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Guide to Social Innovation

Guide to Social Innovation

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Published by Jenny M. Melo

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Published by: Jenny M. Melo on Apr 01, 2013
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Most cities in Europe have problems of poor communities living in difficult environments. Over the
past 20 years, ERDF has financed integrated approaches to urban regeneration linking economic,
social and environmental aspects. In the 1990s, the Community-led Economic Development priorities
in the disadvantaged neighbourhoods of the UK were at the forefront. In the 2000s, Germany was a
leading practitioner: the Land of North Rhine Westphalia organised urban regeneration in
partnership wth cities across the state to help turn around 80 neighbourhoods.


The State of North Rhine-Westphalia “Socially Integrative City” programme: Supporting
neighbourhood renewal

Scaling up stage

Since 1999, the government of North Rhine Westphalia developed integrated policies to support 80
neighbourhood regeneration programmes in cities within its state39

. An Integrated Local Action Plan
outlines how the development, reorganisation and upgrading of an area is to take place. The
approach is decentralised with clear responsibilities for each level.

Integrated Local Action Plans (LAP) are implemented in neighbourhoods.
55 Municipalities are responsible for the preparation and implementation of the LAP, for
applying for funding and for ensuring the neighbourhood plan meets the needs of the city
as a whole.
The district governments (regional administration units of the federal state level of NRW)
advise the municipalities on funding matters and authorise payments.
The federal state ministry for urban development arranges and controls the programme
and commissions evaluations.
The EU provides funding through the ESF and ERDF operational programmes.

In addition, there are private housing and retail companies involved as well as foundations, welfare
organisations and other stakeholders.

Funding comes out of the EU funded Competitiveness programme for 2007-13 under a specific
priority for sustainable urban and regional development, from federal government and federal state
budgets and from the municipalities.

In nearly all neighbourhoods, an integrated neighbourhood management team has been set up.
Some are managed as a branch office of the municipality; others are managed by external experts
or by local organisations which are themselves the result of local initiatives.

The neighbourhood management offices work on a wide range of tasks. These include: stimulating
networking; promoting a changed image of the neighbourhood; supporting bargaining processes;
setting up communication structures; informing the population and administration; organising
offers of cultural activities; promoting the local economy; forming a link between the
neighbourhood, city and other levels of decision-aking; and developing projects.

The neighbourhoods work with a wide range of stakeholders but the strongest emphasis is on

citizen participation described as a ‘red thread’. There is a strong commitment to dialogue,

understanding different perspectives and finding tailor made solutions with a high level of


A full account in english of the NRW approach to socially integrative cities (NRW 2010) can be seen at




A disposition fund (form of participative budgeting) made up of €5 euro contributions per
inhabitant finances small-scale projects decided by a local citizens’ body. These projects have
immediate impact such as neighbourhood parties, tree-planting in a school yard and outings for
children of parents who cannot normally afford them.

To promote learning and the exchange of ideas, a network of municipalities involved in the
neighbourhood renewal programme meets on a regular basis with support from the State
Government of NRW.

The City of Duisburg was the lead partner of the URBACT exchange and learning network REGGOV40
In this network, the city has worked with eight other cities to explore the vertical integration of
policy actors. One success was that the municipality of Kobanya,, a district of Budapest, was the first
city in Hungary to have its integrated action plan for neighbourhoods accepted by the ERDF
Managing Authority for funding.

Integrated action plan for Pongrác housing estate in Budapest’s Köbánya district

Implementation stage

The Pongrác housing estate in Köbánya, a Greater Budapest municipality, illustrates how social
innovations can travel across Europe. The city worked in partnership with the city of Duisburg and
seven other cities in the URBACT REGGOV network. Local people strongly participated in the
Köbánya plan influencing its content and making it more relevant to their needs.

The Pongrác housing estate is an isolated area of Köbánya, surrounded by non-residential areas: in
the south and east, a railway line and a busy road, in the north, a tram line and another busy road, in
the west, a gasworks site. There are 20 condominium buildings with 1700 people living there. Only a
small percentage of the flats are owned by the municipality, the rest are owned by private owners.
The Local Support Group has a wide range of stakeholders including the municipality and municipal
companies, local schools, police, childcare and social services, and local entrepreneurs.

The strategy aims to eliminate the causes that lead to the segregation of the area making it a better
place to live. Actions are focused on:

Strengthening the residential function of the neighbourhood, renovation of the housing
stock including roofs, corridors etc.;
Strengthening the urban function of the neighbourhood through improving streets and
parking; improving safety through street signs and speed bumps, new streetlights and
security cameras; renovation of playgrounds; creating a new football ground; creating small
gardens and open spaces between houses, a new public agora for outdoor leisure and other
community-building activities;




Strengthening the economic and public service functions of the neighbourhood, renovation
and renewal of social welfare and cultural facilities such as kindergartens and day care
centres, and cultural centres;
Community programmes, trainings and events.

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