Lessons from Malmö

As part of the Future Communities programme, the Young Foundation is working with the City of Malmö to develop their work on urban social innovation and sustainability. As part of the project Nicola Bacon went to visit the city…

Malmö is known internationally as a centre of environmental sustainability. However, within the City a significant number of people live in poverty. In spite of significant investment in education and social welfare programmes in the last decade and before, there has been little improvement in education or living conditions for many in the City. Malmö is far less homogeneous than most Swedish Cities, a result of the welcoming that has been given to refugees. Poverty and disadvantage are concentrated amongst the newly arrived communities, which are predominantly Muslim.

Internationally there is increasing interest in finding ways to tackle social problems that build on the capabilities of residents, and the assets and social wealth of the population. Rejecting traditional ‘top down’ policies towards tackling poverty and regenerating run down areas, understanding is growing about how social innovation methods and design thinking can help tackle entrenched urban problems.

The ambition is to build on Malmö’s tradition of innovating around sustainable development – shown both in new developments like the Western Harbour and ambitious retrofitting projects, particularly Augustenborg – and transfer this experience to creating the same reputation for innovation around social sustainability.