The city of Orvieto approves the regulation on urban commons

The city of Orvieto approves the regulation on urban commons

Map of Regulation
Ever since the City of Bologna approved in May ’14 the Regulation on Collaboration Between the Citizens and the City for the Care and Regeneration of the Urban Commons, twenty municipalities have approved the Regulation and fourth-three more are examining it. In this sense, the city of Orvieto has numerous predecessors, but this does not change the fact that it should be considered a success in itself.

Every little, medium and big city that voted in favor of a collaborative governance of the urban commons represents an important achievement along the way towards the end of the practice of devolving power. Active citizens have the chance to take care by themselves of the place they live and to do it hand in hand with the public administration, in a constructive cooperation that brings benefits to the whole community.

On December 29th, 2014, thus, Orvieto joined the list of the cities that decided to completely revolutionize the way of thinking about the commons, and in particular about the urban ones. The Municipal Council endorsed the Regulation by a unanimous decision. A fact, this, which highlights that behind themes like this, there is a common background able to eliminate the differences between the various political factions in favor of a shared agreement. Furthermore, the approval in itself helps avoiding all those cases in which the active citizenship is blocked and even punished (e.g. the emblematic case of Mrs. Ilaria Montis who was fined for having cleaned the seaside of Is Solinas (CI) and for throwing the garbages in dumpsters far away from her house). To regulate a phenomenon does not mean to block it or to establish boundaries and limits, but rather to let it flow according to its characteristics and according to the different realities it takes place in.

The Regulation found its origin in the work carried out also by LabGov experts in Bologna and is centered upon the principle of horizontal/circular subsidiarity enshrined in the Italian Constitution (Art. 118) in an innovative way. Article 118 should not be interpreted as a way of merely dividing the responsibilities between the private sector and the public one, but rather as a shared background on which a new model of society shall be built. A society where active citizens can practically contribute to the renewal of the reality they live in. Obviously, this implies that the Regulation cannot be applied everywhere in the same form. Changes are firmly supported in order to adapt the goals to the concrete situation and to the history and values of the city at issue.
The analogies and differences between the four different versions of the Regulation approved in the cities of Bologna, Ivrea, Siena and Chieri were already analyzed, through seven parameters. Now, with the same methodology, it has come the moment to present the vision that the city of Orvieto decided to offer with the approval of the Regulation, in comparison to the original version of Bologna.

  1. Principles. The Municipality of Orvieto maintained all the original principles that constitute the foundations of the original version of the regulation. However, an interesting voice was added by the City Council of Orvieto during the drafting phase: art. 10 makes an explicit reference to the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, approved in Faro in 2005. In the words of Paolo Maurizio Talanti, the Democratic Party councilman of Orvieto “a city with such an artistic and cultural heritage like ours shall know that the knowledge and use of the cultural heritage is an individual right […]”.
  2. Subjects. For both Bologna and Orvieto, the subjects taken into consideration are the active citizens, namely “all subjects, single or associated, anyhow gathered in social formations, also of entrepreneurial type or with social vocation, which are active for the care and regeneration of urban commons”.
  3. Organizational aspects. Unlike the case of Bologna, Orvieto does not explicitly provide a unique office for the evaluation of the proposals of the active citizens, thus provoking an organizational gap that risks to provoke overlapping procedures and ambiguity during the implementation. In fact, according to the topic, each proposal will be submitted to the competent office.
  4. Type of administration. The kind of administration that takes shape in Orvieto is based on the authorization by the public offices, which are competent to technically evaluate the feasibility of the projects.
  5. Relevance of the private assets. The Regulation of Orvieto puts a particular emphasis on the public spaces as objects of the care of the active citizens, leaving however the possibility for a shared management of the private spaces for public use. Worth mentioning is the fact that the regulation merges the provision about the public spaces with the one about private ones in a unique norm.
  6. Forms of support. This is probably the most interesting aspect of the whole Regulation of Orvieto. In fact, the text completely eliminate all forms of exemption and relief from levies and local taxes and of administrative facilities, such as in obtaining permits. The Municipality may contribute to the reimbursement of costs only in those cases where an in-kind support is not possible.
  7. Disputes. Contrary to the Bologna Regulation, which provided for the creation of a Conciliation Board in order to solve future disputes, the City Council of Orvieto did not, thus leaving open the possibility to submit the arising cases to the ordinary jurisdiction instruments.

