"What is the city but the people…"The City is not
just a reality, it is also a project. The term " City " today means, at
the same time, environmental sustainability, social cohesion, democratic
governance and cultural expression. These are some of the main challenges
highlighted by the author of this article. The growth of such ideas and of
European unity have occurred simultaneously and helped to support new and
different ways of making cities better places to live in, even though many
urban policies have failed.
The idea of sustainability includes not only environmental awareness
and a sustained economy, but also, and more important, social integration
and new ways of governing cities that will include a participative role
for every citizen (which explains our preference for the term " social
sustainability "). It is for these reasons that social sustainability is a
key concept for the MOST Programme. This is illustrated by this Discussion
Paper, which presents institutional innovations based on solidarity and
Cities as arenas of social transformations is one of the three themes
of the UNESCO MOST Programme, the main goal of which is to create
political awareness. At the Istanbul City Summit, in 1996, UNESCO, with
its message " humanizing the city ", promoted building bridges to restore
social cohesion and reinforce the symbolic dimension of space. Now,
subsequent to the Istanbul Declaration, we are providing expertise and
technical assistance for the implementation of these urban perspectives.
We must learn from different experiences and our aims should be guided
by values and ideas and be deeply rooted in practice. That is another
reason for presenting this text in the MOST Discussion Paper Series. It is
based on an overview of urban innovations within the European Union
between 1993 and 1996.
MOST Programme for Urban Development
Europe is a kaleidoscope of unique urban cultures. It consists of an
archipelago of cities, called by Braudel "greenhouses of civilisation",
and by Levi-Strauss "objects of nature and subjects of culture". From the
traditional city to the mid-20th century metropolis and, most recently, to
the metapolis, a network of networks in a universal network, the city has
always been, as defined by Aristotle, "built politics".
Cities crystallise hopes for a better tomorrow, which will be much less
like yesterday. They establish brown, green and grey agendas to meet the
three-fold challenge of globalisation, sustainability and cohesion.
However, environmental problems and social shock waves cannot be absorbed
in many cities. Unemployment scars their face. New forms of poverty (like
"fuel poverty") are both a cause and an effect of declining social
cohesion. Globalisation offers cities the opportunity to become world
players, but may also trigger processes of change which cannot be
influenced by local communities. Shifts may be swift and lethal.
Change is inevitable. The challenge is how best to manage change in
order to achieve the best European future. Cities are the only places
where decision-makers, entrepreneurs, workers and citizens congregate, at
a point beyond which synergetic effects become more important than the
accumulative ones. The potential, due to their scale and diversity, has to
be reinforced; the participation of all is leading to the optimisation of
the "disorderly order of human interaction".
Sustainability has been the most sacrosanct, overarching concept of
recent years. A sustainable city cannot be conceived without environmental
awareness, social integration, a sustained economy and citizen
participation, together in harmonious, dynamic co-evolution. Many urban
policies have failed, but failure must signal the birth of a new era,
marked by European unity and diversity. The efficiency and effectiveness
of policies must be improved and maximised. It is a yeasty period for
innovations, non-depletable resources. Innovation is "creative
destruction", a key to success. Sterile cities stagnate, fertile cities
A journey into innovations might be an odyssey to tomorrow-land, in
search of best practices and paradigm shifts. Each city is unique, but
models are universal. Common frames for the implementation of shared
principles are needed, and the development of indicators, as a new measure
of progress, is an outstanding example. Europe should mean a search for
This paper highlights examples of innovations, which focus on
participation and aim at a fulfilling life for all. It is based on the
programme Overview of Urban Innovations in the European Union. This
programme included the identification and description of 110 urban
projects in the 15 Member States. It was done in two stages: first, in
1993, for the first 12 Member States, and later, in 1996, for Austria,
Sweden and Finland (EF 1993a, 1996c). It covers a wide spectrum of urban
action, varying in type, field, cost and scale. The research focused on
projects already implemented or at an advanced planning phase, reflecting
integrated approaches for the renaissance of the multifunctional and
The projects selected were those with a collective significance for the
city, resisting time and favouring local democracy and participation at
the conception, decision and execution levels; projects introducing new
concepts, materials, techniques and methods; projects that can be
transplanted elsewhere while respecting differences in city character and
human culture; innovations from within and below and also micro-projects
with manageable consequences. Given the time that has passed since the
overview was done, many of the projects can no longer be called
innovations, even in the same context. This is not surprising: it is the
very essence of innovation. Innovations are born to be surpassed.
Cities have promoted open democracies. The art and science of
co-governing cities with all actors requires institutional innovations
based on solidarity and citizenship. Cities become schools and
laboratories to move from government to governance. Noble public spaces
can serve as places to promote unique cultures, exercise citizenship and
A. EUROPE, AN ARCHIPELAGO OF
CITIES AT THE DAWN OF THE 21st CENTURYEurope is
first and foremost urban. It consists of an archipelago with some of the
most splendid cities humanity ever created. Braudel called them
"greenhouses of civilisation", and Levi-Strauss "objects of nature and
subjects of culture". In the 1990s, cities emerge as the most complex and
dynamic ecosystems, the only human ones, open, dependent and vulnerable.
It would be impossible to define a city without taking into account the
major universal dynamics of change affecting it, the deep interrelations
among cities and between cities and their hinterlands. Martinotti suggests
that there are at least three urban formations intermeshed in the
territorial reality: the traditional city with its physical and
institutional morphology and its sociological entity, the mid-20th century
metropolis, dominated by a centre (core)–periphery (fringes) morphology,
and finally a new World city, a Global city or Exopolis, an open network
with plural nodes. The coexistence and superimposition of these three
"urban layers" creates new social orders that are undergoing a deep
mutation (EF 1997a, Ascher 1995).
At the twilight of the 20th century, globalisation and sustainability
become major issues for cities and link them to the world. Cities are
networks of local networks and, at the same time, poles of global
Many cities gain importance as places where the networks can be
decoded, condensed, converted, metabolised; where decision-makers,
entrepreneurs and citizens congregate at a point beyond which synergetic
effects become more important than the accumulative ones. They produce
more wealth than their demographic weight in the national framework
would suggest. Economic diversification, social heterogeneity and
cultural diversity have always been their main assets.
Sustainability has been the most emblematic term of recent years.
Initially defined in environmental terms, it now embraces socio-economic
visions. A sustainable city cannot be conceived without environmental
awareness, social integration, a sustained economy and citizens’
participation (EF 1992b, 1996b). HABITAT II confirmed the need for
sustainable engagements. A growing body of research suggests that,
finally, the sustainable city will be communities’ and businesses’
investment in the future (OECD 1996b).
