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  • Sipping coffee in Sligo: How a commitment to community and attention to detail turned things around for downtown—one cup at a time

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    Members of the Cities@Heart network

    The year is 2013 and few residents of Sligo, Ireland have heard of a BID, or Business Improvement District. Stakeholders in the local commerce sector operated independently and seldomly in cooperation with the County Council. Fast forward to December 6, 2023 when a group of 26 individuals from ten different countries all over Europe touched down in Sligo to glean best practices for city centre management. Sligo’s remarkable success story provided a fitting backdrop for the first transnational meeting of the Cities@Heart URBACT Action Planning Network.


    Members of the Cities@Heart network and meeting attendees

    From urbact

    Formed in 2023 and piloted by the Greater Paris Metropolis as Lead Partner, the network Cities@Heart brings together 10 different local governments working to create tools for the improvement of city centres. The first network-wide gathering since the URBACT IV launch in 2023, this transnational meeting was a new step in the network journey, an opportunity to exchange and to observe the policies of host partner Sligo County Council and Sligo Business Improvement District. Following 10 different Baseline Study Visits conducted by Lead Expert Mar Santamaria Varas, this meeting also represents the network’s shift from the preparatory to activation phase.

    Network Map

    Meeting in the Land of Heart's Desire

    The first transnational meeting provided project partners the opportunity to obtain feedback on their baseline study visit in the form of the presentation of an overarching methodology to ground the study and set the course for the following two years of inter-european collaboration.

    To kick off the first morning of workshops, participants shared their experiences in the realm of public-private partnership. In Portugal, the budgetary risks taken to build one of the most ambitious road networks in Europe, both per capita and in area, led to some citizens being distrustful of the public-private paradigm. In Krakow (PL), the city approached the Wesoła District’s revitalization with workshops on prototyping solutions for shared spaces to build a sense of community and responsibility for its development among citizens. In Celje (SI), a vacant storefront was left to the use of local stakeholders, providing a successful brick-and-mortar testing ground for new ideas or projects. Back in Sligo, the public-private partnership has proved to be fruitful: the business perspective encourages an objective data-driven approach and the public sector can intervene to implement holistic policy improvements.

    Project partners participating in a morning workshop

    If we can make it in the city centre, we can make it anywhere

    A city centre is a microcosm of social functions and represents the most intricate iteration of urban complexity. While each project partner experiences their city centre in a different way, the network Baseline Study represents the structure of all city centers using a matrix contrasting 7 challenges with 5 indicators.

    From metropolises like Greater Paris (FR) or Krakow (PL)  to smaller cities like Fleurus (BE), for each partner, the diverse challenges may be more or less acute depending on the local context and the means available. Indeed, an imbalance in one of these topics or challenges can greatly aggravate the local context in the city centre, as evinced by the diagrams below.

    Network tool

    To showcase Sligo’s strengths and best practices, the meeting focused on the management of data and local commerce in the city centre. Sligo is a lovely town nestled in a blustery corner of northwest Ireland, minutes from the Atlantic Coast and known for being a literary “land of heart’s desire” with poet W.B. Yeats as a native son. Yet, none of these attributes bring to mind words like “innovation” or “world renowned”. Public policy in Ireland is centralised in Dublin and towns “west of the Shannon” are considered out of the purview of the national stage. In fact, Sligo had historically been “left behind” by urban development schemes deployed elsewhere in the Republic of Ireland.

    Urban solutions with a human approach

    This brings us back to the coffee anecdote… After living and working abroad in the U.S.A. and Australia, Sligo native Gail McGibbon decided to return home. In order to start what would become Ireland’s fourth BID, Gail McGibbon went to work in a seemingly slow way: meeting for a cup of coffee with likely every single business owner in the town, having no other overt objective than sharing a chat. In her seminal work, The Death and LIfe of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs posits, “there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street." While this declaration has taken on a “big brother” connotation since the book’s publication in 1961, the principle rings just as true today. In every city centre, there is a need to be aware of what is happening in the street and with our neighbors or shopkeepers to make sure all are safe and provided for. Indeed, neighborliness proved to be the perfect ingredient to kick-starting the town’s transformation.

    As Chief Executive Officer Martin Lydon explained, in a post-pandemic society, Sligo is leveraging cultural shifts to become a destination for young professionals, students and families seeking proximity to nature and a high level of services. Looking to attract a pool of potential inhabitants keen on finding property in the more affordable western coast of the country, Sligo has invested in a place branding campaign, infrastructure to increase connectivity and the tourism sector, inaugurating their National Surf Centre and a network of cycle paths.

    Turning the local economy around

    Now in 2023, the Sligo BID is healthy and counts 758 members. The BID and Sligo County have worked together tirelessly to introduce innovative measures for data collection, property management, tourism policy and event nightlife. Sligo has developed a Welcome Ambassador Programme, won the Purple Flag Award for night time economy, the label of Coach Friendly Destination and continues to attract international visitors curious about the town’s policies. In the end, Sligo’s shortcomings would eventually become strengths. The lack of urban sprawl meant that the town and county could promote closeness to nature and life at a human scale. The local counter-culture turned out to be a good thing for the health of the town’s high street district.

    Project partners visit the city centre

    The human-ness at the origins of Sligo’s strategy is well reflected in the national Irish Town Centre First strategy which is based at the LGMA and places pragmatism and open dialogue at the forefront. One of the measuring tools of the programme, the Town Centre Health Check Programme, is a public document that serves as an objective evaluation of the town’s progress in implementing best practices. National Coordinator Mairead Hunt presented the country’s policy at the transnational meeting in Sligo and highlighted three core principles: understanding the place, defining the place and enabling the place. The national meeting of Town Regeneration Officers shies away from speeches by elected officials and focuses on peer-to-peer learning.

    Soft approach, hard data

    And yet, Sligo’s strategy didn’t stop at a friendly chat. The county and BID got to work monitoring, measuring and adapting their strategies. Brían Flynn, Town Regeneration Officer, presented the town’s creative use of data in developing their policies. In 2023 the Irish business platform GeoDirectory released data on commercial vacancy in the country. At 25.4%, the rate in Sligo was listed as the highest in the country. In order to curb the negative press and further investigate the truth behind this report which seemed incomplete to local officials, the town decided to collect its own data in the form of a comprehensive land-use policy survey. The study is still being carried out but the town has already gained valuable knowledge on the vacancy profile of downtown property and 16 landowners have discovered the national Croí Conaithe scheme for refurbishment of vacant buildings.

    Brían Flynn presents Sligo’s data policies

    In turn, after witnessing Sligo policies first-hand through a series of site-specific visits and presentations, the network conducted a workshop on the subject of information gathering to address issues all along the chain of data management: identifying data sources, collecting data and data governance. While obtaining data can be simpler than expected, data-driven policy requires vision and advanced planning in order to identify independent sources of information and a successful, manageable tool for translating data into actionable proposals for city improvement.

    Network partners enjoy a performance of traditional Irish music at the Tourism Bureau

    An inaugural meeting for the network and for new URBACT participant Sligo, the event was opened by Cllr. Gerard Mullaney, Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council and attended by Irish National URBACT Point Karl Murphy and Kristijan Radojčić of the URBACT Secretariat. The meeting was drawn to a close with a hike to glimpse the breathtaking vistas at the summit of the Knocknarea rock formation, providing a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic coast and the Sligo town centre.

    Network partners hike the Knocknarea rock formation

    With one meeting completed and the new year well on its way, the URBACT Cities@Heart network has three transnational meetings planned in Granada (ES), with the Quadrilatero Urbano Association (PT) and in Cesena (IT). Ensuing transnational meetings and those of Urban Local Groups (ULGs) will allow the network to share learnings and experiment small-scale actions over the next year.

    Network members :

    • The Greater Paris Metropolis, France
    • The City of Cesena, Italy
    • The City of Granada, Spain
    • The City of Osijek, Croatia
    • Amfiktyonies, a business development organization representing the City of Lamia, Greece
    • The City of Celje, Slovenia
    • The City of Fleurus, Belgium
    • The City of Sligo, Ireland
    • The Krakow Metropolis Association, Poland
    • The Quadrilátero Urbano Association, Portugal




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    From urbact

    Trenutno so odprte prijave za laboratorij o spreminjanju navad za zdrav in trajnosten prehranski sistem, ki se bo odvijal 21. in 22. marca 2024 v francoskem mestu Mouans Sartoux. Prijavite se tukaj!


    EU laboratoriji za mesta (EU City Labs) so dogodki za izmenjavo znanja, ki jih skupaj organizirata URBACT in Evropska pobuda za mesta (EUI). Vsak laboratorij je edinstvena priložnost za spoznavanje dobrih praks mest, razvitih v okviru programa URBACT in pobude EUI ter načinov, kako so jih prilagodila in prenesla druga mesta. 

    Udeleženci bodo odkrili, kako v različnih nacionalnih okoljih uvesti lokalne projekte za trajnost hrane in energetski prehod. Dogodki bodo tudi priložnost za spoznavanje gostiteljskih mest in izmenjavo mnenj z meščani o njihovih dejavnostih vključevanja in učnih skupnostih.


    Laboratoriji za mesta o lokalnih prehranskih sistemih


    Vsak laboratorij za mesta o lokalnih prehranskih sistemih bo priložnost, da se udeleženci iz vse Evrope bolje seznanijo s celostnim in sistemskim pristopom k lokalnim prehranskim sistemom ter se poglobijo v dobre prakse in znanje gostiteljskih mest z razpravami in obiski na terenu.

    Niz dogodkov vključuje:

    - EU laboratorij za mesta o spreminjanju navad za zdrav in trajnosten prehranski sistem: 21.−22. marec 2024, Mouans-Sartoux (Francija). Gostiteljsko mesto Mouans-Sartoux je partner v partnerstvu za hrano v okviru urbane agende EU in nekdanji vodilni partner dveh URBACT mrež Biocanteens. V teh mrežah so prenašali svojo dobro prakso občinskih menz, v katerih strežejo skoraj 100-odstotno lokalno, ekološko in sezonsko hrano, v druga okolja. Odkrijte, kako lahko spreminjanje navad vodi k bolj zdravemu in trajnostnemu lokalnemu prehranskemu sistemu! Prijavite se tukaj!

    - EU laboratorij za mesta o javnem naročanju bolj lokalne, sezonske in trajnostne hrane: 29.−30. maj 2024, Liège (Belgija). Več podrobnosti in možnost prijave bo na voljo kmalu.

    - EU laboratorij za mesta o trajnostni rabi zemljišč za pridelavo hrane: lokacija in datum bosta objavljena kmalu.


    Laboratoriji za mesta o energetskem prehodu


    Laboratoriji o energetskem prehodu se osredotočajo na elemente uspešnega in pravičnega energetskega prehoda ter delijo zgodbe in dobre prakse mest, ki so v ospredju tega prehoda. Več informacij najdete tukaj.

    Serija dogodkov vključuje:

    - EU laboratorij za mesta o energetskem prehodu #1: ta dogodek je potekal 23. in 24. novembra 2023 v Viladecansu (Španija) in se je osredotočil na prakse lokalnih učnih skupnosti, izzive pri vzpostavljanju energetskih skupnosti in na to, kako lahko pristop upravljanja na več ravneh pomaga oblikovati boljša mesta.