Strongly adapted to the local situation, the Regulation of Orvieto, with its strengths and weaknesses, constitutes a remarkable example of how much our society is changing and how well the Regulation fits in this challenging and stimulating environment.


Il Comune di Orvieto approva il Regolamento sulla collaborazione fra cittadini e amministrazione per la cura e la rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani!

Il Comune di Orvieto ha due settimane fa approvato il Regolamento sulla Collaborazione tra Cittadini e Amministrazione per la Cura e la Rigenerazione dei Beni Comuni Urbani. Seppur con un testo adattato alla realtà della città, l’approvazione del Regolamento dimostra un rinnovato modo di pensare sui beni comuni urbani che si sta diffondendo velocemente in tutta Italia.

CO-Mantova as the trigger for a co-cities movement

In Mantua what can become a “Co-Cities” movement moved its first steps.

CO-cities as a new urban and local governance model

Co-Mantova is a prototype of an institutionalizing process to run cities as a collaborative commons (see Jeremy Rifkin‘s definition) and therefore as “co-cities“. Co-cities should be based on collaborative governance of the commons (inspired by Elinor Ostrom‘s work) whereby urban, environmental, cultural, knowledge and digital commons are co-managed by the five actors of the collaborative governance – social innovators (i.e. active citizens, makers, digital innovators, urban regenerators, rurban innovators, etc.), public authorities, businesses, civil society organizations, knowledge institutions (i.e. schools, universities, cultural academies, etc.) – through an institutionalized public-private-people/community partnership. This partnership will give birth to a local p2p physical, digital and institutional platform with three main aims: living together (collaborative services), growing together (co-ventures), making together (co-production). The project is supported by the local Chamber of Commerce, the City, the Province, local ONGs, SMEs and knowledge institutions, such as the Mantua University Foundation and some local schools.

CO-Mantova builds on the experience developed by LabGov through the “City as a Commons project and the “Regolamento sulla collaborazione per i beni comuni urbani” (i.e. Regulation on collaboration for Urban Commons which greatly benefited from Sheila Foster’s work on urban commons) that LabGov contributed to draft for the City of Bologna at the end of that project. Principles and rules embedded in the regulation inspired the drafting of the CO-Mantova Collaborative Governance Pact (which is soon going to be translated into English), a “patto di collaborazione” for the territory.

Methodological process of creation of Co-Mantova as a co-city

The first action has been seeding social innovation through the launch of ideas seeding callCulture as a commons” to make the social innovators in Mantua emerge. Second step has been the co-design laboratory “Enterprises for the Commons“, an ideas camp where the seven main projects emerged through the call were cultivated and helped create synergies with each other and the city. The third phase has been the governance camp, a collaborative governance scheme prototyping stage which led to the drafting of the collaborative governance pact, the collaboration toolkit and the sustainability plan. Fourth and final phase is the governance testing and modeling through the launch of a public consultation in the city on the text of the Pact and a roadshow generating interest in CO-Mantova among possible signatories belonging to the 5 categories of collaborative governance actors.

