The co-governance project run by LabGov
The Co-Cities project, whose conceptual framework has been developed by LabGov –LABoratory for the GOVernance of the city as a commons-, investigates pioneering forms of collaborative city-making in urban areas.
Its story starts with LabGov, which was created as both a research laboratory and urban clinic, promoting shared, collaborative, polycentric urban co-governance, as well as leading urban experimentations and nurturing local innovations. Building on LabGov’s methodology and experience was set up the Co-Cities project which consists in tracking and analysing innovative experiences of participatory and collective governance in cities worlwide, in the objective of challenging, refining and adapting the co-cities protocol (see hereafter) formulated by LabGov.
What’s the meaning of co-governance?
Co-governance is a multi-stakeholder approach to the management of urban commons. It is based on resource pooling and cooperation among the actors of the quintuple helix model, i.e. social innovators, public authorities, businesses, civil society organizations, and knowledge institutions. Compared to the traditional public and public/private governance, it implies a new, more active, and inclusive role of local communities, that engage in a shared decision-making process by partnering with other relevant actors.
Shifting from the co-governance of urban commons to the City as a Commons
The co-governance of common urban assets, such as environmental, cultural, and digital goods, is shared, collaborative and polycentric when managed through contractual or institutionalized public-private-community partnerships. Thus, we identify the Co-City as an infrastructure on which participants, constantly guided by principles of distributive justice, can share resources, engage in collective decision-making and co-production of shared urban resources and services, supported by open data and technology.
The Co-City Approach
Based on a set of co-governance experiments performed in Bologna and other Italian cities, LabGov has defined a protocol for the Co-City, highlighting the necessary conditions to be met in order to move from single, isolated urban commons to an extensive approach: the whole city as commons, a shared resource that belongs to all of its inhabitants and has to be co-managed and co-nurtured. The city as we know it turns into an urban laboratory, whose achievements and developments are supported by a proper legal and political ecosystem.
The Co-Cities Protocol is composed of three parts:
Closing the gap between theory and practice, it is meant to serve as guidance for urban policy makers, researchers, and urban communities interested in accelerating the transition towards the city as a commons.
The five design principles are the necessary conditions that, at different level, allow the transition from urban commons projects to co-governance.