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  • Healthy Cities


    Lead Partner : Vic - Spain
    • Pärnu - Estonia
    • Falerna - Italy
    • Anykščiai - Lithuania
    • South East Region of Malta - Malta
    • Alphen aan den Rijn - Netherlands
    • Loulé - Portugal
    • Farkadona - Greece
    • Bradford
    Discover the Healthy Cities Generator!


    • SEP 23-25 > Kick-Off Meeting | PHASE 1
    • FEB 03-04 > Final Meeting | PHASE 1
    • JUN 16 > Activation Meeting | PHASE 2
    • OCT 14 > Reorganisation meeting | PHASE 2
    • FEB 17 > Transnational Meeting | Lifestyle
    • MAR-MAY > Deep Dives meetings
    • JUN 30 > Transnational Meeting | Greening
    • NOV 24 > Transnational Meeting | Mobility (Mid-Term reflection)
    • GEN-MAY > City 2 City meetings
    • JUN 01 > Final Meeting | Phase 2

    Integrated Action Plans

    Loulé Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Loulé - Portugal
    Vic Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Vic - Spain
    Pärnu Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Pärnu - Estonia
    Bradford Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Bradford - United Kingdom
    Anykščiai Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Anykščiai - Lithuania
    Integrated Action Plan South East Region of Malta

    Read more here !

    South East Region of Malta - Malta
    Farkadona Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Farkadona - Greece
    Alphen aan den Rijn Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Alphen aan den Rijn - Netherlands

    This Action Planning network aims to deepen the relationship between health and the urban environment, planning actions that focus on improving the population’s health, while developing a rigorous health impact assessment around it. Urban Planning can become a health generator on many grounds. This partnership reflects the multiplicity of possible approaches to tackle the issue: green areas, mobility, social cohesion or promotion of sports are some examples.

    From planning to action
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    LEAD PARTNER : Amsterdam - Netherlands
    • Sofia - Bulgaria
    • Tallinn - Estonia
    • Dublin - Ireland
    • Vilnius - Lithuania
    • Riga - Latvia
    • Lisbon - Portugal
    • London

    Integrated Action Plans

    Making culture accessible to everyone, and everyone part of culture

    Amsterdam is a world city for culture, but a lot of stories in our city are still untold, unrecognized or undervalued. Access to culture is not always assured for everyone. The city of Amsterdam wants to broaden and diversify arts and culture in the city. Read more here!

    Amsterdam - Netherlands
    Vilnius city municipality Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here!

    Vilnius - Lithuania
    Culture for Tallinn

    Read more here!

    Tallinn - Estonia

    Read more here !

    Sofia - Bulgaria
    ACCESS Culture for All Integrated Action plan RIGA - All for One: Better Access in Northern Riga

    Read more here !

    Riga - Latvia
    ACCESS – London: Shifting the dial on equal access

    Read more here

    London - United Kingdom
    Place of Culture: Promoting Community Cultural Development in Santa Clara

    Read more here !

    Lisbon - Portugal

    The ACCESS Action Planning Network believes that a more inclusive culture has the ability to facilitate greater understanding of individuals and their lives, increase empathy towards others and develop an appreciation of the diversity of human experience and cultures. Culture plays an important role in finding solutions to the complex issues of today's urban metropolises. Eight European capital cities collaborate on inclusive cultural policies to open up culture to all citizens. The aim is to bring about a real shift in cultural policymaking and as a result ensure access to culture for all citizens.

    Culture for all
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  • Making integrated urban development more manageable

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    How can cities improve their plans for integrated urban development?


    By recognising its complexity and breaking it down into its component concepts cities can better manage integrated urban development. One of the findings of the recent study of URBACT cities’ Integrated Action Plans (IAP Study) was that cities need to fully understand, but also break down, the complexity of ‘integrated urban development’ in order to better take on the challenge of systematically improving their approaches.

    Integrated Urban Development: a challenging concept

    Previous efforts by URBACT to communicate what 'integrated urban development' means have typically focused on the ideas of ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ integration. These are useful concepts for enabling a general understanding of the topic, but the IAP Study found that practical efforts to both improve and assess the integration of an urban action plan require more detailed definitions.

    ‘Horizontal integration’ potentially incorporates: diverse policy areas/sectors; different locations and spatial relationships; the diversity of local stakeholder groups; and the balancing of economic, social and environmental objectives. Thus, the apparently simple question “is this action plan horizontally integrated?” becomes extremely difficult and complex to answer in practice. The various dimensions mean that a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is not enough.

    Meanwhile, ‘vertical integration’ between levels of governance can refer variously to the engagement of decision-makers and stakeholders, the alignment of strategies and the mobilisation of funds from different levels. Once again, the question of whether an action plan is vertically integrated or not becomes complex and nuanced and does not lend itself to a simple answer.

    In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that the IAP Study found that cities were often struggling to process and communicate the complexity they were dealing with in trying to deliver integrated approaches to urban development.

    The Integrated Action Plan of Medina del Campo (ES) from the CityCentreDoctor network describes the revitalisation of the city centre “as an integrated process. Integrated because it includes social, economic, environmental, cultural and institutional areas.” This definition does not really do justice to the level of integration demonstrated. In fact, the IAP shows coordination between sectors, across locations and spatial relationships, between levels of governance and with stakeholder groups, as well as between economic, social and environmental aspects.

