How Sharing Cities can advance the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

Editor's note: This article is the forward to a new Shareable guide on how sharing can spur progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The guide is a supplement to our new book, Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons," published specifically for Shareable's event on Sept.13, 2018, Sharing Cities: Polycentric Planning for Climate Change, which is part of this year's Global Climate Action Summit.

Welcome to the quick start guide to Shareable's book, "Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons," created for leaders working toward the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). "Sharing Cities" showcases over 100 case studies and model policies from around the world that demonstrate and support the ability of ordinary people to tackle their own challenges. We created this guide because we've noticed through nearly 10 years of reporting that local, commons-based approaches to economic development often address multiple SDGs simultaneously.

Take carsharing. A 2010 study by the University of California, Berkeley, showed that one shared car replaces up to 13 owned cars and 50 percent of new members previously didn’t have access to a car. A separate study by the National Building Museum estimated that for every 120,000 cars taken off the road, $1 billion could be kept in the local economy annually. In other words, carsharing can reduce resource consumption (SGDs 11, 12, 13), increase access to resources (SDGs 1, 10), and keep billions in the local economy (8, 9) simultaneously.

Now imagine a city's entire economy managed this way. That's what our book does using case studies and model policies from 11 sectors. Keep in mind that while our book is over 275 pages, it merely scratches the surface. We curated a limited number of cases and policies from a large and growing field. Thus, while our book doesn't address every goal, the overall sharing sector does.

We also wrote this guide because we believe that bottom-up, polycentric strategies could accelerate and reduce the cost of progress. There's great promise in combining local, cooperative enterprise and new, low-cost technologies.

We hope this guide to our book is useful. Please download a free PDF version of our book at here.