Study visit in Jyväskylä (Finland): Innovative cities, participative cities

On the 18th and 19th of June the CCIC partners visited the Finnish city Jyväskylä for a study visit. During this two-day meeting the partners learned how the city of Jyväskylä deals with different issues related to innovation in the public sector.

JYVÄSKYLÄ_3_N3On the 18th and 19th of June the CCIC partners visited the Finnish City Jyväskylä for a study visit. During this two-day meeting the partners learned how the City of Jyväskylä deals with different issues related to innovation in the public sector.
Many of the cases presented during the study visit showcased examples about how to include citizens in different decision-making processes and for different kinds of challenges and issues a municipality has to deal with. The city of Jyväskylä has a lot of experience in co-creation with the citizens and shows that this can be done in different ways and for different subjects.
Some good practices presented related to co-creation with the citizens were the following:
-    An Innovative future of the Kangas area is a good example of involving the citizens in city planning from the beginning of the planning process. The whole set-up of the project altogether consists of a good mix of tools and ways to inform and involve the citizens, and to obtain their views and ideas in a nice and ‘fun’ way. Several different methods and practices have been used with good results, like workshops, info-sessions, and tools like digital storytelling and graphical facilitations.
-    The Innovative Cities Programme (INKA) of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy aims to create internationally attractive local innovation hubs in Finland. The programme helps urban regions to focus on their strengths, encouraging them to select new types of focus areas, and to intensify cooperation between the public and private sectors. INKA is based on the idea that cities are engines of growth. The programme aims to create jobs by engaging expertise from the universities and the research institutes in the creation of new businesses and business activities.
-    The city of Jyväskylä’s “Tax Tree” Profit and loss account is a good way to involve citizens in the budgetary issues of the city and helps the local government to be more transparent.
-    Citizens’ Jury is a method of participation of local citizens, an interesting method to involve the inhabitants of a city in the decision-making process concerning specific and complicated public issues. It also offers decision-makers an opportunity to get thoughtful citizens’ input. A brief description of the process: A) Any Jyväskylä citizen can sign up for the jury. B) Jury meets three times (for 3-4 hours/session) to discuss the topic, hear and pose questions to expert witnesses on the issue to deliberate together, C) Jury presents its recommendations to decision-makers and the public. D) A political organ gives a formal response to the recommendations of the Citizens’ Jury.
Of course, Jyväskylä also had other kinds of cases to offer, besides those related to the co-creation with the citizens. A very interesting example is the case called Resource wisdom in the cities – new innovations from scarce resources? This is a very interesting concept about how to improve competitiveness by focusing on resource efficiency. It deals with challenges we are all facing nowadays: energy-efficiency issues, waste management and climate change. We all need to work on using our resources wisely, always thinking in terms of sustainability, the reduction of environmental damage and increase of renewable resources. This case has showed how this is done in Jyväskylä with the aim of developing a calculation and operating model for regional resource efficiency, which can also be applied in other cities. It gives a local perspective which will enable real action.
JYVÄSKYLÄ_3_N3_1It’s clear that at the City of Jyväskylä they are experts in civil society inclusion. If another city or region wants to get more input from citizens and doesn’t know how to deal with this, a visit to Jyväskylä will definitely help to find out the many different ways of involving the citizens in development activities.