The progress of Europe depends on the capacity of cities to meet the
challenges of the future, their adaptability and proactiveness, their
openness to change. According to the European Commission's Green Paper on
the Urban Environment (hailed by the cities of Europe as the first sign of
interest by the European Union in cities) and the Reports on the
Sustainable City, as we move towards the 21st century, cities will
continue to be the main centres of economic activity, innovation and
culture (EC 1990, 1994a, 1996a). But cities become more ambivalent; there
are cities that include but also exclude, that assemble but also divide,
that integrate but also disintegrate, enrich but also impoverish, fulfil
but also drain potential.
They are threatened by environmental deterioration and social
exclusion, but seem unwilling to sacrifice environmental quality and
social values for economic growth. They establish brown, green and grey
agendas to upgrade their environment and reinforce their capacity for
innovation. They all want to win the battle of sustainable development and
to become more attractive to people and capital.
Turning problems into opportunities is a paramount challenge for all
actors and decision-makers (EF 1992a-c, 1996b; Hall 1995; MOPTMA 1995;
OECD 1994a, 1996b) and many developments in Europe seem to provide the
elements of a new (improved) paradigm (Beatley 1995).
European cities seem convinced that they need to change and that the
future they aim at cannot be the linear continuation of the past,
especially if, in the era of the search for sustainability, we are
persuaded that past patterns and trends lead to an unwelcome reality (INTA
A global economy gives many more cities the opportunity to become parts
of a global city, but this world conglomeration might have strong central
quarters and weak peripheral ones. Harvey suggests the strengthening of
the social place as the best way of meeting the new challenges emerging
with globalisation (1991). A simple extension of past policies cannot
achieve this new goal; new elements have to be injected into the
reciprocating system to activate older elements towards the desired
direction. It is these precious elements that we call innovations. As Hall
argues, product innovations preceded process ones, and the two are now
being combined to bring forth urban innovations (ACDHRD 1995). With
advancing globalisation, shifts in the economy might be swift and lethal
for institutions which do not innovate, while sustainability demands
innovations which enhance the potential of limited resources,
environments, skills and chances.
The sustainable city refuses political exclusion (EF 1995b). Urban
democracy, representative and direct, is a key element to the existence of
cities and their capacity for sustainability. Cities have promoted open
democracies since the age of Pericles (The Economist 1995), long before
acid rain destroyed the face of the Caryatids. But democracy may be
fragile. It needs a daily reconfirmation of civic values, an ongoing
reinforcement of the civic bond. It has to precede any gestation of
visions and plans and touch the heartbeat of the city. Citizens should be
transformed from mere users and consumers into city actors and should rise
to the new challenges of urban governance (METROPOLIS 1996). The question
of the "duly constituted" authorities of representative democracy is
linked to the "constitutional" issue related to the representative role of
local groups. States and cities must undertake the challenge of
strengthening citizen action in local communities. Among the various
developments in Europe, it is worth highlighting a symbolic one: the
opening of an Embassy of Local Democracy in Sarajevo.
There are expanding efforts to create citizen-friendly and
environment-friendly cities. The passage from ego-citizens to eco-citizens
and socio-citizens will certainly require significant amounts of
mobilisation, education and culture.
Participation has been declared a precondition for the construction of
the political identity of the European Union (CEMR 1996). There is a
unanimously recognised trend: city dwellers are increasingly invited to
act as partners rather than protesters (EF 1992c; Healey 1997). Very
different projects, ranging from the improvement of exceptional vernacular
architecture, such as Otranto and Bari, to the tracing of the new metro
lines in Valencia, have been crowned with success, thanks to the active
participation of residents. In Reggio Emilia, citizens participate in the
compiling of the city budget, with the use of new technologies (EF 1993a).
In Amsterdam, after a referendum to restrict car-use in the city centre in
1993, two more referenda were prepared, on the new metro line and the
extension of the city plan. Lisbon is the first city in Southern Europe to
have an ombudsman.
B. THE INTANGIBLE FOREFRONT OF
PARTICIPATIVE INNOVATIONS IN EUROPE: UNTAPPED OPPORTUNITIES FOR
GOVERNMENTS AND CITIES"Innovation is a creative
destruction": innovative doctrine radically exploits new ways or beliefs
and destroys old, outmoded doctrines (Schumpeter 1976). It implies a
radical shift from the creation of something new at the expense of
something conventional. It discards old assumptions and seeks new
alliances. Innovation theory starts by distinguishing innovation from
invention, at the one end, and transformation and diffusion, at the other.
It involves a dramatic and thorough change that widens the horizon of
capabilities and a catalytic organisational restructuring that allows the
new product, concept or idea to bring about the required transformation.
Invention is often identified with the research and development of a
product or idea, while innovation includes all the politics of its
adaptation. An old world of principles, ideas and patterns dies while a
new one is born. The cutting edge is where innovation lies, but it is more
a process than an event. It encompasses all processes that lead to the
transformation. It needs planning, foresight and strategic choices.
In organisation theory, innovation implies significant change in an
organisation's tasks and incentives. Yet, the more complex and diverse an
organisation, the greater the number of innovations that will be conceived
and proposed, but the fewer the number of innovations that will be
adopted. The more established an organisation, the more difficult it is to
change. Discipline, hierarchy and conformity are the enemies of change,
and resistance increases when innovations touch the core interests or
boundaries of institutions.
While the adage of bureaucracies is "Never do one thing for the first
time", the hardest innovation is to stop an established practice. However,
many organisations look at innovations as an investment rather than as an
expenditure. A new discipline can bring about a new freedom. All of this
also applies to cities. There is always, in their history, a moment where
the future enters. "We were innovative in products and in services, we are
now moving to innovative solutions", states Wymack, inventor of the "lean
enterprise" concept (MIT 1997).
Radical innovation is rare and changes the status quo and flow of
power. One should distinguish innovation from pure evolutionary change and
the adaptive responses to new technologies, within the established rules
and procedures. Innovation implies creative pro-action to structural
change. It comprises a managerial and institutional response to the
opportunities offered by new technology. Its main sources are necessity or
choice: for example, scarcity, pure accident, defence, crisis or creative
conflict. It can also be strategy-driven. Crises force people to take a
hard look at reality and generate a plethora of new ideas. Sometimes the
source of innovation can become the obstacle to it. Any given innovation
creates the conditions for its own demise. Competition can be both the
source and the obstacle, it can also be used to export the cost of
innovations. Last, but not least, political leadership can be a major
source of innovation.
