Amsterdam Sharing City leads the European field at OuiShareFest 2014

During OuiShareFest, thought leaders, businesses, investors, scholars, entrepreneurs, students and policy makers spend three days at the beautiful ‘Cabaret Sauvage’ in Paris. The recent blogpost written bij Carlien Roodink tells the story from a policy perspective. Here I intend to dive deep into the role of Amsterdam Sharing City at OuiShareFest.

Our journey towards Amsterdam Sharing City started in October 2013 when shareNL started to create awareness among policy makers during a few presentations. Backed by international knowledge support from the Collaborative Lab, Shareable and the like, as well as local support from the Amsterdam Economic Board, we commenced.

Our approach this far

Basically our approach involves two pathways. First we create content by writing a report for policy makers (Dutch). This report has three layers, one on the sharing economy, one on sharing cities and one on Amsterdam specifically. Its goal is to inform potential sharing economy advocates within the city government more thoroughly to help them build capacity. This report is nearly finished and an English summary will be available soon. During the writing process we engaged with relevant governmental representatives in order to adjust its content optimally to ongoing policy processes. The approach taken has worked very well, more news is to be announced during the coming months.

Simultaneously we fully acknowledge that the Amsterdam city government is one stakeholder out of many when it come to Amsterdam Sharing City. Others are: sharing economy startups and companies, corporates, tax authorities, knowledge centers, civil society, interest groups, media, foundations and funds. We are inviting all these different stakeholders, including government, to join our ‘Amsterdam Sharing Cities Ambassadors Programme.’ It involves three layers. First: all stakeholders align to a common vision of a sustainable, rich in social capital, and economical robust city. Second: As they are stakeholders each of them is allowed to express their own stake. Third: We ask of each stakeholder what action will be taken to contribute to Amsterdam Sharing City. Thus far we are succeeding in building a diverse coalition of ambassadors (Please contact if you want to be invited).

At OuiShareFest

Back at the grand réunion in Paris we found ourselves to be part of the Tuesday afternoon programme dedicated to cities in the collaborative (sharing) economy including plenary talks, a panel and case studies. The audience needed no convincing as to understand how the sharing economy transforms cities for the better, but rather had an urgent need for ways of opening doors within cities. Especially those places where the contrary is occurring such as Barcelona and Brussels.

Besides new sharing economy based mobility services it is mostly Airbnb who’s facing serious regulatory roadblocks. As Amsterdam has welcomed (and regulated) Airbnb it was no surprise that all eyes were focussed on this city. First, during the panel in which Carlien Roodink gave more details about the decision that was made by the city council (of which she was a member), highlighting that the city talked with, and regulated Airbnb and the likes in order to ‘avoid problems.’ Secondly, I presented the Amsterdam Sharing City project as one of the cases in a dialogue with Olivier GrĂ©millon, Airbnb’s managing director for Europe and Africa and Carlien Roodink. While our approach taken towards Amsterdam Sharing City was received well we also discussed concerns such as the future role of government and sharing economy giants.

In addition and in line with statements from a few other speakers at OuiShareFest, we spoke about the interconnectedness between the sharing economy, the circular economy and sustainability. I argue that while the circular economy is a vital pathway to circularity in terms of resources and energy flows, it remains far from the public and in the hands of a few skilled experts who are able to design such an economy. The sharing economy too, contributes heavily towards circularity but in its essence it’s an economy of people and thus plays a vital role in transforming our consciousness towards circular thinking. The human touch is what makes the sharing economy such an important neighbour of the circular economy.

Looking back at the OuiShareFest I have realized not only just how far we’ve come in Amsterdam, but also the eagerness among sharing economy, and sustainable city advocates around the globe to learn from our experience. Over the coming months we’ll keep moving on the pathways we’ve taken within Amsterdam. However we will also expand our ways of sharing what we’re doing. In Paris this was wonderfully facilitated by OuiShare. Early July in Brussels it will be facilitated by the European Social and Economic Committee where we will propose Amsterdam as a model city for Europe. Meanwhile at shareNL we are receiving requests, for speaking and writing about what we’re doing, from Brazil to Japan, and from Scandinavia to Rome. It’s fair to say that there is a lot more to come for Amsterdam and cities around Europe and the world.

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