Urban Green Deals for Rotterdam: Case Middelland


Tuesday, 7th September, 15:30 -17:00 CEST


Participants tackle a real urban challenge in a Dutch neighborhood. The aim is to develop citizen-led solutions, supported by data & digital tools, that can be applied in your city and projects.


Citizens worldwide increasingly take the lead in tackling urgent challenges in their neighborhoods. This third paradigm shift follows government’s monopoly on service provision and, in more recent years, domination of market forces.

To achieve durable results citizens needs methods, data and structural financing. The challenge is to make every voice count while taking on entrenched urban governance systems & processes designed for different times. That starts and ends with the community building, local ownership of neighborhood spaces and processes with a strong digital component.

We focus on the Dutch Living Lab test case Who Owns the Heemraadssingel? The Heemraadssingel is a 1.5 kilometer canal in Rotterdam West dating back to the first plan for wastewater evacuation in the 19th century.

As a community we have taken the lead. We conducted research, created design plans and developed concrete solutions. The next step is building the supporting digital tools & data methods. Thus, a superdiverse neighborhood becomes a community through shared action. This workshop reinforces the journey towards a replicable community owned system designed for adaptation in other European cities.


The goal of the workshop is subdivided in three objectives:

Objective 1:
This is a chance for us to share our knowledge and experiences in building community and in strategically bringing the power of citizens into urban planning processes. That’s about concrete tools and also strategic challenges. Sharing can help other experts avoid mistakes we made.

Objective 2:
We combine the above with the expertise of workshop participants. Through break-out sessions groups we will work to apply these approaches to a real urban challenge in the Heemraadssingel in Rotterdam.

Objective 3:
With the participants of the workshop, we will reflect on the results of the break-out sessions. We can all adapt and apply them in other urban projects or our own neighborhoods. The results will be consolidated in a document to be shared following the workshop.

More info here:


Participants will leave the workshop with five outcomes:

1. Inspiration: We show, through examples from the city of Rotterdam, that it is possible for citizens to build their community and take more control over their living environment.
2. Insights: We share our insights and lessons learned from decades of experience in the field. These practical methods are the secret sauce for citizen-led action.
3. Tools: We share our data collection methods and our growing collection of digital support tools.
4. Network: We facilitate exchange with peers working on similar urban challenges. We also invite participants to join the network for future exchanges.

5. Project ideas: We stimulate participants to apply workshop lessons to their own projects and city.



We bring real urban challenges to the table and co-create solutions together. That begins with introducing the context of the challenge and the toolbox of methods & digital tools. Groups are then guided in working together. We come together at the end to share results and reflect.

Part A. Sharing
    i. Welcome (5 minutes)
    ii. Introduction Rotterdam & Mooi Mooier Middelland (5 minutes)
    iii. Outline Case Heemraadssingel & Group Challenges (10 minutes)
    iv. Presentation Toolbox & Discussion (15 minutes)

Part B. Co-creating
    v. Groupwork: Case Challenges (30 minutes)

Part C. Reflecting

    vi. Groups present results & answer questions (10 minutes)
    vii. Reflection and discussion (10 minutes)

Citizens and urban professionals face similar challenges all over Europe. Major issues include affordable housing, global warming, diversity and the digital divide. The paradigm shift assigns new roles to all involved. Communities know their neighborhood best and offer practical solutions. City government has ways and means.

We show through examples and practical work how we support citizens in staking a claim over their neighborhood and gaining a seat at the table. This takes adaptation from traditional powers but generates cost-effective, data-driven solutions. That in turn populates models of smart cities with active citizens. Current models focus on low-hanging fruit, easy-to-count and to structure, like trash bins communicating their wish to be emptied.

We’re data driven but have learned that communities make the difference. Thus our mantra is: first the community then the tools. Sharing tools & experiences provides value for participants. We focus the workshop on the question of what tools & processes are needed for citizens to take ownership and action on problems that touch their lives. The executable input will enable participants to improve processes in their projects.


Everyone who cares about the future of our cities is welcome to our workshop. It’s especially relevant for three main groups:

1. Practitioners & officials: Contribute and take home concrete solutions that can be applied in your work.
2. Students: Be inspired and take home practical that complements the knowledge you are learning in school.
3. Service & tool providers: Learn how to bring methods and digital tools to the ground in communities.