The Co-Cities Project


The Co-Cities Project is an ongoing investigation into new forms of collaborative city-making which are pushing urban areas towards new frontiers of participatory urban governance, inclusive economic growth and social innovation. The Co-Cities project is rooted in the conceptual pillars of the urban commons, developed in our academic writings over the past 10 years.

Background and Objective

The original “Co-Cities” project first arose out of a series of experiments in Italian cities, starting with the now well-lauded Bologna “collaborative city” initiative. We participated in the Bologna experiment, referred to as “Bologna Collaborative City” in which the City of Bologna initiated a policy process to introduce collaboration as a method for governing the city and many of its resources. In 2014, after two years of field experimentation, and with the help of LabGov and other experts, the City of Bologna adopted a new regulatory framework: The Bologna Regulation on Civic Collaboration for the Urban Commons, which has resulted to date in more than 280 “pacts of collaboration” signed and implemented between the local government and various groups of residents and other local entities to co-manage particular urban resources and spaces. The City of Bologna has since been internationally recognized for this regulation (which was implemented by more than 100 cities in Italy) and the successful implementation of these pacts to govern urban commons throughout the City.

Actions and Implementation

The specific applications of the Bologna regulation are just now undergoing implementation, as the City has recently signed over 280 pacts of collaboration, which are tools of shared governance. The regulation and other city public policies foresee other governance tools inspired by the collaborative and polycentric design principles underlying the Regulation. National legislation, especially on public contracts, is also starting to recognize and introduce these legal innovations which have blossomed at the urban and local level. The second phase of the Co-Bologna project (2015-2016) was an open pact of collaboration between the City and a local foundation (the De Monte Foundation), operated under the scientific coordination of LabGov. It aimed to apply the design principles of urban commons governance in three specific neighborhoods in Bologna. These sites were chosen to correspond to three policy areas around which we are experimenting with the Co-City approach: living together (housing), growing together (urban regeneration), and working together (economic development).


North America

Award Scheme

Dubai International Award

Start Year


Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

New Urban Agenda Commitments