In the cities of the world, as well as in Italy, these long years of crisis have deepened inequalities. Also in Bologna the difference between those who have a lot and those who have too little have expanded, and the task of a public administration is to intervene to decrease this gap. This is why the Municipality of Bologna is pursuing crosscutting inclusive policies. Our goal is not only to keep our high-standard services, but we think it is important to count on the collaboration of citizens. This is why for many years we have worked on what we call civic imagination and collaboration.
As with the OECD Champion Mayors, it is important for Mayors to join forces and share solutions.
– Mayor Virginio Merola
With a Degree in Philosophy, Mayor Merola was appointed regional secretary of the Italian association of Municipalities, Provinces and Regions in 1989. His political commitment to city government started in 1995 when he was elected President of the Savena District of Bologna for two consecutive terms. In 2004 he was elected as a member of Bologna’s City Council and soon afterwards was appointed Deputy Mayor for Urban Planning and Housing.
From July 2009 until February 2011 Merola was President of the Provincial Council and in May 2011, having run as the mayor candidate of the Italian Democratic Party, was elected Mayor of Bologna, with more than 50% of votes at the first ballot. Since January 2015 he has also served as Mayor of Bologna Metropolitan City. In 2016 he was again elected Mayor for 2016-2021.
Since his first term, Mayor Merola wanted to propose a new approach: governing for the citizens, with the citizens. In 2014 he adopted a “Regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the City for the care and regeneration of urban commons”, that allows for the implementation of “collaboration pacts” between the City Administration and associations, individuals or informal groups of citizens. Through these pacts citizens can improve public spaces, green areas, and abandoned buildings. In the following years, District Labs were created. These serve as innovation hubs of collaboration for citizens who want to improve their communities. In just a few years, the City has seen a marked increase in citizen engagement — about 480 collaboration pacts have been implemented and more than 14,000 people voted in the first year of participatory budgeting.