Innovation is a highly political process and governments have a broad
spectrum of ways in which to influence this. Directly, they can promote
innovation by supporting R&D activities and by adopting new ideas and
products. Indirectly, even in decreasing budget environments, they can
influence innovation, through regulation and demand (versus supply)
Each innovation constitutes a dynamic which can be very powerful. It
might also be a largely uncontrolled process and leaders trying to harness
it are faced with the same difficulties as when managing an explosion.
Innovations are often needed to control the innovation process. However,
this is the endless chain of innovations on which the history of
civilisation is based. One could be tempted to paraphrase Valéry: the
value of the world relies on extreme innovations, its stability on average
conventional action. Creating a utopia (which by definition has no place)
in a specific socio-spatial and temporal context requires art and science.
Innovation and sustainability share a common desire for immortality – a
quest for eternal youth, in pursuit of perfection. Cities, as very complex
systems, are, by definition, organisations where many new ideas, concepts
and products are created, but where the difficulties of implementation
also abound. In European cities, with mythological origins, all forces
emulating innovation try to focus on the future. The future, however, is a
moving ground. Should one focus on the immediate future and the next
generation, or further ahead? All approaches require vision, strategy and
tactics, design of tools and methods, information and organisation. Above
all, they need co-operation and concerted action. There has never been a
technical invention or gadget capable of changing the face of civilisation
compared to what strong will and effort by people can do to enhance their
Cities do not grow as an enlargement of what is essentially already
there. They grow by processes of gradual diversification and
differentiation. Cities are wholly existential, their being and the
sources of their growth lie within themselves. "Adding new work to older
work proceeds vigorously and creates possibilities for change" (Jacobs
1969). There can be no innovation without creativity, leading to invention
and the birth of new ideas. Cities are places where creativity
concentrates, since there is no source of innovation other than human
brains and hearts.
A creative city is a city that can compose a better future out of its
people's creativity. This presupposes a recognition of the creativity of
all actors and of each individual citizen. From a new idea to the grafting
into a mainstream policy, the birth, growth and death of an innovation
depends on a city's creative assets and their mobilisation towards solving
urban problems and not only adapting to change, but creating the desired
change. Nurturing creativity can be contagious, it can create a climate
for mobilising more creative potential. The success of innovations is
never certain, but not undertaking innovation is certainly a failure.
Sterile cities stagnate, fertile cities progress.
Obstacles to innovation are powerful. Very often, established
administrative and financial structures nullify the possibility of
innovations. Sometimes innovations that are extremely easy to implement
fail because of the inadequacy of closed frameworks. Discrimination is the
other major prohibitive factor. It creates flaws, it gives unequal
nurturing of creativity, it blocks the access of a fertile field for
innovation, if generated by non-recognised actors. Innovations are also
needed to overcome the obstacles to innovation. Redressing the imbalances
and addressing the inflexibility of structures represents a vast field for
innovation and change. Each successful innovation probably comes after
(constructive) errors and (purposeful) trials; it might constitute itself
a less successful stage of a most successful initiative. Imitation seldom
requires as much trial and error as innovation does, but it is a shortcut,
an economic borrowing (Jacobs 1969). The more innovative an innovation,
the more trials required until it is accepted as such.
Creative use of capital for valuable innovation might be incompatible
with urban efficiency. A city supporting and fulfilling innovations might
not be the most efficient in the short term, but this does not mean that
innovations are necessarily expensive. In assessing an innovation, one
should consider the costs of generating, designing and implementing an
innovation and compare it with the indirect costs of not introducing it.
Improving the prospect of success and reducing the associated risk
becomes a challenge for an innovation-friendly city. Many of the
innovations of the Overview programme are linked to a small initial
capital. Many of them produce great positive change. Sometimes, the
purposeful and knowledgeable use of capital is impossible unless small
sums have first been invested in a multiple of small new departures.
The success of each small departure is an expression of the creativity
that fertilised each small sum and of the mechanisms (or their absence)
that made it happen. Finally, the social significance of each innovation
is essential, both for the added external social benefit and for the
encouragement of innovations by society in general. In the Janus-faced
problem: "Urban efficiency versus innovation", social acceptance can play
a balancing role.
Governments, at all levels, are much more enablers than providers, but,
equally, they are initiators of innovation to address specific problems.
They can choose from a myriad of innovative options. They can enhance and
offer inspiration for innovations. They can motivate the social partners
to co-initiate innovations and make them grow. They can give an example in
sharing responsibility for a proactive city (Abbott 1996). Efficient but
non-creative use of capital in cities can lead to the systematic imitation
of innovations produced elsewhere, a chronic "import" of creative
solutions. Trial is limited in the search for the optimal and most
efficient conditions for transplanting innovations. However,
over-transplanting innovations may be dangerous. Continuous imitation
kills the seeds of productivity and weakens the constructive capacity of
cities. Rapid mobilisation of creativity and innovation cannot happen if
there is neither a permanent environment for the peaceful incubation of
genuinely new ideas and unproven goods and services (Jacobs 1969) nor the
willingness and effort of co-operation for implementing them (MIT 1997).
Nobody holds the monopoly on innovations. All actors have the potential
of influencing the city as a surgical team, operating on a complex living
organism, like the human body, with a common healing purpose (EF 1997a).
Each has a distinct contribution to make. Public authorities have to
provide frameworks and must establish the rules by which the market of
innovations is allowed to operate. The private sector can direct its
profit-oriented drive, entrepreneurship and ability towards making things
happen. NGOs can assist in the unleashing of the inventive and
entrepreneurial capacity of the local society. Participation of all offers
multiple benefits. The involvement of the private sector decreases the
social cost of innovations. The involvement of NGOs is often accompanied
by volunteer labour. Solidarity is built and community identity fostered.
When citizens take greater pride in innovations, they develop a sense of
ownership which leads to broad coalitions for the responsible
implementation of innovations.
Innovations affecting individual behaviour and lifestyles are
impossible to implement without participation. An unconvinced electorate
is likely to oppose regulations or economic incentives.
Decision-makers should become progress-makers and orchestrate change.
They must become both wiser visionaries and better communicators of
alternative visions, in a plural but converging society.
Scenario workshops try to bring together different local groups, with
traditionally conflicting views, on "neutral grounds" and on "equal terms"
to formulate consensus on a vision of a sustainable city (IIUE 1995).
Action planning schemes introduced in the UK, but also in Eastern Europe,
involve the organisation of carefully structured collaborative events in
which all local stakeholders participate. Urban regeneration is not about
places; it is about people. These types of events unlock creative
individuals, co-articulate a sense of vision and create a momentum, a
thrust for the future. Among them, the Action Planning weekends from
London to Moscow nourished creative plans for places ranging from
redundant railway lands to docklands (PWIA 1996).