    The need for a clear and detailed definition

    For some IAPs then, the lack of a clear and detailed definition of ‘integration’ affected their ability to fully communicate the complexity of their plans. However, for many, the lack of such a definition also increased the risks that certain aspects of integration would be missed.

    In conducting its analysis, the IAP Study found that the picture was extremely varied across and within the IAPs. Sometimes aspects of integration were clearly addressed. Sometimes they were addressed, but not clearly or not fully. Sometimes they did not seem to be addressed at all. And when they were missing, it was not clear if this was an oversight or an intentional decision not to focus on an aspect not considered to be of importance.

    For example, we can consider the IAP of Södertälje (SE) from the AGRI-URBAN network. This is generally an excellent example of an integrated action plan, which is presented extremely clearly and demonstrates various aspects of integration as well as good practice in stakeholder engagement and transnational exchange. However, unlike some other IAPs, it does not mention cooperation with neighbouring municipalities in developing actions. It is not totally clear if this potential aspect of a fully integrated approach to food policy was not considered or not deemed relevant.


    Meanwhile, the IAP of Strasbourg (FR) from the BoostINNO network does not set out actions that are integrated across sectors or that address different locations or spatial relationships within the city. This might seem like a major omission. However, given that its whole approach is to foster social innovation across all aspects of work and across the whole of the city, it is perhaps both understandable and legitimate that its actions are focused on governance aspects that lack sectorial and spatial dimensions.

    What these two examples show is that it is not enough to simply observe the presence or omission of one of the aspects of integration in order to assess the quality of the integration. It is important to also have an understanding of whether this aspect of integration is relevant and/or a priority in the specific case being addressed. Integrated action plans should ideally explain their choices clearly.

    Six aspects of integrated urban development

    The IAP Study strongly advocates that cities carry out a more systematic approach to developing their approaches to integrated urban development. This will not only enable cities to build a fuller picture of the complexity of integrated urban development, but also to do so in a way that is manageable in practice – by dealing with each of its component parts in turn.

    The IAP Study identified six aspects of ‘integrated urban development’ that all towns and cities should consider when working to improve the integration of their approaches in practice. These six aspects were mainly identified by separating out the various dimensions of horizontal and vertical integration demonstrated by cities. They also include the overarching elements of: the need for sustainable approaches and the involvement of stakeholders in implementation (in addition to consultation in the planning).

    Six aspects of integrated urban development

    1. Sustainable urban development - actions address all three pillars of sustainable development in terms of economic, social and environmental objectives
    2. Sectorial integration – addressing the full range of policies/sectors of activity, including infrastructure, transport, employment, education, green spaces, housing, culture…
    3. Local spatial integration – coherence of actions in different locations within the city and considering overall spatial coherence within and across locations and neighbourhoods
    4. Territorial integration – coherence and complementarity of actions and policies implemented by neighbouring municipalities
    5. Multi-level governance – actions are planned coherently at different levels of governance, covering local (district, city), regional and national levels
    6. Stakeholder involvement in implementation - the full range of relevant stakeholders are engaged in the implementation of planned actions

    Systematically addressing this list can help ensure that cities do not forget to give environment and social objectives equal billing in their plans and to demonstrate this clearly. It can encourage them to think about spatial dimensions within their city and integration beyond the scope of their municipality – whether with neighbouring municipalities or different levels of governance. The list can also ensure that cities do not forget to include stakeholders in the implementation of their plans – beyond a simply consultative role.

    Practical differences in applying integrated approaches

    Working systematically through the aspects of integrated urban development does not mean that each city has to plan actions on each or become somehow formulaic in its response. The systematic approach means only that cities need to consider improving their integration in each aspect and make a conscious decision on how to address it. This is why a quality planning process is such a crucial pre-requisite to effective integrated urban development and also why no two integrated action plans will ever be the same.

    For example, in the IAP of Szombathely (HU) from the MAPS network, the actions show a good level of integration of sectorial and spatial dimensions focused within the city limits, principally on the site of the former military barracks that is targeted. The plan balances economic, social and environmental aspects and engages stakeholders well. However, the study found no evidence of coordination with neighbouring municipalities and little evidence of multi-level governance. This might be justifiable, but the plan might be stronger if it explicitly addressed such potential.

    A very different example is provided by the IAP of Cluj (RO) from the REFILL network. The focus of the network on vacant spaces leads the city to prioritise governance aspects that will facilitate temporary use. This focus on governance rather than physical interventions leads to very different strategic choices in developing its integrated action plan. For example, there is no particular sectorial dimension to the actions planned – rather, such aspects will need to be considered in the actual implementation of temporary use that the action plan seeks to facilitate.

    A final example here is the IAP of Antwerp (BE) from the sub>urban network. The plan presents actions across multiple relevant sectors, with a strong spatial dimension and specific actions to collaborate with neighbouring municipalities. This fits quite logically with the focus of the network on the urban fringe. However, the IAP is less clear about its specific approach to multi-level governance and what potential this might have to improve the approaches developed.


