StrategicAncona 2025 Giving Shape to the Future was a project by the Municipality of Ancona to engage citizens and stakeholders in the urban development process, by contributing their knowledge or proposals to the local administration's Strategic Plan.
Problems and Purpose
"StrategicAncona 2025 Dare Forma al Futuro" (StrategicAncona 2025 Giving Shape to the Future) is the "challenge that the Municipality of Ancona wanted to launch to its city in the wake of a project already started and developed by other important Italian capitals: from Turin to Bologna, from Rimini to Florence. It is a commitment to give shape, in the next ten years, to the economic, social and cultural development of the territory, with a path based on sharing. The territorial area of reference is that of the city of Ancona extended to its metropolitan area. The Strategic Plan is a voluntary process aimed at building strategies to develop Ancona, through an ideal pact between the Public Administration and the local actors. The path that links the creation of the Strategic Plan to the realization of its results is aimed at those who are willing to collaborate and to offer their own contribution in terms of knowledge or proposals. The pact consists in sharing the objectives and also in the responsibility that citizens assume for their implementation" (Link 1).
The path was designed on the basis of the results of a preliminary investigation carried out in 2014, which aimed to verify the actual conditions of feasibility of this tool, the contents of which were approved by the City Council (Approval of the methodological document with Council Resolution no. 585 of 06/11/2014) and used for the resolution of the City Council that initiates the actual process (approval of the addresses with City Council Resolution no. 153 of 15/12/2014).
The objectives of the Strategic Plan (Link 1):
With regard to Ancona:
- redefine the identity of Ancona
- establish the direction of its development in a medium and long-term scenario (ten years)
With regard to the relationship between the Public Administration and the territory:
- stimulate relations with citizens through appropriate forms of involvement and participation
- facilitate the establishment of development coalitions and build a system of multilevel alliances with all the actors of the territory
With regard to resources:
- favour the integration of resources for the development of some projects of common interest, favouring collaboration with economic operators and recognizing the fundamental role of trade in the city economy
- direct the available resources and encourage the search for new resources, also in relation to the programming of the structural funds for the next six-year period (2015-2021)
Regarding the topics:
- address the fundamental issues that affect the city and that can be identified not only with material interventions but also with immaterial actions
- systematize some of the strategic transformation projects for the city that have already started but on which it is necessary to have an adequate level of sharing
- coordinate with the program of interventions that make up the Urban Agenda of the city and with the Development Plan of the Middle Adriatic Metropolitan Area and indicate the concrete effects of the related integrated territorial project.
Background History and Context
Ancona is a town which had 50,000 inhabitants in 1861, mostly settled in scattered houses in the countryside. The growth had been constant and strong until 1971, when the city reached 110,000 inhabitants and then fell back to the 100,000 units it has today, a decline only partially offset by the immigration incident of more than 10% (12,800).
The political tradition is center-left. In the last administrative elections of 2013, the candidate of the PD, Valeria Mancinelli, won in the second round, supported by the Federation of the Greens, Union of the Center, and Civic Choice. SEL and the Federation of the Left did not join the PD coalition, supporting their own candidate (9.54%) who won 1 seat. The 5 Star Movement took 14% (3 seats).
Mancinelli's platform, later translated into a government program, placed "Democratic Participation" at the third point, focusing above all on the policies of administrative decentralization and the recovery and enhancement of the districts, abolished with laws 191/2009 and 42/2010. However, towards the end of the chapter, it reads: "the Municipality looks with great attention to the new forms of participation that are increasingly spreading in the administrations of Italian and European cities and that enhance the negotiation and the protagonism of citizens in decision-making and management of the public thing" (City Council, 2013, p. 5).
