The rapid growth of urban areas generates many challenges, including air pollution and the need for more basic services and infrastructure. Goal 11 (Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, flexible and sustainable) aims to reduce the negative impacts of cities and promote urban centres as places of work and prosperity, while at the same time not damaging land and resources. Challenges posed by the urban environment include traffic, lack of funding to provide basic services, scarcity of adequate housing, and infrastructure degradation.

Achieving this requires more inclusive and sustainable forms of urbanisation, based in particular on a participatory, integrated and sustainable approach to urban planning. Furthermore, Goal 11 aims to ensure universal access to safe and inclusive green and public spaces, especially for women and children, the elderly and people with disabilities, and to provide access to safe and affordable transport systems. Cooperatives can help make cities and human settlements safer, more inclusive and more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The contribution of cooperatives to Goal 11 in the Emilia-Romagna region is found in several sectors.

Housing cooperatives, for example, offer safe and affordable housing for citizens who participate in property management through the democratic governance structure that all cooperatives support. In addition, housing cooperatives are engaged in urban regeneration, energy requalification, social housing and other community enhancement activities, often in synergy with social cooperation. Some excellent examples are Abitcoop , and Coop Edificatrice Giuseppe Dozza, housing cooperatives that promote sustainable development in housing through energy efficiency and respect for the environment; or Andria that in 2014 received an honourable mention at the European Responsible Housing Award as best practice in social housing (read more here)

Speaking of community development, one cannot fail to mention community cooperatives, a model that creates synergy and cohesion, bringing together the activities of citizens, businesses, associations and institutions, thus responding to multiple needs. This cooperative form develops mainly in mountain areas, with difficulties in accessing services or with problems of social cohesion such as the better known Cooperative Valle dei Cavalieri and Briganti di Cerreto, but in recent years it has come to the urban context, helping to rediscover the dimension of the neighborhood, and allowing the production of goods and services directly used by the community, such as sustainable energy or personal care. Examples are the Cooperativa Impossibile in Reggio Emilia, and OLTREfood in Parma. The first aims to involve residents to strengthen the social fabric by offering educational and recreational activities aimed at young people and initiatives that take into account the multi-ethnic reality of the territory; the second is a cooperative store that aims to be a meeting point for the neighborhood to support local suppliers and promote food culture by offering products that meet the characteristics of proximity, ethics, quality and sustainability.

Social cooperation plays an important role in the development of the communities in which it operates. In fact, many social cooperatives, in addition to representing a bastion of assistance and work inclusion for weak and disadvantaged groups, contribute to the cleanliness of urban areas through waste collection and recycling services and maintenance of green spaces. Excellent examples in our territory are La Città Verde, a social cooperative for work integration that carries out activities of green care, urban furniture management, waste management and processing as well as social educational services, social agriculture, and car repair shop; the consortium Formula Ambiente that offers waste management services and maintenance and construction of public and private green areas. in the Romagna area.

Another example of sustainable management of urban and natural heritage is Avola Coop, which carries out design, construction and maintenance of parks, gardens and green areas, naturalistic engineering, reforestation and environmental requalification, as well as related activities such as, for example, furniture, playgrounds, pavements for pedestrian and vehicular traffic and sports facilities.

Transport and taxi co-operatives help to improve urban mobility for commuting workers, the elderly and people with disabilities. Co.Ta.Bo is certainly the most striking example of a taxi cooperative. Active for 53 years in the territory of Bologna, it is the largest cooperative of taxi drivers in the region and is increasingly focusing on raising the current share of eco-friendly methane, hybrid and electric vehicles. Another excellent example is Cosepuri, a Bologna-based cooperative company that has been active for almost 50 years in the transport sector, which for two years has been part of Omnibus, a public-private consortium that manages Corrente, an electric car-sharing service that is gaining excellent feedback in terms of users as it connects nerve centres and strategic points in the cities of Bologna, and recently Ferrara.

Many labour and service cooperatives and social cooperatives contribute to safeguarding the natural and cultural heritage of their communities by participating in sustainable tourism and urban and social regeneration. An example of this are the cooperatives associated to CulTurMedia, a Legacoop sector dedicated to culture, tourism and communication and to the Italian Responsible Tourism Association (AITR). Among them, Atlantide, which offers project and operational solutions for environmental education and the management of sites of naturalistic, landscape and historical/cultural interest.

Another example of sustainable tourism promotion is represented by the young, a movement that became cooperative in 2018, which seeks to create an alternative to existing home-sharing platforms and aims to return part of the proceeds to the community by investing in socially relevant projects.

The contribution of cooperatives to the sustainable development of the city’s community is a 360 degree commitment, aimed at redeveloping the urban fabric both from a social and service point of view, always paying attention to the environmental impact, maintaining strong historical roots but focusing more and more on innovation.


Fondazione Innovazione Urbana

Legacoop Abitanti