The code of the Pact

The CO-Mantova Collaborative Governance Pact provides a code of definitions, values and principles:

Definitions contemplated by the Pact are among other:

– “commons”

“Commons are goods, tangible, intangible and digital, that citizens and the Administration, also through participative and deliberative procedures, recognize to be functional to the individual and collective wellbeing, activating themselves towards them pursuant to article 118, par. 4, of the Italian Constitution, to share the responsibility with the Administration to cure or regenerate them in order to improve their public use[1]”

– “social innovation”

“social innovations are new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships or collaborations[2]”;

– “collaborative governance of the commons”

“collaborative governance” of the commons is a legal/institutional device whereby the five actors of the collaborative governance – social innovators, public authorities, businesses, civil society organizations, knowledge institutions – co-manage urban, environmental, cultural, knowledge and digital commons of a city through an institutionalized public-private-people/community partnership.

Values and principles of the Pact are:

–       Mutual trust: based on the public prerogatives regarding supervision, planning and control, the Administration and the active citizens shape their relationships to the mutual trust and they presuppose that the respective will of collaboration is oriented to the pursuit of purposes of general interest;

–       Publicity and transparency: the Administration guarantees the largest knowledge of the partnership opportunities, of the proposals received, of the forms of aid assigned, of the decisions taken, of the results and of the valuations made. It recognizes in the transparency the main tool to ensure fairness in the relationship with the active citizens and verifiability of the actions made and the results obtained;

–       Responsibility: the Administration values its responsibility and the citizens’ responsibility as a key factor in the relationship with the citizens, as well as a necessary prerequisite in order  for the partnership to be effectively oriented to the production of useful and measurable outcomes;

–       Inclusiveness and openness: the interventions of care and regeneration of the commons must be organized in order to allow any interested citizens  to join the activities at any time;

–       Sustainability: the Administration, in the exercise of discretion in making decisions, verifies that the collaboration with citizens does not cause greater costs than benefits, and that it does not determine negative consequences on the environmental equilibrium;

–       Proportionality: the Administration ensure that the administrative requirements, the guarantees and the quality standards required for the proposal, the preliminary investigation and the execution of the collaborative interventions, are commensurate with the real needs of protection of the public interests involved;

–       Adequacy and differentiation: the forms of collaboration among citizens and the Administration are adequate to the needs of care and regeneration of the urban commons  and they are differentiated depending on the type or on the nature of the urban common and on the people whose well-being it is functional to;

–       Informality: the Administration demands that the partnership with the citizens takes place in accordance with the requested formalities only when it is provided for by law. In the rest of the cases it ensures flexibility and simplicity in the relationship, as long as it is possible to guarantee the respect of the public ethic, as it is regulated by the code of conduct of the public sector employees, and the respect of the principles of impartiality, efficiency, transparency and judicial certainty;

–       Local democracy: the pact guarantees equality between parties and subscribers and the attribution of reciprocal rights and duties. The pact pursues the improvement of the quality of local democracy;

–       Public autonomy: the pact signatories act as “public actors”, holding the ability to take care of the general interest;

–       Horizontal subsidiarity: the pact was made possible thanks to the participation of all the parties, which got activated in a collaborative and mutually supportive way, even delegating specific functions if acquitted by others more effectively, in the pursuit of the common good. According to this principle the care of collective needs and the activities of general interest are provided directly by private citizens (both as individuals and as members) and the entities involved in ‘subsidiary’ function, programming, coordinating and possibly managing;

–       Legality: the compliance with the principles and rules dictated or accepted in the legal system is the cornerstone on which the entry and stay in the pact is based. The law is intended not only as a means of guarantee for civil coexistence within and outside of the pact, but also as a fundamental tool of cultivation of social cohesion and competitiveness of the territory.

Internal and external governance

Beyond the pact, CO-Mantova led to two governance outputs. One is the Pact itself as an external governance tool that whoever wants to join the Pact has to agree upon. The other  is the creation of a Collaboration Handbook or Toolkit overseeing the day-by-day collaborative life within the Pact. In general terms, the actors of Co-Mantova are going to be divided in three groups; social innovators, the technical unit, and the collaboration community. The collaboration toolkit of Co-Mantova is a fundamental instrument to shape the collaborative process among the actors. Some of the contents of the collaboration toolkit are, for instance, rules to inform the collaboration among social innovators (meeting with community and creative youth, citizen’s involvement, new members, personalised pacts), rules for the use of Co-Mantova as a physical and economic collaborative services platform, rules of collaboration for partners and external entities.

