Ready for URBACT City Festival in June 2022? Six highlights to look out for
Edited on13 June 2022
This is THE event for EU cities! Whether you’ll be traveling to Paris, or following online, here are our top programme picks…
Elected representatives and urban practitioners from towns and cities across the EU are gearing up for the URBACT City Festival on 14-16 June 2022 in Pantin, Greater Paris, France. Participants will discover the soon-to-be-launched URBACT IV programme for sustainable, integrated urban development. They’ll find new partners and explore the best ways to tackle urban challenges linked to climate, gender inclusivity and the digital transition.
Gathering more than 70 inspiring speakers and contributors, #URBACTfest will also celebrate the successes of URBACT network partners in exchanging good practice and trialing new solutions together with local stakeholders. In fact, of the 450 participants representing over 240 towns and cities, 44% are directly involved in URBACT’s latest Action Planning Networks.
The event, hosted in a temporary venue on a former railway site, is set to be carbon neutral, reflecting the aims of the current French Presidency of the Council of the EU.
“Having the URBACT City Festival in person again is a wonderful opportunity for cities to meet and share how the last two years have affected them,” says Nuala Morgan, URBACT Head of Capitalisation and Communication. “We have a rich programme of sessions and I'm really looking forward to hearing how cities have tackled the multiple challenges facing them.”
Festival activities include diverse discussions, site visits, partner searches – and even a digital hackathon. Many sessions will be live-streamed for people unable to attend in person. So what can we look forward to? Nuala Morgan shares some top #URBACTfest features to look out for:
1. Inspiring people
Dynamic speakers and contributors from cities and organisations across Europe will share their experiences, expertise and lessons learned first-hand. On the main festival theme, ‘Green cities’, policymakers and city practitioners will discuss climate change, energy transition and the circular economy. Talks on ‘Inclusive cities’ will tackle homelessness, culture for all and inclusive policymaking. And ‘Connected and attractive cities’ sessions will explore innovation, digitalisation, mobility, economic transitions, and city branding.
One guest speaker to look out for at the Festival’s 14 June opening at La Cabaret Sauvage, is Prof. Carlos Moreno, father of the '15-minute city' concept, speaking via video link. A break-out session on the morning of 15 June will also explore “How to implement the doughnut economy’s model at city level?” with a video appearance from Kate Raworth, co-founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab and Senior Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.
2. Expert insights on tackling the most pressing challenges for EU cities
Panel sessions will give the floor to experienced city representatives and specialists on the Festival’s three main topics:
- Cities in the front line of the Climate Emergency, 14 June (6.30pm)
- Making the digital shift work for cities, 15 June (9.20am)
- How gender equality creates sustainable cities, 15 June (5.15pm)
All three panel sessions will be live-streamed.
3. How to welcome Ukrainian people to your city
What organisational and structural changes can cities make to welcome Ukrainian people fleeing their country? Drawing on examples from EU cities on the frontline (Dresden, Gdansk, Riga, Tallinn), discussions will focus on immediate measures, such as reception desks, centres, and hotlines, and steps to organise reception, information and service provision.
4. Site visits in the Paris Metropolitan area
On the morning of 16 June, groups of participants will head out for diverse ‘walkshops’ to encounter latest urban trends in the city itself. Here are just a few…
'Inventing Grand Paris' with the URBACT RiConnect network
This exciting tour is led by the Métropole du Grand Paris, and includes several 'Inventing Grand Paris' competition sites. The visit will take a close look at the challenges of one peri-urban site in the north-east of the Greater Paris Metropolis, and the specific actions being taken to improve transport integration, pedestrian access, economic diversification and quality of life. Partners will discuss the action plan they are developing for this area together with RiConnect, and emphasise the importance of multi-level collaboration.
Re-using construction materials with the UIA project 'Earth Cycle’
In Sevran, ‘Cycle Terre’ is an Urban Innovative Actions, UIA-funded project that promotes the re-use of ‘waste’ material, in this case the tons of earth removed during large-scale construction projects, such as the new train stations of Grand Paris.
Other local discoveries
Visits to interesting developments in the area surrounding the venue, including an exploration of the Ile Saint Denis Eco-neighbourhood with Plaine Commune.
5. Introducing URBACT IV!
Representatives from the European Commission, Committee of the Regions, and the URBACT Managing Authority, will set the scene with a look at the new urban dimension of EU Regional policy. Then, details of the new URBACT IV programme will be presented – in English and French!
This session will be live-streamed.
6. Partner search
The final afternoon is for networking and partner search, with information on what it means to be an URBACT partner or lead partner, and details of the ‘URBACT method’ with sessions on Integrated and Participatory approaches to local policymaking.
Meanwhile, an exhibition area will enable participants to get to know URBACT partners including UIA, the Council of Europe Development Bank, CEMR, Energy Cities and a ‘French Connection’ stand with France’s National Agency for Territorial Cohesion, the URBACT Managing Authority. A chance to explore further funding opportunities and links.
“URBACT city Festivals have proven to be exceptional moments for exchange, with new connections being made,” says Nuala Morgan. “This year’s Festival will be particularly valuable leading up to URBACT IV!”
The Festival will be streamed on URBACT's youtube channel, with EN-FR interpretation.
Follow #URBACTfest on Twitter.
Submitted by Amy Labarrière on