European ARTIZEN Initiative (EAI) - From Smart City to Smart Citizens approach

In the context of growing urbanization, European cities have to face an acceleration of urban, social, cultural and economic challenges and fragmentation, reinforced by the economic crisis. More than 70% of European citizens live today in cities, and this share is still growing: prospective studies value that in 2025 more than 2/3 of the world population will live in cities. Mutations are crystalized in European urban territories, representing particularly fertile experimentations fields for new proposals.

In Europe, more and more inhabitants are taking on these transformations, moving deeply the traditional top-­‐down process to a bottom-­‐up approach, calling for new governance models, developing actions on the ground.

In the meantime, notably thanks to artistic projects and interventions, political territorial stakeholders’ awareness has been raised on the need to involve citizens and on artistic or creative interventions value in participatory city design processes. They have now strong expectations on developing city making with inhabitants.

This underlines the growing vision that a “smart and sustainable” city is the one that should succeed to achieve a development based on well-­‐being for inhabitants and can support social, economic, environmental and cultural innovations, bringing back citizens at the centre of the process, generating social capital. The BEPA 2011 report on empowerment and social innovation in the context of UE 20201 stresses “social innovation is needed because social needs are now more pressing, when resources are limited new solutions must be found. Social challenges are also opportunities innovations that are not only good for society but also enhance society’s capacity to act.”

There is a need for a fundamental shift in the way we think our cities and urban development, that goes beyond a plea for wider public consultation in the planning process, for a real co-­‐building of the city2. But how to broaden this participation, not only involving citizens already more likely to engage within the community? How new and unlikely citizens could be involved, how could they be engaged, to avoid fragmentations?

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