Looking at the Sharing Economy as a toolbox to improve cities

Reinvent has released a new interview as part of their “Future of Sharing” series with sharing economy experts Pieter van de Glind and Harmen van Sprang, founders of ShareNL and Sharing Cities Alliance.

Pieter and Harmen look at the collaborative economy not as a separate economy, but rather as a part of the existing economy. “Because that’s where it is in real life and also where it matters for policy makers, for people and consumers alike.”

Pieter says: “We need to stop thinking about the sharing economy as just a problem to solve, there are real challenges, but instead we should see it as a toolbox that can make our city a better place.” Harmen goes on to say that:

“As soon as people know that they can be empowered to technology, there’s no way back. There is only one way: to address and not stand still or ban it, that’s not the way.”

With regard to Amsterdam and Airbnb, the city where ShareNL started, Pieter says: “Tourism is growing in the city, and Airbnb as a platform is also growing, so we see a lot of tourism in the city. But 90 percent of it is the hotels. It’s good to see it from a balanced perspective, from the complete spectrum. Now sometimes in Amsterdam some people who are opposing this have the feeling that every suitcase you see rolling around the street is an Airbnb guest, which is not the case.”

By establishing the Sharing Cities Alliance, Pieter and Harmen created an ecosystem where cities can learn from each other regarding the challenges of the collaborative economy. Pieter adds: “Internationally it is important to respect the uniqueness of each city”, but for every city and with every challenge, Pieter stresses that:

“There’s an opportunity to make a city more sustainable, more rich in social cohesion and more economically resilient.”

“The Future of Sharing” series, which looks at how the collaborative economy can work for all involved, is underwritten by Airbnb.