Outsmarting the paradigm: Implementation of new technologies in the cities

Project background and summary

The role of youth in cities has been one of CDN’s areas of work for several years now. The Network has previously organized several projects, including the Annual Work Plan “Urban Steps for Resilient Future” and a Summer School “Youth and the City: Young People for Fair and Green Cities”. Building on this work, in May, CDN will organise a training in Riga as a part of the GEF transnational project “A Charter for the Smart City II”. 

Young people are digital natives. We embrace technologies earlier than older generations. For a couple of years now, there are lot of talks about Smart Cities, but the solutions suggested are often not very smart or sustainable. What the large corporations and governments are presenting as a “Smart City”, in reality has many elements of a technocratic dystopia, the proposed solutions are called “smart” but in reality, they are just technology oriented projects for those that can afford it. However, technology doesn’t necessarily have to have negative implications on the city. It can be used for good if directed at improving everybody’s life in the cities. We would like to explore how our cities could move towards use of digitisation to benefit us without turning the city into a place of surveillance, exploitation and exclusion.

The training will deal with the challenges and opportunities that implementation of new technologies brings to the cities in different aspects (social, environmental, economical, democratic) in the Central and Eastern Europe. Participants will be made aware of how technologies change us and our cities, be able to rethink the concept of smart cities from a green perspective for Eastern and Central European cities and create ideas on how to influence public debate and local decision-making on technological innovations and their implementations in the cities of the region.  

The training is meant for young people (till 30) from Eastern and Central Europe (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo*, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine) interested in looking at how the implementation of new technologies in cities can affect the democracy, social and economic influences on youth. The event will take place between 26th and 30th of May in Riga  (25th and 31th are travel dates).

Aim: To explore how technologies change us and our cities and rethink the concept of smart cities from a green perspective.


  • Train 25 young people in critical assessment of technology in cities and re-evaluate its role in the urban environment;
  • Assess the Charter for the Smart Cities through the Central and Eastern European lens; 
  • Create a platform for exchange of best practices for young people interested in exploring the connection between Urbanism and/or Technology;
  • Create a set of outputs relevant and useful for the young people in the Central and Eastern Europe tackling the connection between the Cities and Technology.


The program will be based on the principles of non-formal education and intercultural learning. We strive for active, inclusive and direct communication and transfer and sharing of knowledge. 

Sessions will be balanced between theoretical inputs, training, workshops, discussions, reflection, planning, brainstorming and other interactive methods of learning.

By the end of the project, a draft toolkit for actions which will foster public debate on smart city policies and influence local decision-making will be developed.

This project is organised by the Green European Foundation with the support of CDNEE and Wetenschappelijk Bureau GroenLinks with the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation.