On November 21-22, thecamp participated in "Cities for Life" in Paris, a forum on inclusive growth in cities, and here's what it was all about.


#thecampVR + Cities for Life

In the quest for smarter cities, better cities, more technological cities, an essential dimension is often neglected: cities only exist for the people living there. Cities are meant for life. This was the approach of  the forum that took place at the City Hall on November 21-22. An approach that perfectly resonates with thecamp's vision for the future: human-centered, sustainable, optimistic.
Over 500 attendees were gathered under the same roof with the same ideals: favor inclusive growth in urban areas and drastically reduce inequalities; make cities more resilient; work hard on bringing a better quality of life to citizens around 4 essential dimensions:
    01 education
    02 labor market & skills
    03 housing & urban environment
    04 infrastructure & public services (such as transport)
On the occasion of the forum, mayors of major cities around the globe made a formal commitment as part of an initiative carried out by the OECD, the Paris city government and the Ford Foundation (the Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Action Plan), reaffirming the prominent role of public officials when setting goals aimed at reaching long-term impact and effective scaling.
In line with this, thecamp's close collaboration and partnerships with public actors will shape the way campers work, deal with specific problems, prototype and test on the field, obtain direct feedback from citizens... even more so within thecamp's Urban-lab, which will address major challenges such as mobility, education, health, energy, democracy... through a systemic approach embracing complexity.
From left to right: Jean-Paul Bailly, Anne Hidalgo & Carlos Moreno
#thecampVR attracted a great number of leaders and representatives such as the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Brussels Yvan Mayeur, the Toulouse City Councillor Pierre Cohen, Corinne Berardo, Anteverti's Founder Pilar Conesa, Architect Jorge Perez-Jaramillo and Professor Carlos Moreno, a long-term supporter of thecamp.
All showed great enthusiasm for the future campus, and acknowledged the pressing need for such third-places in order to tackle the many challenges of the 21st century, to "think of the world's future, and deliver an optimistic message regarding our opportunity to change things, if we work together" (Anne Hidalgo).
From left to right: Gaétan Siew, Corinne Berardo, Carlos Moreno,
Pilar Conesa & Jorge Perez-Jaramillo.

3 questions to Carlos Moreno

What are the specifics of urban transformation in Europe, where cities have existed for hundreds (or thousands) of years?
There are quite a few factors to be taken into account. First of all, in Europe, unlike Asia or Africa, the population growth has been pretty much stable since 1950 and will remain so until 2050, which has direct consequences on sectors such as mobility or health. Moreover, most cities in Europe were founded hundreds if not thousands of years ago, which means the existing infrastructure often needs a lot of work and adapting in order to serve current needs.
Another important element is that the great European capitals generate over 60% of the countries' GDP, which contributes to the emergence of very concentrated "global cities" vs. dislocated States. As a consequence, one of the key factors of success in terms of positive transformation is the creation of strong city identities, which requires the citizens to deeply identify with the cities themselves, as well as with their governance.

Who are the key actors of this transformation and what resources do they need to move forward?
First of all, local governance plays a central role. There has been a phenomenon of "metropolisation" lately – approx. 15 metropolises were created in France between 2015 and 2016. This is very important because it allows for a critical mass of citizens to be directly concerned and affected when changes are made. There is also the private sector through the many startups and companies carrying out initiatives which create value and wealth, greatly contributing to the cities' urban identity. Finally, the citizens' lifeblood itself, whose involvement is absolutely vital. Surrounded by the right teams, provided with the right means and supported by long-term roadmaps that survive the mayors' mandates, everything becomes possible.
According to you, what are the strategic sectors that can first address quality of life issues for citizens?
Cities are complex systems. There is a strong mutual dependence between all the components of the city (social, economic, cultural...) and the well-being of its population. Quality of life doesn't depend on how "smart" a city is. You can't measure a city's IQ, especially not according to how many sensors and softwares it uses. It's more about a city's emotional intelligence and citizen intelligence; its capacity to relate to its inhabitants (and vice-versa).
There are 5 great areas of focus in order to improve the life of city-dwellers, and all are deeply intertwined: 1/ social 2/ economic 3/ cultural 4/ environmental 5/ resilience. That's why our transformation approach must be systemic. For instance, it's not about developing a powerful software able to regulate traffic by optimizing the length of targeted red lights. It's about offering a whole new approach, a new paradigm, such as the "post-carbon city". Take Ljubljana, the European green capital 2016. It's been acting on mobility through multimodal planning (electric vehicles, bicycles...), water (by developing a full network of fountains providing drinkable water throughout the entire city), circular economy and energy (by growing vegetable patches directly in the city, offering immediate supply and cutting down last-mile transportation emissions).
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An example that encourages thecamp in gathering an ecosystem able to embrace complexity through systemic problem-solving!