Planning post-COVID-19 cooperative cities: Building on existing efforts towards social economy

By | Actions | No Comments

Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal and its Welcommon Hostel have signed a Manifesto on Social Economy in June that was addressing the EU. The manifesto was subscribed by over 30 organisations from across Europe. 

Planning post-COVID-19 cooperative cities
Building on existing efforts towards social economy

We advocate for existing knowledge, policy recommendations and financial resources to be geared towards the strengthening of social and solidarity economy practices* throughout Europe. We believe that this is the way forward to not leave anyone behind.

At the present time EU Member States and the European Parliament are discussing with which instruments and under which conditionalities should the EU direct its investments. Whilst this is a fundamental process, we also know that this will take time, which many people in Europe cannot afford to afford. For this reason we suggest to take immediately a few steps, capitalising on existing efforts carried out up until now:

  • FRAMEWORK: Over the past years, the EU has made a great effort towards developing the EU Urban Agenda, with detailed action plans foreseen for key themes connected to sustainable urban development. We should highlight the recommendations that can strengthen social economy.
  • PILOT ACTIONS Key actions planned within the EU Urban Agenda Partnerships, which can directly address the most pressing social and economic challenges through a social and solidarity economy perspective, should be rapidly implemented as a test-bed. For this, funding and guidance should be allocated, as is being done through the Urban Innovative Actions program.
  • CAPACITY BUILDING: EU programs such as URBACTUrban Innovative Actions and JPI Urban Europe amongst others, could cluster the knowledge developed up to now, to ensure the capacity building of stakeholders in the social economy.

This manifesto provides an overview of the key items to take into consideration to ensure Better Knowledge, Better Policy and Better Funding, in terms of financial allocations and in-kind support, as a means to strengthen social and solidarity economy in Europe.

This Manifesto is currently being subscribed by a number of organisations throughout Europe, it is  therefore to be seen as a starting point for dialogue and action to take place.


During the COVID-19 crisis, throughout Europe we have seen solidarity practices being developed by civic organisations, often in cooperation with the local authorities and businesses. These practices have proven to be, in many cases, essential welfare services to the marginalised members of our communities. Yet most of these initiatives have been started up or strengthened as a result of the current health emergency, mostly on a voluntary basis, which have self-evident limitations on the long run. Furthermore, we have seen that social purpose companies were more resilient in this crisis than simple for-profit companies. These are learning points for the planning of post-COVID-19 cooperative cities.

Throughout the lockdown, the Cooperative City magazine on collaborative urban practices in Europe has carried out a series of public webinars to explore with municipalities, civic organisations, private actors and researchers, what are the most pressing issues and what solutions can be created to overcome this crisis. Aside from the dramatic health crisis, we know that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of socio-economic impacts that the coronavirus will have on our society. In fact, worldwide, half a billion people face poverty after COVID-19. It is conservatively estimated that about 45 million jobs in the EU are at risk**.

At the same time there are 2 million social economy enterprises in Europe, representing 10% of all businesses in the EU. More than 11 million people – about 6% of the EU’s employees – work for social economy enterprises. Up to 160 million people in Europe are members of social economy enterprises. Whilst social businesses have different legal forms and operate in a wide range of sectors objectives ranging from agriculture and banking to tourism or catering, they all pursue a social mission within their business activity.

In the face of the upcoming economic and social crisis, we advocate for Europe to support the social and solidarity economy as an opportunity to ensure economic sustainability to all those people who are already in a condition or at high risk of poverty. These are not new issues for the EU, which has greatly invested towards better knowledge, better funding and better policy in the EU Urban Agenda. But it’s time to put in place those ideas rapidly and back them up with the necessary financial resources.


Social entrepreneurship is a key to empower weaker groups, for this we need to ensure capacity building and investments. It is essential for city administrations and stakeholders from civic, private and research backgrounds, to know how to work together to tackle their local challenges through social economy. We already have impactful initiatives throughout Europe in terms of food sovereignty, the employment of marginalised groups in the tourism or cultural sectors, as well as community-based education services. Hence, the dissemination of good practices, such as those developed by Urbact and UIA, should be shared in the light of strengthening social economy. Furthermore, we should also focus on the importance of monitoring economic tissues, enabling a social impact analysis of socially oriented urban projects.


