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 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.
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?
With among others
This evening is part of the two-day City Makers pre-summit, that brings together City Makers from 60 cities throughout Europe and the Netherlands to work on the City Makers Agenda. This evening we learn about City Makers’ initiatives, visions and capabilities and explore where their agenda meets the ambitions of the EU Urban Agenda.
The evening will be opened with an introduction by director of Pakhuis de Zwijger Egbert Fransen. City Makers will take the stage and present their cases to offer some practical examples of the main priorities outlined in the EU Urban Agenda: air quality, housing, urban poverty, integration of refugees and migrants. Special Urban Envoy Nicolaas Beets will introduce the EU Urban Agenda, and will talk about the involvement of the network of City Makers in the development of the Urban Agenda and the ministerial meeting on May 30th. Mr. Beets is responsible for maintaining the contact with the European network in name of the Urban Programme Directorate. For the Dutch EU Presidency, he will preside the EU ministerial meetings on the EU Urban Agenda.