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May 4, 2015

Sharing Economy in Italy

Sharing Economy in Italy

By Nora Inwinkl

Unemployment, economic crisis and shrinking resources are problems that pose increasingly urgent problems for Italian cities. These problems can be faced through an alternative urban paradigm, based on resilience, re-localisation of production and consumption, and the sharing economy.

This is the case of GAS (Gruppo di Acquisto Solidale or, in English, Solidarity Purchasing Group). These groups consist of self-organised consumers who band together to buy goods directly from the producers. They’re motivated not only to get group discounts but consume in a more ethical and fair way. This approach also has impacts on the relationships between cities and countryside. Rural areas should be defended as sources of local and sustainable nourishment, not only for people who live there but also for nearby urbanites (An interesting experience in this vein is Italy’s Rural Hub).

Another approach is to grow food in the city itself. This is the goal of AICARE, an association promoting urban and social agriculture as a new economic sector. Rethinking local economy is also the goal of NAstartUp, a community of young entrepreneurs promoting start-ups in Naples; PopUpLab, a project for the revitalisation of abandoned shops in city centres (photo from www.popuplab.it), and Avanzi, a co-working and start-up incubator located in downtown Milan .

These are examples of Italian initiatives that share SEiSMiC’s goal of creating a supportive environment for social innovation. Most of them share the ideal of a future economy that favours the consumption of locally produced goods, local production of energy through the micro-generation, and the sharing of goods and knowledge.

Nora Inwinkl is a PhD candidate at Sapienza University of Rome