Sharing Cities to Gain Ground with New International Framework

Melbourne (Small)

Shareable’s Darren Sharp writes about recent international developments in the Sharing Cities phenomenon.

At Shareable we’ve been advocating for Sharing Cities over the last four years through a range of world-leading initiatives that re-frame the conversation around important questions of shared resources, shared ownership of p2p platforms, the urban commons, and economic justice.

We launched the Sharing Cities Network (SCN), a grassroots initiative “to mobilize, inspire and connect” sharing innovators around the world and to date over 50 cities have created sharing city hubs, run MapJams and ShareFests to activate diverse sharing communities from Vancouver to Melbourne.

Shareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center developed “Policies for Shareable Cities: A Policy Primer for Urban Leaders,” which makes 32 specific policy recommendations that enable communities to remove barriers to sharing and realize the benefits of the sharing economy in food, jobs, housing, and transportation. Local government have a major role to play in fostering the right conditions for community-based sharing and the self-provisioning of local goods and services.

As the report points out:

City governments can increasingly step into the role of facilitators of the sharing economy by designing infrastructure, services, incentives, and regula­tions that factor in the social exchanges of this game changing movement.” 

Sharing Cities have gone from idea to reality and make sense in a world where one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals that member states are expected to realize over the next 15 years is to:

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is a network of over 1,000 cities, towns and metropolises committed? to building? a sustainable future. Its recently released Strategic Cornerstones 2015-2021 ‘The Seoul Plan’ (PDF) commits in its Action Plan to:

promote the concept of Sharing Cities” and “support members in shaping a framework that allows their citizens and businesses to co-own and borrow goods.” 

It is therefore encouraging to see NESTA, a UK thinktank, engaged in research to develop an international set of indicators for Sharing Cities through adaptation of the CITIE framework which helps city leaders develop policy to catalyse innovation and entrepreneurship. This NESTA research is adapting the CITIE framework to enable cities to benchmark their performance and is reviewing the 10 most promising Sharing Cities around the world.

BOP Consulting is conducting research for this project on behalf of NESTA and are inviting anyone interested in the future direction of Sharing Cities to complete the survey here.

This research gives sharing innovators, advocates and city officials the opportunity to have your say on the direction of this important international framework and ensure that questions of access, sustainability, economic participation and social equity are front and center in the design of the indicators being considered.

As the saying goes: “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

The guiding themes and related questions provide clues to the future direction of this framework:

Community Engagement

  • How does your city establish effective channels of communication to engage with communities and enterprises involved in the sharing economy?

Sharing Economy

  • Does your city have a strategy to sustain innovation by opening, sharing and exploiting its data?
  • Does the city have an investment strategy to support and attract businesses with sharing business models?

Environmental Sustainability

  • Does your city promote any kind of shared services for environmental purposes?
  • Are you aware of any grassroots projects to support sharing resources for environmental purposes?

Procurement and Commissioning

  • Are the city’s procurement and commissioning processes made accessible to smallbusinesses and social enterprises?


  • How, if at all, does your city regulate the sharing economy?
  • Is it a rules-­?based or ad hoc system?
  • Is it typically permissive or protective when it comes to sharing?


  • Does your city actively promote itself as a ‘Sharing City’?
  • How does this manifest itself (eg: ad hoc businesses events, membership of national and international forums, promotional campaigns, formal strategy?)

Image of Melbourne courtesy of Angela Rutherford using a Creative Commons license