Five times URBACT drove change for better cities

Cover URBACT 2022 end of year article

As the holiday season approaches, we fondly look back to the busy year we had. Take a ride with us and re-live 2022!

Remember all we went through and what still lies ahead. From events to milestones, scroll down to make sure you did not miss a single thing this year.


The URBACT City Festival came back – and in-person!


City Festival is back


Following an online edition in 2021, this year our flagship event has made its big return. Last June, under the sunny – and very warm weather – of Pantin / Greater Paris Region (FR), 480+ participants from all over Europe gathered to exchange and get inspired by each other. This edition of the City Festival was particularly unique, once it was our first carbon neutral event ever. The choice to pursue a more eco-friendly option came from the French EU Presidency, but also from URBACT’s willingness to deliver exclusively carbon-neutral events henceforth.

The 2022 City Festival has also had a very symbolic appeal to it. It marked two major milestones of the year: the first was the end of the last round of the URBACT III Action Planning Networks (2019 - 2022), while the second was the launch of the next programming period, URBACT IV (2021 - 2017). Both aspects have enriched the celebration and the overall content of the three-day event. They brought to light discussions around thematic issues, while showcasing how the – future – European landscape can create an enabling environment for cities to drive change.


With the beginning of new chapter came the end of URBACT III


The past edition of the URBACT Programme (2014 - 2020) financed 83 projects, composed by networks’ of cities. In total, 678 partner cities from 27 countries benefited from the URBACT Method. With a tailored-made learning and exchange journey, expertise support and capacity-building opportunities, beneficiary cities co-developed long-term visions and created their own good practices along the way. With a bottom-up and hands-on attitude, their success – and fail stories – are told in the format of articles, final products and other occasions to share knowledge. The last mile of this programming period has also left some room for experimentation: four pilot networks and initiatives are still running until the end of this month, under URBACT III budget.

Building on the experience from the Transfer Networks with cities understanding, adapting and re-using an URBACT Good Practices, 54 newcomer cities – out of a total of 91 cities that were involved – had the opportunity to transfer ideas and projects to their own local contexts. Seven original Good Practices that have led previous networks were invited to repeat their experience with a new round of partners. Likewise, five partners from the Transfer Networks also had the chance to share their “secret recipe” with other cross-boarder or surrounding cities, under a national initiative. At last, five Urban Initiative Actions completed projects were selected to try out URBACT’s transfer process with a small number of partner cities.

Yet, another pilot project will also wrap up its activities in 2022: the Global Goals for Cities network. This pilot follows on the structure of a regular Action Planning Network, but with a few novelties. With the support of CEMR and using the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities’ tool (RFSC), 19 city partners had the core mission of localising the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All these projects will feed the next programming period and the experience from each partner is proof of what future URBACT cities can achieve, even with short network lifespan.


The URBACT e-University brought funding at your fingertips


Funding at your fingertips


URBACT Universities are a core part of our diverse capacity-building offers that build up the programme’s reputation for enhancing skills. When it comes to strengthening capacities of city practitioners, URBACT has the tools and right content to support cities to go through the action-planning cycle, while putting into place participative and integrated measures. The 2022 e-University was no different. The three-day event focused in the necessary steps for a city to successfully implement sustainable strategies and ensure funds for the corresponding actions.

Although the e-University was closed to URBACT beneficiaries, all related content were made available to a wider audience via the URBACT Toolbox. There, urban enthusiasts can find a wealth of guidance and templates to help cities accessing funding opportunities. These tools were developed in the course of the year as a response to a popular demand: understanding how action plans and strategies can become a reality. The guidance on the subject of resourcing and financing will not become obsolete any time soon, this material will be particularly helpful for local authorities across the EU that wish to embark on new projects during the upcoming years (2021 - 2027).


Gender equality has proved – once again – to be in the centre of a just transition


Gender is a vital aspect to be taken into consideration when creating thriving cities and communities. It’s a transversal topic that encompasses many more urban issues than one might expect, so it comes as no surprise that #GenderEqualCities are among the key priorities of URBACT IV – alongside the digital and green transitions. On one hand, we aims at continuing to mainstream this theme at programme level; on the other hand, we will further encourage beneficiary cities to explore related actions at local level.

To cater to the need of more concrete measures for local authorities to get inspired, throughout 2022 we have delivered a series of products. First of all, a new version of the policy report Gender Equal Cities was released with brand new cases and examples – the original report came out back in May 2019. The programme has also launched four new training modules to help European cities implementing gender-responsive public procurement (GRPP) initiatives. Together with EIGE, URBACT has added to its Strategic Public Procurement Online Course six easy-to-understand videos, including two city cases from Vienna (AT) and the Basque Country (ES).


Last, but not least, we started getting ready for the next call for networks!


URBACT starts with [u]


We are closer than ever to the launch of the next URBACT call for Action Planning Networks on 9 January 2023. In different occasions during the year, we have presented the call: in the City Festival, the European Week for Regions and Cities among other events. Have you missed any of them? You can still learn all about the call by watching this recording here. Furthermore, since last October municipalities, agencies, metropolitan areas and local authorities have already started looking for potential partners.

Remember, URBACT starts with [u], so be sure share your ideas and look at other proposals at our Partner Search Tool!





Looking forward to 2023? Save the date for our webinars on the call for Action Planning Networks:
  • Action Planning Network label17 January, from 10.00 to 11.00 CET: call introduction
  • 19 January, from 10.00 to 11.00 CET: build a strong partnership
  • 7 February, from 10.00 to 11.00 CET: exchange and learning journey
  • 7 March, from 10.00 to 11.00 CET: submitting an application


In the meantime, take a look at what 2023 has in stock for you!




Submitted by URBACT on 19/12/2022