Final Conference in Graz
Edited on07 April 2011
Three years of sharing international experience on the subject of city-region co-operations come to an end
Big final conference of the URBACT II thematic network "CityRegion.Net"
The strict dividing-lines between the core city and its surrounding municipalities are a thing of the past – the boundaries are becoming blurred. But the functional links between urban and rural areas are also increasing. Co-operation between the city and its surrounding region is therefore one possible way of overcoming the multiple challenges.
The City of Graz, department for EU programmes and international co-operation, headed the network of cities CityRegion.Net, joining eight other partners from seven European cities to tackle the matter of city-region co-operations. After running for three years, this network has now concluded with a presentation of outcomes, for example development of three models for co-operation between cities and their neighbouring regions, or recommendations for planning and financing instruments for city regions, based on examples of best practice.
For this reason, the network joined Department 16 – Regional and Municipal Development of the Styrian provincial Government, the League of Towns, and the League of Municipalities to organise a conference entitled "Challenges and opportunities for urban and rural regions" on 7 April 2011 in the conference rooms of Graz airport.
Following the words of welcome by the organisers, the high-ranking representatives of the European Commission such as Dr Antonis Constantinou (DG of Agriculture and Rural Development), Dr Alexander Ferstl (DG Regional Policy), and Mr Jean-Loup Drubigny (Head of the Technical Secretariat of URBACT) gave keynote speeches on the current and future strategies of the EU and its support programmes. Afterwards, the roughly 170 national and international participants had the opportunity to obtain information about the perspectives in the upcoming support period at the national, regional and urban level, with MinR. Mr Ignaz Knöbl (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management), Mr Ernst Holzinger (Federal Chancellery), Ms Doris Kampus (Head of A 16 Styria Province), and Mr Gerhard Ablasser (City of Graz) speaking about their experience in the current support period and about the basic underlying conditions and strategies for developments in urban and rural areas after 2013. The morning programme was concluded with a round-table in which project organisers presented ongoing urban and rural development projects, e.g. CityRegion.Net, URBAN PLUS, AreaM für den städtischen Bereich, and EnergieZentrum Lipizzanerheimat, Kraft. Das Murtal und Almenland für den ländlichen Bereich.
In the afternoon, the participants shared their experience in two working groups. The partner cities of CityRegion.Net also had the opportunity to present their local action plans developed in the course of the project and to report on their experience in dealing with local stakeholders.
In summary, all participants in the afternoon workshop saw co-operations in city regions, in whatever form, as positive, this being the only way to enable a concerted integrated "city-regional" development and thus react to the challenges (e.g. solution to questions of authority, overcoming common economic, ecological and social problems, and equitable distribution of burdens).
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