In general, four clusters of assignments are important for the process of urban or rural development:

  • Identifying opportunities and barriers;
  • Determining control strategies: the next step in a local development process.
  • Choosing appropriate coordination mechanisms: the core of the process.
  • Building social capital: an essential precondition for the success of the process.

These four clusters give perspective to task dependent topics. In the case study area of Buiksloterham seven task dependent topics were distinguished (see figure).

Four clusters of assignments for area development in general and seven task dependent topics for the case study area Buiksloterham

More than 20 organisations signed the manifesto Circular Buiksloterham, making the area a ‘ living lab ‘ for the application of concrete experiments, research and innovation.
In the next stage, the major task is the transition from an informal to a more formal coordination of the local development process. The process is started as a local initiative with enthusiastic and creative homebuilders. A handful of homebuilders has grown into a network of 80 organizations and groups. The usefulness of and the need for a more formal direction is increasing. The local process is becoming increasingly complex with many issues and involved parties. The continuation of the informal process may eventually cause a decreasing the energy and commitment of parties and individual persons. The social capital that is built up, will then become rather smaller than bigger.

Meanwhile an experiment called Citylab Buiksloterham has been started, with the support of the Dutch Cultural Fund for creative industry. The establishment of this Citylab Buiksloterham is a chance to grow from an informal to a more formal direction.

Meta-tasks for circular governance

Based on the Buiksloterham experiences the meta-task for circular governance is threefold.

  • The first meta-task is that of connecting local ideas and initiatives to the programs of cities, utilities, service providers, etc.
  • The second meta-task concerns the ‘horizontal’ coherence between the various investors in and operators of the water, energy, sewage, electricity, road and building infrastructure. These parties actually realize circular solutions. Partly they carry the innovation process, because they often have departments or programs that sympathise with circular ideals. But at the same time, these organizations play a conservative role because they must ensure the security of their systems. In this area of tension the leadership of these organisations plays a key role in setting circular goals and at the same time bridging the two sides.
  • The third meta-task is enabling joint learning. Explication of experiences is essential in the transition process to circularity. Knowledge management, narratives, platforms, social media, interactive monitoring can play a role in it, but also ‘traditional’ research and education.

For further reading, download “Circular Solutions 1: Ambitions, Governance and Monitoring” here