CITIES Foundation is an independent organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Founded in 2008 by two Metropolitan Studies Master students, who were fed up with only reading about global urban problems and developed their own plan to provide local, scalable, tangible solutions.

CITIES Foundation analyzes global urban development trends, focusing in on specific issues. CITIES has focused on de-industrialization, citizens’ engagement, global/local food systems and waste management. Through community-based project development, research, communication, publications, events, experiences and workshops, CITIES empowers and supports urban communities, driving innovation in city life, policy and practice. But this is only one side of our work. Raising awareness is only the first step towards solving global challenges.

The second step is realized through local action. CITIES empowers the local community by co-developing scalable solutions that integrate our work into urban economy and ecology for the long-term. As a result of this working process, CITIES also operates as an incubator for self-initiated enterprises.

We see tomorrow’s cities being shaped by complex interaction and collaboration between city-makers and citizens alike. This process results in urban knowledge and practice on the local level that offers lessons and implementation strategies on the global level.

How we work…

  • The working method is based on the following steps.

  • Global research about an issue that many cities are facing worldwide. In this phase, the team grasps the issue of concern and analyses how different urban environments are sharing it. At the same time, local solutions to look into this issue are also scanned through.

  • In a second step, a local analysis is performed where local actors are interviewed, socio, political, geographic and economic circumstances inspected. In this phase, the team aims to grasp the necessary conditions to allow a certain system to flourish, while starting assuming which aspects could be changed.

  • These assumptions are shared with a community of stakeholders, which are interested in a small-scale systemic change. Together with the community a small project meant to change a specific system is set into place as an experimental idea.  This phase is instrumental to development of a solution, which is co-created and co-thought together with the community engaged in the system under analysis.

  • If the solution is well accepted by the community and there is interest and potential, the possibility to develop a business case is taken into consideration. The ultimate goal is to develop Social Enterprises out of every successful experiment of CITIES Foundation.

  • This process is long and complex since many issues are taken into consideration, and especially since the aim is to approach systemic change, which cannot be develop in a rushed manner.

To date, the following themes have been explored:

  • GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEMS. www.farmingtheicty.net local research developed into the social enterprise www.foodlogica.com

  • CITIZENS ENGAGEMENT INTO URBAN DEVELOPMENT. WeOwnTheCity: Global analysis of how small communities are taking conceptual ownership of a small urban area, and redevelop it according to the most needed functions.

  • GLOBAL WASTE ISSUES. www.wastedlab.nl an experiment on how to change the system to incentivize household waste separation, which will become a Social Enterprise in 2018.

In addition, CITIES has been editing and producing three publications with the Publisher Trancity Valiz related to the work addressing urban systemic change.

CITIES Foundation is not supported by and structural fund or donor. Each project’s budget is fundraised independently or through public or international commissions. Each social enterprise is co-owned by impact investors or co-funders, which share the Foundation’s goals and mission. The long-term vision is to incubate and own several social enterprises to ultimately be able to self-finance new research themes and projects.

Meet the team


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