The Mediterranean Lab for Co-production 

of Social Innovation

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Co-production case studies 05

Unknown Member 22 November 2022


The participation of people in climate governance is increasingly seen as a critical factor for effective and inclusive climate change resilience in terms of public empowerment, increased legitimacy and compliance, climate justice, and social innovation.

Barcelona is an internationally recognized example of a city carrying out urban climate experiments guided by the concept of co-production with its local Climate Plan co-produced with the citizenry in 2017 and its council of organizations co-producing the Climate Emergency Action Plan since the end of 2019.

The Barcelona Climate Plan co-production process used analogue and digital tools for public participation and involved four stakeholder groups that played different roles in the design and implementation of the process:

  • The officials were in charge of designing the entire co-production process.
  • Facilitators also contributed to its design and orientation , that is, a consulting firm specialized in citizen participation in environmental issues hired by the municipality.
  • The member organizations of the Barcelona + Sostenible network got involved as participants both to suggest and to evaluate proposals for the Climate Plan. Most of them belonged to the private sector (42%), followed by public entities (20%), NGOs or foundations (13%), universities (8%), large unions (6%), semi-private primary schools (6%) , and associations of technical professionals (4%).
  • Lay citizens and people from organizations that were not members of the network also participated in the process with limited liability.

The co-production process began in mid-July 2017, it consisted of three phases and used different tools for public participation. During the first phase, the city council collected the proposals of the participants through:

a) two face-to-face workshops,
b) two self-organized sessions, and
c) the Decidim digital platform.

More than 140 organizations (for example, private sector, NGOs, schools) were involved through participatory sessions to elaborate a joint commitment made by both the City Council and citizen organizations, to implement five strategic measures and seven priority projects City Council) and define and develop nine citizen projects (involving 135 people from 86 organizations).

During the co-production process, the participation of public officials was valued because they acted as neutral arbitrators and guaranteed public interest in the results of the process. On the contrary, the technical knowledge that public officials possess about the functioning and governance of the city could overwhelm the participants and make it difficult for them to have equitable interactions.

In order to convert the co-produced proposals into plan actions, the team of officials in charge of preparing the Climate Plan accepted or rejected the proposals collected. Only 26% of the accepted co-produced proposals were entered into the plan identically to how they were formulated in the co-production process. 5% of the proposals were partially transformed, that is, they slightly modified some specific aspects. 22% of the accepted proposals included in the plan were highly transformed. In other words, one or more relevant aspects of the proposal were excluded or significantly modified once they were converted into actions in the plan.

The Barcelona Climate Plan (2018-2030) launched in April 2018 and officially approved in October 2018 contains actions based on co-produced proposals, diagnostic suggestions and contributions from officials. The resulting plan includes 242 actions, divided into five areas (i.e. people first, starting at home, transforming common spaces, climate economy, and co-building) and 18 lines of action (eg, no cuts supply of energy or water, conservation of the promenade, zero waste or cultural action for the climate). The listed actions fall under two-time horizons (i.e. actions to be launched before 2020 and actions to be launched between 2021 and 2030) and four strategic objectives (i.e. mitigation, adaptation,

Read Barcelona Climate Plan (Summary)


Caregiving is an activity that once relied almost entirely on time and the quality of human relationships, but now relies heavily on a chronically underpaid and undervalued workforce, increasingly run by a few large companies seeking maximize profits.

Parent-led cooperative childcare models such as Childspace in Brockwell or Grasshoppers in the Park in Hackney combine decent wages and conditions for staff with real control and affordability for parents who contribute time and skills to running the nursery.

The nursery is located in East London, a not-for-profit limited company, it was established 15 years ago as a parent-run childcare cooperative with the aim of offering families high-quality childcare at a cost less than in a private nursery.

While all Grasshoppers parents are expected to contribute in one way or another, whether it’s going on field trips or taking clothes home, parents can lower their fees by taking on larger roles. This could be attending the classroom for a full day between 9.30am and 3.30pm once a week, or helping with tasks such as administration or fundraising on flexible hours, when parents get a £120 monthly discount.

Fees are grouped by income in an attempt to attract families from diverse backgrounds, and daycare management prefers to trust parents when declaring their income. The staff believes that there is great potential for parents to learn skills from professionals in the setting and transfer them to the learning environment at home. Parents can greatly benefit from working alongside professionals in the room, which ultimately benefits their children.

Although Grasshoppers is a not-for-profit organization and relies heavily on fundraising, the salaries paid to staff are above average, with a qualified nursery doctor earning £21,500 a year.

Co-produced daycare centers could be part of the solution to child care challenges facing families, particularly in larger cities, but they could not be a ‘substitute for major reforms to our child care policy and the funding needed to provide the volume of high-quality, affordable places that parents need.’

Source: Scaife, A. (2017) NEF & Grasshoppers in Nursery World


La Collaboradora in Zaragoza, Spain, is a physical space for Collective Intelligence where a collaborative community works on their business, social or creative projects with the only payment requirement of exchanging ideas, services and knowledge through a time bank to strengthen the collaborative economy of its members and their environment.

In this space you can develop business, social, creative projects… It is aimed at entrepreneurs, freelancers, NGOs, activists, creatives, re-entrepreneurs who want to develop a project. The Collaborator is made up of people with a project to develop.

