Cities Of The Future

Shaping The Future Of Their City: What Do Amsterdammers Want?

written by Ash Shah

What is it that Amsterdammers want for the future of their city? Ash asked thirty Amsterdammers this question. What emerged is a vision of the city that is inspiring, empowering and exciting!

A city of the future

Amsterdam is a city that is spilling over with visionaries and sure-footed folk when it comes to global citizenship. The notion of collective welfare has never been stronger than it is in the post-pandemic era. Our idea of what it means to participate in our community and shape the future of our city is changing.

In today’s world, where the climate crisis knocks sharply at our door, pandemics loom large in our midst and political polarisation threatens to usurp our sense of equality and harmony, cities have to tackle these issues in an effective and innovative manner. Whether it is through developing stronger neighbourhoods that can be mobilised in times of crisis, urban greening projects that reduce the carbon footprint of the city or community spaces that allow citizens to come together to learn about each other’s culture and build a wider and more cohesive idea of what it means to be an Amsterdammer.

So what is it that this community wants for the future of the city? I asked thirty Amsterdammers this question. What emerged is a vision of the city that is inspiring, empowering and exciting! It is hugely important to us to get direct feedback from global citizens i.e. the main stakeholders so that we can stay true to the shared vision of the future of Amsterdam. Keep reading to find out what Amsterdammers want for the future of their city!

The Maker Market at Foodhallen - in Amsterdam

Neighbourhoods and communities

In a city as vast as Amsterdam, each neighbourhood has its unique identity and culture. Depending on the community that inhabits it and the history of that region, what we find across the city is pockets of magic that are unbeknownst even to those that live in adjacent neighbourhoods. Whether it is de Moestuinschool in Amsterdam Noord that brings aspiring urban farmers together, or Mezrab on the Eastern Docklands that brings stories to life, we found that initiatives that bring the neighbourhood together are highly valued by global citizens.

Storytelling night at Mezrab - in Amsterdam (by Alborz Sahebdivani)

Gloria, 28, says, “I would love to be more involved with my neighbourhood. Planting seeds, growing gardens together, getting to know each other and in the process, becoming a community!”

Merel, 28, has been a part of an integration programme that connects refugees and migrants with their neighbours to foster a sense of homeliness. She says, “It started with connecting migrants to locals in the neighbourhood, but now everyone joins in. It’s changed our experience of the neighbourhood. We’re no longer anonymous!”

Merel at home - in Amsterdam

Amsterdammers today wish to discover what various neighbourhoods across the city have to offer, their stories, the way people come together within that space, the events and experiences that take place there as well as the people that live there. A sense of pride lurks behind this notion and a desire to coalesce as a unified front in a city that is so diverse and empowering.

Ecology and environment

What most Amsterdammers have in common is their love for nature. While walking through parks and bicycling through the lush outskirts are popular pastimes for people, there is a growing hunger to discover the myriad ways in which nature can be discovered within the circumscriptions of the city. An overwhelming majority of Amsterdammers said that exploring new facets of nature in their city, getting their hands dirty and connecting with the earth were vital to them.

Zeeger (middle) and his friends Michiel and Fleur - in Amsterdam

Zeeger, 27, who has walked every possible circle in Vondelpark says that an Amsterdam that prioritises regreening is vital to him. “I would go so far as to say, remove the parking lots and turn them into food forests or parks. I want Amsterdam to flourish into a city where nature has the upper hand!”

The real revolution is in how Amsterdammers see the city and its relationship to nature. Rather than nature populating the periphery of their existence, there is a great desire to exist and entwine deeply in nature, whilst remaining in the city.

Ioana, 46, tries to work outdoors as much as possible, to remain creatively inspired and energised within the city. “I combine work and pleasure. I walk A LOT, even hold walking meetings and work on my laptop in the park or in my garden. Imagine if outdoor offices sprung up overnight - work would never be the same!”

Nature In The City: our first guide for Amsterdam

Together with the conscious community of Amsterdam and based on what Amsterdammers want, we have created our first city guide for Amsterdam!

This guide will help you have the greenest experience of Amsterdam! You can learn about urban farming and permaculture, explore the flora and fauna of Amsterdam's many parks and discover some hidden green gems in the city.


Iaona - at Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Sustainable & Healthy Living

Sustainability, at the day to day level is a lifestyle question, one that Amsterdammers are yearning to find answers to! Where to buy zero waste groceries from, ethical brands in the city, secondhand shops, DIY courses, community gardens and more. Adjacent to that is the question of health. Superfoods, organic produce, preventive health are all high-priority questions for Amsterdammers.

For Bernard, 60, connecting with people who have the same life journey and goals is crucial. “I would like to find groups or individuals engaged in new forms of healthy living because I'm working on that myself now. Imagine if a group of citizens got together and decided that they would live to be one hundred and we supported each other in improving our health to make sure we get there!”

Art , Culture & History

Andrea, 32, tells us that “Amsterdam teaches you to honour the past while moving towards the future. There are old gems preserved in the city but its ethos is one of innovation and progress.” It’s exactly this attitude that allows Amsterdam to straddle the best of both worlds.

Thijs, 26, tells us, “I’m always eager to learn new stories about the buildings, the people, the traditions and the events that took place in this city. To me, understanding the past is important as it builds a bridge to the future.”

The heritage as well as the colonial history of the city has made it what it is. Amsterdammers today are interested in uncovering how their city came to be! The creative, the curious, the innovative - they all find a home in the city of Amsterdam.

For Gabrielle, 26, art has always played an important role in her relationship with the city. “When it comes to art and cultural attractions, I am so happy to be living in Amsterdam, where there is always something new to discover. That’s what keeps the city fresh and full of surprises for me!”

Gabrielle at home - in Amsterdam

The city has been designed by people who think like Andrea, Thijs and Gabrielle. Their projects are created to capture your attention and imagination in unique ways. The city is full of attractions big and small to satiate the artistic mind. From art walks to museums, culture spaces to learning centres, science hubs to supper clubs, the opportunities to learn, grow and develop new skills are endless. And this is at the heart of what Amsterdammers want.

Giving Back

In a city of conscious minded people, citizens are constantly contending with the question of how they can contribute to the welfare of their community and city. Martijn, 26, tells us, “I believe that small steps can lead to big changes. As a videographer I'm always on the lookout for stories to tell. I want to contribute to existing initiatives, dive into what their goals are and see how I can add value.”

Martijn with posters for his newest project - in Amsterdam

Amsterdam offers numerous ways in which people can give back to their city. Neighbourhood integration programmes to make refugees feel more at home, ALS marathons, National Sowing Day to increase bee populations and so much more! This is a central concern to the Amsterdammer: how can I be of service to my city and my fellow citizens?

What we have here is a miniscule assemblage of the values and ideals that motivate Amsterdammers. Whether it is those who have been born and bred in the city, or those who moved here for work and studies, or migrants from every corner of the world, there exists a mix of citizens that have the ability to move mountains and meaningfully direct the city into the future it deserves. Are you ready for this, Amsterdam?

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