EUAP Urban Innovation (March-April 2015): Amsterdam on Social Inclusion

In March and April 2015, the European Union Academic Programme (EUAP) held a series of events with the focus city of Amsterdam. Among the most pressing future challenges in Hong Kong are diversification of the economy and job creation, climate change, growing wealth inequalities, the lack of a comprehensive social security system, ensuing relative and absolute poverty especially among the low-skilled, and a rapidly ageing population, which will place substantial demands on resources for care for the elderly. The city of Amsterdam has been coping with similar challenges for many years, both in its inner-city core (tourism, creative economy, smart city solutions) and districts like Amsterdam East and South (social affairs, collaborative and participatory approaches to urban problem solutions). Being ranked at the very top of "smart cities" of Europe, the city was known for its characteristic bottom-up-approach to encourage citizens participation in urban planning and development.


Mr. Frank van Erkel, the Director of Organisational Development of the city of Amsterdam, and experts such as Mr. Hank Kune, Founder & Director of Educore B.V., and Ms. Ester van Steekelenburg, Founder and Director of Urban Discovery Hong Kong were invited to share their experiences and knowledge with audiences.


Public Seminar on Neighbourhood Community Development in Amsterdam: Turning Ideas to Practice by Mr. Frank van Erkel (27 March 2015)


Mr. Frank van Erkel tried to compare Hong Kong and Amsterdam in terms of ranking and strength being a smart city. He emphasised that Amsterdam focuses a lot on policies facilitating the quality of life among citizens. Different community projects carried out by Mr. van Erkel were shown to explain the positive effects of the new approach which enhanced social cohesion, built up the city identity as “I amsterdam” and established trust between citizens and government.


2-day Idea-Jam Workshop on Social Inclusion in the City - Amsterdam-HK Idea-Jam Workshop by Mr. Frank van Erkel and Mr. Hank Kune (28-29 March 2015)


Participants included members of local social enterprises, urban laboratories, NGOs and academics. After presented with the mini-case of social inclusion in different neighborhoods in Amsterdam, participants were guided to generate and work on their own ideas in small groups based on the local Hong Kong context, and presented their ideas. They also exchanged opinions and experiences among themselves and with the hosts on how to deal with various challenges during the implementation of ideas.


Public Seminar on Amsterdam – Hong Kong Dialogue: Revitalizing Heritage Buildings in Smart and Innovative Ways by Ms. Ester van Steekelenburg (16 April 2015)


Ms. Ester van Steekelenburg stressed the function of heritage for a city, presented three case studies and explained three guiding principles of Amsterdam to demonstrate the success of this model whereby old buildings can be transformed successfully into urban sub-centers with new commercial, cultural and social functions.