We’re very happy to announce this project for 2017. Cross-posted from Stad.gent.

A Commons Transition Plan will describe the role and possibilities for the City in reinforcing citizen initiatives.

From 15 March 2017 peer-to-peer expert Michel Bauwens will conduct a three-month research and participation project in Ghent on the ‘commons city of the future’. The research should culminate in a Commons Transition Plan, describing the possibilities and role of the City of Ghent (as a local authority) in reinforcing citizen initiatives. With this, the City wishes to give further shape to a sustainable and ethical economy in Ghent.

Michel Bauwens (58) has already been working for over ten years on the theme of the commons-based economy and society. He is solicited all over the world as a speaker or to give workshops, and is the author of the bestseller ‘Saving the world: With P2P towards a postcapitalist society’. Bauwens led a similar research and transition project in Ecuador. The major French newspaper, Libération, referred to him as the leading theorist on the theme of the economy of cooperation, following the French edition of the book.

The term ‘commons’ or ‘common good’ refers to goods that are managed by the community of producers, users and citizens who are affected by, or benefit from them. Commons as a new form of organisation is exemplified by a variety of initiatives based around production and consumption with the idea of achieving a more sustainable society. This can for example be the set-up of energy cooperatives or shared work spaces for co-working. Examples in Ghent are EnerGent, LikeBirds, Voedselteams, Wijdelen, etc.

All of these initiatives show that ‘urban commons’ is alive and kicking today in the city.

The research and participation process will pinpoint the commons initiatives in Ghent along with their potential for society and the economy. Entrepreneurs from the sharing economy will also be involved in this research. They will be asked about the issues they face from a structural point of view, and their wishes for support and cooperation in relation with the City of Ghent as a local authority.

The process will result in a Commons Transition Plan that describes the options for optimal public interventions. It should offer the framework for regulation and support of initiatives in the sharing economy. A number of foreign cities have been used as a benchmark (such as Barcelona, Bologna, Seoul), which have already paved the way for recognising and promoting commons practices.

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