Maps to co-create youth friendly cities

Stakeholder Insights

  • Developed innovative visual city maps, presenting a dynamic ecosystem of public, private, non-profit and youth stakeholders in the leading secondary city in Romania through use of tech and human intelligence (ongoing process)
  • Identified 20+ key organizations in Cluj-Napoca with a well-defined youth focus for a participatory city transformation
  • Facilitated two co-creation workshops with key stakeholders in Cluj-Napoca to develop a shared vision
  • Conducted 80+ in-person and online meetings and consultations with different stakeholders
  • Designed diverse collaborative approaches for sustainable change, as well as innovative evaluation and documentation processes


We are partnering with Fondation Botnar to help transform city ecosystems to improve the health and wellbeing of young people in growing urban environments. Foundation Botnar is an innovative foundation based in Switzerland, investing in the use of AI and emerging digital solutions to improve the wellbeing of young people in secondary cities. Young people and secondary cities are emerging change agents for our shared future. Secondary cities already comprise 40% of the world’s urban population and are expected to undergo massive expansions in the coming years. Young people, those under 30, now represent one in two people globally.

Our first-of-its-kind project was initiated in Cluj- Napoca in Romania, the Foundation’s legacy country. Cluj-Napoca is one of the fastest-growing secondary cities in Europe with a population of over 320.000 inhabitants, where over 1/3 are students. This city was the European Youth capital in 2015 and engages citizens through their participatory budgeting process.

Although quality of life has been prioritized in the city strategy (2014-2020), the wellbeing and education for the future of work, as well as young people themselves, have not yet been properly addressed. Utilizing AI technology and advanced stakeholder methodologies we mapped city ecosystems, identified key actors across all sectors – municipality, businesses, entrepreneurs, non-profits, youth organizations and academia, along with key influencers involved in creating the youth environment in Cluj-Napoca. We organized and facilitated a series of interactive meetings and consultations, both online and in-person, to better understand the needs, opportunities, and challenges leading towards a creation of a shared vision to improve the quality of life for young people. Visual stakeholder maps have helped identify engagement opportunities and assisted in the co-creation process shaping initial projects with potential for systemic transformation with the municipality and local partners.

The journey will continue with SDG Colab, our non-profit, in collaboration with Global Development towards developing best practices, under an umbrella of Learning Hub city initiative. Its main objectives will include (1) Co-creation of shared vision for Learning Hub Cluj-Napoca (2) Catalyze collective action and build multi-stakeholder partnership network (3) Foster integration of youth and wellbeing priorities into the city strategy (4) Develop, evaluate and promote Learning Hub best practices (local, national, EU, global) and (5) Build local capabilities and exit. A range of creative participatory practices and methodologies will be utilized.

This initiative is ongoing.

Information gathered through the Smart Map process is proprietary and is used for the development of the Learning Hub initiative. Findings are available upon request.
More and more often we get to meet, discover and express the common goals for Cluj, sometimes in local ecosystem projects context and sometimes with the help of new friends.
Oana Buzatu, Spokesperson, Cluj-Napoca City Hall