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OurCity initiative

The challenge

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, this will have increased to two thirds, and as more people move to cities for a better life, millions of young people are growing up in environments that struggle to meet their needs. Despite increased commitments made by global and local actors in line with Sustainable Development Goal 11, the majority of the world’s urban development fails to address the problems caused by inadequate infrastructure, urban poverty, and social exclusion.

In cities, we often find the best of culture, healthcare, education, and opportunity, but many of these fast-growing environments are experiencing increasing and deepening inequalities. For example, cities only occupy 2 percent of the world’s total land but stand for 70 % of the global economy, 70 % of the global waste, and 70 % of greenhouse gas emissions. While this poses some challenges, one clear opportunity is to further include young people’s voices in decision-making processes. As a generation that to a large extent is engaged in digital spaces and are important drivers of social, economic, and political change, their active involvement is key for successful and sustainable, inclusive transformation of cities.

Our contribution

OurCity is one of Fondation Botnar’s key initiatives, aiming to support selected cities around the world to implement coordinated programs that leverage digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI), and transform them into places where young people’s wellbeing and opportunity is secured. We see OurCity as a process that will catalyse stakeholders and drive policy change through inclusive engagement and advocacy. The initiative collaborates with young people, civil society, policymakers, innovators, and other city champions to nurture wellbeing and opportunity for all. The change will be driven by local-level programming and implementation together with young people.

To accompany this process, Fondation Botnar is collaborating with the Connected Cities Lab at the University of Melbourne to develop an effective “evidence to action” framework to accompany the OurCities initiative and to build a better future for children and young people in cities. Learn more here.

Objectives of the initiative

  • Support cities to transform themselves into young people-centered cities enabled by AI and frontier technologies.
  • Encourage an enabling environment for young people’s participation through establishing partnerships to connect key urban stakeholders under a long-term engagement and transformation strategy.
  • Emphasise a relational wellbeing approach in program delivery.
  • Improve the delivery of innovative city services for young people and for all.

Selected Cities


Tanga is Tanzania’s most northern port city with 273,332 inhabitants. The city is near the Kenyan border and sits on the Indian Ocean. It is a relatively quiet city, with its harbour being the centre of life. As Tanga seeks to become an engine of economic growth for Tanzania, it is expected to rapidly grow over the coming years. Fondation Botnar is seizing this opportunity to collaborate with the city and build a more youth-friendly approach as the city continues to develop.

OurTanga key partners:
Tanga City, ProjektInspire

OurTanga key projects supported by Fondation Botnar:
STEM Park Tanga City is an initiative with ProjektInspire aimed at inspiring and encouraging young people in Tanzania to use STEM and STEAM to solve the challenges of their city by coming up with different innovations. Learn more:

Learn more about OurTanga by following the initiative on Twitter. 


Cluj-Napoca is located in central Romania and known as the “capital” of Transylvania. It has a population of 321,687 and is the fourth most populous city in the country. It is also a historic and creative city with a large growing student population. Fondation Botnar sees the opportunity to work with the City of Cluj to build on and accelerate innovation systems and youth engagement which can scale beyond the city borders to other regions of the country. Romania is one of the focus countries for the foundation as our founders, the Botnar family, were originally from the country.

OurCluj key partners:
Municipality, SDG CoLab, Asociatia UniversitArt, Babes-Bolyai University, Centrul Cultural Clujean, Pont group, MagiCamp Association, Wello, and the Romanian Health Observatory

OurCluj key projects supported by Fondation Botnar:

  • LEAP – Interdisciplinary Study On Young People’s Needs And Opportunities Assessment In Cluj-Napoca. A project together with Babes-Bolyai University, Centrul Cultural Clujean, Pont group Learn more:
  • MagicHELP: the Cluj-Napoca helping network. Bringing communities together around children with serious conditions, project together with MagiCAMP Association:
  • EduAlert – preventing school dropout with artificial intelligence. Project together with Romanian Health Observatory:
  • Wello.AI – A project together with Wello:
  • (in)VISIBLE: Creative documentation & process evaluation in support of E2A Framework and community engagement for OurCluj. Project together with Asociatia UniversitArt, Make Civic and miniMASS


Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and Tanga, Tanzania. More cities to be confirmed.

Duration of project

2019 – 2021


Supporting the project as key partners are D-tree International, Inspired Ideas, Simprints and Institute of Tropical Medicine.


The Future Now
For Children Worldwide

Fondation Botnar
St. Alban-Vorstadt 56
4052 Basel
+41 61 201 04 74