    - EU laboratorij za mesta o energetskem prehodu #2: lokacija in datum bosta objavljena kmalu.



    Naslovna fotografija: Elaine Casap on Unsplash

  • Razpis za mreže za prenos inovacij

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    URBACT je objavil razpis za mreže za prenos inovacij. Prijave so mogoče do 20. marca 2024. Nacionalna URBACT točka 25. januarja 2024 ob 9. uri organizira spletni informativni dan.

    From urbact

    Od 10. januarja do 20. marca 2024 je odprt razpis za mreže za prenos inovacij (Innovation transfer networks − ITN). Cilj teh mrež je prenos inovacij, ki so bile financirani v okviru pobude UIA − Urban innovative actions, v druga mesta v EU, Norveški, Švici, Albaniji, Bosni in Hercegovini, Črni gori, Severni Makedoniji in Srbiji.

    Mesta, ki so med letoma 2016 in 2023 prejela sredstva UIA (Urban Innovative Actions), bodo delovala kot vodilni partnerji mrež. Partnerska mesta bodo imela možnost inovacijo, ki jo je vodilni partner razvil v okviru UIA, prenesti v svoje okolje.

    Sodelujete lahko na primer s Tilburgom, Verono, Dunajem in Aveirom. Vsi vodilni partnerji in njihove inovativne prakse so objavljeni na orodju Partner Search Tool. V dveh letih boste bolje spoznali njihovo prakso in jo imeli možnost preizkusiti s pilotnim projektom. V tem času boste oblikovali tudi naložbeni načrt za implementacijo inovacije v vašem mestu oziroma občini.

    Vse informacije v zvezi z razpisom najdete tukaj.



    Info dan, posvečen mrežam za prenos inovacij, je kontaktna točka za Slovenijo organizirala 25. januarja 2024 na spletu. Predstavitev si lahko ogledate tukaj. Predstavitev Evropske pobude za mesta pa tukaj.

    Za vsa vprašanja vam je ekipa nacionalne URBACT točke z veseljem na voljo na ali po telefonu 041880165 (Petra Očkerl).






    Get Involved!

    Get ready for the Innovation Transfer Networks!




    Pripravite se: Mreže za prenos inovacij


    Od 10. januarja do 20. marca 2024 je odprt razpis za naslednjo generacijo mrež za prenos inovacij (Innovation transfer networks − ITN). Cilj teh mrež je prenos projektov, ki so bili financirani v okviru pobude UIA − Urban innovative actions, v druga mesta v EU, Albaniji, Bosni in Hercegovini, Črni gori, Severni Makedoniji in Srbiji.

    Za kaj gre?

    Mesta, ki so med letoma 2016 in 2023 prejela sredstva UIA, bodo delovala kot vodilni partnerji mrež za prenos inovacij ter bodo svoje izkušnje, znanje in nasvete posredovala mestom, ki želijo izvesti podoben projekt. Z uporabo URBACT-ove metode prenosa, ki obsega razumevanje, prilagajanje in ponovno uporabo, bodo projektni partnerji ustvarili globlje, tridimenzionalno razumevanje izvirne prakse. Mesta v teh mrežah bodo izboljšala svoje zmogljivosti za oblikovanje inovativnih rešitev na celosten in participativen način ter za iskanje finančnih sredstev za izvajanje.

    V dveh letih bodo projektni partnerji z organiziranim procesom medsebojne izmenjave in učenja sodelovali pri pripravi prilagojenega naložbenega načrta za izvajanje inovacijskega projekta. To bo potekalo ob podpori strokovnjakov programa URBACT in ob podpori skupine lokalnih deležnikov v vsakem mestu (URBACT Local Group), ki združuje različne profile znotraj in zunaj lokalne uprave.

    Koraki na poti do prenosa

    URBACT-ova metoda prenosa je sestavljena iz različnih korakov, ki tlakujejo pot do prenosa. Prvi pomemben korak je študija prenosljivosti. Ta je sestavljena iz podatkov o temi projekta UIA, ki so zbrani po obiskih vseh partnerjev in pogovorih z mestno upravo, izvoljenimi predstavniki in tudi drugimi pomembnimi deležniki zunaj mestne uprave. Vsi zbrani in analizirani podatki predstavljajo izhodiščno stanje za vsako mesto, hkrati pa kažejo tudi prenosni potencial vsakega mesta s prednostmi in slabostmi, ki jih je treba še izboljšati. Ta študija prenosljivosti je izhodišče za nadaljnje aktivnosti mreže in učnih točk pred dejanskim prenosom.

    Drugi koraki vključujejo aktivnosti za krepitev zmogljivosti, ki jih organizira sekretariat programa URBACT. To so na primer usposabljanja o orodjih ali tematski posveti in dogodki, kot je URBACT Festival, ki je vir navdiha za mesta.

    Nazadnje je glavni oprijemljivi rezultat vsakega projektnega partnerja naložbeni načrt, ki vsebuje vsa potrebna sredstva in korake, ki jih je treba upoštevati pri uvedbi UIA prakse (delno ali v celoti).

    Kaj pa denar?

    Prenos inovativnih urbanih rešitev zelo redko deluje po metodi »kopiraj in prilepi«. Za pravo preobrazbo je še vedno potrebna določena stopnja prilagajanja in ponovne uporabe. Za ponovno uporabo so potrebni viri − ljudje, strategije in predvsem finančna sredstva.

    Novost prihajajočih omrežij je, da bodo lahko mesta testirala ukrepe z majhnim proračunom, preden jih vključijo v naložbeni načrt.

    Kje se lahko prijavite?

    Če je ta članek vzbudil vaš interes, vas bo morda zanimalo, kako se lahko vključi vaše mesto oziroma občina.

    Če ste občina, ki želi prenesti prakso iz projekta UIA, lahko tukaj najdete vse potrebne informacije.



    Vabljeni tudi, da se pridružite informativnemu dnevu, ki ga organizira nacionalna URBACT točka za Slovenijo. Info dan, posvečen mrežam za prenos inovacij, bo 25. januarja 2024 ob 9. uri na spletu. Prijavite se lahko tukaj.



    Get Involved!

    Get ready for the Innovation Transfer Networks!



  • Aidan Cerar

    Aidan is very well experienced in participation process design, management and implementation.

    Aidan has often applied participation methods to different contexts, from on street placemaking to design of the strategic documents. Most of his activities in terms of participation were related to mobility – diminishing the place for cars and supplying people with more places they can use, identify with and cocreate.

    Aidan was involved in preparation of placemaking mechanism Zunaj, established in the City of Ljubljana:

    Aidan was in charge of the design and implementation of participation process for the design of Sustainable urban mobility plan of the City of Ljubljana.

    Available for Ad-hoc expertise missions

    Expert can perform Ad hoc expertise missions at network and programme level in relation to:


    1. The design and delivery of (transnational) exchange and learning activities


    2. Thematic expertise:
    [Participative governance, Urban design]


    3. Methods and tools for integrated and participatory approaches:
    > Integrated and participatory design of strategies
    > Sustaining stakeholder engagement and translating strategies into actions"

  • Igor Kos

    I want to share my experience in circular economy development on local and regional level. EU has chosen with EU Green deal transition towards Circular economy as one of key development for future Europe and since this is not yet on level of development needed for systemic change to become day to day practice I want to help all those local and regional authorities and stakeholders to get on this path. They do not have to make all 'learning by doing it' experience as I did and with my help they could manage faster development of circular economy models for governence and for local businesses.
    Thru my work on EU level, regional and local level, presentations on conferences and implementation of EU funded projects in different programs I can offer range of experience for Urbact networks.

    I am active as European Climate Pact Ambassador and in CCRI pilot region Podravje.

    Available for Ad-hoc expertise missions

    Expert can perform Ad hoc expertise missions at network and programme level in relation to:


    2. Thematic expertise:
    > Circular economy

  • Falling in love with downtown: the URBACT Cities@Heart network is here!

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    As a part of the URBACT IV European Programme, ten European urban areas come together to form Cities@Heart, a network dedicated to sharing best practices and innovations for improving city centre management.


    Osijek, Croatia

    From urbact

    Having a chat with your neighbourhood baker, running into an old friend, finding all you need in one place: these are just some of the reasons why we feel so attached to our city centres. However, today in the 21st century, city centres are facing more than just a little competition. From the rise of big-box stores and franchises to the omnipresence of online commerce, downtown areas have lost some of their edge. A result of urban sprawl and rising property values, the spatial fragmentation of our cities further strains the resilience of the high street. Amid all these challenges, city centres are well worth understanding, defending and improving. That’s where the URBACT Cities@Heart Action Planning network comes in.

    A programme supported by ERDF funds from the European Union, URBACT promotes sustainable urban development in Europe’s cities, both big and small. This year marks the beginning of URBACT IV, the fourth iteration of the programme with the launch of 30 Action Planning Networks throughout Europe and IPA countries. Harnessing an understanding of governance and recognizing the transverse coordination between the public, private and civic sectors as a driver for change, Cities@Heart partners will work together with a data-driven approach to plan, monitor and evaluate the implemented policies in the urban core. For the next 2.5 years, Cities@Heart will mobilise ten European urban areas. Network partners will work together to understand the way city centres function and create new monitoring tools to be used in city centre improvement initiatives.

    The Greater Paris Metropolis (Métropole du Grand Paris, France) coordinates the network in the role of Lead Partner. With a strong track record in downtown revitalisation policy, The Greater Paris Metropolis is a public entity representing 131 cities in the French capital region including the city of Paris. Endowed with extensive experience in local economy, architecture and urban planning, Barcelona-based Mar Santamaria Varas will assist the network as Lead Expert.

    The ten network partners include:

        The Greater Paris Metropolis, France (Lead Partner)
        The City of Cesena, Italy
        The City of Granada, Spain  
        The City of Osijek, Croatia
        Amfiktyonies, a business development organisation representing the City of Lamia, Greece
        The City of Celje, Slovenia
        The City of Fleurus, Belgium
        The City of Sligo, Ireland
        The Krakow Metropolis Association, Poland
        The Quadrilátero Urbano Association, Portugal

    Celje, Slovenia

    Each partner in the network is facing their own challenges: loss of inhabitants to the peripheries or the metropolitan areas, underdeveloped local commerce networks, conflicts generated by the intensive use of public space, the transition to walkable and carless environments, gentrification and over-tourism, gender equality and inclusion... Yet, all partners can agree on one thing: city centres are unique places and not just because they hold a certain affective charm: they truly are the lifeforce of our urban societies. Keeping the heart of downtown healthy is key to ensuring the vibrancy of local economies and the well-being of inhabitants.

    During the network’s lifespan, project partners will have the opportunity to travel throughout the European Union to see first-hand examples of city solutions driving change for better cities as they take part in transnational meetings hosted by the different project partners. To kick things off, the URBACT Secretariat hosted Summer University in Malmö, Sweden this past 28-30 August. Here, project partners met for the first time to discuss the framework of their networks, building capacity and learning more about the URBACT methodology for better cities. 

    Over the course of the autumn months, Lead Expert Mar Santamaria-Varas has travelled with the Greater Paris Metropolis to visit the ten project partners spread out across the European Union. From Poland to Greece, from Croatia to Portugal, the recent mobilities have provided a wealth of insight for this network of urban areas. The first transnational meeting of the network is planned for 6-7 December in Sligo, Ireland. After completing the Baseline Study Visit with Project Partners, the findings will allow the network to go from knowledge to action, laying out the roadmap for the next two years.

    With activities well underway, Cities@Heart is off to an exciting start. Check in regularly with the LinkedIn Page and the URBACT network webpage to stay up to date on project mobilities and findings!

  • Cities@Heart: an URBACT Network proposing solutions for city centres, the testing ground for addressing future urban challenges

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    Baseline Study visit in Charenton-le-Pont, France

    In spite of urban sprawl and a franchise economy, city centres are on the rise! Cities@Heart is here to defend proximity and mixed use, making downtown more accessible and appealing for new generations.


    Baseline Study visit in Charenton-le-Pont, France

    From urbact

    Cities@Heart is an URBACT Action Planning network bringing together ten urban areas from all across Europe. With three different time zones, contrasting demographics and over 12 official languages, the Cities@Heart network draws upon a diverse pool of urban professionals, civil servants and citizens dedicated to improving their downtown areas. Taking the form of an observatory, the network employs a broad approach to improving city centres. Rather than focusing on one aspect of local economy or urban planning, Cities@Heart is working to develop a tool to measure factors contributing to the success of city centres in places as diverse as Sligo, Ireland or Lamia, Greece, two of the project partners.

    A network to rethink public policies, governance models and decision-making tools for city centres

    As a response to this multifaceted challenge of city centre management, Cities@Heart proposes the creation of a shared methodology applicable to different types of urban contexts. Relying on a bottom-up approach integrating data management, this accessible, user-friendly framework will support decision-making processes as well as the implementation and efficiency of cross-cutting sustainable urban policies.

    The Cities@Heart methodology is based on five fundamental pillars:

    Governance: exploring existing models of town centre management (public vs. private, formal vs. informal) and new paradigms of participatory agreements among stakeholders in the form of multi-level partnership

    Integrated Public Policies: deploying policies that cut across multiple policy domains (housing, public services, mobility, public space, commerce, etc.)

    Decision-Making Tools: integrating data and indicators to support the analysis, formulation, and monitoring of implemented actions

    Sustainability: ensuring urban centres can adapt to climate change despite facing greater difficulties in comparison to the rest of the city (such as scarcity and limited space in public areas, a poorly maintained built environment, household incomes incapable of coping with transformation, etc.).

    Inclusion: providing optimal living conditions for all residents (regardless of gender, age, or background) and promoting personal autonomy through inclusive care

    Lamia, Greece

    The ten network partners include:

        The Greater Paris Metropolis, France (Lead Partner)
        The City of Cesena, Italy
        The City of Granada, Spain  
        The City of Osijek, Croatia
        Amfiktyonies, a business development organisation representing the City of Lamia, Greece
        The City of Celje, Slovenia
        The City of Fleurus, Belgium
        The City of Sligo, Ireland
        The Krakow Metropolis Association, Poland
        The Quadrilátero Urbano Association, Portugal

    The Cities@Heart Baseline Study

    Within the context of the URBACT methodology, each Lead Partner must conduct visits with the different partners comprising the network. These study visits allow the Lead Partner and Lead Expert to better understand the local context for each project partner all while revealing the commonalities shared across the network. During this phase, from June to December 2023, each partner in the network had the opportunity to host a visit in order to highlight their best practices but also their challenges: gentrification and over-tourism, adaptation to climate change, overuse or conviviality in the public space, improvement of local commerce networks and integration of new habits of consumption, creating a sense of belonging and identity, coordination between the public and private sectors or bolstering efforts for more inclusion and gender equality in the public space.

    Over the course of the Baseline Study, the network has also identified innovative solutions to these challenges in addition to methods for capacity building and scaling actions: collaborative models of town-centre management, data observatories and sectorial indicator tools, strategies to renovate listed buildings, greening initiatives for the public space, monitoring of tourism, revitalisation of vacant premises, night-life economy initiatives, creation of new commercial polarities around local markets or enlivening the city centre through festivals or citizen-based initiatives.

    Contextual Examples from the Network

    City centres have undergone significant changes in the past century. To understand the context of Cities@Heart, it is important to provide a brief historical background. With the advent of industrialisation, the early 1900’s witnessed the rapid growth of cities in Europe. These new metropolises developed and  gradually endowed themselves with new, more modern infrastructure and services. By the mid-20th Century, a phenomenon of urban sprawl could be observed, with peripheral, “sub-urban” areas offering a higher standard of living than the historic centres, then perceived as dense, unhealthy, and obsolete.

    However, starting in the second half of the 20th century, an awareness of the importance of historic centres began to emerge. European urban centres became a prominent target for urban regeneration initiatives. City centres started to be recognised for their crucial role in urban dynamics and social cohesion. From the 1970s, city management started directing resources to the historic centre. These oftentimes obsolete and abandoned central spaces gained prominence in spite of contradictory policies encouraging unlimited urban development in the preceding decades. In response to the renewed concern for urban areas, city centres are now poised to become the focus of urban transformation and revitalization initiatives.

    Today, city centres still represent an opportunity to address structural challenges in the transition to new urban models fuelled by the green transition and grounded in the principles of  proximity. As proposed by urbanist Carlos Moreno in the 15 minute-city paradigm, town centres have the potential to provide most essential services within a short walking distance: community-scale education and healthcare, retail, parks for recreation, working spaces and more. This hyper-local framework has the potential to generate dynamic local growth, stronger communities, viable businesses and commerce, active mobility, and in turn reduced emissions.

    However, the configuration of contemporary city centres also creates conflicting urban realities where several functions coexist in permanent tension. Transition can come at a price. A high quality of life in the city centre also requires healthy environments, efficient infrastructure, and easy access to amenities. In addition to basic everyday amenities , citizens also need to have opportunities to develop economic activities that increase wealth and social mobility. City centres are tasked with providing housing to a diverse population, prioritising affordable housing, catering to diverse socio-economic groups and fostering inclusivity, all while ensuring accessibility to public spaces that enrich communal bonds, promote well-being and create a sense of belonging.

    The Next Steps for the Cities@Heart Network

    The URBACT framework enables the transfer of knowledge on transnational and local levels, promoting capacity building activities, the development of local action plans together with stakeholders (the ULG or Urban Local Groups) and the dissemination of results with the aim to transfer this evidence-based and integrated approach to other urban contexts.

    An interdisciplinary, complex subject matter, city centres are certainly worth observing. Observing the core of the city provides insight to broader national and global trends. Addressing social and urbanistic issues in the city centre may in turn yield more positive effects on the greater urban area, creating more spaces for people to meet and create engagement in their communities. As the Cities@Heart Baseline Study comes to a close, the network partners are looking forward to two more years of collaboration, using the road map generated by the findings of this investigatory period.


  • 9 navdihov s srečanja U.R. Impact v Cinisellu Balsamu

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    Med 4. in 6. decembrom 2023 smo se mudili v Cinisellu Balsamu, mestu v severnem delu metropolitanskega območja Milana, na prvem mednarodnem srečanju URBACT akcijske mreže U.R. Impact.

    From urbact

    Mrežo U.R. Impact poleg vodilnega italijanskega Cinisella Balsama in slovenskega Bovca sestavljajo manj znana, manjša do srednje velika mesta – Szabolcs na Madžarskem, Broumov na Češkem, Târgu Frumos v Romuniji, 6. okraj Bukarešte, Mertola na Portugalskem, Murcia v Španiji, Hannut v Belgiji, Longford na Irskem in Kamez v Albaniji. Partnerji mreže U.R. Impact imajo različne izzive, ki jih bodo naslavljali s participativnim pristopom k urbani regeneraciji, še posebej pa se bodo posvetili njenim družbenim učinkom.

    Srečanje je bilo polno navdihov, nekateri partnerji so predstavili svoje dobre prakse, dobili smo kar nekaj teoretskih uvidov in si na terenu ogledali številne intervencije v Cinisellu Balsamo in v Milanu. Dovolj časa pa je bilo namenjenega tudi spoznavanju in povezovanju med partnerji.

    1.    Urbana regeneracija z družbenim učinkom


    Vodilna strokovnjakinja mreže, Liat Rogel, je predstavila izhodiščno študijo, ki jo je pripravila po obisku vseh partnerjev. Kot je povedala, se bodo v naslednjih dveh letih partnerji osredotočali na vprašanje, kako načrtovati in vrednotiti urbano regeneracijo z vidika družbenega učinka. Kot ključne aspekte družbenega učinka je izpostavila namenskost, merljivost in participacijo. Partnerji imajo vsak svoj urbani izziv, ki ga bodo naslavljali s participativno pripravo akcijskega načrta, vendar je mogoče najti mnoge presečne teme, kot so socialna vključenost, ustvarjanje prostora in identiteta mesta, beg možganov in mladinska politika, inovativni modeli upravljanja, trajnostni turizem ter dediščina in inovacije. Pozitivni cilji, za katere si bodo partnerji prizadevali, pa so pripadnost kraju, družbena kohezija, zdravo okolje in dobro počutje, javni prostori, zdrave skupnosti in gospodarska vitalnost.

    Cinisello Balsamo meeting

    Pred Villo Ghirlando, Cinisello Balsamo, foto: Petra Očkerl

    2.    Večerni program na tržnicah za močnejšo skupnost


    Partnerji so predstavili svoje uspešne projekte, ki lahko služijo kot navdih drugim mestom. V Mertoli na Portugalskem so pred pandemijo covida izjemno uspešno oživili dve lokalni tržnici. Enkrat na mesec so na tržnicah, ki so sicer živahne samo podnevi, organizirali večerni program s skupno pripravo hrane in petjem. Dogodki so bili zelo dobro obiskani in sprejeti med prebivalci, po pandemiji so nekoliko zamrli, a jih nameravajo kmalu spet obuditi.

    3.    Mestna dnevna soba za občutek pripadnosti


    Predstavniki iz češkega Broumova so predstavili prostor za občane, neke vrste mestno dnevno sobo, ki jo je omogočila angažirana skupina posameznikov. Ko je mesto pripravljalo svojo kandidaturo za Evropsko prestolnico kulture, se je v procesu participacije izkazalo, da si prebivalci želijo varen prostor, kjer se lahko srečujejo in preživljajo prosti čas. Ker občina tega ni zmogla uresničiti, je skupina angažiranih posameznikov najela lokal na osrednjem trgu in ga namenila raznovrstnim aktivnostim, ki so jih organizirali občani sami. V dveh mesecih, kolikor je bil prostor odprt (september in oktober 2023), se je v njem zvrstilo kar 48 dogodkov. To kaže, da tovrstnih prostorov v mestu primanjkuje in da lokalna skupnost potrebuje več dogajanja ter ga želi tudi sama ustvarjati. Pričakujejo, da bodo z aktivnostmi lahko nadaljevali spomladi, saj je bil projekt izglasovan za financiranje v okviru participativnega proračuna.

