Cosmopolitan Localism UP073

Cosmopolitan localism is a social innovation approach to community development that seeks to link local and global communities through resilient infrastructures that bring production and consumption closer together, building on distributed systems.

Cosmopolitan localism fosters a global network of mutually supportive communities (neighbourhoods, villages, towns, cities and regions) who share and exchange knowledge, ideas, skills, technology, culture and (where socially and ecologically sustainable) resources. The approach seeks to foster a creative, reciprocal relationship between the local and the global. Cosmopolitan localism aims to address problems that emerge from globalization—namely, the subsuming of local cultures and economies into a homogenised and unsustainable global system—while simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls of localization, such as parochialism and isolationism.

Italian social innovation scholar Ezio Manzini describes cosmopolitan localism as having the potential to generate a new sense of place. With cosmopolitan localism, places are not considered isolated entities, but nodes in short-distance and long-distance networks. The short-distance networks generate and regenerate the local socio-economic fabric and the long-distance networks connect a particular community to the rest of the world.

Cosmopolitan localism is topic of focus for transition designers who explore design-led societal transition toward more sustainable futures. Others have argued that cosmolocalism advances alternatives that could potentially undermine dominant capitalist imaginary significations, attitudes and modalities. It can lead the way for a transition towards a post-capitalist, commons-centric economy and society where value is collectively created and accessible to all. In order for cosmolocalism to become more than a blueprint for a mode of production, the autonomy of local communities and individuals is essential.