• Leonardo Maldonado

Executive Summary Cities Can B


4.1 billion people live in urban areas, although cities occupy only 2% of the total land, they represent 70% of global economy (GDP), 70% of global waste, 70% of greenhouse gas emission and 60% of global energy consumption. (Source: UN's New Urban Agenda - Habitat III).

According to UN Ex-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “Our Struggle for Global Sustainability Will Be Won or Lost in our Cities”. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations’ Member States in 2015 is the roadmap every city should follow toward a sustainable future.

The pace at which each city is changing to reach the Sustainable Development Goals needs to accelerate, and that’s the focus of our work in CITIES CAN B. Our objective is to turn every citizen and organization into a stakeholder of the future of its own city. We want them to become the protagonists of the cultural change, and take action to produce the social transformation necessary to reach the goals of the 2030 agenda, locally.

In a world that is polarising more and more, politics that used to bring us together, has now lost credibility, and we seem condemned to let individualism win. The problem is that due to the urgency of the SDGs we need to work together now more than ever, promoting civic engagement, and a sense of belonging in order to foster “Extreme Collaboration” in our cities.


CITIES CAN B is a platform designed to mobilize hundreds of thousands of neighbours (citizens and organizations) to collaborate around the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our focus is to convene different actors from a city to create a local common shared purpose, using a social technology we call “Intertwining Stakeholders”. Through a multistakeholder collaborative approach with a decentralized governance, everybody is able to participate actively without needing to agree beforehand with a specific strategy or roadmap. The possibilities to take actions are eclectic and multiple, all of them integrated under the previously agreed common purpose.

Every member of the governance or strategic partner can pursue their own goals and benefit in their own way, if it is in accordance with the common shared purpose. This crowdsourcing approach has been used by our team, for the last 10 years, to accelerate the growth of innovation ecosystems all over Latin America.


Via its multistakeholder governance, a CITY CAN B, works collaboratively, and according to its own local priorities by:

  • Governance: Creating a public-private multistakeholder governance with 20 to 40 different actors, that meets on a monthly basis, to make sure these stakeholders build a bond, cocreate win-win collective initiatives and remain committed in the long run to their mutual collaboration around the SDGs of their city.

  • Citizens: Involving as many neighbours as possible (citizens, companies, NGO's, universities) and turning them into stakeholders, making sure they become aware and responsible for their social and environmental footprint and commit to the relevant SDGs of their city.

  • Companies: Inviting the companies of each city, to track and improve continuously their social and environmental impact though the SDG Action Manager (UN's Global Compact and B Lab online tool for measuring and aligning business' contribution towards the SDGs) and/or through the B Impact Assessment (platform used by +80.000 companies and +3.300 B Corps around the world to assess and benchmark their social and environmental impact).

  • Initiatives: Making sure this multistakeholder governance is transformed into action, producing collaboratively, what we have called Massive Initiatives of Collective Impact (MICI), allowing thousands of citizens to participate in the SDG agenda, e.g., local festival focused on positive change, construction of community gardens, reforestation of degraded areas, public artistic interventions related to SDG local challenges, river cleaning, etc.

  • Laboratory: Implementing a “CITY LAB”, a series of workshops focused on capacity building for companies that have measured their impact, and have committed to continuously improve their social and environmental impact. The objective is to create a vibrant community of companies that collaborate and support each other on the journey of becoming better companies for their cities.

  • Youngs: Invite young neighbours (18 to 30 years old) to join an international movement called “Entrepreneurs CAN B”, an online collaborative journey with the objective to engage in social and environmental challenges of their own city, either through social entrepreneurship, or collective actions for positive change. (This component is being prototyped).

  • Public policy: Create local legislative frameworks, laws and regulatory structures at the service of the common good, such as: MENDOZA CAN B triple impact public procurement, and articulate a group of B lawyers, legislators, and councilors who seek to create new regulatory structures that favor the development of a positive impact local ecosystem.

  • Market: Create local triple impact market dynamics such as impact business rounds alongside with impact investors to promote and nurture impact business ecosystems.