    What seems clear from the IAP Study is that there are no objectively right or wrong answers when it comes to developing more integrated approaches. The topic addressed has a major impact on the aspects of integration that cities need to prioritise, with the strongest difference being between topics that are focused on a specific physical space (e.g. revitalisation of a city centre or former military site) and topics that address a way of working (e.g. supporting social innovation or promoting temporary use). However, a more systematic approach to addressing each aspect of integration can ensure that no dimensions are missed and that cities are able to show and justify their strategic choices.

    Focusing on the journey towards more integrated approaches

    A concluding message for cities and those that work with them is that this approach to integrated urban development is relevant and can be applied to all cities, no matter their starting point and previous experience with integrated approaches.

    When addressing any topic or challenge, every city can reflect on the six aspects of integrated urban development and ask itself where it can improve the integration of its approach and add value. For cities that are new to integrated approaches or new to a topic, this might mean choosing some limited priority areas of action rather than attempting to do everything at once.

    The IAP of Klaipeda (LT) from the Gen-Y City network shows an approach where such clear strategic choices were made. It states that “ULG Group members decided to narrow the initial version of the Integrated Action Plan and to focus on the main objective and related measures for attracting and retaining talents in Klaipeda”. The strong focus of its actions on supporting freelancers aims to fill a particular gap identified in the existing service provision. The ongoing challenge for the city will be to add additional dimensions to make the approach ever more integrated over time.

    More experienced cities can still look at their existing approaches and identify areas where the integration can be improved. Maybe they have missed one dimension in their plans so far. Maybe some aspects could be dealt with in more depth, integrating yet more stakeholders or additional sectors or improving the multi-level governance. Most action plans could improve the rigour with which they show the balance between economic, social and environmental objectives.

    There is no such thing as a perfectly integrated action plan. The important thing, wherever a city is on its own pathway, is to be constantly seeking improvement and reflecting with stakeholders on where it can still further improve the integration of its approaches, using the six aspects of integrated urban development as a guide.


    For more information on cities’ differing approaches to integrated urban development in practice, see the 7 illustrative case studies of URBACT cities’ Integrated Action Plans, along with the full IAP Study report, findings and recommendations.

    From urbact
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  • Welcome to the European Playful Cities!

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    Games offer unique opportunities for engaging stakeholders in contemporary cities says Ileana Toscano. While European cities face challenges of ageing, climate change and social exclusion, we need to find enjoyable ways to co–create solutions. The URBACT Playful Paradigm transfer network is based on the use of “games” for promoting social inclusion, healthy lifestyles and energy awareness, place-making and economic prosperity.

    What’s in a game?


    An easy tool as a “game” can help cities to face contemporary challenges. Ageing population, migration, social exclusion and climate change are the main challenges tackled every day by European Cities. Cities need to define enjoyable and easy tools for engaging citizens and stakeholders. A Paradigm based on the use of “games” and “gamification” could be the answer.

    The Municipality of Udine (IT) has developed an urban practice focusing on the use of games as flexible, innovative place-making paradigm for fostering an equitable and democratic society. Games are used as vehicles for addressing healthy lifestyles and energy awareness. Games foster the inclusion of migrants, the involvement of elderly people and promote a better relationship between parents and children.

    Games in Udine have become an urban policy priority that enables citizens’ participation and a peaceful civic environment. The ‘Playful Paradigm’ initiatives are part of a comprehensive strategy that the Municipality has been implementing for years under the umbrella of the Healthy Cities Project (World Health Organization) and the European Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.

    “Playful Paradigm” is one of the 25 Transfer networks funded by URBACT. It aims to adapt and reuse the good practice of “games for fostering inclusion, health and sustainability” in other 7 European cities: Cork (IE), Klaipeda (LT), Esplugues de Llobregat (ES), Larissa (EL), Novigrad (HR), Bratislava (SK) and Katowice (PL).

    Why are games so important for cities?


    Paolo Munini, chief officer for gaming activities of Udine Municipality, says “Games are essential for child development. Games are also important for elderly people because they maintain the physical and cognitive activity and prevent mental cognitive decay. Playful activities are powerful tools when applied in cities. Games can be used for working in deprived neighbourhoods with local community or in schools with students. They can trigger the participation of civil society, engaging citizens and local associations.

    The gaming approach could open opportunities for urban renewal. This is why Udine Administration uses “games” as a flexible co-created place-making paradigm. This innovative gaming approach works with participation to stimulate responsible change, and promote an healthy environment, by turning urban settings into incubators of sustainability and wellbeing (physical, mental and social/relational).

    In Italy the importance of games was recognized by the National Law 328/2000 (“La legge di riforma dei Servizi Sociali - Dal centralismo sociale al federalismo solidale”) that introduced the possibility of launching the Ludobus-initiatives in cities. The “Ludobus” is a van full of games moving through city neighbourhoods and bringing playful activities making games available to local population. In Udine the Ludobus began as a grass-root initiative thanks to a voluntary organization and later turned into a permanent activity, managed and funded by the Municipality. In Italy the Ludobus-initiative was a starting point to raise awareness on the value of games and to implement the first ‘gamification’ policies and actions in many cities.

