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2021 URBACT City Festival… rewind!

Edited on

03 September 2021
Read time: 2 minutes

URBACT’s flagship event is back in a fully digital edition bringing its usual cocktail of creative learning, knowledge exchange and networking.

More than 1 000 participants registered for the first online edition of the URBACT City Festival!

Over three days, participants have a chance to meet 150 cities from 25 countries that joined forces to "Understand, Adapt, and Re-Use" a Good Practice in their local contexts.

URBACT invites all participants to explore the programme and navigate the Hopin platform - its Main Stage, Parallel Sessions, and Exhibition Area - to gain a better insight into the lessons and experience of the URBACT Transfer Networks.


Rewind to 2017

The 2017 URBACT City Festival Tallin (EE) brought together hundreds of participants discovering the 97 URBACT labelled Good Practices for urban sustainable development from across Europe.

Among those 97 Good Practice, 23 were selected to lead a Transfer Network in 2019. After two years of experimenting, exchanging and learning, over 150 URBACT cities are now ready to share how they made a difference in this year’s URBACT City Festival.

Rewind to 2021 day 1

On day 1 of the Festival, Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms welcomed #URBACTfest participants. She invited participants to “Inspire each others, spread ideas, go beyond the usual circles to share knowledge and experience for all European cities” stressing that “URBACT cities are pioneers of the future […] and must serve as a lighthouse for all European cities.”

In the afternoon, in the ‘Mayor’s question time’, a panel of decision-makers discussed the role of politicians in European Territorial Cooperation programmes likes URBACT.

There were plenty more interesting session – for example, a session on the URBACT stand about the key elements of the New Leipzig Charter and how URBACT – along with other partners – contributed to the renewal.


Rewind to day 2

Economist and creator of the Doughnut Economy concept Kate Raworth opened the festival on day 2. She presented her holistic approach to ‘downscaling the Doughnut’ at city-level. Using examples such as Amsterdam, her presentations inspired participants to take such a holistic approach as they begin to reimagine and remake their own futures in a post-Covid area.



Day 2 of the Festival saw the launch of 'Good Practice Transfer - Why not in in City?' – a collection of 23 city stories curated by URBACT to inspire other cities to take action. This publication is an easy entry point to the world of the Transfer Networks. The stories here come from cities of all sizes, and involve cities from more and less developed regions of Europe. They are organised according to the three dimensions of the New Leipzig Charter — ‘Green’, Just’ and ‘Productive’ cities.


Rewind day 3

A thought-provoking session exploring the impact of Covid kicked off the day. URBACT Expert Sally Kneeshaw unpicked the rhetoric of Building Back Better and challenged all participants to embrace the more radical actions needed to lead fundamental change in relation to inequality and the climate emergency. A MUST-REWATCH if you missed!



A new period of funding 2021-2027 means a new URBACT programme. The urban policy framework that surrounds URBACT has evolved. On day 3, the URBACT Managing Authority, the Joint Secretariat and the Portuguese Presidency, currently chairing the URBACT IV programming committee, discussed the future of URBACT.

During the closing session of the Festival, Nuala Morgan, Head of of Unit Capitalisation and Communication at URBACT, broke the good news – there will a Festival next year during the French Presidency!

We can’t wait to meet you again in person. In the meantime, thanks to all participants – more particularly to the 150 Good Practice cities - and we look forward to seeing more good practices flourishing across Europe!


More from URBACT City Festival 2021

Check our #TimetoShare YouTube Playlist

More videos from the festival will be available in the next days.


More about previous editions

URBACT City festival 2018 in Lisbon (PT) – celebrating URBACT’s 15 year anniversary

URBACT City Festival 2017 in Tallin (EE) – recognising 97 Good Practices in cities across Europe

URBACT City Festival 2015 in Riga (LV) – providing a new kind of platform for urban practitioners to learn, share, and be inspired for better urban futures !