Building Collaborative Cities - An interview with Mathieu Lefevre
As Executive Director, Mathieu Lefevre oversees the New Cities Foundation's strategy and its day-to-day operations. Previously, he worked for the World Bank in the area of governance as well as a political officer for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Mathieu frequently speaks at events on cities, innovation and governance. He is a genuine city enthusiast - with a particular interest in street food. At the end of the month, he will moderate the roundtable on "Collaborative Cities" at OuiShare Fest 2015 on May 21st.
In this interview, Mathieu gives a brief overview on city-wide concrete actions toward collaboration.
Dear Mathieu, we’re delighted that you accepted to moderate the “Collaborative Cities” roundtable at OuiShare Fest 2015. First of all, can you give us three facts about yourself and the New Cities Foundation that we can't find on the Internet?
Mathieu Lefevre. I think cities are the best laboratory for change in our era. I truly believe that cities can - in some way - save the world.
What I enjoy the most about my job is that everyday I get to work and interact with some of the most creative and passionate people in business, government, civil society as well as the arts. That makes for a great day at work.
The New Cities Foundation is a new kind of organization, a crossbreed between a think tank, a platform and a micro-media for city entusiasts. People have a hard time putting us in one category but that is the beauty of what we do.
From your perspective, as manager of a cities network, what would be your advice to replicate the best solutions for collaborative cities?
M. L. Tell the story from the point of view of problem solving, not just innovation for innovation’s sake. What urban problem (e.g. housing, traffic, security, water, waste, etc.) is your project actually solving? Find new ways to tell the story by making it personal and citizen-centric and fun!
Tell the story from the point of view of problem solving, not just innovation for innovation’s sake
Let's talk about branding: what are the advantages and drawbacks of a “Collaborative / Sharing City”?
M. L. I see absolutely no disadvantages in collaboration and sharing! Even if it is just city branding, it's a good thing as it helps to change people’s outlook. But of course then comes the real work, going beyond branding.
What is the best way to integrate the collaborative economy approach in local stakeholders’ agenda?
M. L. Show them the concrete benefits in terms of Co2 emmissions, job creation, traffic avoided, housing units added to the market etc…Then show them what they can do today.
Facing regulation: to what extent can we, as local changemakers, change or override the frame of a sometimes outdated set of rules?
M. L. In today’s world, regulation often catches up with innovators. So changemakers should persue their projects and ideals the way they envision but keep a good two-way dialogue with regulators so that they can be part of the conversation and play a key part in updating regulation. Making the regulator the enemy is never a good strategy.
Avoiding bullshit: your three measures to assess the impact of the collaborative economy in a city?
M. L. That really depends on the city. In Paris, for example, I would suggest measuring impact by cuts in Co2 emissions, jobs created and housing units added on the market.
From your own experience, which cities or regions are the most likely to host a collaborative revolution?
M. L. Berlin, Copenhagen and Seoul.
Where else will the collaborative revolution take place if not in cities?
Can you cite one largely unknown initiative in the world we should look at in our path towards collaborative cities?
M. L. Look for The Ugly Indian, one of our WhatWorks initiatives this year.
Last word: why should people come to the roundtable on “Collaborative Cities” at OuiShare Fest 2015?
M. L. Cities globally are growing by 2 people per second. Where else will the collaborative revolution take place if not in cities?
Thank you Mathieu, and see you at the Fest!