From citizen dialogue to citizen collaboration

Keep citizen dialogue active. Umeå, Sweden

SDG 5: Gender equalitySDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

The municipality of Umeå has recognized the importance of citizens dialogue, where a connecting thread in the municipality’s vision is to keep citizen dialogue active.


There has been a fire in Umeå which lead to a renovation for more than 400 apartments.  A guarantee was given that the renovation would not lead to higher levels of rents and therefore a need to have a open dialogue with the citizens of Umeå in order to understand what improvements were priority.

Good practices & solutions 

A new strategy for cooperation with the non-profit sector has been developed by the municipality of Umeå. With support from the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning and in collaboration with Umeå University more than 400 apartments have been renovated after a fire, with a major focus on residential influence. In order to achieve maximum sustainability, the municipality financed a PhD position to follow the project. In order to understand what improvements were a priority for the tenants, prototypes of apartment buildings were publicly displayed. It resulted in building modest, non-luxurious apartments in order to keep rents low. Another collaborative project between several actors run by AB Bostaden is “The Ecologist”, a project that enables tenants to see their use of electricity, immediately after use. This system is now installed in 600 buildings. The rent is adjusted according to how much electricity one uses each month.

Outcome & opportunities 

This has enable tenants to raise their voice and be part of planning and development. In addition, Umeå municipality specifically work with vulnerable groups, such as young women, in the planning of the city and of the public space. This makes it possible not only to see who is participating, but also to analyse what different populations view as important. Patterns are created on the basis of these views which are subsequently taken into account in planning.

Lessons learned & recommendations 

By using this citizen-led method of urban planning, creates a feeling of being heard in the community and has a great impact on the citizens approach to the city itself.

Related SDG targets

11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.

10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.

10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard. 

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 

17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships. 

17.14 Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development. 

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Project: Nordic Urban Ways