    The Toy Library


    “Games are tools for social inclusion” says Furio Honsell, member of the Regional Assembly of The Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and Mayor of Udine for 10 years (until May 2018). “We decided to establish a permanent Toy Library in Udine, which could also play the role of a hands-on science museum. The idea was to have a meeting space for families, elderly people, children, for all. The Toy Library has been a successful initiative and has provided answers to concrete needs of citizens to be active subjects and not mere passive spectators. The permanent toy library is a truly place for empowerment.

    In 2012 the Municipality of Udine decided to make the Ludobus-initiative a permanent experience, opening a “public Toy Library” in the city centre. Since 2013, 40.000 people have visited it. It is fully accessible and there is no age, gender or language restriction. It has become the emblem of social inclusion, cognitive stimulation, entertainment and lifelong learning in the city.

    During these years, the Municipality has invested about EUR 150 000 a year for the maintenance and equipment of the infrastructure and staff.

    Udine leads the way


    Since 2010 the City of Udine has been the leading city of the Italian Playful Cities Movement (GIONA), coordinating and sharing knowledge and experience with about 30 cities in Italy willing to implement ‘gamification’ strategies. Udine is also a member of the national association “Ali per Giocare”, which gathers private and public organisations at national level.

    On 25 November 2017, Udine launched the Italian National Games Archive aiming to establish the first Italian classification of traditional and modern games. The cataloguing activity of the Archive will rely also on crowd-sourcing in the coming years. The National Games Archive has been financed by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia with an amount EUR 400 000 (for the period 2016-2020), according to the Regional Law n. 30/2017 ‘Regulations for promoting the right to play and to engage in play, physical and recreational activities’. It is worth mentioning that the Archive’s location was meaningfully chosen to be in Udine’s regenerated slaughterhouse.

    Moreover, Udine has a rich yearly calendar of events where games and ‘gamification’ strategies are meaningfully put into practice. The events are very popular across the region and bring many visitors to Udine. For example: CamminaMenti – Move your minds - run in community centres for dementia prevention and inclusion of elderly people, as well as the Energy in Play annual Fair, the World Games Day, Pi Day, Darwin Day, The library of living books, etc.

    Can gaming control gambling?


    A healthy gaming habit prevents the problem of gambling” says Munini. “The Municipality of Udine is developing a new project funded by Friuli Venezia Giulia Region to counteract the problem of gambling and promoting healthy games

    Gambling is increasing, especially among youths around Europe. According to the GuardianAbout 370,000 (12%) children in England, Scotland and Wales have gambled in the past week, the commission found. (...) They spent an average of £10 on gambling a week, more than a third of their £28 income from work or pocket money, with 8% claiming to have spent more than £40. Almost 1% of children aged between 11 and 16, or about 25,000, are defined as problem gamblers, with a further 36,000 at risk of developing a problem.

    The Municipality of Udine has been promoting an innovative project to fight gambling. Bars, Pubs and restaurants have been engaged by providing a tool-kit of “healthy” games replacing “slot-machines”. Unfortunately, the latter are more and more present in public venues, especially in deprived urban areas. Low income households are more deeply affected by gambling, which contributes to further deprivation. The introduction of healthy games in such areas can therefore be seen as an important form of prevention and protective factor for the most disadvantaged.

    Furio Honsell sums it all when he says that “to those who claim that games can be excellent tools for something else, I like to state that games are pointless and they don't have ulterior motives, much as music, mathematics, poetry, and love. But they can bring forward excellent fruit.

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  • Two cities united by a love of good food

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    As URBACT opens its first call for Transfer Networks here’s a story of how a Good Practice from one city was adapted and transferred to a completely different local context.


    Overlooking rolling countryside just 9 miles from Barcelona, the city of Mollet del Vallès always had a tradition of eating well and protecting the land. But there was never a city-wide food policy linking producers and consumers.

    That was until 2013 in the midst of economic crisis when the City Hall set up an International Relations Department to look for innovative ideas on public services and networking opportunities through EU programmes like URBACT. At that time, Södertälje in Sweden, a Good Practice city leading an URBACT pilot transfer network called ‘Diet for a Green Planet’, was seeking Transfer Cities just like Mollet del Vallès with whom they could share their good practice. 

    The city of Södertälje, with 95 000 inhabitants, has a reputation for promoting sustainable local farming as a solution for feeding people while reducing agricultural pollution. Unlike Spain, Sweden has a national law that puts municipalities in charge of public canteens. With a municipal Diet Unit employing 250 people – including cooks – the city buys food directly from producers. Providing 24 000 free school meals a day, they have reduced meat consumption by 30% since 2010, and reduced leftovers by up to 40%. About 60% of Södertälje’s schools are supplied with local, seasonal, organic food.

    (Discover 97 other URBACT Good Practices in light of the new Transfer Networks)

    How Mollet set out to adapt and adopt Södertälje’s approach is a story of how innovative urban policies can travel quickly and have an impact across borders thanks to URBACT.