It is a P2P physical environment where talent is managed and the philosophy of peer to peer exchange networks is combined with the intensity of human contact through the meeting of collaborative communities.

La Collaboradora is a space co-managed between the Zaragoza City Council and the users themselves who are involved in its governance and are empowered by it. Each member works on the development of their project with the commitment to put 4 hours of their time at the service of the community to offer services on a voluntary basis in the governance tasks of the project (invigoration, communication or training) or contributing with their knowledge advising to other members. Its governing bodies are the Board of Directors and the Assembly.


La Borda is defined as the first housing cooperative following the assignment of use model developed in Barcelona and built on public land. As a result of a participatory process undertaken by the community, a group of neighbors decided to organize themselves to collectively address the problem of housing affordability through the implementation of a housing cooperative (La Borda).

The housing cooperative can be described as a framework for the development of social innovation in housing: organizations and collective structures with shared forms of leadership, which generate new responses to current problems and contemporary social needs.

La Borda’s position in favor of a community model that goes against the conventional housing model makes it possible to overcome some of the typical limitations of architectural design. In the case of public housing, the administration’s fear of the unknown occupant makes it impossible to introduce changes that affect the established typologies. In addition, the logic of the real estate market tends to produce low-quality housing, assimilating it to an object of consumption. To describe and analyze the process, five key concepts have conditioned the project’s strategies: self-management, assignment of use, community life, sustainability and accessibility.


The members of the cooperative, and future users, are the ones who direct, control and develop the entire process through an internal structure that encourages their direct participation in the work committees and in a monthly general assembly. The cooperative only has the support of technical teams specialized in tasks that its members cannot assume, such as the architectural project. According to the values ​​of the cooperative, the active participation of users has been integrated into all phases of the housing development process: design, construction, management and life in the building.

2. Assignment of use and collective property

The housing cooperative scheme used by La Borda is categorized under the legal term “assignment of use”. The assignment of use model is widespread in countries such as Denmark (Andel Model) and Uruguay (FUCVAM). Both experiences are direct references for La Borda in the development of this model, where the property will always be collective while the use is personal. It is a non-speculative model that takes housing as a basic right, with a strong commitment to use value above the exchange value in the market.

As a non-profit institution, the cooperative developed housing on public land, where the City Council established a 75-year lease. The cooperative will own the building and will assign the right to use the house to its members, grouped into coexistence units. The right of use is acquired by paying an entrance fee (which will be returned if the tenant leaves the cooperative) and is maintained by paying an affordable monthly fee.

3. Community life

La Borda wants to produce new forms of coexistence that enhance the interrelation of the community through the use of shared spaces: establish cooperation links in the field of domestic tasks and care to make visible the private spheres of daily life and promote equality relations between neighbors. . By fostering community living through shared common facilities, conventional collective housing programs have been reinvented and optimized in terms of space and energy. Housing units reduce their surface area by 10% since services such as laundry, guest rooms or storage rooms (often oversized or underused in conventional homes) are shared spaces.

4. Sustainability

The cooperative prioritizes a building with minimal environmental impact, both in its construction and throughout its life cycle, and is a benchmark for the area. Another fundamental objective is to eliminate the possibility of energy poverty among future users, a situation that some of them suffer today due to the high costs of energy and their low income. The result is almost zero energy consumption and comfort in the building with minimal associated construction and operating costs.

5. Affordability

An essential condition of La Borda is to guarantee access to decent and affordable housing for its members, in order to become an alternative model for low-income people. The project is financed with the contributions of the neighbors, the contributions of the collaborators (collective or individual) and the socioeconomic network (mainly the Coop57 credit cooperative through loans and participatory titles).

The budget for the promotion amounts to 3.1 million euros and takes into account all the investments necessary to carry out the project (taxes, professional fees, construction budget). The construction budget amounts to 2.4 million euros (850 euros / m2).

Financing difficulties make the cost of construction a determining factor in establishing the value of the monthly rent. To reduce it, different strategies are followed: budgets as a design tool, prefabrication (wooden system) to reduce the duration of the construction, constructive simplicity, self-management to reduce the industrial benefit, some construction phases and self-construction carried out by future residents.


The Vilawatt project started in 2018 and aims to establish an innovative public-private-citizen governance partnership at the local level (PPCP). This entity will have, for the first time, the Viladecans City Council together with local businesses and the citizens of Viladecans as members. Its mission will be to promote and guarantee a safe, clean and efficient use of energy, starting with an impoverished neighborhood in the city of Viladecans (Montserratina). This new PPCP will be the central axis that will manage the new local tools for the transition: energy supply, energy currency, energy saving services, investments in deep energy renovation and renewable energy production.

The new entity aims to create a Local Energy Operator that will be the local energy provider and producer of renewable energy, and an Energy Saving Company, offering energy saving services and investment in energy renewal to all members. The Capitalization of Energy Savings will allow the new entity to focus on the investment of deep energy renovations, sharing among the local community the economic risks of those energy saving operations that are not economically attractive.

A new energy currency linked to energy savings will be created, which will function as an incentive for energy efficiency and as a mechanism to increase the economic capacity of vulnerable economic groups. At the same time, this alternative currency will strengthen the local economy by ensuring a local money cycle.