We need to ensure policy support to solidarity practices, which have been essential throughout the peak of the crisis, to foster community-supported initiatives as a means to strengthen our democracy. This is the opportunity to establish and innovate public policies in order to connect the different segments of the value production chain, ensuring a fair redistribution of recognition and financial resources. This is very evident in the food sector, by connecting producers and consumers through a publicly owned infrastructure of farms, distribution firms, markets, etc, as the City of Milan is doing through its Food Policy. For example, the rapid diffusion of food delivery services offers the opportunity for restaurants and delivery workers to join forces with consumers and cluster their requests to ensure fair working conditions as well as share of the profit from larger delivery food firms.


Solidarity funds, grants or revolving funds need to be activated in order to support social and solidarity economic initiatives that have been fundamental throughout the crisis to ensure social cohesion. 

Start-up social entrepreneurship grants: the experience of the Bip/Zip grant system in Lisbon or the European Cultural Foundation solidarity grants show that amounts lower  than 50.000 EUR per initiative have the potential to create jobs and contribute to local social and economic vibrancy.

Supporting smaller, socially-oriented businesses is an opportunity to save the already existing companies from going bankrupt and being bought up by larger enterprises, which is a highly likely scenario under the current conditions.

Increasing the uptake of financial instruments***, such as the Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), is an opportunity to strengthen not only the economic resources but also the capacities and political impact of social and solidarity economy initiatives.

Better Finance is not only expressed in terms of financial liquidity, but also in terms of investment in physical and human capital, which needs to be geared towards ensuring access to space and to better labour conditions.

Access to space: We need to ensure access to available, underused space and unused land in cities, for social economy practices to take place and have an impact. For instance, if we want to ensure access to healthy food also to poorer citizens, this can be supported through vouchers but also by establishing public community gardens. If we want to support community spaces and social enterprises, these can be supported by lower rents and reimbursed renovation processes, especially focusing on underused or abandoned buildings.

Better Labour conditions: Social and solidarity economy can be an opportunity to include marginalised people in the society through fair working conditions. For this reason, investments need to go towards those workers who risk entering poverty as a result of the upcoming crisis. Therefore, a major role is also played by unions  that need to regain their advocacy power to be the voice of those workers who risk being left behind. During the COVID-19 crisis we have seen the emergency hitting especially certain sectors, such as agriculture, tourism, culture, etc, as a result of the high precarisation of contracts throughout Europe.

Any individual person or organisation is welcome to subscribe this manifesto and advocate for a stronger social and solidarity economy in Europe to ensure social inclusion and economic growth in post-COVID-19 cooperative cities.


* The European Commission launched the Social Business Initiative (SBI) in 2011, in which the definition was: “Social and solidarity economy comprises enterprises, associations or cooperatives whose main objective is to have a social impact rather than make a profit for their owners or shareholders. It operates by providing goods and services for the market in an entrepreneurial and innovative fashion and uses its profits primarily to achieve social objectives. It is managed in an open and responsible manner and, in particular, involves employees, consumers and stakeholders affected by its commercial activities.

”** Pouliakas, K.,  Branka, J., 2020, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), EU JOBS AT HIGHEST RISK OF COVID-19 SOCIAL DISTANCING, is the pandemic exacerbating the labour market divide? Working paper series, No 1 / May 2020.

*** Such as Stadmakersfond, launched by STIPO and Stadkwadraat as matchmaker between citymakers/placemakers and investors.

To support the Manifesto please email


Eutropian GmbH, Wolfganggasse 26/20-22, 1120 Vienna, Austria

Eutropian Association, Via F. Pacelli 14, Rome 00165, Italy

magdas HOTEL

Welcommon Hostel

Anemos Ananeosis/Wind of Renewal

Valyo, City and River Association

Working with the 99% – Trabalhar com os 99%

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens


Delfshaven Coöperatie

Service Design Company


BIDs Belgium

Belgium Design Council


Ramon Marrades Urban Economist




Goteo Foundation

Community Land Trust Brussels

Xsentrik Arts

Hausos Venture


id22: Institute for Creative Sustainability

4Change C.R.L.