    (Read more about URBACT’s call for Transfer Networks)

    By joining the ‘Diet for a Green Planet’ beginning of 2014, Mollet agreed to be part of a city network with Södertälje, and other two transfer cities  Łomża (PL) and Molėtai (LT) to explore how to put local food production to the benefit of the population. As required by URBACT, Mollet’s Head of EU and International Department, Albert Garcia, set up an URBACT Local Group, a local multi-stakeholder group composed of 14 people, an elected representative, council officers, school principals, cooks and local producers to meet at local level and to visit the other network partners. 

    (Find more about URBACT Diet for Green Planet)

    After their first trip to Södertälje to discover if and how Mollet could transfer the Diet Policy to its local context, feelings were mixed. “When we came back from Sweden, the suitcases we were carrying were packed full of ideas,” says Garcia. “But we also had doubts. Our cities were so different  in terms of food tradition and management, human resources, budget : where to start transferring and adopting what we’d learnt? How would we make it work?...

    In the Spanish town of Mollet, where the whole task of supplying and running public canteens is outsourced to private companies, this central approach to food was unheard of. “Reading about Södertälje, I was amazed to discover how diet could even exist as a concept for a city council! For us, Södertälje’s Diet Policy and Unit was like a UFO!” recalls Albert Garcia. “The municipality wanted to create markets for local food as foreseen in the city strategy for 2025 but the public canteens had never been seen as a solution for agri-urban growth! Yet, we have this fantastic agro-ecological park of 734 hectares, Gallecs, making up 50% of our territory, a culture of enjoying good food, and a climate for growing tasty produce year round” says Garcia.

    Just after the first visit to Sweden, Mollet carried out a baseline study , an URBACT network requirement, with its first ever quality audit of the food served in its public canteens. The results were double-sided: while children and parents seemed happy with the quality and taste, the audit revealed that much of the food that children were eating had been frozen, pre-prepared and brought in from far off places. Some said: “Why change the system if people are happy and we don’t have any complaints?” But Södertälje’s inspiring results,  and the prospects of local economic growth and a healthier way of living in Mollet pushed the council forward to reform. 

    Adapting rather than copy-pasting a Good Practice

    As it was impossible for Mollet to set up a Diet Unit purchasing directly local food in canteens, the city adapted Södertälje’s Good Practice to its own standards and specificities.  Council officers Nuria Duno and Antonio Martinez transformed the old public procurement system to a new model, this time based on quality rather than price to transform supply, enabling hundreds of children to eat food from nearby farms – without increasing prices for families. This new public procurement system was drawn up in 2014 based on Södertälje’s ‘Diet for a Green Planet’ principles – Tasty and healthy food, Organically grown, Less meat, More vegetables and wholegrain, Seasonal food, Locally produced, Reduced food waste.


    Rather than choosing companies on price alone as in the past, under the new model the council sets a fixed price for running its canteens, and then uses a points system to select and monitor the winning company based on quality. Tendering companies are compared according to their scores on areas such as: Nutritious and tasty food (factors here include “Not use pre-cooked and fried food”, “At least 10 different vegetables per week”); Ecological foodstuffs; and Local fresh produce (which includes “average distance from vegetable suppliers <30 km (19 miles)”).

    It wasn’t easy to find good companies that could meet these criteria. We also needed legal advice to comply with EU public procurement regulations. This was a bit complicated,” says Martinez quietly. “We’ve made a few adjustments. Other towns are now showing interest, as well as private schools outside our direct control.”

    Some of these adjustments were on costs. Organic fresh produce from small producers costs more than industrially produced, re-heatable meals. To keep prices down for the families, the council has limited other costs, by reducing the cooks’ working hours for example, and encouraging providers to lower their profit margins.

    Benefits for the Transfer City and its local community

    Today in Mollet,  children from three public kindergartens and from the two municipal centres for people with disabilties eat healthy lunches, prepared with lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, carrots and other veg from Gallecs – the 700-hectare agro-ecological park on the city’s doorstep. A steady supply of other fresh food, including meat and fish is ensured thanks to an agreement with a regional association. Parents in three of the 10 publically run primary schools have followed suit to transform their canteens, and yet more schools are showing interest – in Mollet and beyond. The food served in Mollet’s public canteens is now, on average, more than 80% organic, and 100% seasonal. All the vegetables travel less than 30 km (19 miles) from field to fork. Even the bread is baked locally with flour from stoneground spelt, an ancient variety reintroduced in the agricultural park of Gallecs thanks to the research programmes that the Consortium of Gallecs and the University of Barcelona run together. Surplus vegetables are processed in the agro-ecological park’s shared kitchen, right next to the farm shop and a quaint stone chapel – now a much-coveted wedding venue.

    All this activity means more jobs and economic development. In Gallecs, there are about 20 local producers today, some of them employing about twice as many people as in 2013, and numbers are growing. Gallecs now counts 7 exploitable hectares, compared with 2 hectares before the project started, and local producers now supply 14 public canteens in other cities of the region. “We’re attracting young people back to the fields. There are a lot of new initiatives, all on a small scale,” says Gemma Safont, who manages the “Consortium for Gallecs”, a body set up in 2005 by Mollet, the surrounding cities and the Catalan Government, to encourage organic farming, protect the environment, and improve lives. Growing up here on her family’s farm, Safont has watched the area become a haven, not just for plants and wildlife – but also for some 750 000 people who visit every year from surrounding cities.

    Changing habits and overcoming difficulties

    Adapting the good practice of local, seasonal organic school meals from Södertälje to Mollet required a change of rules and attitude.

    For Garcia, the secret was to find “allies”, get the right people on board from the start. As every URBACT city, Mollet set up its own URBACT Local Group of enthusiastic teachers, local farmers and cooks, politicians, kindergarten managers, and civil servants- mirroring the one already existing in Södertälje. The council also linked up with the Ecological School Association of Catalonia, who gave advice on reorganising canteens, and carried out audits. “This URBACT Local Group was the perfect platform for bringing local actors together. The sense of belonging, a joint commitment to a shared cause… it’s the only thing making these changes sustainable,” says Garcia.

    Exchanges and visits between Södertälje and Mollet brought a feeling of responsibility and change of mindsets in decision-makers. After a three-day visit of a political delegation from Södertälje, Josep Monras, the Mayor of Mollet, realised the potential of using food as a way of reaching environmental, health and economic goals. Food suddenly became the mayor’s favourite subject.

    There have been a few hiccups along the way, including cultural differences about the virtues of meat. Some parents are unhappy that meat is sometimes replaced by vegetable protein. One mistake, dubbed “the great burger crisis” by Garcia and his colleagues, was to serve each child with half a large burger: people thought they were being swindled by authorities putting cost-cutting above their children’s health.

    Similarly, in the Gallecs-based Can Vila, a school for 157 children of all ages with special needs, cooks have to be particularly careful about allergies and other dietary requirements – some children are fed via gastric tube. Autistic children in particular found it unsettling to adjust to wholegrain pasta and bread, and meals without meat. Troubles eased slightly when lentils were made to look like meat. The principal, Montse Tarres, says the shift to new ‘green diet’ menus could not have gone ahead without close support from the parents.

    Overall, teachers and principals here, and at a local nursery, say the system is working. With food – sustainable production and healthy eating – as an integral part of the educational programme, the experience has been “very positive” for the families, and professionals.

    Mireia Oliva, principal of the pioneering Can Besora school, has been part of the local group all along, visiting Södertälje and helping Mollet Council. It’s given her energy to renew her school’s commitment to healthy, local food. Has this exchange been a useful experience, with positive effects on the children? “Molt, Molt, Molt” – A lot, a lot, a lot.

    Benefits for the Good Practice city

    For Södertälje, exchanges with Mollet was not just a one-way transfer process. Thanks to meetings and study vists to Mollet and the other two transfer cities, Södertälje itself benefitted from the ideas, suggestions and experience coming from their peers and reflected on how to improve and upgrade their own policy.

    The main partner in Södertälje was Head of Public Meals, Sara Jervfors. She was particularly impressed by the relaxed, positive approach in Mollet, the nutritional potentials of delicious year-round Mediterranean food, and the strong culture of sharing and enjoying meals.


    Mollet were really advanced in the way they cooperated with the vegetable farmers. They had good ideas for linking schools with local producers. We learnt a lot about the concept of a consortium for sharing management of agricultural parks – and now we’re developing one too”, said Jervfors.

    Thanks to these mutually beneficial exchanges, Mollet and Södertälje are now part of another URBACT network, Agri-Urban, to foster even more the economic potential of sustainable local food chains.

    (To apply for an URBACT Transfer Network as a Good Practice or Transfer city, consult the Terms of Reference for the Creation of Transfer Networks and the Guide to Transfer Networks)

    The future after the end of the URBACT network

    Mollet has made progress since the Diet for a Green Planet exchanges in 2013-15. The local group has evolved and now meets regularly to discuss municipal actions related to food. This ‘food policy group’ helped set up the city’s 2015 diet policy- voted in Swedish-style, with cross-party consensus- was a real milestone for the council and a clear asset for the city’s future. Today, they are continuing the city’s strategy to turn Gallecs into a major local supplier of seasonal, organic produce.

    Part of this is a project to convert an old farm into an e-commerce storage and delivery centre next to the school for children with disabilities. Having secured investment at local and regional level, the idea is to scale up local food businesses, giving some adapted jobs to people with handicaps.

    There are also plans to link the food and health sectors, with Mollet Hospital, to fight diseases associated with poor diets and obesity, and encourage diets with less sugar, salt and meat, and more vegetables and non-processed foods.

    In the council offices, Antonio Martinez reflects on what would be different if Mollet hadn’t met Södertälje. “Everything!” he exclaims. “There’s a chance we’d be right where we were five years ago, facing budget cuts, but no way to improve our services. We’ve managed to introduce something new – without increasing costs.


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  • Specific approaches needed to implement policies for the creative sector

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    CREATIVE SPIRITS is a network of nine European cities, funded by the European Union in the frame of the URBACT III Programme. The nine CREATIVE SPIRITS partner cities have a common need to improve the implementation of their existing integrated urban strategies/action plans by including novel approaches linked to creative and cultural industries (CCI) – creative places, people and businesses. The joint policy challenge for the network is to better facilitate the “creative ecosystem” to be able to attract (more) creative entrepreneurs and boost creative entrepreneurship in dedicated urban areas.