By sharing the cost and responsibility of innovations, decision-makers
become more accountable to their electorates, while projects initiated by
the authorities are less likely to be opposed and more likely to be valued
by the beneficiaries. The success of an innovation will depend on the
capacity to bring all actors, having their own priorities, to work
together towards a common goal. Innovations may not necessarily be
neutral: they usually benefit some interests and discriminate against
others. Communication, negotiation and mediation at the earliest possible
stages maximise benefits and reconcile short-term interests with long-term
benefits. Informal input is important. Often, the groups left without a
voice may plant important seeds of innovations. And if authorities and
businesses do not know how they live, they cannot introduce innovations to
improve their lives. Because the final test of an innovative city will
always be the quality of life it ultimately offers to its inhabitants.
C. SOCIAL PARTICIPATION
AND ENVIRONMENTAL INNOVATIONS IN EUROPEAN CITIESEurope is
one of the lands of cornucopia. On a daily basis, a European city of one
million inhabitants consumes, on average, 11,500 tonnes of fossil fuels,
320,000 tonnes of water and 2,000 tonnes of food (EEA 1995a). The Charter
of European Sustainable Cities and Towns recognises that decreasing
consumption levels of greedy cities is quixotic and thus targets the
stabilisation of consumption (ICLEI 1995). The ecological footprint of the
North, which contains 25% of the world population while consuming 75% of
all resources, is six times heavier than that of the South (this is
calculated by an examination of the biophysical capacity of land surfaces
required both to produce the resources necessary for cities and to absorb
their waste). If the South were to increase its consumption by 50%, the
North would have to decrease its own consumption by 15%. A change of such
magnitude can only be achieved through the commitment of each individual
citizen to a concerted effort to improve lifestyle patterns; "better"
becomes more important than "more". Environmental sustainability might
lead to the "lean city".
In the energy field, it is worth mentioning that the European Union
explored various socio-political scenarios in order to define and explain
the workings of energy economies. Four contrasting scenarios were
developed to reflect various global social and economic trends,
macro-economic prospects and energy policy agendas.
The Conventional Wisdom scenario is designed to evaluate the
energy consequences of the pursuit of current policies. In the Battlefield
scenario, the world reverts to isolationism and protectionism, while under
the Hypermarket scenario, the predominant themes are market forces,
liberalism and free trade. Only under a fourth scenario, the Forum
scenario, can both economic growth and environmental goals be achieved.
Even if it foresees energy growth by 2020 at an average rate of 1.6% p.a.
(as much as in the conventional scenario), it leads to a fall in CO2
emissions of 11% (1990-2020), through an increasing share of nuclear
energy supply. Its main hypothesis is that the world is moving more
towards consensus and co-operative international structures with a strong
role for public administration (EC 1996b).
Energy production patterns are affected by the social, economical and
environmental views of all citizens who contribute directly to consumption
trends; for their behaviour pattern is the bottom line for the success or
failure of any environmental initiative. Governments should increase the
efficiency of the energy sector by promoting renewable energy sources
(solar, wind, water, biomass) and more environmentally-sound fuels, by
developing decentralised combined heat and electricity plants, local
energy provision concepts and synergy effects and savings through the
improvement of the systems. The mini-centre for the co-generation of
electricity and heating in Milan tries to develop specific scientific and
engineering knowledge in a local context and stimulate the interest of
potential users (EF 1993a). Introducing photovoltaic cells for the
combined production of electric and thermal energy is also gaining ground
in Palermo and in other Mediterranean cities. In the German Länder,
energy-saving measures include the introduction of an "energy pass" to
optimise the energy-efficiency conditions of houses. In The Hague,
formerly long-term unemployed were trained to advise low-income households
in energy savings (OECD 1994b).
Citizen participation contributes greatly to coherent efforts to
address environmental problems, reflected in the drafting and
implementation of environmental plans and charters, including Local
Agendas 21. Together, all actors establish the environmental radiography
of a city and collectively define visions and actions. In Naples, one of
the most seriously threatened urban environments of Europe, citizens
signed the Environmental Charter after one year of consultation and
mediation (Gillo & Solera 1997). In Finland, the Lahti Environmental
Forum tries to ensure the commitment of all actors in order to promote
sustainable development in the Lahti area. In France, environmental
charters constitute contracts between the State and individual cities. The
Charter of Mulhouse is a clear example of the strong will to improve the
environmental and public health. Citizen involvement is the key to
balancing the multiple aims of the charter, including the protection of
natural resources , the improvement of the quality of life of the
inhabitants, the adoption of a "Health and Environment Perspective", the
promotion of urban safety and the integration of socio-economic objectives
with the preservation of the environment (Ministère de l'Environnement
1993; EF 1993a, 1995a).
During the last decade, we have witnessed a healthy competition of
cities to gain environmental credentials, prompted by their inhabitants'
desire to transform their ecological awareness into action.
"Green City" does not simply mean green spaces, grass roofs, timber
frame constructions, improved energy systems and water cycles (Elkin &
McLaren 1991; Girardet 1992). A whole cultural reform is needed to give
meaning to all technical achievements. As the first British city to be
accorded the status of Environment City, Leicester offers a model
for setting in motion a process for change, hallmarked by an emphasis on
partnerships. This is reflected in the fact that many initiatives emerged
from the private sector, the churches, individuals and the voluntary
sector. The "Business Sector Network" offered the expertise of the city's
commercial sector, while "Environ", a non-profit-making company was set up
to provide local organisations with access to environmental audits and
advice (EF 1993a). The city is also worth mentioning for other
achievements, among which is its solidarity, attained by the harmonious
coexistence of various races.
All over Europe, cities have become laboratories of ecological
innovation, with high experimental value. The Understenshöjden ecological
village in Stockholm is a good example of improving urban metabolism with
user participation and ecological concerns as fundamentals. Based on a
constructive alternative to government building proposals, put forward by
a citizen's association, a full-scale building project was planned,
designed and, to an extent, physically constructed by future
inhabitants. Schwabach, a small, self-sufficient German city,
offers an example of the efforts to implement an urban ecology planning
strategy. The city had been selected by the Federal Ministry
because of its unified, dynamic local government and its ecological
achievements to date, especially in the area of waste management. The
basic principles are that nothing is impossible and everybody should
participate. The pilot study aimed at introducing ecological concepts and
actions to a normal city, under normal conditions and with normal funds.
