Building a Co-Cities Index To Measure the Implementation of the EU and UN Urban Agenda

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* Co-Cities Open Book. Report II. The Second Co-Cities Report: building a “Co-Cities Index” to measure the implementation of the EU and UN Urban Agenda.



"The second part of the open book is the Co-Cities Report, the culmination of a 5-year long research project seeking to investigate and experiment new forms of collaborative city-making which are pushing urban areas towards new frontiers of participatory urban governance, inclusive economic growth and social innovation. The case studies gathered here come from different kinds of cities located all around the world, and include groundbreaking experiments in Bologna (Italy), as well as in other Italian cities (e.g. Milan, Rome, Palermo, Bari, etc.), and global cities such as Seoul (South Korea), San Francisco (California, USA), Barcelona (Spain), and Amsterdam (Netherlands).

The report presents a dataset of 100 cities that we surveyed over 18 months (from December 2015 to June 2017). The dataset provides 170 brief case examples of urban commons projects and public policies from the cities mapped. The dataset consists of examples from cities located in different geopolitical contexts. In addition to presenting the case studies here, all the case studies are also published on the web platform Our intention is that will become an international mapping platform for the urban commons and for cities that want to embrace a transition towards the commons paradigm.

The goal of this research project is to enhance our collective knowledge about the various ways to govern urban commons, and the city itself as a commons, in different geographic, social and economic contexts.

The case studies, both community-led and those that are institutionalized in the local government, are important data points and empirical input into the larger effort to explicate the dynamic process (or transition) from a city where urban commons institutions are present to one where we see the emergence of networked urban commons. Where we are able to identify a network of urban commons, or some degree of polycentricism in the governance of urban resources, then we can confidently began to see the transformation of the city into a commons — a collaborative space—supported and enabled by the state.

What are the conditions that foster the development and networking of these efforts, and allow us to identify the characteristics of a “Co-City Transition”?

What are the constraints that impair the emergence of a Co-City, a city in which the ground is ripe for local actors to share and cooperate to generate and manage common goods? The dataset that we have collected is only a starting point, but it offers important examples from cities worldwide in which there are emerging community or city-level initiatives that are pushing urban areas towards new frontiers of collaborative urban governance, social and economic pooling, and inclusive and more just city-making. The analysis of the dataset aims to highlight common patterns and differences and to test empirically the relevant dimensions of the Co-City design principles.

Ultimately, thanks to the Co-cities report we were able to create the first index able to measure how cities are implementing the right to the city through cogovernance. Thus, the Co-Cities index serves as a fundamental tool for the international community in order to measure the implementation of some of the objectives that have been set by the New Urban Agenda."


The Co-City Index

"Beyond the creation an international mapping platform for the urban commons, this research projects represents a significant contribution to the international urban community, as it ultimately proposes one of the first evaluation standards to measure the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the New Urban Agenda and the European Urban Agenda in cities around the world. As previously mentioned, the empirical testing of the CoCities dimensions or design principles through the observation of public policies and community-led practices around the commons in urban context led to the building of a Co-City Index, a measuring instrument that can classify cities based on a gradient.

The value of this research therefore lies in the design of such an index – the Co-City index – that will serve as a powerful tool for cities and administrations around the world in order to measure the implementation of the principles listed in the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda.

Indeed, while widely shared, the SDGs and the principles included in the New Urban Agenda hardly ever suggest a clear policy design or implementation strategy in order to secure the success of public policies in our cities. Especially in the case of concepts like ‘the right to the city’, it becomes extremely difficult to establish whether a city has been able to implement such a principle, and in turn what kind of examples are to be followed in order to implement it.

The Co-Cities Open Book therefore aims at providing methodological principles, case studies analysis, and quantitative tools that can help implement and measure the effective implementation of Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda especially in Least Developed Countries. The Protocol presented in the Open Book has in fact been already tested in European and North American cities. Its application can further represent a useful opportunity for cities in Least Developed Countries as a tool to design urban justice and democracy and thereby also measure the implementation of some of the New Urban Agenda goals, such as goals 13 and 19, or the Sustainable Development goals 16 and 17, in particular the subgoal 16.7, 17.17 and 17.19.

Through our research and action we demonstrated that this protocol facilitates the achievement of sustainable urban development, through collaboration with local communities, contributing at the same time to the capacity building of local authorities, fostering the active inclusion of local stakeholders and the collaboration among civic, knowledge, public/private actors for the cooperative management of urban resources kit."

More information

See also the Co-Cities Report on the Urban Commons Transitions , Part 1 of the Co-Cities Open Book:

  • Report: The 1st Co-cities report on the Urban (Commons) Transitions. Towards a CO-City: From the Urban Commons to the City as a Commons. By Christian Iaione, Michel Bauwens, Sheila Foster et al. LabGov & P2P Foundation, 2017. With the research assistance of Vasilis Niaros.