Cities are the place where our communities come together, allowing citizens to meet, interact and commonly shape the civic public space. By increasingly coming together to manage common resources, also know as the commons, they ensure these resources improve quality of life for residents and deliver on social, economic and environmental objectives.
For the commons to work, there are many enabling conditions that need to work in tandem, primarily to ensure a collective governance of shared resources. For this to happen, the role of city administrations is key.
The Urban Commons have been particularly central to tackling the tragic realities of the pandemic, and a resurgence of their centrality has filled the public debate in the past year. In this emergency context, cities have adopted and pioneered innovative approaches to deliver and manage public goods and services. These included, for instance, the support of fragile communities and individuals via solidarity networks, but also the co-management and co-creation of flexible green and public spaces that allowed unique opportunities for interaction.
Beyond the emergency context, cities are keen to use new collaborative frameworks to fuel innovation and support the development of a sharing and circular local economy (e.g. urban gardens and repair shops) with individuals, the environment and equity at the centre. City administrations are increasingly facilitating the co-management of ecological commons such as air, waterbodies and wetlands and of civic commons such as streets and sidewalks, public spaces and public transport. For this to happen, city administrations are experimenting together with citizens and increasingly looking at ways in which digital tools can support this trend.
This city dialogue, organised in the context of the Eurocities Working Group on creative citizenship, is an opportunity to bring together different actors and discuss the relevance of the Commons for cities post-pandemic. We will hear about the initiatives brought forward by pioneering city administrations and discuss trends and challenges towards the establishment of this new direction for public action.