Cost sharing and multi level collaboration for social inclusion : Rusken

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Main actors

Local Government, City Government, National Government, NGO / Philanthropy

Icons use case study project area

Project area

Neighborhood or district

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2011/01

Oslo like every city maintains and cleans its public green spaces as part of its greening activities. At the same time the city is providing vulnerable people with inclusive employment opportunities through two programmes.

Rusken is a community action project to clean up streets, rivers, beaches and parks in Oslo. It involves kindergartens, schools, housing cooperatives, voluntary organisations, sports clubs, the business community and the general public. It emphasises joint community action, shared responsibility and the breaking down of social divisions. 

The two programmes run by Rusken (Street Rusken and District Rusken) adress vulnerable people and aim at their reintegration into society. Street Rusken gives people with drug addiction assignments to keep the sidewalks in the city centre free of cigarette butts and rubbish, whereas District Rusken employs people who receive social security benefits to work in green maintenance and waste disposal.

District Rusken and Street Rusken are effective tools for social inclusion and poverty reduction since participants gain work experience and test their ability to function in a work environment. It was also important to gain insight into each district’s environmental challenges to ensure good targeting of Rusken activities.

Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF:

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Oslo, Norway

Size and population development
647,676 permanent residents (as of 2015). The population of Oslo is increasing at a fast rate (2% annually) making of Oslo one of the most rapidly growing European Capital.

Population composition
71% of Oslo inhabitants are Norwegian (as of 2011)

Main functions
Capital City; economic and governmental centre of Norway; hub of Norwegian trade, banking, industry and shipping

Main industries / business
Energy, ICT, maritime industry

Political structure
The City Council is the governing authority in Oslo and comprises five standing committees.

Administrative structure
Oslo is both a county and a municipality.

Rapid growth of Oslo’s population has led to urban densification and an increased use of the city’s outdoor spaces. It has also led to growing quantities of waste in green spaces and parks especially in the Oslo East area, which includes the city centre, and the Groruddalen area in the northeast of Oslo. These districts are characterised by a significantly lower average income, a lower standard of living and a higher number of unemployed people compared to the western districts.

Rusken runs two employment initiatives for vulnerable groups:

  • Street Rusken: gives people with drug addiction assignments to keep the sidewalks in the city centre free of cigarette butts and rubbish. People work for a few hours a week and are paid an hourly wage. Street Rusken is mainly for severely vulnerable people with low prospects of reintegrating into the labour market. It includes them in society through these activities therefore decreasing isolation and crime.
  • District Rusken: employs people who receive social security benefits to work in green maintenance and waste disposal. They prune shrubs and trees, mow lawns, and clean metro stations and sidewalks. The programme admits people with  poor language skills, no qualifications, health  problems, drug related problems, mental illness, long term unemployed and young people with no work experience.

Both programmes are ‘low threshold’ initiatives - meaning there are few entry requirements making it easier for vulnerable people to gain access.

District Rusken in Grunerløkka in Oslo East and in the four districts of Groruddalen was established as a result of a larger urban regeneration programme called the ‘Area and Livelihoods Initiative’. Therefore many partners were included in the project: the Ministry of the Environment, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), representatives of the districts, the Rusken secretariat, Oslo’s trade unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise Department. Joint working groups were set up in each district to establish a dialogue between all the parties involved.

District Rusken in Groruddalen is based on the equal cost sharing model between the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the municipality of Oslo, contributing 2.4 million NOK each (approx. €280,000). In other districts the costs are shared between the individual districts and Oslo municipality. Street Rusken is funded with 1.2 million NOK (approx. €140,000) from the city of Oslo. Other financial contributions come from the Church City Mission, Salvation Army and the local business community.

Rusken provides more flexible solutions for the maintenance of green areas, waste management, and cleaning of the city. It adds to the municipality’s operations and creating a cleaner and healthier city for everyone.

District Rusken and Street Rusken are effective tools for social inclusion and poverty reduction:

  • Street Rusken: gives people a chance to supplement their social security benefits with additional earnings, which decreases poverty and prevents begging. Since the project provides an opportunity for them to contribute to and participate in society, it has been found to decrease drug use among the participants.
  • District Rusken: operates in eight city districts, with 10-30 employees in each one. The employees gain work experience and test their ability to function in a work environment. For many this constitutes the first step to finding paid employment, usually in similar jobs, while others proceed to training programmes.

The District Rusken initiative in Groruddalen led to the launch of carpentry workshops for repairing and redecorating old furniture. This provides jobs for both young people in the summer and permanent jobs for people previously excluded from the labour market. In Grunerløkka a repair and recycling workshop was opened.

In Green Jobs for social inclusion (see references), EUROCITIES identifies three main factors that contribute to the success of these city initiatives to create green jobs for social inclusion at the local level.

They are:

1. Combining demand and supply side interventions:  an intervention does not solely focus on developing people’s competences, skills and motivation (supply side intervention) but also aims to create a tangible route into the labour market (demand side intervention).

On the demand side, the programme's objective is to provide a ‘protected’ working environment with the view of supporting people to gain real work experience to enable them to compete in the mainstream labour market.

These demand side interventions are then complemented by well-matched activation and training measures (supply side interventions) helping people to gain specific skills and improve their chances of accessing the labour market.

2. Linking the interventions to local employment opportunities

The second success factor is the strong link between the programmes and local employment opportunities. Cities as the level of government closest to the people have an in-depth knowledge of their local labour markets. They can design programmes in line with local economic demand and prepare people for jobs that are available locally. The effectiveness of the demand and supply interventions is made stronger when they are grounded in local businesses and job market needs.

3. Tailoring activation measures to the specific needs of people

The third success factor of the programmes is linking the activation measures to the specific needs of the target groups.

For local authorities, programmes that combine greening and social inclusion bring added value, particularly during periods of budgetary constraint and growing demand for services. Integrated programmes that address several objectives with one investment bring efficiency to local interventions. Given the longer term perspective of the sector, linking job seekers to local jobs in the green economy should continue to bring results as the sector is set to grow.

It was also important to gain insight into each district’s environmental challenges to ensure good targeting of Rusken activities. A consultation process involving the local community was also carried out, which fed into the work of the joint working groups.

More information on the success factors:

"Local strategies to implement national energy efficiency schemes", in Green Jobs for social inclusion, Eurocities, June 2015, 28-29.

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Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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