Institute for Spatial Policies, Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Research Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Design (CIAUD)

Nonna Roma associazionenonnaroma

Resilia Solutions


Metropolitan Research Institute, Budapest

GIZ International Services

DAR=CASA società cooperativa


Morar em Lisboa

Research Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Design (CIAUD)

EUKI Climate Schools Athens.Berlin: the experience of a very interesting project for climate protection and energy efficiency / energy transition

By | Actions | No Comments

Thousands of students from 72 schools of the Municipality of Athens alongside with their teachers and parents expressed their commitment to climate protection. This commitment includes an integrated activity of information, education, training, awareness, research and provision of educational methodologies and tools which constitute the basis for future actions.

The Municipality of Athens, participates in city networks and initiatives at both European and global level with the aim of raising public awareness on climate protection and climate change adaptation. An example of this kind of initiative is the ‘’European Climate Initiative’’, through which, the Municipality of Athens found important support for the implementation of the program called ‘’SCOOLS OPEN TO CLIMATE PROTECTION AND ENERGY SAVINGS Athens – Berlin’’.

The aforementioned program, lasted from October 2017 to January 2020 and aimed for the complicity of the school community in climate protection. The main target of this program was, not only the energy footprint reduction of school buildings, but also to raise students/teachers/parents awareness and knowledge in the subject of energy savings and ecology.

This program used the existing experience as it emerges from environmental educational programs both in Greece and Germany. It also propelled a more comprehensive approach which is the basis for future continuation and expansion of the program in schools:

  • Institutions with different experience and role, from the two countries, collaborated in the program, adding their own know-how: The Municipality of Athens as coordinator, the social cooperative enterprise ‘’Wind of Renewal’’, the German Independent Institute for environmental issues (UFU) and the German Citizen’s initiative ‘’Respect for Greece’’.
  • They also edificated in climate issues by Greek and German trainers who already had significant experience from similar programs.
  • 20 trainers then trained 200 teachers, of whom 197 took an active role in their school. In total 72 primary, secondary and high schools have supported their students in this program and posted the necessary ‘’testimonies’’ on a digital platform called ‘’moodle’. This platform will be accessible to all members of the educational community who want to implement similar actions in the future.
  • The educational community was supported for the entire school year 2018-2019, with methodological, educational information and tools. In addition, ‘’energy suitcases/ tool boxes’’ have been given to them in order to apply the knowledge they gained in practice. More specifically, these “energy suitcases” included tools of measurement, observation and experimentation, thus combining different tools of environmental /climate education.
  • The students were informed, sensitized and turned into active researchers, surprising all the participants for their commitment and interest. Their work was captured on both posters and rich material posted on the digital platform moodle.
  • The students, teachers and school unit participated in a relevant research that evaluated the implementation and catered, with good practices and suggestions, the program’s final action plan for interventions in the school.
  • Last but not least, the project was a useful tool for intercultural education and inclusion of all the pupils, greeks and the ones with migrant and refugee backgroud, offering different roles and tasks to all the pupils based on their interest, skills and capacities, enchance the community building approach.

The imprint of the program not only in the educational but also in the wider community, constituted a legacy for future actions and programs:

  • A website with all the necessary information and educational materials that are generally useful for the program (
  • An educational guide on energy saving and climate change was a part of for students training.
  • A well-organized action plan for the Municipality of Athens usable in all its schools.
  • A research for the application of the program in schools.
  • 200 trained teachers of Athens schools in matters of climate change and energy saving, with training lasting 24 hours.
  • 72 pilot programs that have implemented this program and are willing to continue.
  • Posters that capture their work (e-book of school posters, )
  • 15 educational suitcases with needed equipment borrowed from schools, in order to measure energy, brightness etc.
  • A digital moodle platform on which all participating schools posted their work. In the future, this platform will be maintained and enriched by the work of other schools (
  • Applying telematic systems in 5 pilot schools allowing remote or local energy management (an additional energy and money saving measure)

The 5 smart pilot schools of the Municipality of Athens are the first in Greece with artificial intelligence, providing the opportunity to:

  • Record the energy consumption from electrical appliances and lighting fixtures.
  • Secure and protect electrical appliances from high electrical load.
  • Manage energy based on an ecological perspective.
  • Provide security and comfort to teachers and students.

