Why the sharing economy is better - and why cities do it best
17 July 2013

Cities can create a better future - and sharing will be one of the linchpins argues Professor Julian Agyeman.

In this Google Hangout Professor Agyeman, of Tufts University in the US, argues that sharing is beginning to take hold as a viable economic idea.

He points to car-sharing, couch-surfing, urban farming and sharing of public spaces as inspiring examples. The key is that utility rather than ownership is the driver. We're living at an "optimistic moment", says Agyeman.

We need to redefine what we mean by success

Professor Julian Agyeman

Watch the video.


Car-sharing is becoming accepted as normal and desirable in cities, says Agyeman.

But he warns that businesses - like motor manufacturers and hotels - that don't take sharing seriously could be in for a shock as the alternative gains ground.

Agyeman welcomes signs that some governments are beginning to promote sharing. And it's a trend that must rapidly gather momentum if we're to conserve resources.

But politicians are still turning mainly to consumption to get economies going.

Re-invent the American dream

According to Agyeman "We have the ability to vacuum the planet for resources - but we need to reinvent the dream around a lower-consumption future where the focus is on well-being and the quality of life."

Cities, he says, are fertile ground for the sharing economy. But we need to make the most of the opportunity - for example ensuring public spaces are culturally inclusive.

Professor Julian Agyeman is Chair at the Department of Urban + Environmental Policy + Planning (UEP), Tufts University in the United States. He's the author of Introducing Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning and Practice. Read his blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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image of Professor Julian Agyeman

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