SynAthina as a reference point for European Cities

SynAthina as a reference point for European Cities

European cities attended the “City Hall 4 Citizens” event, hosted by synAthina at City of Athens’ Serafio.

SynAthina welcomed member cities of the Eurocities network at the Serafio Sports, Culture and Innovation center in Athens during the event “City Hall 4 Citizens” on May 16 2018.

Representatives from more than 70 European cities visited Athens for the “Cooperation Platform 2018”, the annual meeting of Eurocities, the most important network of major European municipalities. Eurocities brings together the local governments of over 140 of Europe’s largest cities in an open platform for sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas to respond to common issues that affect the day-to-day lives of Europeans tackling contemporary challenges at local level. Eurocites recently launched its official campaign for democracy, entitled “Cities4Europe – Europe for Citizens”, aiming to bring people and policymakers together to explore new ways of involving citizens in decision-making and inspire all levels of government to build societies where people come first.

Within the framework of “Cities4Europe – Europe for Citizens” campaign, Athens hosted the event “City Hall 4 Citizens”, organised by synAthina, the award winning social innovation platform of the City of Athens (Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge Award 2014, Eurocities Innovation Award 2016) that aims to bridge the gap between municipality and the active civil society of Athens.

During the event, Athens Vice Mayor for Civil Society and Innovation, Amalia Zepou who chairs the Eurocities working group “Creative Citizenship”, showcased success stories and lessons learned from the experience with synAthina platform to bring closer citizen-led initiatives with the local government to provide new solutions at a local level and inspire change at the City Hall. A palette of different activities and best practices that took place in Athens inspired by synAthina methodology, were also presented while the Chief Digital Officer of the municipality of Athens, Konstantinos Champidis officially announced that synAthina open sourced its online platform transforming its digital source-code from a protected copy-righted asset to an open software available to be distributed freely among a community of cities, organisations and innovators.

“Athens has recognized the role of civil society and has dynamically embraced citizens’ initiatives in its decision-making process. In times of austerity, we wanted to create a systematic mechanism that collects the available capacity of public spirited citizens to co-create new solutions for a better life in the city”, claimed Mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis.

Besides, through the event, it became clear that all cities are moving in similar directions, involving their active civil society that acts for the common benefit of cities to play an increasingly important role in the operation but also in the decision-making of local authorities. In particular, representatives from Ghent and Nantes presented their respective initiatives together with a series of Athens municipality participatory programs such as:

ACCMR, City of Athens Coordination Center for Migrants and Refugees issues

Athens Open Schools, a municipal initiative which transforms 25 public schools into sustainable centres for the benefit of local communities

POLIS², presentation of Athens municipality neighbourhood program based on participatory methods

Social Dynamo, a capacity building program for community groups jointly implemented with the Bodossaki Foundation.

“Athens has effectively implemented a systematic policy of openness towards the active engagement of its citizens with a multiplicity of participatory programs and initiatives” said Athens Vice Mayor Amalia Zepou while she specifically referred to the paradigms of the innovative place-making model tested for the re-activation of the Municipal Market of Kypselias well as the joint effort of the municipality with its citizens to clean the city from graffiti tags, through the example of Panepistimiou Street.

The guests had the opportunity to receive the synAthina Playbook, a handbook that unveils the methodology of synAthina platform and outlines the tools used to collect, document, empower and facilitate the activities of the Athens civil society. Indeed, 20 of the cities present, expressed interest in learning more on synAthina platform while Amalia Zepou and the team of synAthina committed to further support those cities.


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