There is also a chapter dedicated to the Strategic Plan (Ib., P. 11), which claims "the participation of stakeholders" are an "essential tool to make everyone active in defining the strategies for this territory" (Ib. ). The path is open to the questions that the participants will ask, but the platform notes that "we cannot ignore some main objects of comparison: the city-port relationship; the redevelopment of the historic center; sustainable development and the role of Ancona as a tourist city; the new forms of entrepreneurship, welfare" (Ib., p. 11). "The Municipality of Ancona has already embarked on a process of planning a territory of the Vast Area comprising 40 municipalities in the province of Ancona with a total population of about 400,000 inhabitants. During this government mandate, the objective is to draft a Vast Area Plan with the collaboration of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MIT), local authorities (Region, Province, Municipalities) and various stakeholders. This planning process will allow the Municipal Administration and the other Municipalities of the wider area to apply [...] to the 2014-2020 Structural Funds as a territory of European rank. The Vasta Area Plan constitutes the reference frame for the preparation of the Strategic Plan of the city of Ancona which intends to outline the development trajectories of the city for the next few years and which starts from the knowledge base provided by the Planning Document approved by the City Council in 2010. This document was in fact used as a reference scenario for the city, which was one of the 28 funded national proposals, winning € 8,770,000 for the completion of the Mole Vanvitelliana. The financing of the City Plan also managed by MIT therefore constitutes a first concrete result of a financing strategy specifically dedicated to cities, considered as the engines of development in the coming years" (Ib., P. 11).
On 16/9/2013, the City Council (Act n. 56) approved the document "Ancona 2013-2018 Government Addresses" which foresees the preparation of the Strategic Plan (PS). Then with resolution (of the Executive) n. 399 of 23/12/2013, the activities related to the PS process started.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The promoter is the Municipality of Ancona which had already made the Strategic Plan (PS) a fundamental point in their government mandate program.
In the governance of the process, a control room was formed which included representatives from the Municipality: the mayor Valeria Mancinelli; the councillor of the PS, Ida Simonella; the Director of the Strategic Plan, Giancarlo Gasparini; the Deputy Director of the Strategic Plan Urban Planning Manager, Claudio Centanni. In addition to them, as external members of the Municipality, there were: the President of the Port Authority, Rodolfo Giampieri, and his Secretary General, Tito Vespasiani; the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Giorgio Cataldi; and the Rector of the Sauro Longhi University. The managing body of the POR FESR loans of the European Union is the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MIT) which, however, did not enter the control room, but followed the procedures from an accounting-administrative point of view.
The graphics were entrusted to the company “I lirici greci - Comunicazione” of Ancona.
With management determination of the Municipality n. 486 of 21/3/2014, the company Avventura Urbana SrL of Turin was entrusted with the preliminary feasibility investigation of the Strategic Plan of Ancona and in the first months of 2015, it was again entrusted with the management of the participation through a tender bid.
The amounts of the work or the cost of the overall process are not indicated.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
In the preliminary study phase, in addition to meetings with institutional subjects, Avventura Urbana conducted about twenty interviews with privileged witnesses (identified on the basis of a sample drawn up by the mayor). Access to conferences and Open Space Technology (OST) was open to all, supported by a communication based on the website, the Facebook page (activated in July), and the presentation conferences. There is no further information on other forms of advertising.
The Mole Vanvitelliana, where the OST took place, is a symbolic and well-known place, located in the port, in the historic center of Ancona.
The OST was attended by about twenty group facilitators, recruited from the employees or civil service staff of the Municipality, organized by Avventura Urbana. In addition, other employees of the Municipality were part of the technical staff and other support services (video, photos, communication, and set-up). From the report, it can be seen that the mayor, the councillor for the Strategic Plan, and the deputy director of the Strategic Plan—who was also a group facilitator—were present at the event (Avventura Urbana, 2015).
