Urban Up

Upscaling Urban Sharing Strategies in the Living Lab Wuppertal

The UrbanUp research project sought to address the challenges that cities face with regards to sustainability, focusing on the potential of sharing principles to contribute to sustainable urban development. The project took a transdisciplinary approach, bringing together experts from different fields (political science, economy, sociology, engineering) to work closely with local actors in the city of Wuppertal in a real-world lab setting. The aim was to identify and strengthen sustainable niches where sharing is practiced, assess the social and environmental benefits of such efforts, and support societal development towards the preservation of livelihoods within planetary boundaries, guaranteeing political participation, wellbeing and social inclusion for all. The project’s transdisciplinary approach enabled the generation of new insights that were valuable to both science and practice, producing research results that had a high problem-solving ability.

The CSCP contributed with its expertise on sustainable lifestyles and civic engagement and assessed the potential of civil society initiatives to foster inclusive social cohesion. In collaboration with two local civil society associations, Aufbruch am Arrenberg e.V. and Werke, the CSCP co-designed and jointly implemented a pilot project: A do-it-yourself (DIY) workshop series.

The objective was to foster social cohesion and reach a broader and more diverse target group in the Arrenberg neighbourhood of Wuppertal. The neighbourhood DIY workshop series proved to be a success, bringing together people from different age groups, genders, sexual orientations, income groups, cultural backgrounds, and even people with health conditions or impairments. The success factors included:

  • a wide spread communication campaign
  • collaboration with representatives of the target groups
  • regular reflections about individual roles and privileges and adaptations to practices
  • welcoming and engaging new people
  • high levels of participation and interaction
  • an atmosphere of creativity, engagement, and self-efficacy

The UrbanUp project also analysed the environmental impacts of social innovations applied in local civil society initiatives and how stakeholders from different sectors of society (city makers, policymakers, companies) can work together to co-create new solutions for a city. The project also examined the role of stories and narratives as well as learning processes in urban transformation. To find out more about the project results, please check out the publication “Impulses for Urban Transformation” (in German). An overview of all Urban Up publications can be found here (in German).

The UrbanUp project was carried out from 2017 to 2023, and was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research as a junior research group under the Social-Ecological Research program. It was implemented by the joint Center for Transformation Research and Sustainability (TransZent) of the Wuppertal Institute and the University of Wuppertal, the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, and the CSCP.