After the study, the city council issued guidelines for action and
translated them into a concrete programme in its 1993-2003 Model Urban
Development Strategy, leading to Schwabach Ecological City
As cities undergo a "renaissance", urban ecology offers new visions
(Rueda 1996). In Berlin, often called the recycled city, the derelict
space adjoining the former wall became, once again, a central space for
creation and innovation. In Kreuzberg, "Block 103" highlights links
between social well-being and environmental upgrading. Former squatters of
the block have been offered the opportunity to own the space they
occupied and, at the same time, they have been trained in converting the
houses into ecological modern buildings. Special emphasis has been
accorded to energy, water, green spaces and new materials and techniques.
Another complex, "Block 6", has pioneered alternative water
systems. Based on a combination of cleaning techniques for water depending
on its origin, previous and destination use, the project emphasises the
learning and communication process. Residents have been trained in
"feeling" the process. The system allows 50% savings on water, while the
society of inhabitants participates in the technological monitoring
of the system (Gelford et al. 1992).
In the area of resource management, the first innovation comes from a
shift in emphasis from the treatment to the prevention of waste, followed
by new techniques to motivate participation.
Fostering community involvement is a must for waste to be considered
a resource. In Parma, students were associated with the collection
of aluminium cans; the paper recycling efforts featured the slogan "we
will build a kindergarten with the profits received from the sale of used
paper". The city continued with the innovative recycling of plastic. In
Rimini, a medium-sized city whose population doubles during the summer
months, the city administration decided to unify waste management (intense
summer activity) with garden maintenance (intense winter activity). Paper
recycling is stimulated through an exchange of paper for a plant. The
collected paper is transported to a mill near the city, whose management,
from 1991 on, has been entrusted to a centre for the rehabilitation of
drug addicts (EF 1993a).
In Vaasa, Finland, children taught in kindergartens and schools to sort
waste, teach their parents to do the same. An ecological information
centre offers a workshop which is run by six formerly unemployed people.
This project results in over 90% of inhabitants sorting their waste (EF
The Municipality of Oeiras, in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, set up
a backyard composting of organic waste programme. In order to reduce the
amount of waste the municipal services have to collect, transport, treat
and dispose of, the municipality began a publicity and information
campaign which achieved the enrolment of 100 families. Besides conferring
economic benefits on the authorities, the project gives inhabitants the
possibility to produce a high quality fertiliser for their gardens and
increases their awareness of urban environmental problems (EF 1993a).
Waste pricing has been achieving extraordinary results in cities
Environmental problems in European metropolitan areas do not mainly
come from production; they stem from consumption, primarily from motorised
traffic. Transport systems everywhere are accused of no longer
being able to deliver the expected levels of service. Traffic congestion
represents a loss of 3% of GDP in the countries of the EU and traffic
infrastructure covers 10-15% of the urban space (EC 1994a). In cities such
as Athens, more than 80% of air pollution is due to traffic. Ironically,
these failures are virtually the direct result of urban policies in recent
decades (Jacobs 1992). Traffic provisions should be like arteries,
facilitating the flow of vitality rather than dominating the body
of the city (ALFOZ 1995; Ambiente Italia 1993; Friends of the Earth 1992;
Urban renaissance of spaces and functions has decreased unsustainable
mobility, thus favouring public transport over the private car and giving
priority to the pedestrian and the bicycle (UITP 1991). This cannot be
achieved without the involvement of everybody. Experiments encouraging
active participation of car-owners expand (Burwitz et al. 1991).
There is no innovation more important and difficult to achieve than
that which stops a widespread practice, such as the use of the private
car, considered to be the single most destructive factor for cities. The
study undertaken by the European Commission on "A Car-Free City" suggested
the reconception of a city in pedestrian terms, in a plan of small units
which proved both ecologically and economically efficient (EC 1992a).
Subsequent to the EC research, the municipality of Amsterdam organised
the conference "Car-Free Cities?" (1994). The question mark is important,
as it expresses reactions, reluctance and inhibitions. On that occasion,
the Car-Free Cities Club was launched by cities committed to promoting
policies discouraging the use of private cars (Car-Free Cities Club 1994).
Following the example of cities like Bologna in 1985, Amsterdam held a
referendum on the question of banning the car, and its citizens voted
affirmatively (1994). The narrow majority, however, illustrated a need for
more consultation and debate before so drastic a change is implemented.
The 1993 Granada Declaration had already highlighted the importance of a
co-ordinated land-use policy to curb the unnecessary physical movement of
an effective integrated access system.
There is a shift of interest from mobility to accessibility (ALFOZ
1995). Accessibility is linked to proximity. Although physical proximity
does not necessarily eliminate social distance, it may constitute a first
step in the formation of social cohesion. The role of cities in assembling
and in averting divisions may be reinforced with the removal of
architectonic barriers, vestiges of past heavy transport
infrastructures (EF 1995c). Removal of these barriers and the subsequent
designation of the recovered space for public purposes, undoubtedly
represents an action that is both exemplary and transferable. The creation
of a green strip in Madrid is a good example (EF 1993a). Integral urban
accessibility programmes have been developed in the Spanish cities of El
Ferrol and Salamanca. The concrete objectives are the limitation of the
obstacles that hinder mobility and access to centres, public transport,
pedestrian paths and crossings (EF 1993a). The introduction of
urban tolls will need strong coalitions to expand, since social acceptance
is low, reminiscent of the reluctance to accept pay parking in the 1960s.
Walking and cycling are the only sustainable modes of transport. A
pedestrian-friendly city is more human. Venice, emblematic and desirable,
remains the archetype of a car-free city (Grund 1991). Copenhagen has been
a pioneer city in recognising the social value of pedestrian streets, with
its main street, Strøget, pedestrianised in 1962, and the process gaining
more ground each year. Oulu, in Finland, is extending its
pedestrian zone, which is proving to be very successful, even in
temperatures of -30°C. In milder climates, Italian cities (Perugia,
Bolzano, Spoleto, Rome) have been pioneers in creating pedestrian cultural
environments. Turning protesters into partners has been crucial in
implementing such reforms, as their success lies in the fact that
shop-owners, previously fearful of decreased sales, were persuaded of the
reverse. In Naples, places like Piazza de Plebiscito rediscover their
former splendour after the removal of private cars. Amsterdam is the
European city with the most elaborate bicycle network, complementing the
road and canal systems. In cities like Copenhagen, Münster and Erlangen,
35% of all transport needs are satisfied by bicycle (Rautsi 1993).
