The sun’s rays flooded the Aula at the International Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), host of the workshop “Evaluating the Sharing Economy in Cities”. Workshop participants included researchers from Lund University as well as city representatives from Malmö, Gothenburg, and Umeå. Cold temperatures also arrived for the event, unabated despite the deceptive shimmer of the sun. With knit scarves and hot coffee for warmth, the workshop kicked off early with presentations and discussions among participants.

The workshop took place on 26 February 2018, hosted by Sharing Cities Sweden, a Swedish national programme for the sharing economy in cities. The programme supports the development of city testbeds in Umeå, Malmö, Gothenburg, and Stockholm that promote or support sharing among their citizenry. Furthermore, the programme also seeks to enhance and facilitate national and international collaboration and cooperation in sharing cities.

To begin a dialogue and set the stage for the remainder of the discussions, Director of the IIIEE Lena Neij briefly presented evaluation theory and relevant questions for discussion among those in attendance. Next, Oksana Mont, Professor in Sustainable Consumption Governance, presented the complex landscape between sharing, platform, and collaborative economy. Finally, Sharing Cities Sweden Programme Coordinator Kes McCormick encouraged dialogue as participants headed to lunch, consisting of vegetarian pasta salad.

The afternoon sessions included presentations from each municipality regarding their ongoing conceptualisations and progress in establishing municipal testbeds. Strikingly, each city has a different conceptualisation of sharing, seemingly connected to the motivation for each city to engage in the sharing economy. These motivations appear to be driven by economic, environmental, and/or social factors. However, this presents challenges in evaluating sharing initiatives and comparing across municipal contexts.

Next, researchers from the IIIEE presented their ongoing research. Projects included Sharing and the City (Yuliya Voytenko Palgan), Sharing Potential (Andrius Plepys and Jagdeep Singh) and Urban Sharing (Steven Curtis).

Moving forward, the programme asks municipalities to evaluate their own sharing initiatives, hence the theme of the workshop. The workshop began the process of facilitating knowledge exchange between city representatives and researchers. However, there are clear challenges faced by all participants, namely, access to data and difficulty in measuring indirect and rebound effects of sharing initiatives. Continued research and dialogue is needed in this area.

Sharing Cities Sweden will host a variety of stakeholder workshops. The Urban Sharing research team is sure to take part as part of their ongoing work. Check back for more updates!