Sustainable Development Goals


UCL to help deliver local borough’s fairer and more sustainable vision

Experts from the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose have teamed up with Camden Council to develop ‘mission-oriented’ public policies and ensure Camden becomes a fairer place to live.

Camden Lock

14 June 2022

Camden is home to UCL’s main campus. It is also one of London’s most unequal boroughs, where almost half its children live in poverty. The household income of people living in its wealthiest ward is almost double that of its poorest ward.

To help to address such inequalities, experts in local policy development at UCL are working in partnership with Camden Council and other local organisations and businesses. Together they want to deliver Camden Council’s vision to be a borough where everyone has a chance to succeed and where nobody gets left behind.

In 2020, Camden Council established a Renewal Commission, co-chaired by the Council’s leader and the Director of UCL’s Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP), Professor Mariana Mazzucato.

“Our work with Camden exemplifies the close relationships we are developing with the local communities in which UCL is located.”

The Commission quickly adopted a pioneering mission-oriented form of policy creation, developed at UCL IIPP. The approach is well suited to help solve Camden’s challenges and has been used successfully by cities and public sector organisations around the world.

“Mission thinking does not specify how to achieve success, just the direction to take,” explains Dr Ryan Bellinson (UCL IIPP). “The missions must be big enough to inspire the public and attract buy-in across all sectors, yet specific enough to involve businesses and achieve measurable success.”

Sixteen Commissioners, selected from a range of local communities and businesses that contribute to Camden’s social and economic health, shared their knowledge and understanding of Camden to co-design and develop four missions for the borough.

"Our work with Camden exemplifies the close relationships we are developing with the local communities in which UCL is located. Our collaboration with Camden Council is core to our strategic objectives to enhance engagement and enrich society through our partnerships in London,” says Amy Lightstone (UCL London Office).

They are that: by 2030, those holding positions of power in Camden are as diverse as its community; by 2025, every young person has access to economic opportunity that enables them to be safe and secure; by 2030 everyone eats well every day with nutritious, affordable, sustainable food; and by 2030, Camden’s estates and streets are creative and sustainable.

The missions aim to break down entrenched bureaucratic structures and support more inclusive governance, provide more equal economic opportunity and ensure sustainable neighbourhoods. They will be delivered through community-led activities, which will ensure everyone in Camden has a voice in how the borough’s services develop.

The team at UCL is now helping to deliver the missions through a knowledge exchange programme and a policy lab to support local policy designers in Camden. They are also scoping out a Community Wealth Fund to harness new streams of funding and accelerate delivery of the missions.

“By redesigning public policy around ambitious yet achievable missions with clear public purpose, Camden will have the wellbeing of all its residents at the heart of everything it does,” Dr Bellinson explains.