The use of private cars will not be curbed until such time as provision
is made by governments and cities for efficient public transport systems
(EF 1995c). In La Rochelle, France, a new multi-optional concept
(Autoplus) has been introduced through a partnership between
municipalities, the semi-public company for public transport, taxis, two
private bus companies, one ship, hotels and a bank. Information and
consultation campaigns, including special events, presentations to
schoolchildren, a quarterly magazine, 'Minitel' phone-terminals, and
information booths have been set up to include citizens in the new scheme.
In Toulouse, the city, the semi-public enterprise for public transport
and the society which has created a smart-pass, work together for the
readjustment of the transport services to meet people's needs (EF 1993a).
In Germany, the concept of "short distances" gains ground in many cities.
Heidelberg, Freiburg and Basle have been pioneers in introducing low-noise
vehicles in noise-protected districts and eco-tickets for public
transport. Clean, silent and fast tramways are gaining acceptance in
European cities. In France, Nantes, Grenoble and Strasbourg, from 1985
onwards, introduced three technological generations of tramway (EF 1993a).
D. INNOVATIONS FOR THE
SOCIALLY SUSTAINABLE CITYThe social city, "the city of
solidarity and citizenship", cannot be perceived without equity, otherwise
it will be the polysegmented city (Moss) or the city of forced solidarity
(Durkheim). Even in the most prosperous European cities, there are urban
islands where environmental degradation and social exclusion go hand in
hand. They are overcrowded, extended zones in run-down city centres or
chaotic peripheral zones, where the disadvantaged sections of society tend
to be concentrated (Martinotti 1993). They remind us of the third or even
the fourth world.. They are the lowest depths of the city, where the city
secretes another city or the tentacular suburbs that have nothing in
common with the poetic "tentacular" cities of Verhaaren. They are places
of functional impoverishment, with poor housing and insufficient equipment
and facilities. Is it a coincidence that the social features of these
areas are poverty, delinquency and crime, high unemployment, low mobility,
little access to information, education and training (EF 1992b; Jacquier
1991)? Partnership and solidarity are highlighted as European efforts
towards the city that integrates and assembles (DIV 1995).
The spirals of unemployment and exclusion scar the faces of cities. In
the 1990s, the European Union has stepped up the pace of its action for
the disadvantaged and the excluded. In this vast and vague category, one
should include the more than 52 million people (15% of total EU
population) estimated to live below the poverty line, the 18 million
unemployed and more than 3 million homeless. The need for new sources of
employment is sharp and the achievements not always promising, even if
everybody recognises the need to move from assistance to the unemployed
towards work incentives for the future worker. The European Confidence
Pact for Employment is described as a process to restore the confidence of
European citizens. Confidence cannot be decreed, it has to be won.
Rehabilitation and renewal works, cultural tourism, landscaping, caring
about the equilibrium of urban aquatic systems, nurturing biodiversity,
enhancing indigenous flora and fauna, protecting wildlife sanctuary areas,
bio-producing locally for the self-sufficient society, promoting a sounder
urban metabolism (reduce, reuse, recycle, repair) and better neighbourhood
management may be important sources of employment, confidence and
empowerment (EC 1995b).
In Rinkeby, Sweden, the merging of social services and the support for
employment generation, in a community highly dependent on social welfare,
brought significant results. The project includes meaningful training, the
establishment of an SME incubator for immigrants and the creation of new
jobs in activities ranging from crime and drug abuse prevention to theatre
productions (EF 1996c). In Galway, Ireland, the work of the
Community Action Group now continued by the Galway City Partnership
Company represents a "bottom-up" approach to local economic development.
It has a Board of Directors composed of social partners, with
representatives of trade unions and employers, state agencies and
community and voluntary organisations. The aim of these partnership
companies is to oversee the integrated development of particular areas of
the city through local community initiatives, enterprise creation,
training and education, environment and infrastructure improvement and the
capacity building of local people (EF 1997d).
Improvement of the housing cells of a city can be given new
opportunities if governments, local population and the business sector
collaborate (OECD 1996a). Mass housing (social and subsidised) has often
created social tensions on the urban fringe. In many European cities,
housing is now becoming self-regulated, local, personal, individualised,
proactive, with corporate neighbourhood space and responsive local
management. Vibrant local communities, fostering identification,
are replacing void neighbourhoods. A new human face is judged
necessary in most of those estates built quickly and cheaply after the
war, as if they were to house "interchangeable people". After the
celebration of functionalism and the rigid zoning, there is a search for
multicultural, mixed human spaces. The Mascagni development in Reggio
Emilia shows how a multifunctional urban space can be created from a rigid
series of anonymous buildings, a functional marriage between old and new,
with integrated public services and schemes to create local business (EF
Partnership between national and local authorities, housing
associations and tenants, and a private sector developer are also being
formed for the reshaping of housing estates. The renewal of Holly Street
Estate in London, a housing estate notorious for its state of deprivation,
was initiated to maximise every opportunity for community and economic
growth through the redevelopment process and to help break the cycle of
welfare dependency and poverty. Pleasant Victorian-style houses replace
the tower blocks, in response to discussions with tenants' groups,
giving opportunity for home identification. Measures to involve the
community included the establishment of the Holly Street Community
Enterprise Trust, a body responsible for the physical management of the
estate on whose boards tenants were represented; regular consultations
with tenants; a freephone number to the Project Director; the publication
of a regular newsletter; individual home visits and the establishment of a
local housing management office (EF 1993a).
While a central government continues to play a central role in the
provision of housing, its burden can be alleviated and new innovations can
be introduced when authority is delegated. Local government in Kavala,
Greece, in collaboration with other actors, is promoting a new residential
extension to accommodate 7,000 people.
Planned in conjunction with a public development agency, it is a
self-financing project with the local authority operating what is, in
effect, a land bank to address the problems of making low-cost housing
available, sites for improvements to infrastructure and services, and the
incorporation of existing illegal housing developments.
It is the first post-war example in Greece of an organised development
involving a local authority designed to provide housing for middle to
lower income groups and to resolve land ownership problems through
consultation. In Galway, the process has moved a step further, with local
authorities, in addition to operating a number of low-cost home ownership
schemes, offering assistance to two voluntary and co-operative housing
associations (EF 1997d).
Affordability was probably the reason cited by the new political
authority to explain the termination of the renewal of the "Barrio de Mil
Viviendas", a dilapidated neighbourhood in Alicante, Spain. The former
local authority had designed an ambitious plan, with the participation of
the inhabitants, and was committed to engaging unemployed residents in the
reconstruction of the quarter. However, the former mayor recognised that
"if such a project stops without huge public protest, the mistake lies
with the authority which initiated the project, without the full
commitment of the inhabitants". This highlights the importance of
community support as a prerequisite for undertaking major expenditure (EF
In Finland, the Top Toijala project tried to activate and strengthen
tenants' potential and engagement for the improvement of the Rautala
housing area. A "community theatre" has been created to identify and
propose solutions to problems and nourish visions and actions.
