City of Antwerp wants to accelerate the sustainable sharing economy
By mobilising unused goods and services, the sharing economy can contribute to the sustainable city of the future. For example, one drilling machine can suffice to serve 6 households. The benefit to the environment therefore lies in the materials that are not needed to produce the 5 other drills. The sharing economy is mainly taking place in cities, where many people and goods come together.
With the project 'The Sharing City', we investigated the contribution of a sharing economy to the development of a sustainable city and what our role as a city could be. Under the guidance of Stadslab2050, the urban innovation lab on sustainability, three partners each set up a pilot project:
Samenlevingsopbouw Antwerpen Stad explored the potential of sharing materials and services for socially vulnerable groups. They went to work with the sharing of books at the school gate. Can the sharing economy contribute to new forms of solidarity?
Antwerp Management School showed that companies and organisations are also taking steps towards an urban sharing economy. Their brand-new campus and shared bicycle parking on the Mechelse Plein were the reason to start looking for shared profits together with the neighbourhood.
And what if the urban organisation itself started to share? With a centralisation of services on the agenda, the City Management Department of the city of Antwerp examined how sharing fits into its operations.
The experiment of sharing books at the school gate was successful. The actions in the Kronenburg neighbourhood will be continued and 5 'street libraries' were created. Community Development also looks for partners to expand in other sectors.
Not all the partial actions of the Antwerp Management School with the local neighbourhood were successful, but the end result was nonetheless valuable. We gained many new insights about the role a campus can play within the local community.
We did not yet find a concrete initiative to share material within the city organisation itself. The theme is very complex (in terms of logistics, safety, etc.) and sensitive at the same time: are we not giving the signal that we have too much material? The lessons from the research will be taken into account in the development of the new logistics centre.
In terms of sharing space, such as workshops or meeting rooms, we did make progress. For example, an organisation was given access to a building after working hours and the Joint Prevention Service gave permission for third parties to use our machines.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
The term "sharing economy" is not yet very well known within (and outside) the urban organisation. A discussion quickly arises about which initiatives do or do not comply with the conditions of the sharing economy. "The shift from exclusive possession to shared use" appears to be an unambiguous and inviting definition to work with as a government.
Successful sustainable initiatives arise by bringing together the right partners at the right time. It is important to make the right connections. Local government can play the strategic role of 'spider in the web', for example by providing an up-to-date overview of what is happening in the city.
Historically, sharing is nothing new, but sharing with strangers is. The Internet makes it easy to share outside your social network. At the same time, it captures many of the risks associated with sharing by allowing users to judge each other. In a sustainable sharing city, the local government should also tackle this risk managementfrom a higher level.
Because of the relatively new character of the sharing economy, it will be necessary to remove practical and technological barriers. After all, a sharing economy flourishes in a setting of trust. As a city, we must create an environment in which sharing is possible and simple.
3projects by 3 partners
280participants in book sharing markets
3neighbourhood actions campus AMS
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Thanks to the project, we gained many additional insights about the role of the city in a future sustainable sharing economy. The potential of the sharing economy, with its wide range of forms and possibilities, was reconfirmed.
Local governments are often still at the beginning of a broad implementation of the sharing economy in their policies. We do realise that the shift from ownership to use has already started several years ago and will continue to gain momentum.
As a follow-up to this project, the city management department of Antwerp is investigating the social impact of the future logistics centre, where many executive services will be centralised. As a result, the sharing economy remains on the agenda. The new policy paper on shared use of space also ensures anchoring in the city's operations.
The results and experiences have encouraged Antwerp Management School to embed future sharing actions more strongly in its own basic operation. For the new batch of Fulltime Master students 2019, the opportunity was created within their Global Leadership Skills development track to set up sustainable actions for and with the neighbourhood.
Community Development is looking for partners to develop structural cooperation so that these initiatives are also supported by other actors. For example, there is a discussion to make book sharing a permanent part of the local library in Deurne.