We are excited to partner with the Fondation Botnar in co-creating global OurCity initiative, fostering youth wellbeing in rapidly growing intermediary cities. Foundation Botnar is an innovative foundation based in Switzerland, investing in the use of AI and emerging digital solutions to improve the wellbeing of young people in cities. Young people and secondary cities are emerging change agents for our shared and sustainable future. Intermediary cities already comprise 40% of the world’s urban population and are expected to undergo massive expansions in the coming years. Young people, those under 30, now represent one in two people globally, 60% live in urban areas.
Our first-of-its-kind project was initiated in Cluj- Napoca in Romania in 2019, the Foundation’s legacy country. Cluj-Napoca is one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe with a population of over 320.000 inhabitants, where over 1/3 are students. This city was the European Youth capital in 2015, European iCapital finalist in 2020 and engages citizens through their participatory budgeting process.
Although quality of life has been prioritized in the city strategy (2014-2020), the wellbeing and education for the future of work, as well as young people themselves, have not yet been properly addressed. Utilizing AI technology and advanced stakeholdermethodologies we mapped city ecosystems, identified key actors across all sectors – municipality, businesses, entrepreneurs, non-profits, youth organizations and academia, along with key influencers involved in creating the youth environment in Cluj-Napoca. We organized and facilitated a series of interactive meetings and consultations, both online and in-person, to better understand the needs, opportunities, and challenges leading towards a creation of a shared vision to improve the quality of life for young people. Visual stakeholder maps have helped us identify engagement opportunities and assisted in the co-creation process shaping initial projects with potential for systemic transformation with the municipality and local partners. A commissioned interdisciplinary study LEAP has identified priority areas for action, and will be launched early in 2021. Education was identified as one of key priority areas for collective action. Furthermore, (in)Visible research study explores networks and relationships among public, private and civic stakeholders in Cluj ecosystems, to better understand how to design further partnerships and processes.
The journey will continue with SDG CoLab, our non-profit collaboratory, Its main objectives will include (1) Co-creation of shared vision for OurCluj (2) Catalyze collective action and build multi-stakeholder partnership network (3) Foster integration of youth and wellbeing priorities into the city strategy (4) Develop, evaluate and promote OurCluj best practices (local, national, EU, global) and (5) Build local capabilities and exit. A range of creative participatory practices and methodologies will be utilized.
This initiative is ongoing.
More and more often we get to meet, discover and express the common goals for Cluj, sometimes in local ecosystem projects context and sometimes with the help of new friends.Oana Buzatu, Spokesperson, Cluj-Napoca City Hall