Initial suspicion towards this unconventional and seemingly frivolous
method has evolved into strong resident support for the project. An
ambitious renewal has been planned with a modest budget (EF 1996c).
Urban safety poses a major challenge to cities and governments. While
policing still remains essential, community projects in Denmark are being
used to prevent crime. Action Plan 10, by involving tenants in successful
renovation of their own neighbourhoods, has contributed to crime
prevention. By providing them with better physical surroundings, offering
them the possibility to realise their own potential, developing pride in
an area, and giving the example of working adults to youth familiar with
high unemployment levels, this project has addressed the underlying causes
of criminality. The safety committees in the neighbourhoods of Barcelona
involve citizens who are engaged in improving the quality of daily life
Graffiti attacks, unrelated to any form of artistic expression, seem to
be the post-modern way of attacking public spaces and property. An example
of a successfully implemented integrated approach to fighting graffiti in
public spaces is a micro-project in Maastricht. It includes extra means to
trace the offenders, education programmes to improve the skills of
graffiti "artists" and an anti-graffiti bus with formerly unemployed
people specialised in removing graffiti. The city made a wall available to
citizens wishing to express themselves using graffiti. Within two years
the damage caused by graffiti pollution decreased considerably (80-90% at
the railway station).
Tracing of offenders and conditional or alternative punishment have a
noticeable effect on preventing recidivism, while there are former
offenders, who, after their training, have become famous graffiti artists
(EF 1993a). Given the high cost of removing graffiti, the project brings
an overall high return with a positive impact on job creation and
E. PARTICIPATION IN THE ART AND
SCIENCE FOR THE CITY OF THE FUTURE"What is the city but
the people?" (Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Act 3). Giving people
opportunities is the decisive first step towards making cities efficient.
One of the most basic principles in producing mega-results from
micro-investments is the optimisation of human resources. Barcelona leads
the way. A body of 40,000 volunteers was created in 1988 and trained for
four years in order to work in the Olympic Games. After 1992, it was clear
to the city authorities that this body was a living heritage and should be
offered new opportunities. The municipality conferred prestige on the
group and helped its self-organisation into a productive force. The most
active group of volunteers created an association – Volunteers 2,000 –
which manages the whole voluntary body. Today, the city has 50,000
volunteers assisting in all types of projects, safeguarding the
functioning and minimising the cost of every action. This is a good lesson
for cities in search of projects of maximum financial return. Mathematics
suggest that projects having almost zero-cost may have nearly infinite
The rehabilitation of the Ciutat Vella, in the historic centre of
Barcelona, is an unprecedented and unique event, in terms of scope and
civic spirit. Following the opening of the city towards the sea and the
creation of the Villa Olimpica, the whole urban fabric is changing, with
the injection of improvements on various scales. Selective renovation,
rehabilitation, construction, pedestrianisation and greening are the
visible elements. Civic centres have been created and have become
frequently used meeting points and a cultural reference.
The invisible elements responsible for the greatest change are the
strong neighbourhood groups which, in partnership with the authorities,
played a pioneering role in the allocation of new housing and
services, the dismantling of unsound activities and the whole change of
climate (EF 1993a; Rueda 1995).
A community may profit when a municipality makes planning permits
conditional on specific terms, as co-operation with private investors can
decrease the social cost of a project. In Stockley, a former industrial
dump became an example of bold environmental action. A partnership between
the developer, the local authority and the university created an
international business park and public parkland including recreational
facilities. In exchange for the right to construct the business park over
36 hectares, the developer guaranteed the reclamation of the whole site
(140 hectares), its environmental enhancement and landscaping. Local
residents were involved in the process through extensive community
consultation (EF 1993a).
Participation, innovation and planning confront new challenges and, in
1982, Evora was the first Portuguese city to prepare a municipal master
plan. The political situation after the 1974 revolution favoured citizen
participation and the municipality led a long project of consultation. The
common reflection and dialogue allowed the rigorous respect of the plan by
all concerned. It trained the collective conscience and favoured
participation in all urban activities. The plan, approved by the
government in 1985, aimed at creating a viable economic base and improving
the environment and living conditions. Ten years later Evora was the
leader of the European network "Strategies for Medium-sized Cities" (EF
1997d). In the evolving world of planning where many components become
unpredictable and uncontrollable, Evora enhances informal input. The
preservation of its monumental culture depends on everybody.
There is such a notion as "Euroaesthetics". There are as many
aesthetics as ways to understand a city's soul, to appreciate the desires
of its citizens and to listen to its heartbeat (EF 1995d). Public spaces,
described by Koolhas as fortresses of freedom (La Ville 1994b), have great
potential as islands of urbanity in the archipelago of the city (Council
of Europe 1992; UNESCO 1995).
Public open space should enhance aesthetics and sociability and serve
as a place for "negotiating" democracy. Setting up qualitative
recommendations for the functional, environmental, cultural and aesthetic
character of the spaces, roads and pavements, roadside plantations and
public lighting is very important in forging cultural identity, of which
process the Manual of Public Spaces in Brussels is a good example. The
unification of the archaeological spaces in Athens and their functional
and aesthetic links to green spaces is expected to create a public space
of high value (EF 1993a).
Citizen participation is a determining force not only for the
preservation of heritage but also for the rejection of projects which do
not respect it. Saltsjöbaden, near Stockholm, constructed at the end of
the last century, offers a suitable example of constructive citizen
alternatives to government plans. A project for the construction of an
anonymous apartment block on the sea-front gave rise to citizen protests.
The "charette" method was used to assemble the opinions of all actors,
local residents, promoters, politicians, social partners and planners. For
an entire week, they worked together to elaborate a vision for a future
respecting the past. The result was more than the rejection of the
concrete project; it was also the beginning of an extraordinary dialogue
on the built landscape on which they had been born and which would outlive
Future citizens must be given high priority, not simply as recipients
of, but as participants in innovatory processes. Hundreds of French cities
establish "municipal councils of children". The "Cities in Schools"
project in the UK addresses the multiple needs of persistent truants and
underachievers (EF 1993a). The Finnish project "Children as Urban
Planners" educates future citizens in environmental awareness and
responsibility for their built and natural environment (EF 1996c). In
Milan, the "Council for the Well-being of Minors" will implement projects
where children, with their teachers, will single out open spaces to be
reclaimed, prepare models and put into practice the changes envisaged
In Dunkirk, neighbourhood committees with young people aged between 12
and 13 years, have proved to be promising for the future of the city.
