The Right to the Future - UTC report of Palermo Urban Thinkers Campus now online!

The Right to the Future - UTC report of Palermo Urban Thinkers Campus now online!

Right to the Future, organized last April 6-8 in Palermo by PUSH in collaboration with the loal Municipality and the support of around 70 international partners and media partners, was aimed to collect proposals and visions for the future of the city of Palermo and lay the foundation for the translation of the global principles of the New Urban Agenda into concrete actions at local level.
It was a three-day debate including plenary frontal sessions - Urban Labs - exchange moments with the audience - Urban Thinkers Sessions - interactive co-design workshops - Roundtables - the first Urban Journalism Academy after the ratification of the New Urban Agenda and several side events related to the main topic of the initiative.

During the Urban Labs international guests shared best practices experimented in other cities and countries - in Netherlands, Portugal, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and other regions in Italy - and replicable here in Palermo, while the authors of the best proposals, selected by the Steering Committee through an Open Call launched before the event, presented their ideas on the future of the city. Three Roundtables on topics selected by the participants (citizens and representatives of around 30 local organizations) were proposed on: cultural and artistic
heritage, public spaces and community living. The programme also included a rich agenda of side events that took place around the city. Among those, Good Fucking Design Advice, presentation made by the two co-founders of the famous US platform for creatives and designers; Palermo Telling, mash-up of the most famous movies shot in Palermo in the last 30 years, made by The Piranesi Experience; Palermo: energy, water and food, lecture organized by the coworking Ittico Lab on how to manage sea and ocean resources; a Green Street Fest organized by the social cooperative Orto Capovolto involving local artisans in the city centre.
The whole Campus has risen a strong interest and participation: more than 200 participants, Palermitans and non, took part to the activities and to the 20 side events around the city held during the same week; around 200.000 users were reached online through social media
channels and the website of the initiative; more than 1000 people followed the online streaming of the conference during the three days; 18 countries were represented within the Campus. The concept behind the Right to the Future Urban Thinkers Campus played on the double meaning of the word “Right”:

  • Right like the projection to new opportunities in a city that loses hundred of young people every year because of the lack of a chance for employment.
  • Right like the demand for a better future in this moment of social unrest and cultural buzz, when a strong vision is strongly needed in order to build a resourceful andinnovative scene.

Through Right to the Future, PUSH wanted to imagine, discuss, and develop possible projects for the future of Palermo, basing the activities on the New Urban Agenda and using it as a starting point for the Campus. To succeed in this challenging project of applying new urban
policies, PUSH choosed to involve local, national and international actors with a strategy, a plan or even an idea for Palermo in order to open the debate and lay the foundation for a democratic and participative process that could lead to concrete proposals at local level.
For these reasons the Campus was organized in partnership with the local Municipality and the online Open Call was launched to collect contributions from the community of citizens, expats and foreign people living in Palermo. The local community also played an active role in
organizing the Campus’ side events (lectures, exhibitions, concerts and events related to the main topic of Right to the Future).

The objective to raise awareness of local institutions, organizations and citizens about the principles of the New Urban Agenda was lead through different channels: social media contents; a video - screened during the event - where local stakeholders were called to read the principles of the New Urban Agenda; an exhibition, organized in the event’s location, describing the process that lead to the launch of the World Urban Campaign, to the creation of the Urban Thinkers Campus format and to the organization of two Urban Thinkers Campus in Palermo in the last three years: City as a Service in 2015 and Right to the Future in 2017; an online streaming of the conference; a simultaneous translation service to facilitate the comprehension of the presentations among the audience; three roundtables on the topics selected by the participants to launch a co-design process that will continue in the near future.

The Campus was a unique opportunity for the international guests, speakers and audience to share ideas and visions on the future of Palermo and of cities in general, a perfect mix of bottom-up solutions and institutional perspectives highlighting the importance of both community and administrations collaboration, a clear picture of approaches and initiatives adopted in different geographic areas of Europe to solve issues that are similar in many other urban contexts around the world and a first important step towards the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Palermo.
Thanks to the commitment of the Public Administration and of a vibrant civil society, Palermo has been recently nominated Italian Youth Capital 2017, Italian Culture Capital 2018 and chosen as the location for the international Art Biennale Manifesta 12. In this context and in this precise moment, it was extremely important to define specific paths to follow and to do so, it was crucial to involve everyone.The most concrete outcome of Right to the Future is thus represented by the proposals coming as a result of the co-design and collaborative process undertaken during the Roundtables, precise indications coming from local stakeholders that will be further developed in the next few months and hopefully translated in concrete actions with the support of the Public Administrations or through other public and private fundings. Moreover, among next steps, in order to inspire visions over the next years, all the ideas collected thanks to the initiative will be part of a publication that will act both as guidelines and as an oriented-action document for the adoption of the New Urban Agenda principles in Palermo: “Right to the Future: Vision Development Kit for the future of Palermo”.


Article by Alessia Torre
Photo Credits: Luca Savettiere