Emerging Collaborative Innovation Efforts
One example of the endeavor to build collaborative relations with external actors is that the city increasingly uses their purchasing power to foster constructive and problem-focused dialogue with urban developers. The municipality uses this dialogue to broadcast and discuss its request for climate-neutral solutions. According to our informants, the request helps to spur new and innovative solutions in the building sector. Hence, strategic leadership and dialogue influence the content of the solutions provided by for-profit actors.
Another example is the Business for Climate network, which is an arena for climate collaboration between the city of Oslo and a broad range of private firms from the Oslo region. About 70 firms are members of the network, and as members, they commit themselves to contribute to attain Oslo’s climate goals through the exchange of information and experiences on climate projects, the development of new measures for making emissions cuts, and implementation of specific climate measures in their own firms and to report on these measures and their climate effects. Business for Climate organized a climate summit in 2014 where they challenged each other on green innovation and explored the prospect of further collaboration to reach Oslo’s ambitious climate goals, thus making it a leading green city. The summit also aimed to develop concrete business models capable of supporting the development of new green solutions.
A third example is the way that established procedures for consultation and public hearings are used to generate input and support for the development of new climate solutions among local associations and citizens. Norway has well-developed mandatory procedures for the consultation of local actors in urban planning that facilitates dialogue about local problems and challenges, and these procedures are frequently used in relation to issues pertaining to climate change mitigation.
We do not have sufficient data to see how the city government has designed the collaborative arenas where non-governmental actors are involved in developing and implementing innovative climate solutions. However, interviews with key actors in the climate department reveal a strong commitment to the three leadership roles that we presented above. As for the convener role, the city of Oslo seems to have a clear understanding of the importance of spurring interaction between public and private actors in order to exchange information, ideas and resources and perhaps stimulate learning and innovation. They are very conscious of the need to build networks, partnerships and collaborative arenas and carefully reflect on whom to engage, how, where and when. The aim is to involve public as well as for-profit and non-profit private actors. As for the facilitator role, focus is on organizing interaction around concrete problems in order to emphasize the mutual dependence of the actors, which is key to spurring collaboration. This is particularly clear in the case of the climate groups and the Business for Climate network. Finally, the catalyzing role is visible in the way the city administration stimulates development of new technologies in the transport and energy sectors and new forms of smart living in the compact city. The use of purchasing power to stimulate the creation of new planning solutions is a case in point.