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May 6, 2015

Forum Explores New Urban Govenance

Forum Explores New Urban Govenance

The SEiSMiC project held its first International Forum April 20-21 in Brussels, bringing together some 70 project participants from all 10 implementing countries. Participants discussed ongoing social innovation projects in their countries, as well as a handful of initiatives with cross-border elements.  

The first forum, one of three planned over the next two years, focused on the topic of new urban governance. The project seeks to strengthen social innovation, and for this new frameworks and rules are needed. A regulatory “eco-system” that’s friendly to social innovation should go beyond current approaches and follow an integrated and participatory approach.

The forum addressed such questions as:

  • How can communities and city administrations be better linked so that social entrepreneurs can realise their ideas faster and integrate them into the cities’ strategies?
  • How do we channel social innovation into long-term projects to reap bigger benefits for urban development?

Much of the Day 1 was devoted to discussions among five transnational working groups, including those on social value, collaborative mapping, a European cooperative on city innovation labs, social inclusion of women, and the development of legal frameworks that foster social innovation.

Day 2 tackled several topics related to urban governance including social innovation’s role in governance, the role of technology and the conflicts that can come about in social innovation. In discussing the last topic, there was reference to the shared economy and regulatory and taxation issues surrounding enterprises such as the Uber ride-sharing company and AirB&B short-term rentals.

To close the event on the afternoon of April 21, participants took a field trip to a downtown marketplace and meat market in a Brussels district that has become a “landing place” for immigrants. There, a social enterprise called Cultureghem (pictured) is exploiting underutilised space on the market grounds to create a community gathering spot. Cultureghem offers children’s play areas, regular public performances and communal meals. Neighborhood residents volunteer their time to organise and carry out the programmes and also enjoy the results. All in all, it was an excellent example of the social innovation explored by the SEiSMiC project.

A comprehensive report on the forum’s outcomes will be posted in the coming days.