On the 21th of April Amsterdam Mayor Van der Laan welcomes the 27 Mayors of the capital cities of the member states of the European Union. Related to the EU2016 The Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European Union the mayors meet up in the Maritime Museum. One of the issues the Mayors will discuss is the adaptation and integration of refugees and migrants in their cities and adopt the Declaration by the Mayors of the EU Capital Cities on the EU Urban Agenda and Refugee Crisis.
With more than half of the world’s population living in cities today, our urban environments are said to face the greatest challenges of our time. It is where environmental challenges accumulate and socio-economical differences become most articulate. However, cities also provide precisely the most innovative solutions to these challenges, due to more adaptive governance and the density of knowledge and pioneering people that come up with initiatives that aim to tackle these challenges. We call these people City Makers, an honorable title.
Cities seem to obtain just about the right size, flexibility and adaptive qualities to efficiently address the urban challenges of our current time and near future. With the Mayors of the European capitals we would like to address some of the challenges and explore the possibilities of a constructive co-creation between the municipalities and City Makers that aim to tackle the same challenges. The public dialogue will focus on the opportunities of the cities and citizens to work together in addressing the ‘refugee crisis’.
New Europe and the City Makers Agenda
All over Europe City Makers initiate small-scale, tailor-made solutions that serve the needs of their community and address societal challenges. They redevelop derelict property or brownfields, engage in urban farming, construct co-housing projects, start community enterprises that enhance the local welfare and employment rates, and so on. Their initiatives are experiments of new ways of developing the city: from blueprint planning to building upon what’s already there; from centralized welfare systems to a more peer-to-peer society; from working in silos to more integrated approaches towards (food) production and distribution, area development, and so on.
Watching closely at what City Makers are doing provides an excellent magnifying glass on to the priorities of citizens today. They do what they feel isn’t provided yet and their activities may forecast more fundamental societal change.
However, these new dynamics in the city seek for another division of roles between traditional actors and emerging ones. Therefore new approaches towards collaboration between government and citizens have to be developed, expressing the need for more adaptive and flexible governance. Additionally City Makers develop strategies to affirm their initiatives or social enterprises, such as sustainable financial models, networks and thirds places to exchange know-how, and advocacy strategies when rules and regulations are limiting.
Now that the 28 member states of the European Union are working on an EU Urban Agenda, in order to address the societal challenges, we will show how City Makers all over Europe are already contributing to that agenda. How can we reinforce a constructive collaboration between government and engaged citizens, and enhance the social innovation in our cities today?
EU2016 Mayors Conference
On the evening following the EU2016 Mayors Conference, Pakhuis de Zwijger invites several Mayors for a public dialogue with European City Makers