This program ‘’Schools Open to Climate Protection and Energy Saving, Athens-Berlin’’, evaluated and selected for funding by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) which is a funding implement of the German Ministry of the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). While it is also under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Education, Research and Religions.

The details of the project implementing bodies:

Municipality of Athens,

Social Cooperative Enterprise ‘’Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal’’,

German Citizens’ Initiative ‘’Respect fur Greece’’ e.V.,

Independent Institute for Environmental Issues ‘’UnabhangigesInstitut fur Umweltfragen’’,

What is the European Climate Initiative (EUKI)

The European Climate Initiative (EUKI), reinforces the cooperation in a European level and aims to increase knowledge and awareness about the causes of climate change, as well as the ecological, economic and social opportunities linked to climate action. The German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) established the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) to cooperate even closer in the development and implementation of EU climate policy. Through EUKI, climate actors can learn from each other; the initiative supports inner-European dialogue, the exchange of good practice, awareness raising, and knowledge transfer.


EU Memorandum of Split: long-term structure for supporting EU Islands in their transition to clean energy

By | Actions, Library, News | No Comments

On 24.06.2020 the European Commission together with 14 Member States (Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) (the Memorandum of Split) to ensure the future of the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative.  The Memorandum of Split was announced the same day during a press conference of the Croatian Presidency, who has worked with all signing parties over the last months to finalise this document. A specific priority of the Croatian Presidency was reinforcing the support to clean energy islands.

EU islands, where 15 million citizens live, have the potential to be frontrunners in the clean energy transition by adopting new technologies and implementing innovative solutions.

What does this mean for the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative?

The MoU ensures the establishment of a long-term structure for supporting EU islands in their energy transition. Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson highlighted in her statement that this Memorandum is an example of great cooperation among EU Member States. During the press conference, Croatian Minister of Environment Tomislav ĆORIĆ outlined the objectives of the initiative moving forward, namely

  • The Memorandum of Split will firstly give the needed support to islands in preparation of their transition agendas while promoting the participation, the engagement and empowerment of citizens. In addition, the structured cooperation will facilitate the creation of energy communities on islands.
  • The Memorandum of Split has also recognized the importance of the implementation of pilot projects aimed at increasing the use of renewables using storage systems, innovative technologies, developing clean and sustainable transport, sector integration by integrating the electricity system with other sectors such as heating, cooling, island water systems and with the scalable demand response on the islands.
  • We should not forget where everything started from, and that is the connection problems. Therefore, the Memorandum of Split recognized the necessary support to islands not connected to the national grid in their decarbonisation process through the increased use of renewables in final use of electricity and of transport, heating and cooling.
  • In the end, since sharing means caring, the special emphasize in the Memorandum of Split was given to the promotion and exchange of best practices because dissemination of lessons learned can only make a Europe stronger in a world of challenges.

Why the Memorandum of Split?

The Memorandum of Split is a continuation of many years of efforts by the EU islands community to advance the energy transition in their territories.

  • In May 2017 the European Commission, together with 14 Member States, had signed the “Political Declaration on Clean Energy For EU Islands” under the Maltese Presidency. This declaration (Valletta Declaration) was born out of the recognition that islands and island regions face a particular set of energy challenges and opportunities due to their specific geographic and climatic conditions. The opportunities have the potential to make Europe’s island communities innovation leaders in the clean energy transition for Europe and beyond – a fact the European Commission explicitly recognised in its Communication on “Clean Energy for All Europeans“, reassuring its commitment to ensure that the energy concerns of island inhabitants are at the forefront of the energy transition and related policy developments.
  • In cooperation with the European Parliament, the Commission in 2018 set up a Secretariat to deliver the objectives of the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative.
  • Over the last two years, the Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat has been supporting islands all across the EU in developing Clean Energy Transition Agendas, providing in-person and online capacity-building trainings as well as project-specific support to island communities, and supporting community building at from the local to the pan-European level.

The Memorandum of Split hence represents a continuation of the work done jointly by all members of the EU islands communities over the last years, which is now also enshrined in the EU Green Deal.