The Open City

Local Development Approach

Local Development Approach

The Open City approach to local development aims to combat poverty, stimulating employment and equality of opportunities, responding to the growing request of a better quality of life and personal development

The development methodology is based on a multi-sectorial approach that integrate different economic, social, cultural, environmental players and sectors involved in a area (municipal or regional).These methodologies make it possible:

  • to restore neglected activities and resources in order to make them the basis for local regeneration strategy;
  • to create links among existing and independent activities and making them synergistic;
  • to promote innovative, collective projects in order to attract economic and financial resources.


1. Strategic Approach.

The starting point for building a development strategy is to take a global view of the area and considering it as a socioeconomic whole including people, resources, and know-how. This area based approach provides the basis for defining a local action plan taking into consideration and assessing tangible and intangible components which form the territorial capital of the area. 
The components supposed to form the area capital are the following:

  • Physical resources
  • Human resources
  • Activities
  • Know how and skills
  • Culture and identity
  • Level of governance
  • Place image and perception
  • Relations with the outside world


2. Objectives


  • to overcome the constraints of area’s isolation;
  • to define new functions of the area;
  • to create new activities;
  • to integrate economic growth, social development and natural resources management;
  • to promote the culture and identity of the area;
  • to test new approaches to social problems;
  • to create links of solidarity and promote social cohesion;
  • to enhance area’ global competitiveness.


  • to identify and develop a priority and catalysing theme for the area;
  • to develop sub-themes in an overall strategy capable of integrating sectors of activities, local players and establishing the maximum number of links and relationships among them;
  • to convert local resources into saleable products and services;
  • to create a quality trademark of the area for promoting products and services.


3. Key methodological elements

  • to involve, since the beginning of the action program the local community at all level;
  • to base the program on a guiding theme to establish a network with numerous activities;
  • to define and target a formalized cooperation methodology among local players and sectors of activities;
  • to mobilize the local actors and authorities around cross-border projects;
  • to apply marketing methods to local products;
  • to define practices for retaining added value generated by the activities in the area;
  • to develop national and transnational co-operation for the exchanging of best practices among areas sharing the same problems and developing the same resources

4. Innovative actions

Innovative actions are interpreted in terms of adding value to endogenous resources creating activities based on local resources, namely the resources that are typical and unique to the area (a particular cheese, a particular fish, an architectural feature, a type of hand craft, a source of mineral water, a specific environmental feature etc.), resources that are protected from potential non-local competitors in the supply of labour and that exploit the relevant know-how possessed only by the people who are part of the local culture.


5. Civic values

The development approach calls for local community civic engagement so as to make local development responsible for fulfilling a civic purpose. 

The practical expressions of this purpose means to meet public needs with a practice of development committed to strengthen democracy and to humanize the public life. Civic culture which is a whole of practices to reinforce cohesion and integration for fostering development in a community is brought into effects by accomplishing the following tasks:

  • promoting the inclusion and participation throughout the area of people with diverse backgrounds and voices, promoting pluralism;
  • providing the civic competence and critical thinking to empower people as effective citizens in their localities with the consciousness to be part of a global environment;
  • developing among people from varied backgrounds the capacity for responsible leadership in private, associational, and public organizations and institutions;
  • contributing through the dissemination, and application of knowledge to the economic and social well-being of communities locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally;
  • providing citizens and leaders with knowledge and reliable information for reaching responsible public decisions, and so to serve as a trusted voice in public debates over controversial issues;
  • collaborating with diverse groups, organizations, institutions, and communities as mutually helpful partners in promoting shared development opportunities;
  • striving for self-governance and autonomy from sectorial interests as a prerequisite for the accomplishment of public utility;
  • being accountable for helping people pursuing actively the full range of public purposes. 


6. Education for Development

For Open city education and training are powerful tools for implementing strategic territorial approaches so as to spur development initiatives. Education is also necessary for assisting at local level that sector of society which suffers most from exclusion. First and foremost local development requires to empower 
local people and communities in order to make them protagonists in the development process.

Education and training are implemented on the ground in all areas of local development where the dimensions of projects need to take into account the necessary cultural, technical, marketing and management skills for participating in collective initiatives. Open City has set up education pathways to be as closely as possible on the characteristics of local population, taking into account their skills, their capacity, their needs.

Not only education is aimed at developing technical skills but also at promoting civic values as collective moral resources to promote the formation of social capital that is a precondition for sustainable development attainment.

The aim of Open City is to develop systematically skills and competences face to territorial challenges allowing various segment of population, professional and social groups to become protagonists of local development as well as to fulfil their personal aspirations and expectations.

The innovative element of this education is the link that between training and territory because, so to speak, this is the place and the vehicle for the following type of integration:

  • integration on a personal level (for example, the "school-workshops" which focus on traditional local activities;
  • integration of the whole project into the local culture and way of thinking;
  • Integration of projects into the specific local resources, in particular, resources in terms of know-how, identity and culture.

In these different areas, training is a prerequisite for projects to emerge in the first place, a prerequisite for their success and their implementation, and a prerequisite for the unanimous acceptance of their results. For this reason Open City sees training as a “pathway”, which can be either individual or collective, and which draws not only on existing training methods, but on the active involvement of the beneficiaries during the various stages of the training process (original ideas, implementation, evaluation, dissemination of results). 

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The Open City International Foundation