Umeå is one of Sweden’s four testbeds for the impact of the sharing economy. One example is Fritidsbanken, an NGO-driven, local initiative with a long-term commitment. By collecting and lending everything from bicycles and footballs to skis and hockey gear, it promotes increased participation in informal sports, health, and well-being. Fritidsbanken also contributes to a sustainable society by committing to smart reuse and recycling as well as creating jobs and promote integration. Since 2019, the service is digital via UMIGO, a user-centred digital sharing platform, developed by Umeå University. The unique platform has contributed to making the Umeå hub the most successful in Sweden, and supports other sharing initiatives in different fields, from wind-power services to voluntary work. Fritidsbanken received ICLEI’s Tranformative Action Award in 2019.
Many cities support their sports teams for sponsorship purposes where the usual compensation for financial resources is the city’s name on the team suit. Umeå, being a successful sports city, receives numerous sponsorship requests. The municipality, however, has chosen to place demands on the sports associations around supporting the work for social progress.
Based on a point-based evaluation system, the sports associations are evaluated on their ability to strengthen community engagement, diversity, and tolerance, and develop social projects that contribute to the wellbeing of Umeå’s residents, in addition to their sporting successes. As one example, Björklöven, Umeå’s elite hockey team, developed a project aimed at challenging norms within their members and fan base. The initiative “True Colours Friendship Project” has reached 1.2 million people and is now considered one of the best CSR-initiatives ever conducted in Swedish Ice Hockey.
Umeå is growing, from today’s 130,000 inhabitants to 200,000 by 2050. A lot is happening and being built in the city, adding to and completing the already existing city. Citizens’ involvement and understanding of major changes are crucial. During 2019, a broad city dialogue was performed by urban planners, travelling to all major neighbourhoods across the city on a dialogue bike. They visited all major neighbourhoods in Umeå accompanied by a digital poll and a dialogue map. In total around 2% of all inhabitants (more than 2,000 people) shared their opinions about their neighbourhoods, and the results are now used by the city administration in future planning and investments, generating a new “completing master plan” as well as being published as open data.