LabGov Amsterdam | An expedition in progress

Developing new practices for more inclusive and democratic cities.

Last year, a group of city-makers in Amsterdam – interested in discovering new forms of democracy – concluded that there are many civic initiatives in the city, yet there is a lack of consistency in forming an integrated system to amplify the concept of a co-city. Inspired by the Laboratory for the Governance of the Commons (LabGov), which is conducting research on innovative governance models in Bologna, LabGov Amsterdam aims to explore the ways and means of translating the new governance concept in the Dutch context. 

LabGov is a method of transforming the ownership of urban resources, by handing them over to the community. Developed by Christian Iaione (LUISS University ) together with Sheila Foster (Georgetown University), LabGov experiments with legal and institutional infrastructures that facilitate collaboration and cooperation. Bringing together community groups, social innovators, businesses, universities and public interest organisations, it aims to ensure a collective and inclusive governance system that supports the needs of all citizens.

Christian Iaione explains LabGov during the New Democracy Series in ©Pakhuis de Zwijger

So far, experiments with the LabGov method have been carried out in Bologna and New York. Recently, in Amsterdam, a group of urban practitioners have decided to explore the possibility of implementing the method in the Dutch capital. LabGov Amsterdam is focused on transforming the governance structure by formulating an integral way of working on pressing issues. Adopting LabGov’s concept of the quintuple helix – co-creation through five main players (social innovators, knowledge institutions, civil society, enterprises, government) – the Dutch Lab explores the possibilities of bridging the gap between citizens and government, through projects carried out in the Nieuw West neighbourhood.

The LabGov model ©

Nieuw West is one of the fast growing neighbourhoods of Amsterdam. The area is undergoing major changes through continuous investments set to transform the build environment. This automatically implies shifts in the social and economical spheres, providing a good experimentation ground for testing the co-creation and collaborative relationships model of LabGov Amsterdam. The method is community based, focused on creating a synergy between the goals of different stakeholders, exploring and setting-up new governance structures by combining the knowledge of local practices, scientific knowledge, and judicial ‘knowhow’ with current policies.

©Pakhuis de Zwijger

With LabGov Nieuw West set to kick-off in September, Amsterdammers are encouraged to start thinking of both fundamental and practical conditions on the idea of a co-city and adopting the ‘commons lens’.

Involved city makers
Christian Iaione
Laboratory of the Governance of the Commons
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in Amsterdam
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