We therefore decided to try to understand what made these cities successful at being involved in those two European programmes and whether there is – for these cities - something like a trajectory from URBACT, in which integrated action plans are designed, to UIA, which provides the framework and the support to implement those innovative ideas locally.
This article is the first of a planned series of three articles on the topic.
It is based on an interview with Fabrizio Barbiero, public manager at the unit of development of economic development and innovation and European Project, at the Municipality of Turin.
In Europe, Turin is one of the cities investing in developing new methods to manage ‘the commons’, for instance through the enforcement of a regulation on common goods (Regolamento Beni Comuni Urbani - approved just one year ago, and to implement social innovation, through the Torino Social Innovation Initiative (TSI), which objective is to encourage and sustain new collaborative forms of dialogue with civil society related to the management of public good/services and provision of collective public services. The TSI initiative is a multi-year programme, proposing an open platform to support bottom-up processes of urban/social innovation.
Turin’s commitment to innovation in urban practices methods and exchange at the European level translate into a long term involvement and commitment in European projects on issues related to urban planning. It started with the URBAN Programme and is now represented by its implication in two of the leading European Programmes on urban planning: URBACT and Urban Innovative Action.
For Turin: URBACT and UIA: strong thematic and methodological links
Common goods, co-creation, social innovation are at the core of the projects Turin is involved in in the two European urban programmes. When looking in detail at Boostinno (URBACT) and CO-CITY (UIA) in particular, the thematic links between the two programmes and project appear clearly. Methodological links also clearly appear between the two programmes and the several projects Turin is and has been involved in.
Turin & URBACT: a long lasting commitment to co-creation and social innovation
Turin has long been involved with URBACT: through the (now closed) projects Urbact Markets and My Generation at Work, which was about what cities, with their partners, can do to promote the employability and employment of young people. My Generation at Work was using and developing innovative methods to foster young people’s employability and the work of Turin on Social Innovation developed and deepened in this context.
Fabrizio himself has been involved directly in the My Generation at Work five years ago, at a time in which the City of Turin was committed to design a new policy to promote youth unemployment and social innovation.
“In my opinion the partnership was really good”. Fabrizio was extremely pleased by the partnership, which led the City of Turin to want to be involved in further URBACT projects, like Boostinno.
The current URBACT project Boostinno builds on the work done and expertise gained inside Generation at Work. Within this project Turin is committed to redesign Torino Social Innovation. Its focus is to enable new generation of innovative entrepreneurs to produce positive territorial impact in urban deprived areas. The City of Turin is expecting to receive funding from the national government for this.
Boostinno is focussed on enabling public administrations to play a new role as public booster and brokers/facilitators of social innovation activities/projects/policies, by driving social innovation in, through and out the public sector. It is a project led by the City of Gdańsk (Poland), involving Wroclaw (Poland), Baia Mare (Romania), Milan (Italy), Turin (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Braga (Portugal), Paris (France), Strasbourg (France) and
Turin is also involved URB-INCLUSION on urban inclusion, led by Barcelona, one of the new URBACT Implementation Networks that deal more specifically with the challenges of implementation. In this project the City of Turin is more focussed on the topic of civic participation in order to set up new social innovation models to deliver new services for the local residents. For this project Turin has already the resources to implement the project as part of article 7 ERDF funding.
Turin & Urban Innovative Action: A Pioneering project of social innovation to combat social poverty
Turin was chosen among 378 European Cities to test further an Urban Innovative Action in the field of the commons and social innovation.
Its project CO-CITY focusses on the collaborative management of urban commons to counteract poverty and social polarisation. With this project Turin wants to involve the local residents to co-design and co-manage the public services.
“Co-City is an extraordinary occasion to support new forms of active participation of the citizens towards the regeneration of the City. I hope that new enterprises will be created around this new model of relation between public and private sector, generating new employment opportunities and jobs in Turin”
What links between URBACT and UIA for Turin?
We were curious to understand what other links than thematic existed between the two European urban policy programmes Turin is currently involved in.
Is there a possible trajectory between the two programmes? Did the experience in URBACT helps Turin in proposing an Innovative Idea? Are there other similarities?
URBACT Improved Turin’s capacity to develop innovative solutions and participative methods
Involvement in a community of practitioners in Europe
Through learning from other European cities and setting-up long standing relationships, URBACT helped Turin develop, test, discuss new urban programmes at the local level. The relationship with some cities, such as Rotterdam or Barcelona, has developed into one in which before launching a new local urban programme or policy, the city can contact the other cities, ask advice, comparison points and therefore improve plans for new local programmes.
Being involved in a European project helps reaching out more broadly within the city and convincing more local actors to test and implement new methods.
Being part of a European Community of Practice, of a network of cities and a permanent platform of exchange, which provides peer learning and motivation, is something very valuable, according to Fabrizio. It also helps to understand better how to develop solutions to the urban challenges of our times.
The URBACT Method: a powerful tool to design Innovation
Fabrizio insists that the experience in URBACT has helped the city to set up a successful Urban Innovative Action bid. Since their language, methodologies, and framework are quite similar, defining innovation in the urban context has become clearer and more effective. The learnings from the URBACT Method have definitely been a key element in defining and proposing a successful project for UIA.