In 2019, the Green European Foundation, with the support of its partner foundations Bureau de Helling (The Netherlands), Green Economics Institute (United Kingdom), and Institute for Active Citizenship (Czech Republic), will create a Charter for the Smart City to assess and steer technological innovations in cities.

Project Background

People make technology, but technology in turn influences our lives, our societies and even our ethics. The development of new technologies therefore cannot be left to engineers and managers; it requires public debate and democratic control.

All over Europe, so-called ‘smart cities’ are the testing grounds for new technologies that affect how we live. These technologies often involve the use of big data and devices that can act with a degree of autonomy.

Many local politicians find it hard to keep up to speed with the technologies being used in their cities, let alone make informed choices during the development and implementation of these technologies. This needs to change.

Given the opportunities that new technologies offer for reducing the ecological footprint of cities and creating new urban commons, as well as the potential threats they pose to civil liberties and social justice, Greens should take the lead in the debate on smart cities. Key questions must be considered: who owns the data collected? Which decisions can we responsibly outsource to algorithms?

Project Objectives and Activities

This transnational project aims to create a Charter for the Smart City, consisting of 10-20 guiding principles that will make it easier for green European politicians and activists to assess and steer technological innovations in their cities.

The Charter will draw inspiration from the values of the European Green Party Charter, as well as one that Bureau de Helling is writing for Dutch cities in 2018.

The project partners will solicit ideas for the Charter, including best practices from NGOs, experts and local green politicians, as well as from GEF partner foundations and from other actors of the European Green family through roundtable discussions across Europe.

The Charter – a co-creation

Besides the events, this transnational project also incorporated a digital exchange of ideas. The draft Charter for the Smart City with best practices from many European cities was open for comments online until mid-August 2019. Head to to see the result.

At the end of the year, the Charter will also be published as a booklet.


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