Methods and Tools Used
Open Space Technology is a collaboration method that takes place in meetings of varying lengths (from half a day to 2-3 days) and can involve from small groups to a few thousand people. It is based on the self-organizing abilities of the groups, aggregated on the basis of interests and stimuli, launched by the participants themselves. The first phase is plenary, introduced by the general question (prepared by the conductors) and by the solicitation to the participants to present topics for discussion, synthetically and with a short exposition. The proposals are collected on the notice board of the OST to which all participants can then subscribe. Group work follows, during which participants are encouraged to behave as free from patterns and labels as possible. The maximum freedom of movement, from one group to another is a rule. Moreover, there is the possibility of isolating oneself (without being considered eccentric) or going to the buffet when one wants and maybe meeting there with others. A self-produced synthetic report is requested for each group. In some cases, such as in Ancona, participant-facilitators enter the OST and subdivide into groups, offering to record and/or moderate the discussion.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
After Council Resolution no. 399 of 23/12/2013, relating to the start of activities related to the Strategic Plan (PS), a preliminary study was carried out entrusted to the consultant Avventura Urbana SrL of Turin. Within 7 months, some meetings were organized between Avventura Urbana and the administrative bodies, 2 council commissions and 21 interviews with qualified witnesses, indicated by the mayor. The result was a Methodological Document, which largely confirmed the cognitive framework elaborated by the municipal offices in the Planning Document already provided for by the Vast Area Plan of 2010; it proposed a dozen themes and strategic resources on which to start the discussion, as well as outline the working method and development of the process (Avventura Urbana, 2014, p. 9). The results of the survey and of the methodological proposal (attached document) were approved by Council Resolution no. 585 on 06/11/2014.
Themes that emerged included:
- "The people of Ancona and their city — Ancona is a city where the quality of life is still very high. The city is perceived as quiet and safe, even if in describing it we often use the term 'drowsiness' or' immobility'.
- The cultural and landscape heritage — Among the qualities of Ancona the exceptional morphology and the presence of the sea (' the beautiful thing is that you have the sea everywhere') is first to be pointed out. It represents an uncontaminated pearl that, if properly valued, could be compared to other places with a strong brand such as the Circeo natural park. Likewise, some believe that a project to relaunch the promenade from "sea to sea", announced for years but not yet realized, could offer a competitive advantage to the territory from the tourist point of view, denoting a lack of dynamism that generates a sense of frustration in the average citizen" (Avventura Urbana, 2014, pp. 8 - 9).
- A dozen topics are also mentioned, a dozen critical issues, including the lack of a future project that should be the answer to the strong vocational crisis in the city (Ib., P. 17).
A strategic plan would therefore be a way to generate "alliances that support the development of some strategic axes"; "systematize refunctional projects and create synergies", "shorten the gap between public administration and business", "encourage the search for new resources", and "enhance the metropolitan area" (Ib., p. 27). On 15/12/2014, the City Council approved the guidelines and the start of the Strategic Plan.
In 2015, but it is not specified when precisely and through which resolution, through a call for tenders, the task of handling the process was again entrusted to Avventura Urbana (Link 1).
The process took place in four phases (Link 1):
- Phase 1 - Starting the process;
- Phase 2 - Involvement of the city and stakeholders, which includes a broad public initiative carried out with the OST (Open Space Technology) technique, open to both citizens and stakeholders;
- Phase 3 - Activation of the technical tables for the definition of the vision of the Plan and the construction of development coalitions on specific thematic areas;
- Phase 4 - Drafting and approval of the Plan document.
1. Starting the Process
Conferences were organized to present the project and the communication tools, such as a Facebook page, were activated (18/7/2015). In a public meeting at the Mole Vanvitelliana on 6/3/2015, mayor of Turin, Piero Fassino, among other politicians, was invited to present the case of the first city in Italy that in 2000 embarked on a Strategic Plan for its identity, urban, economic and cultural renewal, due to the changes that consolidated in the 1990s, of strong decline and industrial transformation, in particular in the Fiat sector .
2. Involvement of the City and Stakeholders, Public Event (OST)
On Saturday 26 September 2015, an OST was held in the evocative setting of the Mole Vanvitelliana (one of the historic buildings enhanced with POR-FESR funding). From 10 am to 5 pm, 300 citizens gathered to create 45 discussion tables in 3 sessions. An Instant Report followed (Avventura Urbana, 2015).
Of the proposals that emerged from the OST, there were some that “the Municipality shares to such an extent that it has already planned projects that envisage their study or implementation, and others that the Administration can accept and which, by their nature, deems they can be set up in a short time. Finally, others need an in-depth analysis that looks at the definition of a broader overall strategic vision" (Link 1 - extracted from a public meeting of 16/12/2015).
The councillor for the Strategic Plan, Ida Simonella, stated that
“the realization of some ideas that emerged from the OST also allows us to show the 300 who participated that some of their ideas are being branded as StrategicAncona but above all we are realizing them. The 4 proposed projects start from an idea of an open, welcoming and accessible city which was the strongest message that emerged from the OST and consistent with the desire not to disperse that strong sense of positive and proactive participation which is a heritage that we are trying to enhance” (Link 1, Ib.).
