Amsterdam, City of Water is Integral City of the Year 2019.

Amsterdam will be the city featured on the new cover of the Second Edition of Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences of the Human Hive.

In a year when we saw high tides engulf Venice, Amsterdam (often called Venice of the North)  continued to survive and thrive despite the fact that it is mostly 2 meters below sea level!

Named European City of Innovation in 2017, Amsterdam hosted WeMakethe.City Festivals in 2018 and 2019 to celebrate the value of the city.

The beauty of these festivals was that they were not staged in a conference area but throughout the city in installations from the Food Fair to churches to the Eye. The city showed itself at the docks, in De Ceuvel and in outlying neighborhoods like the Kraiennest.

Amsterdam is Europe’s 5th largest port and it is one of The Netherlands gateways to the world of trade.

Its canals and circular city design make it walkable, accessible and attractive to 5 million tourists annually.

In 2019 Amsterdam was the natural location to declare 2 manifestos supporting Integral Cities:

On King’s Day Amsterdam hosts the largest street party in The Netherlands, opening its parks and curbs to the citizens of the city to stage and enjoy a host of pop-up musical performances, art exhibits and clothing and household item sales.

Amsterdam demonstrates all of the Integral City Intelligences – many of them at a world-class level:

Contexting Intelligences

Ecosphere – the city is intensely aware of its relationship to the North Sea and water management of everything from the quality of its drinking water to canal levels is paramount in city operation. It has even invented a Great Bubble Barrier System for collecting and preventing plastic waste from entering the oceans. (See the remarkable project description here.)

Emergence – the city in many ways is a self-making urban entity that has continued to reinvent itself despite the pressures from its European neighbours, migration from Africa, Middle East and its Dutch colonial past.

Integral – most Integral and Spiral groups, estimate that the density of people trained in these mindsets and modalities is greater in The Netherlands (and thereby Amsterdam) than anywhere else on earth.

Living – Amsterdam has a classic bell curve of age distribution with a relatively young population (60% below 45). It glories in offering skateboard parks as well as revealing the “Unseen Amsterdam”.

Individual & Collective Intelligences

Individual – Inner and Outer – although the population of Amsterdam largely declares itself without religious affiliation, many are “spiritual but not religious” and mindful of many personal development processes and bio-physical healthy lifestyles.

Collective – Structural – Amsterdam exhibits some of the most exciting architecture in the world – and protects its historic building (especially in the heart of the city) while experimenting with modern structures in its newer neighbourhoods. At the same time Amsterdam is the beneficiary of The Netherlands post-war policy to invest in public transportation and has one of the most integrated systems of human mobility of any city in the world – including walking, bicycle, streetcar, bus, car, rail system, metro.

Collective – Cultural – Amsterdam could have been named the City of Culture just as easily as the City of Innovation. Home to world-famous artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Mondrian, Amsterdam’s museums, galleries and concert halls are equally renowned (and attractive to tourists).

Strategic Intelligences

Inquiry – Amsterdam is famous for its ongoing experiments with governance, citizen engagement, technology, research and experimentation.

Meshworking – the intelligence of weaving together self-organizing systems and structures that enable operations, is another Amsterdam expertise. It is a leader in “connecting the system to more of itself” (such as annual family walking days and King’s Day street/park gatherings.)

“Together means: local government, knowledge institutes, businesses, social institutions, start-ups, entrepreneurs, and all residents of Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, with their own neighbourhood initiatives. THAT IS THE AMSTERDAM APPROACH!”

Udo Kock, Deputy Mayor, Alderman City of Amsterdam in Welcome to WeMakethe.City

Navigating – Amsterdam has been the beneficiary of Dutch global navigation expertise and the enabling of trade that financed its development. Its navigational skills no doubt underlie its emergence as a world heritage site for much of its water expertise (including its canals).

Evolutionary Intelligence

Amsterdam exemplifies a city who responds to life conditions with commitment, curiosity and technological invention. It is as likely to reinvent its old parts – like DeCeuvel or North Amsterdam as it is likely to encourage the growth of cities outside itself (like Almere) so that it can balance its own evolution with the health of neighbouring urban centres and the natural environment.

Having recognized all 12 intelligences active in Amsterdam, finally we would point to the generosity of Amsterdam. Its leaders recognize that in a world of turbulent challenges, cities are the incubators of cooperation, healthy competition, optimism and capacity building. Amsterdam is a city that exemplifies both Placecaring and Placemaking.

In the WeMakethe.City Festival Amsterdam declared:

“Our Goal is to unite everyone in making cities better for everyone!”

That summarizes our reasons for awarding Amsterdam as Integral City of the Year 2019.


For prior Integral City of the Year Awards see:

6AIKA Finland – Cities of the Year 2018

Russia’s 3 City Associations – City of the Year 2017

Fort McMurray – City of the Year 2016.

Paris – City of the Year 2015.