015. Today the city is reasoning on the “urban commons” thanks to the FabCity distributed manufacturing initiative. It is also connecting senior citizens and low-income households to sharing platforms via CityPass.
- São Paulo has implemented road-use fees to encourage transport network companies (TNCs) to complement public transit, limiting excess supply during peak hour congestion and augmenting supply when less served.
- Bologna has passed a resolution on collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban commons and developed a “collaborative city” programme (collaboration pacts); it has paved the way for the so-called “Co-City Protocol” that explores forms of shared, collaborative and polycentric urban governance thanks to the extensive work of the co-founders of LabGov, Christian Iaone and Sheila Foster.
The whitepaper, thanks to many contributors (among which also Sheila Foster), aims to improve understanding of the sharing economy’s potential by clarifying terminology; exploring examples of what kinds of goods and services can be shared, who participates in sharing platforms and why; and discussing the challenges created by the sharing economy and how authorities can respond. It takes stocks on the role of cities in integrating/implementing solutions for sharing of (or collaborating on) public assets and services and/or collaborating with other cities, enterprises (for-profit or not-for-profit) and other stakeholders to make the most of a city’s assets.
It can be considered a first important step in systematizing all the experiences arising in the world about sharing economy and city government, from which go even further.
Il World Economic Forum – su mandato del Future of Urban Development and Services Initiative – ha recentemente pubblicato il suo ultimo Libro Bianco: «Collaboration in Cities: From Sharing to ‘Sharing Economy’». Un documento nel quale sono messe in evidenza le potenziali opportunità ma anche le sfide e le difficoltà che la sharing economy veicola nelle e per le città; nonché una serie di approcci adottati da varie città nel mondo e possibili soluzioni.
On Wednesday the 15th of February, the cycle of seminars “Building Communities” (Costruire Comunità) will start its course at INARCH, the National Institute of Architecture, in the context of the master degree in Sustainable Architecture. The cycle is composed by three seminars with three experts coming from different fields of study but still complementary with architecture, in order to promote a reflection on the link between environmental sustainability and the social sustainability of urban regeneration and city governance.
This first seminar is going to host Christian Iaione, LabGov’s co-founder and expert of the co-governance of commons, who is going to focus on the idea of the city as a commons.
The next two seminars will host respectively:
- Maria Cristina Antonucci, researcher in social studies at CNR – 22th of March
- Filippo Celata, professor in Economic Geography and expert in local politics – 5th of April
The focal point of the events will be the relationship between public and private, as well as the idea of community, and several methods, models and instruments to re-think our cities will be discussed.
The events are open and public. More info here: http://www.inarchedu.it/seminario-la-citta-bene-comune/
Venerdì 15 febbraio INARCH ospiterà la prima sessione del ciclo di seminari “Costruire Comunità”, organizzato nell’ambito del master in Architettura Sostenibile. Tre incontri con tre esperti (Christian Iaione, Maria Cristina Antonucci e Filippo Celata) per discutere del rapporto pubblico-privato e dell’idea di comunità.
I seminari sono aperti e pubblici. Più informazioni a questo link: http://www.inarchedu.it/seminario-la-citta-bene-comune/