“A chance to reset our economy and society”: New commission to help develop ambitious policy to level inequalities exposed by Covid-19

A top team of community, business and academic leaders have come together to catalyse Camden’s renewal and spur its recovery from Covid-19.

Camden Council and University College London’s (UCL) Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) today launched the Renewal Commission, which will help spark ambitious policy and practical solutions to level up long-standing inequalities in Camden that were exposed by the coronavirus.

The Renewal Commission will encourage Camden to build an inclusive, green economy and society. It will build upon and speed up existing work such as testing policy on Universal Basic Services on digital and transport, the Camden Climate Action Plan, the Good Work Camden programme and a High Streets Taskforce.

The Renewal Commission, co-chaired by Council Leader Councillor Georgia Gould and IIPP Director Professor Mariana Mazzucato, will develop and test policy for Camden Council, its partners and the community to address our grand challenge of reducing inequality and supporting a just transition to a low carbon economy.

Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader of the Council
The story of the crisis in Camden shows the real cost of an unequal society and economy but also the power of places and communities, and their ability to lead change and recovery. Now is the time for locally driven, purposeful economic renewal. Camden Council has been on a journey to unleash the power of our communities and ensure all who live here have a stake in the wealth and opportunity on their doorstep. This is the moment to renew our democracy and economy. By bringing new and ambitious policy together with the expertise and energy we have in Camden, we can rebuild our local economy and society from the bottom up, so that everyone has a real stake in it and so that it functions to support all our residents and the health of our planet.

I am really excited to work with our Commissioners, who represent the creativity, thoughtfulness, passion and rebelliousness of our Borough, and excited to be working with Professor Mariana Mazzucato and University College London.
Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader of the Council
We are launching the Renewal Commission at a critical moment. Around the world we are facing a triple-crisis: the immediate health and economic crisis of Covid-19, the fact we never fully recovered from the 2008 recession, and a race to stop climate change. We need to transform this into an opportunity for investment and participation. The Renewal Commission is seeking to capture this opportunity by addressing this triple-crisis in Camden, and influence cities around the world, with bold policies to develop a more inclusive and sustainable society and economy.

At the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose that I founded and direct we study how public value - value for citizens - is created and evaluated. We do in a way that builds strong links between new economic thinking and policy practice. Our ground-breaking framework of orienting policies around a bold and ambitious ‘mission’ has be adopted by the European Commission and the UK government in their Industrial Strategy. I’m so excited we can together experiment and put this into practice in Camden with a fantastic commission with broad experience across innovation, finance, sustainability, music, culture, and campaigning.
IIPP Director Professor Mariana Mazzucato

Resident led-change

Residents will be driving force behind changing the Camden they live in. Over the summer period, Camden Council has been collecting residents’ stories, artwork and videos each documenting their experiences of living in the pandemic. The submissions have been revealing about both the negative and positive impacts of the pandemic to day to day life – and are the first stage in a wider conversation and movement about reforming our local economy and society for the better. You can view the artwork and videos at

The next stage is for Camden organisations and community figures to set ‘calls to action’, which ask community groups, institutions and citizens to use their experiences to come up with ideas, priorities and action in response to the mission areas.

Residents will be able to prioritise, consider trade-offs and scale up their ideas. Using this ‘bottom up approach’ with calls and challenges coming from residents, community groups and organisers, the Renewal Commission will be able to help develop ideas and proposals. Insight and ideas gathered will be used to inform large scale change led by the community and partners and supported by the thinking and recommendations of our Commissioners.

Renewal commission members

The Renewal Commission board is comprised of:

  • Councillor Georgia Gould - Leader of Camden Council
  • Mariana Mazzucato - Professor and Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
  • Sir Michael Marmot - Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL
  • Delia Barker - Programmes Director at the Roundhouse
  • Athian Akec - Member for Camden, UK Youth Parliament
  • Ann Phoenix - Professor of Psychosocial Studies at the Institute of Education at UCL
  • Farhana Yamin - Lawyer, public speaker and climate activist
  • Simon Pitkeathly - Chief Executive of Camden Town Unlimited
  • George Mpanga (George the Poet) - Spoken word performer, recording artist, social commentator
  • Pooja Agarwal - Co-founder of Public Practice
  • Sadia Farah – First Step Action
  • Kate Bell - Head of Rights, International, Social and Economics department at TUC
  • Marcel Levi - Chief Executive of University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Alexis Keir - Director of Elfrida Rathbone Camden
  • Saul Klein - Co-founder and Partner of LocalGlobe
  • Christine Foster - Alan Turing Institute

Find out more

Visit the Renewal Commission website