Anna Lisa Boni: sharing about sharing in Milan

  • cooperation
  • culture
  • economy
  • environment
  • knowledge society
  • mobility

Anna Lisa Boni reflects on a successful conference in Milan on 16-18 November, where EUROCITIES members met to exchange on the impact of the sharing economy in cities.

The rapid emergence of the sharing economy is having a profound impact in cities. Many EUROCITIES members and representatives from internatonal and EU institutions and organisations joined us in Milan on 16-18 November to discuss the opportunities and concerns cities are experiencing in the sharing economy.  

The lively debate generated by our keynote speaker, Benita Matofska, founder of The People Who Share, demonstrated the wide-ranging impact of the sharing economy in cities. It affects many different urban policies and various city competences and responsibilities. The challenge is finding ways to respond and adjust to the changes this new form of economy is bringing, while ensuring that we capitalise on all the opportunities it holds.

We had the chance to delve a little more deeply into some of the different aspects of the theme during a series of thematic roundtables. The discussions showed that while cities see the sharing economy as an opportunity, ensuring the benefits stay local and are inclusive remains a major challenge. We talked about its potential to both create and destroy jobs, and the risk of low-quality, poorly-paid and unstable employment. We addressed data protection concerns, and the need to build trust among citizens and between stakeholders, including the city administration. We debated the need to strike the right balance between regulation and incentives for entrepreneurs, and the potential for delivering better, more tailored and effective services using co-creation and digital tools. Participants highlighted the need to regulate appropriately, to avoid market distortions and unfair competition, and considered the support they need, including creating a ‘toolbox’ for cities on the sharing economy.

The sharing economy is a rapidly developing phenomenon. We see examples in our cities every day, and our host Milan highlighted many of its own projects. There is a process ongoing at EU level too, with the Commission issuing a communication on the topic in June this year. Within our economic development forum the sharing economy is already a priority, and we are looking forward to building on the exchanges we had in Milan. We are preparing to issue a statement on the topic shortly. 

This is just the beginning of an exciting new area of work for EUROCITIES and our members, and we look forward to continuing sharing about sharing!