Informed Cities Forum 2013 & InContext Final Conference
How to create space for change? Rediscovering the power of community
6-7 June 2013

TAK Theater Aufbau Kreuzberg, Berlin (Germany)

The InContext Final Conference & Informed Cities Forum 2013 brought together over 120 participants, coming from more than 20 countries: researchers, community activists, local government representatives, entrepreneurs and artists. What they all had in common was a belief that better places, stronger communities and resilient societies are within our reach, if we only learn to work together in a respectful and trustful way.

A meeting like this could only happen in Berlin, the capital of transition, as we heard in the opening speeches by Hans Panhoff (Borough Council, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg) and Andreas Steinhauser from Holzmarkt eG, an ambitious urban regeneration project.

The programme started with a reminder of how powerful bottom-up action can be, including presentations by Chiara Camponeschi (Enabling City), Tessy Britton (Social Spaces) and Melanie Jaecques (Thursday Veggieday, EVA) and continued with on open debate on the power of community.

Afternoon was focused on understanding the roles of different actors in making change happen and followed a World Café format, filling the TAK theater with a buzz of conversations. Twelve different initiatives and approaches were discussed, including a neighborhood timebank in Berlin (Germany), community climate adaptation plan in London (UK), transition management process in Mizuguchi (Japan) and participatory energy planning in Barcelona (Spain).

The following day opened with a presentation of InContext experience, including three community arenas initiated in Rotterdam (Netherlands), Wolfhagen (Germany) and Finkenstein (Austria). The participants learned how transition management approach differs from traditional policy-making and how it can be translated into practice.

The insights drawn from this experience were then presented to a panel of local policy-makers and experts, in the form of a provocative question “How to govern a city where everyone is a decision-maker?”. The panel, consisting of Mads Uldall (City of Copenhagen, Denmark), Carles Agustí i Hernández (City of Barcelona, Spain), Eva Maria Sköld (City of Malmö, Sweden) and Prof. Anna Davies (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland) agreed that working with bottom-up initiatives is far from easy but the rewards to be reaped, such as broader citizen engagement, better definition of problems and out-of-the-box solutions, make it a goal worth pursuing.

Presentations, posters and photos from the event are available here.


Key messages in brief

If you would like to learn more about how different local actors can work together to create space for change, the following two papers will be of interest to you:


The third edition of the Informed Cities Forum is organized by ICLEI - Local Governments of Sustainability and Ecologic Institute, together with the InContext partners.

InContext is a 3-year research project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union that works to identify the framework conditions enabling societal transition towards an ecologically sound, economically successful and culturally diverse future.

For more information visit the InContext project website.