Mayor Valeria Mancinelli clarified that the four proposed projects being presented that day were not the strategic plan itself, which the municipality was still working on. Mancinelli noted that,
"one of the declinations from here [12/2015] to June  on which we are thinking is mobility in a broad sense. The entire urban public transport system is to be revisited. For example, we are reflecting on the redefinition of the suburban terminus by integrating it with the urban service, making it increasingly efficient, frequent and economically sustainable, also taking into account the environmental impact of bringing an electric trolleybus or a methane bus into the city center compared to a diesel vehicle. [...] Since the stated objective of the Strategic Plan is to define the development assets of the city for the next 10 years and that the lines of this development outlined by the OST go in the direction of attractiveness, accessibility, of the efficiency of Ancona, it is planned to start working groups, between now and the middle of 2016, to investigate certain hypotheses also from a technical point of view and therefore verify their feasibility" (Ib.).
The projects that emerged in the OST were:
- an online and offline information desk for handicapped persons because “it is essential that no one falls behind or feels excluded. Encouraging the quality of services for those with disabilities goes in this direction";
- a dedicated space for tourist information at the port that would be available to tourists in the peak period, from May to September o ensure that tourists are better and more fully informed, because Ancona, as gateway to the East, has an important resource in the port
- for improved overall "accessibility to the city and its services, for residents as well as tourists, the wi-fi network will be extended even in the hamlets that are not reached by this service"
- In the wake of the positive experience of 'Your Future Festival', created with the aim of fostering connections between the Polytechnic University of Marche, students, researchers, the territory, the youngest will be involved and will be entrusted with the organization of a large aggregative event that looks at comparison, aggregation, and integration" (Ib.).
The Administration undertook to implement these ideas "by next 30 June , so that all citizens can verify their actual implementation” (Ib.). "In the meantime, the participation and active listening of citizens will continue in the municipal spaces of the Mole Vanvitelliana and the former Cobianchi, made available for thematic discussion tables self-convened by all citizens, to which facilitators may be present with the formula of the OST" (Ib).
After the disclosure of 16/12/2015, on the site there were no further updates [as of 3/4/2017].
3. Activation of the Technical Tables for the Definition of the Plan and the Construction of Coalitions on Specific Areas
On 16/3/2016, a public meeting  was held in which the Municipality presented its redevelopment projects for the waterfront and public buildings in the historic center, but it was not a technical table. There is no trace of the technical tables on the trial website.
The projects that had to be completed by "next June 30" are not accounted for on the site, apart from the youth project—the Student Festival organized as part of Your Future Festival—which was held in mid-May 2016 .
Finally, there was an extensive press review dedicated to the Waterfront and the preliminary project that was presented to the Region for the candidacy for funding dedicated to urban redevelopment. However, even in this case, there were no technical tables but just funding obtained by POR-FESR, parties, processions, and regattas. The press review was last updated on 5/9/2016 .
4. Drafting and Approval of the Strategic Plan
In July 2017, the final document of the Strategic Plan of the city of Ancona (Municipality of Ancona, 2017) was published, which was to be presented on 25/10/17  in a public meeting with several speakers at the auditorium of the Mole Vanvitelliana, moderated by I. Romano (Avventura Urbana). In addition to the mayor and councillors, there was: Aldo Bonomi (Consorzio Aster), N. Tartaglia (UBI Banca Popolare di Ancona), G. Cataldi (Chamber of Commerce), R. Giampieri (Port Authority), S. Longhi (Rector of the University of the Marches).
The final document of the Strategic Plan was drawn up by several hands with credits for all those, name by name, who participated in the listening phase and contributed to the work. It was curated by I. Romano and E. Bellu (Avventura Urbana), Ida Simonella (Councillor), P. Marasca, C. Centanni (Urban Planning), A. Piancone and G. Rossellini (Municipality officials not specified). No minutes or summaries on the technical tables are available on the site and no results are reported even in the final document. It is assumed that if there have been technical discussions, the results have converged in the reflections of the editors of the final publication mentioned above.