Cities generate new identities. New visions emerge, towards a human face
for the urban environment (Abbott 1996; Short 1989; World Bank 1995a).
Innovative milieus in government, research and education, business and
civic participation, without forgetting the creative links between them,
are cornerstones for sustainable progress. The geographical distribution
of the identified innovations highlights a correspondence with the map of
competitive European regions. In Italy, 6 out of 11 selected projects (EF
1993a) come from Emilia Romagna, a region with traditional openness, the
paradigm of small and medium enterprises. Putnam asserts that Emilia
Romagna is "not populated by angels, but within its borders collective
action of all sorts, including government, is facilitated by norms and
networks of civil engagement" (1993). One can refer back to the Schumpeter
definition and reflect on what creates or obstructs new ideas and what
promotes or inhibits successful coalitions.
F. EPILOGUE: WHAT LESSONS FROM
EUROPE FOR THE EAST ASIAN ARCHIPELAGO OF CITIES?Initial
understandings of the term urban innovation were moulded by this Odyssey
through countless practical applications which can be crystallised in the
Urban Innovation = Creative New Concepts + Coalitions for their
Implementations => Improvement of Quality of Life in
The participative innovations we have inventoried in Europe permit an
attempt at a decalogue of conclusions, lessons and messages. Benefits
coming from the innovations include lower expenditure, greater social
cohesion, greater faith and pride in the city and government. This list of
advantages is by no means exhaustive. How could it be, if so much
potential for further participatory alliances exists, waiting to be tapped
in new and creative ways?
1. Cities are privileged places for innovation and
Cities are the most complex and dynamic ecosystems, where diverse
creativities accumulate and cross-fertilise. The synergetic results are
much more important than the additive ones. Doxiadis, the famous Greek
planner, founder of Ekistics, represented a village as a whole of blue
dots, and one red one, a "red" person (Einstein? The village idiot?) and
the town as a whole of blue dots with four or five red ones floating
around. In a city, there are various groups of red people who interact,
while many blue dots turn purple. This metamorphosis is the quintessence
2. Participative innovation is a precondition for
Linear evolutionary change is not sufficient for progress in the era of
sustainability and globalisation. This is particularly crucial when the
failure of past-policies, or their incompleteness with respect to the
social or environmental aspects of growth, is becoming evident. Many old
beliefs and patterns have to be destroyed for a new world to be born.
Innovation needs strong coalitions for the implementation of bright ideas.
New coalitions to overcome obstacles and adopt new ways of thinking and
acting are required.
3. Everybody is a source and an actor of innovation
Chance or conscious strategy, crises or abundance of ideas could all be
sources of innovation. As every wind of change brings its own
uncertainties and unpredictability, a flexible but strong alliance is
needed with all actors to create the space and the conditions for the
transition. Governments should give special opportunities to the concepts
and ideas proposed by those usually without a voice. Empowering them
ultimately empowers everyone.
4. Participative innovation shares costs and multiplies
Sharing costs and benefits being the essence of any participative
action, the multiplier dimensions in matters of innovation are impressive.
The enhancement of the sense of responsibility, linked to the introduction
of an innovation, is decisive for its social acceptance. The involvement
of the business sector, social partners and citizens makes possible
projects at an otherwise prohibitive cost.
5. Innovation, decentralisation and efficiency
The invention of a new idea, product or concept probably requires a
higher degree of decentralisation than does its implementation. Cities
which constantly innovate might not be efficient in the short term.
Achieving a balance between a diversity of ideas at the initial stages of
the project and an integrated approach for their implementation is
essential. Governments should allow as many voices as possible to be
heard, and as many values as possible to be represented, but not allow
valuable projects to stop or get delayed.
6. Innovative coalitions for the art and science of
The architecture of coalitions is very diverse and challenges general
rules. Alliances based on agreement, mediation, political manoeuvring and
negotiation can best direct the wave of the future. Mediation at an early
stage can be critical in certain cultural settings as a "face-saving"
measure (Kwon 1995).
Making compromises and reaching an agreement at an early stage is much
preferred to tiresome, time-consuming, costly and hostility-engendering
processes of conflict and arbitration.
7. Openness, focus, proactiveness
Models of coalitions that place people at the centre of a genuine,
far-reaching development strategy seem to have an unparalleled potential.
Often, policy analysts are stunned by the important role individuals play
in generating and implementing innovations. Charismatic leaders,
scientists or simply local citizens/workers are all potential bearers,
initiators or adapters of innovations. A common problem or a common
perspective often ferments the common ground for the coalition.
Anticipation of problems might be decisive but it cannot constitute an
8. The most important innovation: Stopping a dangerous,
Changing basic consumption patterns or well-established organisational
schemes is the most difficult to achieve.
Conventional organisations resist innovation. They are largely created
to replace the uncertain and haphazard activities of voluntary or ad hoc
endeavours with the stability of organisation, standardised procedures and
relationships. Breaking this pattern requires a strong front, especially
when core interests by various stakeholders are touched.
9. Innovation, change and homeostasis
Innovations may be both superb and dangerous. They might create serious
disruptions, lead to points of no return and affect the cultural stable
equilibrium of a city. A strategy of moderation is needed for the gradual
introduction of the exceptionally new elements. Citizen participation can
act as a cultural net and business participation as a financial one.
Openness, awareness, civic engagement, efficient management and a balance
of needs assure "homeostasis", change within stability.
10. From an innovative milieu to the struggle for
A permanent environment for the quiet incubation of ideas and the
construction of partnerships leads to a rapid mobilisation towards
valuable solutions when problems become acute. Innovation might also be
the result of a struggle for survival. Complex problems that inhibit
innovation often create a sharper need for it. After all "necessity is the
mother of invention" and an ancient legend tells us that the God of
Innovation is the Son of the God of Scarcity and the Goddess of Beauty in
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About the authorVOULA MEGA is a
Surveying Engineer, City Planner and Post PhD in Environmental Economics
and Policy Analysis at Harvard University. She has worked as an expert
consultant for urban, regional, environment and planning studies, as well
as a special adviser for the Secretary of State for Transport and
Communications in Athens and as a Technical adviser to the E.U. Petra
Programme. She is now a Research Manager at the European Foundation for
the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, working on projects on
innovations for the improvement of the urban environment, medium-sized
cities and socio-economic and environmental developments in the Regions of
the E.U. and Time and the City. She has several publications which include
books (among them 30 official E.U. publications) and communications.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO.