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New Series of URBACT Thematic Reports: Cities of Tomorrow – Action Today

Edited on

23 June 2015

Shrinking cities, motivating mobility mindsets, more jobs, supporting young people through social innovation, building energy efficiency, against divided cities in Europe. You want to learn more on these main urban challenges? Discover the final results and findings of the 6 URBACT thematic capitalisation workstreams in the series of URBACT Thematic Reports "Cities of Tomorrow – Action Today". Prefaced by the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, these publications provide evidence of sustainable urban development strategies pulling together the environmental, social and economic pillars of the Europe2020, while also adopting an integrated and participative approach. 

Background: 6 URBACT Thematic Workstreams

In October 2011, the European Commission published a far-reaching and quite visionary report called Cities of Tomorrow – Challenges, visions, ways forward (European Commission, DG Regional Policy 2011). The economic and financial crisis had clearly intensified many urban problems and exposed the limits of existing policies. In particular, the limits of sectoral policies in seeking to preserve the polycentric, balanced, socially inclusive and culturally sensitive European model of urban development had become clear. An integrated, cross-sectoral and territorial approach, based on two decades of European experience on urban policy distilled into the urban acquis, was called for.

In this context, the aim of the report was to examine the possible impact of a series of major trends on different types of European cities in the coming years. The report identifies four main threats to the European urban development model: demographic decline, threats to economic development and competitiveness, growing social polarisation and the depletion of natural resources.

But the Cities of Tomorrow report leaves open most of the questions about what cities can do to put their potential into practice. This is the task taken up by six "workstreams" launched by URBACT at the beginning of 2012. Each workstream deals with a theme which corresponds with one of the threats identified by Cities of Tomorrow and, over the period of a year, has brought together evidence from URBACT projects but also from a wide range of stakeholders from all around Europe.

The end result of this collective reflection was the production of six thematic reports. The first two of these reports respond to the underlying problems of the competitiveness of European cities and their growth and decline. Two more reports deal with the growth in both social and spatial polarisation that accompanies recent urban development. The two last papers deal with the urban contribution to some of the major threats to the environment:

Final Results: 6 Thematic Reports on Key Urban Challenges

You can get a quick overview of the content of these 6 papers from the short abstracts below as well as from the paper "URBACT II Capitalisation Key Messages" which highlight some of the main points they make – with a particular focus on those that are relevant for cities concerned with supporting integrated sustainable urban development in the next round of EU programmes.

  • More jobs: better cities – a framework for city action on jobs

    This paper from the URBACT "More Jobs: Better Cities" workstream provides a framework for city action on jobs, which aims to help cities support and grow more and better jobs for the recovery. It is aimed at practitioners and policy-makers at the city level, as well as those at national and international levels, concerned with urban employment and skills policy and practice.

  • Supporting urban youth through social innovation: stronger together

    This paper examines how cities can promote social innovation to address chronic social challenges. Although our specific focus is young people, the conditions identified for promoting social innovation have wider relevance. This URBACT "Supporting urban youth through social innovation" workstream envisages a pivotal role for municipalities, as the form of democratic government closest to citizens. We see an opportunity for them to reinvent their role to become catalysts and innovation brokers.
  • Against divided cities in Europe

    This paper was produced by the URBACT "Against divided cities in Europe" workstream. The aim of the group is to help European cities to rethink existing policies concerning spatial and social segregation in urban areas. The paper intends to provide an overview of the concept of urban segregation and related public policies that have been studied and explored within URBACT. The objective is also to bring forward some of the most interesting practices from URBACT partner cities working on integrated sustainable development, which have implemented innovative policies against segregation.
  • How cities can motivate mobility mindsets

    This paper from the URBACT "Motivating mobility mindsets" workstream focuses on the ways in which cities can facilitate the transition to a new urban mobility, which is more fundamentally linked to the quality of space, to a new mindset, and is built on integration between policy priorities and multi-stakeholder buy-in. New mobility solutions for the Cities of Tomorrow will have to be found through a "do-more-with-less" strategy.
  • Building energy efficiency in European cities

    This paper states that cities can lead in the reduction of CO2 emissions and the fight against climate change. Buildings are the largest energy-consuming sector in the EU, and offer the largest cost-effective opportunity for savings.
  • From crisis to choice: re-imagining the future in shrinking cities

    This report calls for a new realism with regard to urban regeneration in cities affected by shrinkage. Drawing on a wide range of case studies and building on the most up-to-date debates about the causes and consequences of urban shrinkage, the URBACT "Shrinking cities: challenges and opportunities" workstream focuses on the development of sustainable strategy options for shrinking cities.

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