Sustainability plan

Another outputs of the co-design process that led to the creation of CO-Mantova is the sustainability plan, realized in order to ensure to the platform Co-Mantova a long-term financial and economic sustainability. From a first analysis of data we can say that even the Mantua area is affected by the same peculiarities of the Italian system, in the presence of a high number of SMEs, but unlike the Italian trend, these SMEs, account for a larger proportion of working population. On the one hand, this could make it more vulnerable to the business system of Mantua, because the population involved in the instability of these companies is representative of a greater number of people than the national average. On the other hand this morphology of the business system is a feature that could be maximized through networking and collaboration tools, such as the initiative to CO-Mantova aims to do.

Communication Plan

The last outcome springing out of co-design process that led to the creation of CO-Mantova is the communication Plan. website is the centerpiece. So is the public consultation process we launched on the whole CO-Mantova process/pact and all other initiatives on the ground and through traditional and social media that CO-Mantova has carried out so far and will be carrying out in the next future.

Stay tuned, participate and join in CO-Mantova and the co-cities movement (email to!


[1] The definition of urban commons is provided by the “Bologna Regulation on collaboration between citizens and the city for the cure and regeneration of urban commons“.
[2] Murray, Calulier-Grice and Mulgan, Open Book of Social Innovation, March 2010.

Bologna regulation on public collaboration for urban commons

The Bologna Regulation on public collaboration for urban commons is part of the “The City as a Commons” project that started in 2011 in Bologna with the support of Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna and the City of Bologna. It ultimately led to the adoption of the “Regolamento sulla collaborazione per la cura e rigenerazione dei beni comuni urbani“. LabGov interns prepared and edited the translation of the Bologna Regulation which is now the official version adopted by the City of Bologna (see “Regulation on collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban commons“).

The Bologna Regulation was drafted after two years of field work and three “urban commons governance labs” run also by LabGov Coordinator, Professor Christian Iaione. The Bologna Regulation is a 30 page regulatory framework outlining how local authorities, citizens and the community at large (SMEs, non profits, knowledge institutions) can manage public and private spaces and assets together. As such, it’s a sort of handbook for civic and public collaboration, and also a new vision for government. It reflects the strong belief that we need a cultural shift in terms of how we think about government, moving away from the Leviathan State or Welfare State toward collaborative or polycentric urban/local governance. This calls for new regulatory and governmental tools, namely public collaborationnudge regulation, and citytelling.

Christian Iaione, participated actively to the design and implementation activities of “La città come bene comune” (i.e.The city as a commons“) project in Bologna. Iaione developed the theoretical fraework, carried out and coordinated the research activities, training programs and co-design sessions and was also one of the most active members on the committee appointed by the Comune di Bologna to draft the regulation.

Iaione has been researching the topic of urban commons for quite a long time, and at some point  realized that the city could actually be interpreted as a collaborative commons. Iaione’s research on urban commons is synthesized in the  “City as a Commons” paper presented at a conference in Utrecht in 2012 and later published on the Indiana University Digital Library of the Commons. Earlier studies were published in Italian as “La città come bene comune” and “Città e beni comuni“.  Iaione had the opportunity to work and develop his academic studies as a research fellow at New York University School of Law. While at NYU he developed the theoretical framework for local public entrepreneurship, which is the basis of the CO-Mantova project and the idea of the city as a commons. His study on the tragedy of urban roads is the prequel of the Bologna experiment and the first conceptualization of urban infrastructure and assets as commons.

The City as a Commons project recently entered a new phase and evolved into the CO-Bologna project. The turning point is the 1st IASC Conference on urban commonsThe City as a Commons“.