CASE

Civic Engagement and Urban Co-Creation in Bologna (2010-present)

First Submitted By Scott Fletcher

Most Recent Changes By Scott Fletcher

General Issues
Planning & Development
Social Welfare
Arts, Culture, & Recreation
Specific Topics
Citizenship & Role of Citizens
Sustainable Development
Funding
Location
Bologna
Emilia-Romagna
Italy
Scope of Influence
City/Town
Files
Regulation on the Collaboration Among Citizens and the City for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons
Co-Creating Urban Commons
Links
Partecipa
Videos
Bologna, Italy: 2018 Engaged Cities Award Winner
Start Date
Ongoing
Yes
Time Limited or Repeated?
Repeated over time
Purpose/Goal
Make, influence, or challenge decisions of government and public bodies
Deliver goods & services
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Approach
Co-governance
Co-production in form of partnership and/or contract with government and/or public bodies
Citizenship building
Spectrum of Public Participation
Collaborate
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All
General Types of Methods
Community development, organizing, and mobilization
Planning
Public budgeting
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Manage and/or allocate money or resources
Legislation, policy, or frameworks
Propose and/or develop policies, ideas, and recommendations
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Social Innovation Lab
Participatory Budgeting
Collaborative Planning
Creative Planning
Participatory Urban Planning
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Trained, Nonprofessional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Both
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Ask & Answer Questions
Negotiation & Bargaining
Information & Learning Resources
Written Briefing Materials
Site Visits
Teach-ins
Decision Methods
Idea Generation
General Agreement/Consensus
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Hearings/Meetings
Public Report
New Media
Type of Organizer/Manager
Local Government
Funder
Comune di Bologna
Type of Funder
Local Government
Staff
No
Volunteers
No
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in civic capacities
Changes in how institutions operate
Changes in public policy
Implementers of Change
Elected Public Officials
Lay Public
Stakeholder Organizations
Formal Evaluation
Yes
Evaluation Report Links
Bologna: Winner of 2018 Engaged Cities Award

Since 2010 Bologna has increased the number and variety of ways citizens can collaborate with the Municipality to improve the urban commons. The result is a robust, multi-channel system of citizen engagement.

Problems and Purpose

After passing the ‘regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban communes’ in 2014, the City of Bologna launched Collaborate Bologna: an initiative to co-design an implementation strategy with the city’s residents.[1] The resulting participatory planning scheme integrates ‘collaboration agreements’, participatory budgeting, social innovation labs, and local business competitions to allow residents to shape the future of their city.[2]

Background History and Funding

The ‘regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the city for the care and regeneration of urban communes’ was passed by the Municipality of Bologna on May 19, 2014 to promote collaboration between the administration and citizens on the care and management of ‘common goods’ defined by city officials as “the goods, tangible, intangible and digital, that citizens and the Administration, also through participative and deliberative procedures, recognize to be functional to the individual and collective wellbeing, activating consequently towards them... to share the responsibility with the Administration of their care or regeneration in order to improve the collective enjoyment.”[3] In order to implement the new regulation, the Municipality launched ‘Collaborate Bologna’: a year-long initiative to co-design the future of civic engagement in the City. The result is an institutionalized system of engagement that combines aspects of collaborative planning and participatory budgeting using a system of ‘collaboration pacts’: agreements signed by the administration to provide funding and support to projects proposed and led by residents.[4] 

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

The Municipality of Bologna sets aside approximately 150,000 euros ($170,000 USD) of the city’s budget for each collaboration pact every year. The Active Citizenship Office was created for the sole purpose of handling project proposals and coordinating their evaluation by various members of the administration.[5]

Participant Recruitment and Selection

All residents of Bologna are encouraged to submit project proposals. Submissions can be made by individuals or by groups (non-profit, community organizations, etc.).[6]

Methods and Tools Used

Bologna’s unique system of civic engagement uses a system of ‘collaboration agreements’ or ‘pacts’: agreements signed by the administration to provide funding and support to projects proposed and led by residents. The process is a hybrid of collaborative planning and participatory budgeting, including phases like project proposal submission, technical evaluation, project selection, funding allocation, and implementation.[7]