  • Academia: Create inter-universitary alliances, that are able to capture and generate new knowledge on positive impact market-driven solutions and embed purpose-driven practices into business and law programs, hence, preparing a new generation of leaders that will advance a new economy. (i.e. AMI - Academia Mendoza Impacta via Academia B).


  1. A Letter of Compromise from the multistakeholder governance to commit to: - The purpose and vision of the movement. - Sustain the *multistakeholder composition of the governance and its collaborative work. - Fundraise and manade at least **two years funding ~U$100.000 per year. * multistakeholder composition: local government, industry association, chamber of commerce, civil society groups (Sistema B or B Lab's), universities, local entrepreneur associations, a local leader (legal entity accountable for the project, such as a consulting firm, whether it is a B Corp or not, or an NGO), and other locally-relevant NGOs. ** two years funding: Project management, communications, audiovisual pieces, web page, social media management, graphic design, advertising investment, production of workshops and events.

  2. Launch approval given by the Executive Committee of Cities CAN B.

  3. Memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Cities Can B Movement and the Local Governance of the City endorsed by Sistema B or B Lab.


The sustainability model is built around two levels: ("Global Movement level” and “City level”) and three project phases (“launching phase”, “designing and initial deployment” and “full implementation”).

Global Movement level

In the designing and initial deployment phase, the business model for the global movement is based on seed capital from international philanthropic organizations to help the project to prototype and systematise the value proposition and its essential components, strengthen its global outreach, launch the first cities, and explore potential new cities to open.

In the full implementation phase, Cities CAN B global movement will generate funds which will allow the project’s self-sustainability in the medium to long term. We have explored and managed three major fund sources to diversify and sustain the global initiative: International Developing Institutions / Global Philanthropy Organisations, Multinational Companies and Global Movement Services to the cities (see *fees and value proposition below).

City level

The experience of STGO CAN B (the more consolidated pilot) and the insights from the other two pilots have shown us there is a robust demand (and willingness to finance) the local City CAN B from different stakeholders: local government, private local companies, local philanthtopic organizations and multilateral development agencies such as European Union External Action.

The fees to initiate and operate Cities CAN B are designed to cover the services provided by the global movement to cities in the three phases of implementing a new City CAN B:

  • Launching phase: Accompany and guide the city’s Leaders in the process of gathering and aligning the stakeholders needed to form a robust and multi sector governance.

  • Designing and initial deployment phase (First year): Train and accompany the city’s promoters to form and align the local governance needed to set-up a new City CAN B.

  • Full Implementation (Following years): The services deliver to each city includes: Continuous training / monitoring in how the city is deploying and how to accelerate the city’s impact, one workshop in each city to identify local advances and challenges, one global workshop among operating Cities CAN B to share learnings and challenges and other global services such as: Global communication, product systematization and global alliances.


  • There is a great vacuum of communication and collaboration between the local government and private companies around their social and environmental impact where we can bring a new force to advance the SDGs.

  • Diversifying the structure of the local governance and the funding of the CITY CAN B allows us to guarantee that the project is more resilient and resistant to being hijacked by one specific party either public or private.

  • Having thousands of citizens involved in advancing the SDGs grows impact exponentially.

  • Intertwining Stakeholders can allow us to get hundreds of institutions (capabilities and resources) involved with the SDGs.


CITIES CAN B is a collaborative effort led, till now, by Sistema B International, Gulliver (Chilean innovation agency certified as a B Corp), and BMW Foundation. Strategic decisions are made by an international executive committee that includes representatives each CITY CAN B in operation and the above mentioned organizations.

Locally, we are operating in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Mendoza (Argentina) and Santiago (Chile) and four new CITIES CAN B are under development: Asunción (Paraguay), Barcelona (Spain), Córdoba (Argentina) and Edinburgh (Scotland).

Nine other cities sent formal proposals to become Cities CAN B: Brasília, Floripa and Recife (Brazil), Copiapó and Valparaiso (Chile), Tafí Viejo (Argentina), David (Panama), Medellín (Colombia), Montevideo (Uruguay) and Parma (Italy). We are in conversations with many other cities located in Argentina, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, New Zealand, Netherlands, Peru, Uruguay, which demonstrates the global potentiality of expansion of the project.

www.citiescanb.org / ciudadesmasb@gulliver.cl

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