It has not even been a whole month since the URBACT IV Programme has officially opened its first call for networks. Yet, there are already plenty of concrete proposals for cities to find potential partners* and, hopefully, embark on the 2.5-year action-planning journey.
Whether you have a pitch for a network or if you are on the lookout for inspiration and peers, the Partner Search Tool is the place to find cities that share similar ambitions, challenges and vision. To prompt connections and spark exchange among aspiring-URBACT-beneficiaries, this platform was first released in the occasion of the European Week of Regions and Cities in October 2022.
Today, with all the guidance for applicants, terms of reference and further material in different language available to all, the stakes to put your ideas out there and find partners are higher than ever. Get a taste of the most recent Partner Search Tool’s ideas coming from all corners of Europe from 5 January to 2 February.
Welcome to cities from North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia
A novelty for URBACT IV, the addition of five countries benefitting from the Instrument for Pre-Accession to the EU (IPA) as eligible partners for programme funds means new possibilities to a vast new territory. For the first time ever, cities from Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and North Macedonia can apply to become URBACT Project Partners.
Unsurprisingly, you can already find project ideas from IPA countries for the revitalisation of industrial sites, youth employment and green transition for digital transformation in the Partner Search Tool. The municipalities of Berane (ME), Sarajevo (BA) and Ohrid (MK) are all respectively looking for Lead Partners and other Project Partners to join their efforts. If approved, these cities will receive IPA funding for their participation in URBACT networks.
Cities from the South are on the rise
Very well represented in the Partner Search Tool, many new projects from Southern European cities have been published since the launch of the Action Planning Networks’ call.
Take for instance Portugal, where you can find ideas ranging from green transition to social inclusion. The municipality of Serpa (PT) wants to work around the effects of industrial agriculture in urban centres, while the subject of urban mobility appears the intermunicipal community of Médio Tejo’s (PT) idea. In addition, a specialised development agency in Vila Nova de Gaia (PT) and the university of Lisbon (PT) are both keen to explore housing solutions: the first focusing in social housing, whereas the latter in intergenerational rooms.
Also related to social cohesion, the municipality of Grevená (EL) wants to improve the urban livelihood and create more inclusive spaces, as in children-friendly cities. Still in Greece, the municipality of Heraklion (EL) is seeking partners to overcome barriers, so cities can re-discover their rivers – a project that explores the connections of urban planning and the green transition.
Talking about green initiatives, this is a topic of predilection among Italian cities. The Union of Bassa Romagna Municipalities (IT) wants to lead partners to exchange knowledge on green infrastructures, while initiatives in Termoli (IT) and the Cagliari University (IT) want to respectively engage in climate and increase the use of bikes and soft mobility. When it comes to social inclusion, there are also very committed municipalities. The city of Bari (IT) aims at developing community libraries and the municipality of Cinisello Balsamo (IT) to use urban regeneration as an engine for social impact.
In Spain, the range of topics is quite diverse. The council of Castelldefels (ES) aims at using the smart healthy city concept as a strategy, bringing elements from the digital transition to governance and health. The municipality of Avilés wants to bring together fellow cities that have a strong industrial background and seize this heritage to transform these areas and make such spaces greener. Finally, the municipality of Málaga is seeking partners to dinamise local start-ups ecosystems.
Green is the colour of the season
When it comes to issues related to the climate urgency, cities have plenty of creative ideas. Interested by the topic of water collection and fighting draughts, the municipality of Michalovce (SK) has published an idea about the richness of the rain. While the municipality of Wroclaw (PL) has expressed interest in taking forward two different projects, one on food self-sufficient production and another one on sustainable urban policies.
Still in Poland, the municipality of Rzeszow aims to use mobility to achieve carbon neutrality. This is indeed a hot topic as other proposals suggest, as Liepaja’s (LV) municipal willingness to create sustainable mobility plans for small and medium-sized cities and Bucharest’s (RO) ambition to improve their urban logistic systems – an idea published by a specialised development agency. On a similar note, the municipality of Pilisborosjenõ (HU) invites other towns to revert the negative impacts of suburbanisation trends and the city council of Leitrim (IE) wants to make its town centre more pedestrian-friendly. These are all principles that are at the centre of the URBACT Knowledge Hub on mobility, the Walk'n'Roll initiative.
Far beyond the scope of how we perceive urban mobility, the city of Copenhagen (DK) is looking for peers to explore participative governance models, especially for data-based citizen engagement, in order to take coherent place based climate actions. In addition, two German proposals have also been recently added to the Partner Search Tool. The municipality of Munich (DE) invites other cities to go circular using the CCRI methodology, and the city of Essen proposes to test water-sensitive urban planning through green practical measures.
It’s always an enriching experience to build from the existent. This is clearly the case for the municipality of Mechelen (BE), which was previously involved with the Resourceful Cities Action Planning Network (2019 - 2022). Now, this city wishes to carry on its legacy and lead a new project on hubs for circular economy. Another idea coming from Belgium, published by an NGO in Hannut (BE), aims at making cities more attractive and just by renovating the downtown areas.
Building blocks of communities
Although fewer in numbers – but with no less effective ideas and solutions to urban challenges – cities from the North are also looking for new partners. For example, the municipality of Malmö (SE) is particularly seeking to create new life and make communities thrive in a district that is reduced to a single function. The city wants spark a new sense of identity and cohesion for such places.
More related to participative governance and social cohesion models, three new ideas were published by French bodies. The county council of Seine Saint-Denis wants to transform its territory by welcoming and including migrants, whereas the urban agency of Saint Omer seeks to re-invent the involvement of citizens, by supporting them facing new challenges. With a similar approach, the metropolis of Lyon wants to delve into the multi-governance perspective – particularly the dialogue between the municipalities and city districts.
At last, Czech cities’ ideas tend to lean towards themes as local governance. The city Usti nad Labem (CZ) is looking for partners to further explore how to build and strengthen communities using municipal reward systems. While the city of Ostrava (CZ) has published three different ideas: one about the access to adequate housing, another one on cultural development and a plea for city centre entrepreuneurs.
You can find out more about all these ideas, as well the previously published ones, in the URBACT Partner Search Tool. Don’t wait any longer, you have more than 50 opportunities to join [u]s!
* URBACT facilitates the sharing of knowledge and good practice between cities and other levels of government. The programme can fund eligible institutions from the whole territory of the European Union with its 27 Member States, as well as Norway and Switzerland, plus five IPA countries. Cities from other countries can take part in network activities at their own costs.
Read more on the eligibility for the call at urbact.eu/get-involved