City century


Cities have played a leading role throughout history. After a relative short spell where states had the upper hand, they seems to be ready to gain their role back. A simple fact solidify clearly this assumption: twenty to thirty years from now, 70% of the world’s population will be crowding in urban areas. This figure appears as even more remarkable if compared to the already staggering percentage of today, when more than half of the world’s population lives in cities.

The phenomenon of urbanisation is a two-sides coin; on the bright side, living in the city can be as funny and exciting as it can get; on the dark side, most of us, in the daily routine, can grasp that life in a big city has become unbearable. The biggest challenge of our time is to defeat this common perception, since improving life in the cities is basically our main hope for a better future.

As pointed out by Micheal Bloomberg (former three-terms mayor of New York City) in this article, published by Foreign Affairs:  “Influence will shift gradually away from national governments and toward cities, especially in countries that suffer from bureaucratic paralysis and political gridlock.” A fully fledged application of the principle of subsidiarity, in a word, will be the key for our future development. In fact, we are already inside this process of power-shifting.

How did we reach this point? According to Bloomberg, and more unassumingly by us at LabGov, the political and economic standstill of our time, worked as a sparkle for innovations – mostly in urban contexts. Cities are getting smarter and smarter. They are very often the main national hub of knowledge, creativity, new technologies, and so forth. Vertical farmers, smart lampposts, zero carbon buildings, and many many more. In the words of Bloomberg “cities eventually recognized that the best replacement for lost federal funding was local policy innovation.”

Majors and city’s administrations are transforming their cities in policy lab. This trend is always more evident on a daily basis all over the world, in a way that big metropolis are collaborating cross-nationally with small urban centers sharing ideas and best practices.

C40, for example, is the network of megacities aiming to spread climate friendly practices within its member cities. In 2011 only 6 cities of this network had bike sharing programs; by 2013, 36 had them. The same thing is happening for many other good practices, and it is very likely that this trend will gain even more momentum in the foreseeable future.

The upcoming IASC Conference  organized in Bologna by LabGov in collaboration with Fordham University of New York and the ICEDD of the LUISS University of Rome will deal extensively on topic such as this, thanks to the contribution of some of the most innovative and relevant scholars in this field.


Il secolo in cui viviamo si sta connotando sempre di più come “il secolo delle città”; se da un certo punto di vista ciò non è una novità nella storia dell’uomo, il fenomeno rappresenta un’inversione di tendenza rispetto ad anni di centralismo statale, soprattutto nel vecchio continente. Le città di tutto il mondo saranno la casa di circa il 70% della popolazione mondiale da qui ai prossimi 20-30 anni. Non c’è dunque da stupirsi se sarà proprio nelle città che si giocherà il destino e il benessere di milioni di persone. Le pratiche di innovazione sociale nei più disparati ambiti stanno diventando sempre più frequenti; c’è dunque bisogno di non fermare questo fenomeno, ma di renderlo sempre più efficace ed efficiente. LabGov, in collaborazione con la Fordham University e lo ICEDD della Università LUISS di Roma affronterà questo tema, insieme a molti altri, il 6-7 novembre a Bologna nel corso della prima edizione della Conferenza tematica sui beni comuni urbani.