The City of Athens, a venerable yet intricate city of near 700.000 residents, part of a 3.75 million people metropolis, is for several years now facing a serious socio-economic crisis.
Through concerted efforts, the city has managed to survive, to adapt and to transform into a more creative and collaborative city. The struggle is by no means over. This last year, calling on the insights and expertise of hundreds of stakeholders, from opinion leaders and academics to women migrants and the homeless, the city drafted its Resilience Strategy. This is a set of practicable actions which first of all strengthen and scales up what has made our city stronger: formal and informal networks and alliances. Athens Resilience Strategy offers a set of new integrated ways to prepare and protect our most vulnerable from future shocks and stresses that the city will face.
Boosting the city’s resilience means creating new as well as revitalizing existing open and green public spaces. This is vital for our densely built and populated city, threatened by both intense heat (climate change) and earthquakes. The city needs to become more forward thinking and proactive, turning its challenges into resources (vacant buildings, newly arrived refugee and migrant populations, energy and waste). Around such resources it will build capacity and start to develop economies that, together with tourism and the creative sector, will generate the city’s future. Finally the city will strengthen its government, through becoming more transparent and accountable, opening streams of communication, creating a digital agenda and innovation strategy.
Achieve effective, efficient governance and communicate and collaborate better with all residents by fostering data driven policy making.
Athens will become more transparent and accountable. The Athens city Council and administration seem remote and obscure to the citizen. Apart from the fact that there is no culture within the municipality that values, manages and maintains the collection of data and KPIs, there are also few and weak channels of communication both among the different levels of administration and between the City of Athens and the citizens. An “open city” is a city that is accountable, a city that can win back the trust of its people.
Athens will enhance and streamline the city’s processes. Openness and data are absolutely necessary for efficient and effective policy making. Data driven policy making is the only way to avoid duplication, maximize the use of our resources, respond to our city’s critical needs, know what to prioritize, keep people connected, creative and satisfi ed with their work.
Athens will foster collaboration and engagement. The City of Athens has managed to survive the recent socioeconomic crisis by forging collaborations among the public, private and civic sectors. This is an increasingly important aspect of city governance and it is absolutely crucial in forging city resilience. This collaboration encourages innovation and is a key aspect of effective city governance. In order to foster resilience, the existing and proposed initiatives have to be streamlined, upscaled and replicated. Assessing and evaluating their impact will be a significant step towards a robust and integrated city fabric.
The city of the future will meet our need for proximity to nature and be able to withstand climate change and environmental challenges.
Athens will integrate natural systems into the urban fabric. Athens, a city that suffers from heatwaves, flash floods and poor air quality, has historically wasted, misused and mismanaged its natural resources. It needs a culture change to understand, support, and promote its green and blue infrastructures. The city needs to create, as well as, better manage its green areas.
Athens will make our city cleaner. The city has been struggling with, keeping its public spaces clean, free of “noise” and pollution. This important “quality of life” issue is a crucial indicator of eff ectiveness and accountability. Developing a forward looking and data driven waste management plan is among the top most priorities of our city’s resilience.
Athens will promote sustainable mobility and co-create public spaces. The city has been struggling with, keeping its public spaces clean, free of “noise” and pollution. This important “quality of life” issue is a crucial indicator of eff ectiveness and accountability. Developing a forward looking and data driven waste management plan is among the top most priorities of our city’s resilience.
Athens will foster sustainable food systems. The City of Athens needs to develop sustainable and resilient food systems. The economic crisis has left a significant part of the population unable to meet its basic food needs. It has increased oligopolies in food distribution. It also generally aff ected the quality of food consumed, increasing dependency on processed and imported foods, resulting in health problems and obesity among vulnerable populations.
Athens will establish sustainable and equitable energy systems. The City of Athens has not had a Climate Action Plan until now. The baseline study of 2014 has indicated wasteful patterns of consumption and prominent GHG emission sectors, facilitating data driven and forward thinking policy making.
Streamline and up-scale its best “survival” skills, and through planning and communication, create trust and a safe environment for people.
Athens will enhance planning in the face of serious challenges. The City of Athens is a city undergoing a state of crisis. Here new crises are created within older ones, creating a city caught up in a vicious cycle of reactive behaviour. The city needs to learn how to streamline and upscale its best practices but also it needs to create an integrated and forward thinking strategic plan for Crisis and Emergency Preparedness and Management.
Athens will empower the municipal representatives and the local community. Athens should create systems using innovative ways to empower both civil servants and the Athenians. New types of information and communication are needed. Both sides have to listen and speak in order to bridge gaps, foster trust and drive forward the city into the challenging 21st century.
Athens will engage with our neighborhoods. An “open city” is a city that listens to its people. Athens has been trying to create structures of participatory governance, built on bottom-up informed policy making. This is what will make city governance more relevant, fair and trustworthy. Apart from the Districts that have to be supported and reinforced as administrative units, the sub-category of the Athenian neighborhood is still meaningful as a loose type of community and mode of belonging. The proposed action will empower our neighborhood, fostering dialogue and participatory governance.
Nurture and develop its assets in order to promote well-being, creativity, entrepreneurship and a new, inclusive, and exciting identity.
Athens will enhance the city’s identity and promote new types of belonging. The City of Athens needs a positive identity. One that can foster pride among its people while supporting the new types of identity and belonging that have emerged during the past few years. Athens has been a hotbed of social innovation, finding ways to survive across different cultures, religions and norms. The City of Athens should find ways to institutionally support the bottom up trends and initiatives that kept the city standing through the time of crisis.
The city will maximize existing city assets and support employment. Many of the city’s assets have been wasted or underused. These include vacant buildings/apartments, empty lots, public and green spaces, roof tops and of course its human resources. Through the suggested actions we propose a shift of culture that reinvents and reinvests on all these assets that have up to now been overlooked.