The final report describes the path followed, the data on the city, and the various expressions. Then the masterplan details the visions and macro areas of interventions on the city. The transition from what emerged in the listening phase and what was reported in the visions, strategies and masterplan, is the result.
The central vision was: Ancona Sea City, meaning the city must resume and develop its long-lasting identity with the sea. From here, there were three macro visions that will then converge in the seaside city: Port City, Capital City, and City of Mole. These involve interventions on the waterfront and its internal axes and neighborhoods that turn the city to the sea. Important interventions on mobility aim to make it more fluid and sustainable, including more cycle paths and slow-moving areas. Services and social inclusion were addressed. Then the cultural soul that focuses on the function of the Mole Vanvitelliana, a highly symbolic place, and its co-management to animate the city of popular cultural events (Municipality of Ancona, 2017).
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
From the documents accessible from the website, it appears that only the youth project, a one-day spot event, has materialized. Despite the declarations of the highest authorities of the municipality, there are no accessible certificates that can confirm the implementation of the other 3 projects that emerged from the OST to be carried out by June 2016 (according to the mayor). From September 2016 to September 2017, in which the notice of the public presentation of the final document appears on the home page, the site has not been updated. The press review stopped in September 2016 (rel., 14/2/18 - Link 1). It is not possible to monitor the development of the plan from the site.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The project websites show a lack of transparency. Here, in addition to the missing information on the cost of the process, the updating of the press review, and the monitoring of the path, as mentioned, an entire phase is missing (technical tables) and it is not clear if and how it took place. The process, with the council still in office, to date (as of 2/14/18) is complete.
The control room did not share the path with the actors but consulted them with interviews directly on the problems and strategic proposals, as the citizens involved in the East consulted and produced a spot event organized by students on the occasion of a city festival, but there is no trace of the other projects. Finally, what actually emerged in the listening phase was transferred to the final document from the control room with the curators of the course, through interpretations that have not been subjected to any technical or democratic verification.
 E. Ga., Waterfront. (2016, March 14). Nuovi ingressi e scalinata scenografica. [press article] https://www.comune.ancona.gov.it/strategicancona/www.strategicancona.it/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/corriere_1403.pdf (release 4/4/2017).
 Fede, E. (2016, May 11). Studenti Anno 0, festival alla Mole, Future festival della Politecnica, laboratorio sull'ecosostenibilità, idea di Forma, [press article], https://www.comune.ancona.gov.it/strategicancona/www.strategicancona.it/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/11-05-16.pdf (release, 4/4/2017).
 Summary Press Review on Waterfront, August and September 2016, https://www.comune.ancona.gov.it/strategicancona/www.strategicancona.it/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/05-09-2016-rass-stampa-WATERFRONT-dal-1-8-2016.pdf
 Infodata, Press Selection, from 16/11/2014 to 29/5/2015> https://www.comune.ancona.gov.it/strategicancona/www.strategicancona.it/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Piano-strategico-rassegna-stampa.pdf (rel. , 4/4/2017).
 Municipality of Ancona, è arrivato Il Futuro, due anni di lavoro, un patto partecipativo, una visione condivisa, https://www.comune.ancona.gov.it/strategicancona/www.strategicancona.it/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/An2025_Invito_mail.jpg (release, 2/14/18).
Avventura Urbana (2015) (2015, August 26). Instant Report of the OST. https://www.comune.ancona.gov.it/strategicancona/www.strategicancona.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/report-ancona-def1.pdf
Avventura Urbana (2014), Methodological Document for the Strategic Plan of Ancona (21/10), attached to the Municipality of Ancona, Council Resolution no. 585 of 11/6/2014.
City Council (2013), resolution no. 56 of 16/9/2013, Ancona 2013 - 2018 Government Addresses, Annex.
Municipality of Ancona (2017), Documento finale del piano strategico, July, https://www.comune.ancona.gov.it/strategicancona/www.strategicancona.it/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Documento-Finale-Piano-Strategico_def.pdf (retrieved 14/2/18).
Link 1: StrategicAncona 2024 — Strategic Plan of the City, https://www.comune.ancona.gov.it/strategicancona/www.strategicancona.it/