Sharing Cities for Justice and Sustainability, by Duncan McLaren

The future of humanity is urban, and the nature of urban space enables, and necessitates, sharing - of resources, goods and services, experiences. Traditional forms of sharing have been undermined in modern cities by social fragmentation and commercialisation of the public realm, while new mediated forms are emerging in our digital age at the intersection of cities’ highly networked physical and cyber-spaces.

My talk will explore the opportunities and risks for sustainability, solidarity and justice in the changing nature of urban sharing. I will propose a new paradigm of sharing - going beyond the ‘sharing economy’ buzz of Uber and Airbnb - shaping approaches that are more communal than commercial; and making sharing the city itself the purpose of urban governance.

I will outline how cities that focus on genuine sharing can shift values and norms towards trust and collaboration; enable civic engagement and political activism; and begin to rebuild a shared urban commons. I will suggest how, in this digital age, truly smart cities can escape the ‘race-to-the-bottom’ of competition, enclosure, and division - by becoming Sharing Cities.


Duncan McLaren is currently a freelance consultant and researcher, and part-time PhD student at Lancaster University. His research interests include cities, climate change, energy and geo-engineering, with a particular focus on issues of justice arising in these areas and the consequences for policy. Previously he worked for many years in environmental research and advocacy in the UK and internationally, most recently as Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland from 2003 until 2011, after which he moved to Sweden to spend more time with his children. He holds Masters level degrees in geography, environmental policy and business administration. His latest book “Sharing Cities: a case for truly smart and sustainable cities” – co-authored with Julian Agyeman - is being published by MIT Press in December 2015.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 11:00
Knuth room, Floor 6, Electrum Building
Isafjordsgatan 22