    4.    Urbana akupunktura: mali posegi za velike učinke


    Murcia je predstavila dva projekta. Prvi je bil izgradnja podzemnega železniškega vozla, ki bo s premikom prometne infrastrukture pod zemljo, odprl ogromen prostor v mestnem središču za druge rabe. Drugi projekt je bil URBACT DNA, v katerem so izvedli številne manjše intervencije v javnem prostoru v izbrani soseski. Gre za koncept t. i. urbane akupunkture, kjer se z manjšimi ukrepi skuša doseči kar največji možni učinek. Ukrepe so načrtovali in izvedli v tesnem sodelovanju z lokalnimi prebivalci in organizacijami, ki jih zdaj tudi vzdržujejo S tem, ko so v prostor spremembe, ki bi jih drugače izvedli v daljšem obdobju, vnesli v kratkem času, so prebivalci in obiskovalci lahko hitro dobili občutek, kako se njihova soseska preobraža.

    5.    Povezovanje izolirane soseske v Cinisellu


    Vodilni partner, Cinisello Balsamo, nam je na sprehodu skozi sosesko Crocetta predstavil svoje načrte v tej problematični soseski, ki je zaradi nezavidljive lokacije med večjimi prometnicami odrezana od drugih delov mesta in zato v njej poleg številnih ostarelih stanujejo predvsem slabo vključene priseljenske skupnosti. Sredstva za prenovo javnih prostorov so pridobili iz naslova celostnih teritorialnih naložb, zdaj pa si želijo vzporedno z izvedbo projekta s pomočjo mreže U.R. Impact peljati proces participacije. Zgradili bodo namreč medgeneracijski center, v katerem bodo združili dobro delujoče programe vključevanja mladih in družin ter center za dnevni program starejših občanov, in vzpostavili večje zelene površine, ki jih v soseski primanjkuje. Ker bodo zato morali obstoječe centre porušiti, se jim zdi o spremembah nujno stalno komunicirati s prebivalci. Prvi korak k povezavi soseske s preostalim mestom so že naredili, ko so zgradili javni prostor na nadhodu čez avtocesto.

    Cinisello Balsamo Crochetta

    Na nadhodu nad avtocesto v Crocetti, foto: Petra Očkerl

    6.    Mosso – hrana in kultura za družbeno vključenost


    Del srečanja se je odvijal v Milanu, kjer smo si med drugim ogledali center Mosso. Gre za prostore tradicionalne šole, ki je bila po principih gozdne pedagogike zasnovana pred sto leti in še vedno deluje. Posamezna šolska poslopja se nahajajo v velikem parku z velikimi starimi drevesi, na njenem robu pa je vrsta stavb, ki jih je mesto nedavno namenilo drugim dejavnostim. Center Mosso zdaj upravlja več zadrug, ki so prostore prenovile, njihov program pa poleg gostinske ponudbe in prostorov za kulturne dejavnosti, obsega tudi vključevanje posameznikov z različnimi izzivi na trg dela.

    Cinisello Balsamo Moss

    Restavracija v Mossu, foto: Nina Plevnik

    7.    Analiza medijskega in družbenega diskurza za boljše prostorske intervencije


    V Mossu se nam je predstavila še organizacija FROM, ki vodi procese participacije bodisi za javne akterje bodisi za zasebne investitorje. Z različnimi pristopi si prizadevajo doseči konsenz in uskladiti interese pri načrtovanju različnih posegov v prostor. Predstavili so svoj način dela, ki je usmerjeno v krepitev skupnosti in veščin javnih akterjev za sodelovanje z javnostjo. Predvsem se nam je zdelo zanimivo, da v analizo začetnega stanja in sprotno spremljanje odziva vključujejo analizo družbenega in medijskega diskurza. Pred, med in po izvajanju posega v prostor tako med drugim vodijo analize družabnih omrežij in medijev, ter glede na ugotovitve prilagajajo ukrepe. V svojem komuniciranju pa poleg tem, ki polarizirajo, vedno iščejo tudi skupne točke.

    8.    Dislocirane enote univerze za sodelovanje s skupnostjo


    Na sprehodu po soseski smo se ustavili v lokalni tržnici, kjer deluje ena od »off campus« točk Politehniške univerze v Milanu, ki so namenjene sodelovanju univerze z lokalno skupnostjo. Gre za program družbene odgovornosti univerze do mesta, ki na eni strani omogoča študentom in raziskovalcem izvajanje raziskav in soustvarjanje praktičnih projektov s skupnostmi ter na drugi strani podpira urbano regeneracijo območij, v katerih se nahajajo. Točka NOLO na tržnici Mercato Communale deluje tri leta, od začetka koronakrize. Med številnimi drugimi projekti so v času koronakrize pomagali pri načrtovanju gostinskih vrtov lokalnim gostincem ter podprli ustanovitev združenj lokalnih trgovcev.

    Cinisello Balsamo

    Off Campus Nolo, foto: Nina Plevnik

    9.    Odpri trgi za več pešcev in druženja


    Ogledali smo si tudi dva od več kot 40 trgov, ki so v okviru projekta Piazze Apperte (odprti trgi) zaprli za motoriziran promet, opremili z zelenjem, klopmi, stojali za kolesa, mizami za namizni tenis in drugim urbanim pohištvom ter odprli za ljudi. Namen je bil pridobiti več varnih javnih površin za pešce, kolesarje in preživljanje časa na prostem, saj teh v mnogih soseskah primanjkuje. Začasne ureditve, s poslikavami po tleh, ki so jih izvedli prebivalci sami, postopoma spreminjajo v stalne.

    Cinisello Balsamo

    Eden od odprtih trgov, foto: Nina Plevnik

    Ob spoznavanju zanimivih in navdihujočih praks so udeleženci na delavnicah tudi razmišljali o izzivih, ki jih bodo v svojih akcijskih načrtih naslavljali. Na delavnici so spoznali metodo »Teorija sprememb«, s pomočjo katere so razmišljali o družbenih učinkih, ki si jih želijo doseči. Na srečanju pa ni manjkalo dobro znanega italijanskega gostoljubja s sproščenim vzdušjem in ob dobri hrani.


