Milan 2046 - A Laboratory for a Common Future

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Milano 2046— Photo by  Chris Barbalis  on  Unsplash

“Milano 2046 - laboratorio per un futuro comune” (in English “Milan 2046 - a laboratory for a common future”) is an urban living lab promoted by the Presidency of the City Council in Milan. The project seeks to create a desirable future for the city, by translating different visions and ideas from citizens and other stakeholders into projects and by taking into consideration existing city processes and initiatives. This urban laboratory also wants to raise awareness of the need of long term thinking in the political and collective debate and to better understand the key issues that should be considered when planning a city. One of the activities of “Milano 2046” is to conduct a research study to gather ideas, needs and interests from multiple local stakeholders in order to offer advice to the city government on how to further plan interventions.

“Milan 2046 aims to offer the government of the city tools to plan its future interventions on the basis of economic but also sustainability and social equity indicators, which will be identified by the working groups and through our research” - Lamberto Bertolé, Milan Municipal Council


  • Build a social sustainable process to improve the liveability in the urban area of Milan;
  • Involve citizens in the development of the urban policies;
  • Coordinate the different sustainable initiatives existing in the city to improve the development of policies;
  • Offer transformative planning for the future of the city;
  • Offer hypotheses for possible actions to improve urban quality to the governing bodies of the city.

How it works

Milan City Council set up and facilitated the process. A number of experts with different backgrounds were selected to form a committee. These experts participate voluntarily and contribute to set the goals, methods, activities and timeline of “Milan 2046”.

Research based on the Delphi methodology was conducted as an innovative way for city planning. The research aimed at collecting ideas, priorities and interests of citizens and other stakeholders on the future of their city. The research adopted the BES-framework (Benessere Equo e Sostenibile - equitable and sustainable well-being), to measure quality of life and assess the effect of public policies on some fundamental social dimensions. The BSE indicators represent 12 domains: health, education and training, work and life balance, economic well-being, social relations, politics and institutions, security, subjective well-being, landscape and cultural heritage, environment, innovation, research, creativity and quality of services. Approximately 300 individuals were invited to participate and divided into 12 subgroups of approximately 30 people each. These participants were selected based on their expertise and experience in the domains of the BES framework and were part of the following categories:

  • Experts (e.g. University lecturers, professionals in the field, researchers, writers and specialized journalists);
  • Stakeholders (e.g. representatives of private organizations involved in the domain);
  • Community (e.g. individuals from the community not belonging to the previous categories, with a focus on young people in suburbs).

In total 249 people agreed to participate in the Delphi research and took part in the first phase of the research including the compilation of a first questionnaire. Of these, 222 people participated in the compilation of a second questionnaire. In addition, multiple meetings with various local stakeholders (e.g. former mayors of the city, representatives of the third sector, delegates of the main universities in the city) have been organised with the aim to identify different ideas and interests related to the future of the city.

  • In September 2019, the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS) association, in collaboration with Milano 2046, organised the first edition of the one-week Milan Summer School on the well-being and sustainability of the city.
  • This educational programme aims to raise awareness on sustainability issues and the Sustainable Development Goals among communities, businesses and individuals. Eight universities of the area of Milan participated in the Summer School. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the School aims at achieving a high profile and qualification training on environmental, economic and social sustainability issues, addressing the systemic challenges of sustainable development and promoting the adoption of concrete and effective solutions. The Summer School offered theoretical lessons, seminars and group works, with the active participation of both teachers and institutional representatives.

Transformative Potential

The project “Milano 2046” is still in its early phase of implementation. However, the participatory research initiated by the urban laboratory is an important step to discover needs and desires of citizens, policy makers and other stakeholders regarding the future of their city. In addition, the educational activities such as the Milan Summer School represent a good starting point for contributing to raise awareness on sustainability issues. Additional programs and activities could be promoted, especially for fostering active participation and citizens’ engagement around the topics of sustainability and social inclusion.

More Information

Milano 2046 website

Research Article - Toward a Sustainable Future: The Case of the Municipality of Milan

Municipality of Milan blog (in Italian)

Interview with the President of the Municipal Council (in Italian)


Cities of Tomorrow Milan 2046