    The objectives of CREATIVE SPIRITS partners are focused on exchanging practices and ideas on how they could implement their “creative” strategies more successfully. The general implementation challenges defined by the URBACT programme will serve as a perfect basis for joint learning and knowledge transfer.

    In the Baseline Study and during the discussions held in the framework of the City Visits, these general challenges are connected to more specific challenges which are typical of the creative sector. These specific challenges have also been intensively discussed during the kick-off meeting of the project. They are strongly inspired by the findings in some relevant case studies from creative projects implemented in several European cities.

    Defining, updating and fine-tuning actions

    Though, each CREATIVE SPIRITS partner city has an integrated strategy or action plans, almost all of them face the challenge to turn these rather general strategies into operational action plans. Many partners are faced with the fact that as the environment of the urban development is constantly and quickly changing, the strategies can hardly follow them since policy making is generally a rather slow process. Therefore, this challenge can be translated into two main questions. The first one is how a creative development strategy can be translated into an effective action plan using fully integrated working methods and participatory approaches, and the second one is linked to how an already existing (approved) action plan can be updated in order to meet new requirements without losing commitment. It has also been considered as crucial that in order to create an early and firm committment from all stakeholders that they should include smaller (sometimes symbolic) projects which can have an effect in creating points of energy and initiating a snowball effect in the target area. For instance, municipalities can formulate a policy to tackle interim use in vacant places and pay attention to make empty shops or flats in creative locations available below-market prices (see picture of a co-working place for creative in Athens below). Another idea which can easily be implemented is the use of street-art on blank walls to create an outdoor gallery reflecting on the place. It is also in most cases very effective to build in a support model for creatives to build up their own platform which could serve as an inspirational engine for innovative ideas.  


    Learn more about Kerameikos Metaxourgeio which is a deprived area lying close to the frequented inner-city areas of Athens (Greece) having beautiful but dilapidated old housing stock. Currently the district is under regeneration: a young real estate developer (a change-maker) who wants to redevelop the area into a cultural district created an association of people for planning and invited the public to submit their ideas for the future of the district.


    Tackling policy spill-overs through integration

    Another advantage of an integrated style of working is that their will be a sound basis for boosting so called creative spill-overs. This could be very well organised and orchestrated by the establishment of an intermediate agency like it is the case in Rotterdam. They have set up a Creative Commission  which has the mission to focus on the added value of CCIs in the Rotterdam economy rather than the sector’s internal growth in terms of revenues or turnover (Creative SpIN Final Report, URBACT, 2015). Also, the development of De Ceuvel in Amsterdam is a very good example of  integrating environmental aspects in the implementation of their action plan for giving space to creative sector developments (see the pictures of DeCeuvel below).



    De Ceuvel (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) is a city playground for innovation and creativity, an experiment in which co-creators achieved sustainability in a tangible and integrated way.

    Refreshing our evidences

    For a successful and effective implementation process of the creative strategies, the setting up of an indicators & monitoring system is a crucial aspect. Although  the strategies and action plans of the CREATIVE SPIRITS partner cities were mostly prepared within EU programming processes (meaning that they include indicator and monitoring systems) measuring performance and success of the creative sector development policies is a rather complicated exercise also due to the lack of an internationally agreed definition of outputs and results . It is a real challenge for CREATIVE SPIRITS partners to deal with this aspect and to jointly define indictors which are well connected to the specific character of the creative sector. The key question in this regard mainly refers to the measurement of soft factors. Creative districts have often been developed as a slower step-by-step process, based on local resources and local demand. In this process, experimentation is a key factor, but how to measure experiments? How to measure CCIs on district or city level as targeted statistics are mainly available on national level. A particularly useful approach to the audit of local cultural-creative assets is the technique known as cultural asset mapping which will certainly be an element to be used while discussing this challenge in the future project meetings.

    Do it with people under a “letting them go responsibly” attitude

    The involvement of local creatives is of course crucial in implementing strategies for the creative sector. All partner cities have a great interest in further developing knowledge and specific skills to develop long-standing, reciprocal partnerships with stakeholders and to mobilise local people. Furthermore, cities need further knowledge on how to identify and make the most of local “catalysts” (the most innovative people) enabling them to act as change-makers on the long-term. Finally, deeper understanding of the importance of co-creation in connection with CCIs is necessary to create entrepreneurial friendly strategies. The main stakeholders in creative-based urban strategies must be the creative people (artists, craftsman, designers, makers, architects, culturpreneurs, start-upers, officers from public organisations), but inhabitants, youth, university students, real estate owners/agencies are also important actors.
    The stakeholder engagement challenge is very particular for the creative sector. Creative people are mostly rather “independent” and they must be approached in a rather individual way. The golden rule is that “invitation is stronger than intervention”. It also means that the municipality should be familiar with the unique interest of the different groups and should “speak their language” (see picture of Macao initiative below).



