Wohin des Weges?

CITYMAKERS Recommendations 2016

Key Findings & Major recommendations

The first CITYMAKERS Meet-Up China-Germany took place in Berlin on September 28 / 29 and brought together 100 city makers from 14 cities in China and 12 cities in Germany. The results of this meeting, as well as the CITYMAKERS-Interviews and Dialogues that were conducted during the course of the year, are crystallized in these CITYMAKERS-Recommendations. These are suggested as inputs for ongoing Sino-German cooperation in the field of sustainable urbanization and cities. Below you can find the major recommendations. Please find the full booklet with an  overview trends analysis, results from the focus topic groups, and a list of concrete policy recommendations and suggested support mechanism in a download at the right side of this page.
1. Creativity and diversity across sectors and disciplines

There is potential for more vertical cooperation in Sino-German relations: The concept of multi-stakeholder (identifying and involving a wide range of actors), should be extended from the usual constellations of institutional and business stakeholders and a few selected society voices towards a much larger concept of diverse stakeholders. What these networks benefit from is a cross-disciplinary approach that enables the mixing and transfer of ideas from one sector to another (cross-fertilization). Programmes do not need to be reinvented, but depend on new impulses for innovation from other disciplines than the usual ones presented in urban dialogues, e.g. historians, designers, social scientists, artists, farmers, linguists, communication specialists, real estate insiders and sectors, e.g. industry, academia, government and civil society.

2. Global ecosystems for a critical mass

There is a critical mass of dedicated bottom-up city makers and entrepreneurs with Sino-German connections and experience; individuals and professionals that are dedicated to the common good and want to make a change towards liveable cities. These pioneers need to be supported by enabling environments, i.e. long-term social innovation ecosystems. The challenges of city making are global ones, thus requiring global support mechanisms and dialogue that helps pioneers sustain their commitment and tackle mutual challenges, in particular when local peers are still few.

3. Global outlook and network, local action and impact (Glocality)

What we see is the rise of global citizens, that lives up to the aforementioned challenges. Their members seek to test new models of city making as well as creating new spaces for action and community-building in China and Germany. They are neither mainstream yet, nor are they explicitly against the mainstream, but are rather seeking fresh approaches that can nudge the status quo for the better. These stakeholders are catalysts for societal change, but are driven and depend on understanding issues and their complexity as woven into globalization. The mostly urban homes to these global citizens thus are hubs and centres for transformation, that have to be connected across cultures to stay relevant.

4. Incentivising governmental city making intrapreneurship

Yet, while a few urban pioneers have begun to rally and speak out about problems of stagnant urbanization growth models, these attitudes have yet to be transmitted to (local) government officials, for whom GDP output per square meter often remains the major parameter of success. This parameter requires dialog and understanding of urban pioneers and their initiatives, on which a basis for city making cooperation and support from governmental institutions can flourish. More innovative government leaders should be recognized through other means that increase popularity of alternative ways. Disrupting city making to allow for innovation means fostering a culture of intrapreneurs within government institutions. These voices need to be moved from the edge of the discourse to an incentivised key component within governmental city making.

5. Sustainable Businesses with scalable Social impact

Social entrepreneurship fosters change in communities that is sustainable through applying self financing business models. Knowledge and capacity building are needed to come up with more effective tools for social entrepreneurs. This will further leverage the strategic field for action in order to establish an impactful and enabling environment while considering financial and legal frameworks. In order to scale good practices, more social impact investment needs to be made available to help spread good practices for the common good. Furthermore, legal frameworks for social entrepreneurs with beneficial tax models need to be set up to fully unleash the power of entrepreneurship for social innovation in liveable city making.

6. Community is key

The new paradigm of CO: From collaboration to cohousing/working/living: Although understanding of liveable cities can differ depending on people and context, there is one common value that the CITYMAKERS programme identifies as valid throughout cultures: Creating a community. No matter if it is growing awareness in China that human-centred urbanisation means building belongingness, not just houses, or if it is about new models of inclusion for refugees and migrants in Europe. The ability to create communities (both space and relations) is the currency that lies at the heart of liveable cities, reflected in the trends of co-housing, co-living, co working. These concepts need to be further examined and then mainstreamed. To establish a culture in which social innovation is a constant process, not an event-based phenomenon. The city exists for its inhabitants; community building makes sure that fragmented modern societies find common ground and consensus to co-exist.

7. New ‘landscaping tools’ for new fields of action

As Sino-German urbanization capacity is already well developed, CITMAKERS aim to ‘cultivate’ missing fields through identifying new spheres: Urban Agriculture helps promote food safety, and provide opportunities for unemployed or marginalized young people. The Future of Housing and Living lies in ensuring community integration and generational interaction, as well as openness and global values. Dimensions of one city's Cultural Memory, History, Heritage pervade the art of city making, as loss of heritage and distinctiveness are major societal concerns that need to be addressed. We propose the following ‘landscaping tools‘, support mechanisms that leverage the aforementioned fields of action and Sino-German city cooperation as a whole: 

  • Incentivising: Award for Liveable City Making 
  • Understanding and Going Deeper: CITYMAKERS Compass, CITYMAKERS Fellows (Focus Group Support), CITYMAKERS Summerschool (Interdisciplinary), Learning Journeys 
  • Developing & Accompanying: Project Support Labs (incl. Mentoring) 
  • Incubating & Scaling: Citymakers Start-up Hubs (incl. a Fund)
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