Hivos International

City Makers: a new social innovation frontier?

Cities are the landscape of the future. UN projections indicate that 75 percent of the human population will be living in cities by 2050. But who really owns the city? Is the city owned by everyone who lives in it? Or is it only for those who can afford to shape it actively or simply have the power and resources to set the agenda? These and other questions will be discussed at a special City Maker session organised by Hivos during the SIX Wayfinder conference on social innovation in London on 16 and 17 February.

During recent years, a new urban-based civic movement of City Makers has emerged in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. City Makers are the active citizens who enhance liveability and create communities by setting up cooperatives, communal gardens, food banks, renewable energy facilities, public and co-working spaces, and co-housing initiatives. Among them are youth and community leaders, architects, civil servants, social entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, urban planners, research institutes and municipality representatives. What unites them is their passion to make the city more liveable, resilient, green and sustainable.

These pioneers often work on a small scale, but have the potential to transform the city to be more open, green and citizen-driven. Is this “movement” a new and promising social innovation frontier emerging? Or will these initiatives be curbed by those who want to control the city or be swept away by grand reconstruction or resettlement schemes?

Two prominent city makers will shine their light on these issues and share their experiences during the Hivos session at SIX Wayfinder. The first speaker is Rym Baouendi, city maker from Tunis, urban sustainability catalyst, social entrepreneur and co-founder of Hivos’ partner Cogite and City Changemakers. The second is Amalia Zepou, vice mayor for Civil Society and Innovation of the Athens municipality and well-known civil society activist.

The conference is a two-day global social innovation event exploring what more can be achieved over the next ten years in the field of social innovation. Convened by Hivos partner Social Innovation Exchange and hosted by Nesta, this event will bring together thought-leaders and action-leaders from across the world. Hivos is a member of the Global Council of SIX and jointly organised earlier social innovation gatherings in Johannesburg, Harare and Nairobi.

Six Wayfinder starts on February 16 at 9:00 and ends February 17 at 16:00 London time. Follow #citymakers #sixwayfinder on Twitter.