Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to see all of you here in Amsterdam. Amsterdam which is currently not only the capital of the Netherlands but also the informal capital of Europe with the EU presidency hosted over here. And last week we added another capital to that: the European Capital of Innovation.
Amsterdam was awarded the iCapital-award one-and-a-half week ago for “embracing a bottom-up approach based on smart growth, startups, livability and digital social innovation”. These words are probably discussed many times today, so no surprise that I am very happy to join the FabCity movement. A movement that, from my opinion, is about creation and destruction. Two things we are very good at in Amsterdam.
I do mention destruction explicitly because I do think that – when we really want to create something new – we need to get rid of the fear to let old things go. Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction is sometimes needed to change the systems we created in the last century following the industrial revolution. For the last years initiatives from Amsterdam have demonstrated that we are willing to experiment and make new ideas happen. Products and services that create added value for Amsterdammers and her visitors. Companies like Booking.com, Fairphone or Peer.by have destroyed existing paradigms for travel, mobile phone, and the rental-industry. But also have created new ones.
And obviously Amsterdam is also about creation, we have a strong history but also present in arts and creative industry where painters, architects, marketeers and software developers show their skills every single day in building new buildings, products, and services.
In the FabCity-white paper, the main conclusion is that “The Fab City is about radical transformation, it is about rethinking and changing our relationship with the material world, in order to continue to flourish on this planet”. I agree with this conclusion: we need to rethink, continuously, the way we work, live and play. The way we build our cities and the way we organize ourselves. We also need to make sustainability the starting point of the new world we are building and not a “Check in the box” on an emotional checklist.
The best way to do this is to organize the dialogue with everybody who wants to join. To talk, but especially also to experiment and learn. The FabCity project which is on the other side of the river IJ is a perfect showcase of this: the combination of as we call them “City-makers”, Startups, knowledge institutes and corporates show us that we can do thing radically better when we change our paradigms.
Today I want to thank Pakhuis De Zwijger, the Waag Society and their partners for supporting the FabCity movement in such a strong way, as mentioned before: the success can already be seen on the other side of the water. I am happy that Amsterdam can be a part of this network and hopefully, we can learn a lot from each other. To create new paradigms. A destroy the old ones.
Kajsa Ollongren (deputy mayor city of Amsterdam)