The national program Sharing Cities Sweden closed at the end of August 2021. The program has been an important element of Viable Cities, the strategic innovation program for smart and sustainable cities. The program has placed much focus on how city governments can facilitate the sharing of things, services, places and mobility.
“We see that cities really can accelerate sustainable consumption by stimulating individuals and actors to share for example gadgets and surfaces, however, we also see that the efforts by urban actors need to be carefully designed”, says Kes McCormick, programme manager for Sharing Cities Sweden.
The Sharing Cities Sweden programme has aimed to put Sweden on the map as a country that actively and critically works with the sharing economy in cities. Through the four test beds in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö and Umeå, the programme has developed, tested and evaluated sharing services and digital solutions.
The sharing economy can provide cities with a new way of solving urban challenges. By facilitating and applying the sharing economy in urban contexts, resources can be made available in new ways, which promotes sustainable consumption. Living sustainably is about both the personal choices and actions of individuals in combination with the conditions and contexts that facilitate a sustainable lifestyle. A key message from the program activities is that sharing has to be easy for the users and that sharing venues have to be located close to where people live or stay.
“What we have seen is absolutely necessary is that the sharing economy is designed with sustainability in mind”, Kes McCormick points out.
Test-beds in four sharing cities
The program has incorporated test-beds through which it has engaged citizens and local actors in discussing issues such as urban development and design of living urban environments (for both health and well-being) in several districts around Sweden: Sege Park in Malmö, Masthuggskajen in Gothenburg, Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm and Campusparken in Umeå.
There is often high exploitation of many areas in our cities and therefore it is a prerequisite to develop new solutions to share both resources and space. In Masthuggskajen, we have explored how different qualities and functions can co-exist in the outdoor environment, but also focused on policy issues and regulations for how premises can be shared, says Tove Lund, test-bed coordinator in Gothenburg.
Works well in smaller towns
It is not just in big cities that the sharing economy is gaining ground. In Karlstad municipality, with just over 90,000 inhabitants, a strategic project has shown that it also works in rural towns – sometimes even to the better.
The sharing economy is often described as a metropolitan phenomenon where cities like Seoul or New York are highlighted, and global services like Airbnb, says Charlotte Wedberg, project manager at Karlstad municipality. But the example of Fritidsbanken illustrates how some types of projects and sharing solutions can work even better in smaller towns.
A wealth of lessons
The work with the sharing economy in cities does not end here. With a robust network of experts, digital maps for sharing services, open online courses for decision-makers and practitioners, as well as over 100 documents and reports, Sharing Cities Sweden provides a wealth of lessons to benefit more cities and organizations. The materials will continue to be available on the website.
One of the key issues to reduce urban climate change are the consumption-based emissions, says Olga Kordas, programme manager for Viable Cities. “Here I see great potential to bring forward the lessons from Sharing Cities Sweden to the 23 cities to take the lead in speeding up climate change within our initiative Climate-neutral cities 2030. Not least Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Umeå and Karlstad have very valuable knowledge to share”, she adds.
Photo: Charlotte Leire