    Learn more about how Municipality of Milan engaged creative people in Macao!
    Instead of project-specific stakeholder grouping, the municipality of Milan created a platform for related co-creating urban policies. The negotiation board - which is not only an attempt to negotiate formally with squatters - is a way to include grassroot organizations directly in urban policymaking. Macao was able to have the negotiation board adopt the legislative tool of “istruttoria pubblica”: through this tool, citizens can directly contribute to policies: they can formulate draft regulations and the city council must discuss and vote on them.

    Diversifying the funding portfolio

    CREATIVE SPIRITS partners would like to learn more about innovative funding solutions which are especially applicable for supporting cultural-creative industries.  Crowdfunding can be a rather good tool for creative start ups. The public sector could play a role here in support to set up business plans and for “last mile” financial contributions to the crowdfunding campaigns.  A good example in this regard is the Creative City Berlin platform which is used as a marketing tool for collecting crowdfunding for specific creative-cultural goals . Also the method of a Social Marketplace  can provide an environment in which creative entrepreneurs can find funding solutions. Although this method is used for NGOs, it can be used also for smaller creative entrepreneurs as well (as Creative Marketplace). Similarly, the Social for Impact Bond method can be modified in order to promote local creative-cultural activities creating a Creative-Cultural Impact Bond.

    Designing smart public procurement frameworks

    Regarding the challenge related to public procurement, the most important issue is that while procurement regulations are mostly intended to ensure accountability and minimize risk, the process leaves little room for experimentation or creative engagement with entrepreneurs. Innovations are needed in procurement to correctly value creative services.

    Setting up Public Private Partnerships for delivery

    Based on the discussion of partner cities, classic Public Private Partnership (PPP) schemes are less relevant with regards to the network’s policy challenge. However a strong cooperation between the real estate sector and the public sector is very important. It would be a task for the city to find and discuss smart solutions on how the real estate  sector could be engaged in the process of creating opportunities for creatives to settle themselves in existing (sometimes unused and empty) shops and buildings in the target areas. Public/private cooperation can provide networking facilities, like the one in Rotterdam. Rotterdam’s Creative Factory, established in 2008 in an abandoned grain silo, has created a raft of new full-time jobs in one of the most deprived areas of the city and has provided a working space for over 180 small companies over the last five years.


    The objective of the CREATIVE SPIRITS network is focused on creating an environment in which entrepreneurship in the sector can get a boost by tackling the above described challenges. These are what the partners have in common. The sub-objectives and sub-challenges however will vary, which creates a more precise basis for future knowledge transfer and learning in the implementation phase of the Creative Spirits network. This is the case with the question on which extent the support to creative entrepreneurs should be based and should contribute to the rehabilitation of deprived areas and to social cohesion in these areas. Discussing common CREATIVE SPIRITS goals to be implemented in different cultural and governmental settings and by including local people strongly contributes to a better understanding of the value of EU cooperation.





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  • Diet for a Green Planet

    Lead Partner : Södertälje - Sweden
    • Mollet del Vallès - Spain
    • Łomża - Poland
    • Molétai - Lithuania



    The Diet Unit of Södertälje municipality has had a key role in the development of this practice by successfully implementing the ideas broadly in the public kitchens under strict budget conditions.

    A key part of the practice is that it has challenged attitudes around food and shown a potential to be a powerful tool for combating climate change and other global ecological challenges – and at the same time raise the general quality of the food served, promote health and empower personnel – within the same strict food budget. This makes public meals a driver for sustainable development.

    Through the projects the Diet Unit has been involved in and through the continuous close cooperation with the BERAS Secretariat the development of the practice has had a continuous connection to research and global network resources and especially Baltic Sea Region. Thanks to this the Diet for a Green Planet concept stands on a solid ground.

    The basic principles of Diet for a Green Planet are:

    • Good and healthy food
    • Organically grown and ideally from Ecological Recycling Agriculture farms
    • Less meat, more vegetables and wholegrain
    • Seasonal food
    • Locally produced
    • Reduced waste


    Project launch

    Project completed

    A few questions to Sara Jervfors, head of the Diet Unit in Södertälje and a driving forces behind the implementation of Diet for a Green Planet in Södertälje.

    Sara Jervfors, Head of the Diet Unit in Södertälje Municipality


    What motivates you to be part of the URBACT adventure?

    "I am proud of the concept that we have developed in Södertälje. It promotes - and implements - sustainable development and it engages people that normally do not get the possibility to make a real difference through their trade, like kitchen staff in our public schools.

    The simple fact that it is a good concept makes me want to spread it to other parts of Europe. But the URBACT project also gives us possibilities to evaluate and develop the concept even further."


    Who would you like to benefit from the work achieved in your project?

    "Ideally everyone! More concretely I hope that kitchen staff will benefit from getting more possibilitites, more creativity and more freedom.

    I hope that students and teachers will benefit from getting healthier food together with great pedagogical tolls, that politicians will benefit by contributing to their cities taking a stand on issues like farming and food production, and that local farmers and businesses will benefit from an increased focus on local, organic and seasonal food."

    Food and agriculture accounts for a key part of global environmental challenges including climate change, biodiversity, nitrogen and phosphorus. Diet for a Green Planet is a way for every person who eats food to engage and become part of the solution.

    Diet for a Green Planet TN logo
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