New URBACT book: ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’

Edited on 05/04/2023

The Creative SpIN Local Action Plan in Rotterdam

Paris, 24 January 2019 – A new publication by the European programme URBACT shares positive stories from 40 cities that took a more integrated approach to local policy-making while learning from EU peers in their ‘Action Planning Network’.

Reviving a town centre, welcoming migrants, re-using abandoned buildings, boosting entrepreneurship, engaging citizens… ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’ shows cities finding new ways to tackle diverse urban challenges, bringing long-term improvements.

It is about cities that have dared to experiment, that have succeeded in achieving results in the fields of social inclusion, economic development, urban planning, or greener ways of living,” writes Corina Creţu, EU Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy, in the introduction. “City-to-city cooperation is the best way to facilitate exchange, adaptation, implementation and up-scaling of good practices all over the world.”

Read the publication ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’

These stories will be really inspiring for any urban practitioner looking for simple ways to bring people together and make their cities safer, cleaner and more prosperous. URBACT has sparked community-led improvements like these in more than a thousand cities since 2002.” says URBACT’s Adele Bucella

The 40 cities range from Aarhus (DK) and its plan for collaborative citizenship, to Zagreb (HR) and its 11 new smart city initiatives. With URBACT’s support, each city formed a local group including officials, local stakeholders and urban experts, to co-create an Integrated Action Plan – many of whom contributed lively accounts to the publication. Meanwhile, cities also worked with up to 10 other partner cities in their URBACT network, including site visits and peer reviews.

Today, more than 66% of these URBACT cities have had their Integrated Action Plan approved, nearly 50% secured funding for it, and more than 80% of them have already started implementing it.


Locally-driven solutions

The new publication includes:

  • A message from Corina Creţu, EU Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy;
  • A clear summary of the URBACT method and its principles of horizontal and vertical policy integration;
  • Stories of locallydriven improvements in 40 EU cities, with solutions in nine key areas: urban mobility, jobs and skills in the local economy, reuse of abandoned spaces, climate adaptation, innovative public procurement, digital transition, inclusion of migrants and refugees, urban poverty, sustainable use of land;
  • Key information on the 20 Action Planning networks, including full partner lists.

Lasting impact

If we hadn’t joined MAPS I think we’d still be searching for one big aim, one big new reuse of the whole territory. And instead, the area must be split up, and different uses must appear. I think we’re now sure in the municipality that we’ve had the wrong approach over the past more than 20 years.
Ágnes Győrffy, Project Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Szombathely (HU)

As a result of URBACT, a network of associations and civic committees has been formed and consolidated in Casoria. Today even without a strong coordination of the municipal administration, they are carrying forward the ideas and methodologies shared during the sub>urban experience. This wasn’t just about a park; it helped us rebuild our local identity.
Enrico Formato, University of Naples external expert for Casoria (IT).

Visiting delegates had very powerful thoughts, and gave us the confidence to be strong in our desire to shape wider policy to tackle our city’s disadvantaged and neglected communities. We hope to have the support of this network to challenge politicians and decision-makers in Birmingham to ensure that a wider systems-thinking approach is continued, rather than reverting back to silo working.
Ravinder Bains, Birmingham City Council (UK)


Submitted by Amy Labarrière on 25/01/2019
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Amy Labarrière

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