What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

The process of creating and implementing a collaboration agreement begins with project proposals[8]. Approximately 150,000 euros ($170,000 USD) is allocated from the city’s budget to each pact every year.[9] The online platform Partecipa (partecipa.comune.bologna.it) facilitates the collaboration pact process by providing information on submission requirements and types of projects the city is interested in. Anyone with an internet connection can access Partecipa and use it to submit proposals.[10] The municipality also uses Partecipa to keep people informed on the pacts’ outcomes and implementation.[11]

In 2015, the city created six new districts with their own councils and presidents,to act as local hubs and to better align the allocation of city resources with local demands. ‘Laboratories’ in each district connect citizens with government officials, and have become innovation hubs for the development, refinement, proposal, and voting of citizen projects for funding through collaboration pacts.[12]

The City’s yearly Incredibol! program also feeds into this renewed effort at civic engagement by getting local startups to compete for funding and support.[13]

In 2017, the city added a participatory budgeting process which gives citizens yet another way to influence policy and better attune municipal spending with local needs.[14]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Close to 480 collaboration pacts have been implemented since October 2018. Projects have included community gardens, wall murals, and the restoration and repurposing of old city infrastructure.[15]

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Bologna’s efforts to increase citizen engagement, including its system of ‘collaboration pacts’, made it a finalist for the Cities of Service 2019 Engaged Cities Award. The award case study summarizes the keys to the city’s success:

“One of the main reasons for Bologna’s success in engaging residents to help them solve problems is that the mayor’s office was willing to embrace decentralization. City leadership didn’t need its hands in every project — it trusted the Active Citizenship Office, the Civic Imagination Office, and the district labs to work with residents to find the best outcomes. This allowed collaboration to flourish and citizens to feel empowered to propose ideas large and small that would improve their neighborhoods.”[16]

See Also

Cities of Service

Participatory Urban Planning

Social Innovation Lab

References

 [1] “Cosa è,” Collaborare è Bologna, April 7, 2016, http://www.comune.bologna.it/collaborarebologna/collaborare/

[2] Cities of Service, Co-Creating Urban Commons: 2018 Engaged Cities Cities Award Case Study, accessed July 5, 2019, https://citiesofservice.org/resource/co-creating-urban-commons-bologna-italy/.

[3] “Regulation on the Collaboration Among Citizens and the City for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons,” October 31st, 2014, http://comunita.comune.bologna.it/sites/comunita/files/allegati_blog/bolognaregulation.pdf.

[4] Cities of Service, Co-Creating Urban Commons.

[5] Cities of Service, Co-Creating Urban Commons.

[6] “Patti di collaborazione,” Partecipa Comune di Bologna, pg. 9, accessed July 6, 2019, http://partecipa.comune.bologna.it/beni-comuni

[7] Cities of Service, Co-Creating Urban Commons.

[8] “Patti di collaborazione,” Partecipa Comune di Bologna, pg.9-10.

[9] Cities of Service, Co-Creating Urban Commons.

[10] “Voglio presentare una proposta di collaborazione tramite l’area Comunità della Rete civica Iperbole,” Comune di Bologna, accessed July 7, 2019, http://comunita.comune.bologna.it/sites/comunita/files/allegati_blog/guida_alla_presentazione_proposte_di_collaborazione.pdf.

[11] “Partecipa,” Comune di Bologna, accessed July 6, 2019, http://partecipa.comune.bologna.it/.

[12] “Laboratori di Quartiere: Chi siamo e obiettivi” Comune di Bologna, accessed July 6, 2019, http://comunita.comune.bologna.it/laboratori-di-quartiere/chi-siamo-e-obiettivi.

[13] “Cos’è Incredibol,” Comune di Bologna, accessed July 7, 2019, https://www.incredibol.net/cose-incredibol/.

[14] Cities of Service, Co-Creating Urban Commons.

[15] Cities of Service, Co-Creating Urban Commons.

[16] Cities of Service, Co-Creating Urban Commons.

External Links

Municipality of Bologna [Italian]

Partecipa Website [Italian]

Incredibol [English]

Cities of Service Case Study

Notes

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