BEGIN: experiences, methods and guidelines to accelerate effective city-to-city learning to reach transformational change

11:15 Thursday 30 May


Room S2


Max Berkelmans (Spain) 1; Sebastiaan Van Herk (Spain) 1; William Van Herk (Netherlands) 2; Jesse Renema (Spain) 1

1 - Bax & Company; 2 - IHE Delft

City-to city (C2C) learning (learning from peers and their best practices) is of crucial importance regarding topics (i.e. urban resilience, sustainability) in which cities do not have time to re-invent the wheel. This abstract outlines why it is important, how C2C learning can be done most effectively and the mayor challenges regarding C2C learning.

When confronted with an issue, cities look at their peers for capacity building and inspiration. Moreover, city-to-city (C2C) learning has several side benefits such as the acknowledgement cities get, the possibility of exploiting political and media attention and the fact that people simply enjoy exchanges. Hence, C2C is an often-used method. Cities have been doing it for decades and there are many initiatives (i.e. ICLEI, 100 Resilient Cities, Covenant of Mayors).

City-to-city (C2C) learning can be an effective way of accelerating learning leading to transformational change. However, it is often done in an unstructured and undocumented way which leads to limited results and follow-up action. Within BEGIN, participants engage in a transnational learning exchange programme with transnational expert teams that facilitate joint implementation of Blue Green Infrastructure projects. Bax & Company has developed several tools and methods based on experiences within BEGIN and academic research which enhances the effectiveness of C2C learning. C2C learning experiences should focus on practice and implementation, have structured engagement (according to expertise and strengths and needs), have continuous participants and contact moments, be documented and lead to a call for action. The short conference paper will discuss these guidelines more into depth using concrete examples and methods used in the BEGIN project.

Some challenges regarding C2C learning remain. The foremost challenge is to implement lessons learned on an organisational level. Another challenge would be to upscale our current learning approach to other sectors or participants (i.e. delta-to-delta learning or farmer-to-farmer learning).