Special Report: Wide-ranging Discussions in Stockholm
Edited on09 October 2017
On November 25th, 320 city specialists met in Stockholm for the 2009 URBACT Annual Conference. The agenda included discussing the progress made by URBACT projects, sharing challenges and debating key current issues. Here are some pictures to relive this exceptional day.
Proud, happy SwedenEuropean Green Capital 2010, with a nod in the direction of all of URBACT's Swedish partners, which we met during our "Urban Journey to the Centre of Sweden".
Yes we can!
Manresa, in Spain. For him, "the knowledge economy is not about size. For example, computers are important for all businesses, whether they are in large or small cities."
- Telmo Faria, Mayor of Obidos in Portugal also says yes. "It is not about size. What counts is people’s talent. We do not want to become a large city, even though we could; we want to preserve our quality of life. In small cities, everything goes faster and citizen commitment is different. For example, a citizen launched the idea of creating a big chocolate festival in Obidos, which has now become a key event."
- How can you drive innovation in small and medium-sized cities?
- According to Clovis Sabau, who is on the Limousin Regional Council in France, "innovation can emerge from participative group processes involving communities of users. You have to find a way to link the various ingredients together, like in a marble cake."
- Emma Harvey, representative of ONE North East (UK), a Managing Authority linked to two URBACT projects, talked about "innovation connectors" set up in her region, which is marked by a strong industrial heritage: "They have to make the connection between key facilities, groups of firms, university and development research programmes, and programmes promoting teaching and access to work."
- For other participants, it is key to have a vision, a clear strategy, broad communication and strong leadership in the municipal council.
The URBACT Annual Conference was held at the Factory, a surprising nineteenth-century industrial building that once held an motor factory and has been renovated into a conference centre. You can read more about the Factory's history URBACT projects will have no tangible impact without the involvement of local stakeholders. How can you encourage this involvement and make it lasting? This is a key question and the object of an instructive Master-Class. Here are some excerpts.
"The success of our Local Support Groups comes from the relatively small size of our city: we did not need to have a lot of formal meetings and we favoured informal contact. You also have to be very careful about project viability to gain stakeholder trust. We chose a 'self-sufficient' model, inspired by the private sector, for our future employment agency. We hope to set it up by the end of the year. With the downturn, its role could be bigger than planned (Olympia Dimitriadou, city of Local Action Plan. The economic crisis is complicating things. For example, one of our work groups is made up of professors and teachers who planned on a series of initiatives with young people. But, in spring, we learned that schools were planning to reduce costs by decreasing the number of professors. That is not very conducive to creativity, even if things should improve next year. We have to fight the psychological effects of the crisis." (Eeva Bolin, city of Göteborg – Hammarkullen in Sweden, partner in URBAMECO)
"We do not have a tradition of cooperation and we are in the process of learning. We have to show our local partners why we need it and make them more aware. This is sometimes difficult, particularly with politicians. We started off on the wrong foot, by focussing on action. In reality, you first have to build a real group, with people who trust each other". (Dorota Lasocka, city of Kielce in Poland, partner in Cityregion.Net)
But URBACT is also…
Operakällaren, which opened in 1787, among the stands dedicated to URBACT projects, with people involved in the projects and a profusion of documents, and during the breaks that punctuated the day.
These are all signs that the URBACT community is alive, united and open to all those who want our cities to make progress. Let it be known.
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