    Besedilo: Petra Očkerl, Nina Plevnik

    Naslovna fotografija: Nina Plevnik


  • PUMA – it is all about PEOPLE!

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    Project PUMA team full of energy to tackle mobility topics

    PUMA – Plans for Urban Mobility Actions is a project about how to plan and promote sustainable mobility in cities with different size and realities.



    Project PUMA team full of energy to tackle mobility topics


    • Engaging with diverse stakeholders, including government entities, urban planners, transportation agencies, community groups, and residents, is crucial.
    • Gathering comprehensive data on current transportation systems, traffic patterns, environmental impact, and population demographics is essential. Analysing this data helps in making informed decisions and setting realistic goals for the development of sustainable mobility strategies.
    • Crafting a clear vision and strategic framework is fundamental. Defining goals, objectives, and target outcomes establishes the direction for our Integrated Action Plans, aligning it with broader city development plans and sustainability objectives.
    • Designing a document that integrates various modes of transportation—such as public transit, cycling infrastructure, pedestrian pathways, and innovative mobility solutions—creates a holistic and interconnected network that addresses diverse transportation needs.
    • Formulating policies and action plans based on the SUMP's vision and strategy is crucial. This step involves outlining specific measures, investments, and timelines needed to implement sustainable mobility solutions effectively.
    • Creating mechanisms for continuous monitoring and evaluation allows for adjustments and improvements to the strategy over time. This iterative process ensures that the plan remains responsive to changing circumstances, technological advancements, and evolving community needs.
    • Effective communication strategies are vital for engaging the public, raising awareness, and garnering support for planned initiatives. Transparent communication fosters community buy-in and encourages participation in sustainable urban mobility efforts.


    Navigating these steps with collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to sustainability will pave the way for the creation of robust, adaptable, and impactful Integrated Mobility Action Plans.


    Having confidence in the network's capability to achieve these goals is a crucial factor in the success of any project. The collective expertise, diverse perspectives, and shared commitment within the network create a strong foundation for success.


    Believing in the network's capacity not only fosters a positive mindset but also fuels motivation and determination among its members. When each individual involved trusts in the collective capabilities and works collaboratively towards the common goal of developing sustainable urban mobility solutions, remarkable progress can be achieved.


    Moreover, acknowledging and leveraging the strengths, experiences, and skills of the network's members will contribute significantly to overcoming challenges, fostering innovation, and ensuring the successful creation and implementation of our Integrated Mobility Action Plans. Confidence in the network's abilities serves as a driving force in navigating complexities, adapting to changes, and ultimately realizing a more sustainable and vibrant urban environment for communities.


    And I am absolutely sure that PUMA network has everything that is needed to achieve it all!


    From urbact


    The genesis of this ambitious initiative can be traced back to Aksels Ruperts from the Municipality of Liepaja in Latvia. Fuelled by a passion for international collaboration and a fervent desire to deepen his expertise in mobility solutions, Aksels embarked on a mission. His aspiration? To draft a compelling project proposal that would pave the way for Liepaja to craft an innovative Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. In early 2023, Aksels took a significant stride by engaging in the call for proposals within the esteemed URBACT programme. Amidst fierce competition, with more than 25 applications pouring in from diverse European cities, the project garnered immense interest. But only nine projects could be selected.



    “At the end of the day it led to completed project partnership and a 67 page project application. Honestly, I was not 100% sure that the project would be approved, because at that time I had minimal project management experience and my expertise was in a different field. There is a saying that you have to be careful what you wish for, because wishes tend to come true. So on the afternoon of 31 May I received the news that the project has been approved and Liepaja will be the lead partner”, Aksels said.


    Project manager Aksels during kick-off meeting


    In the unfolding narrative of June 2023, commenced the captivating journey of a consortium comprising nine partners hailing from eight European nations.


    The ensemble of collaborators embarking on the ambitious PUMA project includes a diverse array of entities: the Liepaja City Municipality Administration and Dienvidkurzeme Municipality from Latvia; Public Institution “Žaliasis regionas” from Lithuania; Development Organisation of Municipality of Larissa – OLON SA from Greece; the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences from the Republic of Croatia; Gdansk Roads and Green Areas Administration from Poland; Municipality of Cento from Italy; Viladecans City Council from Spain; and the Regional Development Agency of Northern Primorska ltd. from Slovenia.


    So what exactly is the PUMA project about?


    Urban areas face an ever-growing challenge: how to facilitate efficient, environmentally friendly, and accessible transportation for their residents while mitigating congestion and pollution. The aim of PUMA is to develop Integrated Mobility Action Plans based on the URBACT methodology and guidelines for developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs).


    SUMPs are visionary roadmaps that cities and regions adopt to revolutionize their transportation systems. They prioritize sustainability by integrating various modes of transit - such as walking, cycling, public transport, and innovative technologies - into cohesive networks. By placing emphasis on inclusivity, environmental impact, and efficiency, SUMPs aim to reshape urban landscapes, fostering healthier, more liveable communities while paving the way for a greener and more connected future.


    At its core, SUMP revolves around people. It's a comprehensive approach that prioritizes the needs and well-being of individuals within urban environments. SUMPs aim to create transportation systems that are accessible, safe, and convenient for all residents, regardless of their age, abilities, or socioeconomic status. By placing people at the centre, SUMPs focus on enhancing quality of life, promoting healthier lifestyles, and fostering social inclusion by ensuring that transportation options are not only sustainable but also user-friendly and equitable for everyone in the community.


    Creating living documents is crucial for the success and sustainability of any project. The primary aim is not just to produce static papers but to cultivate dynamic resources that evolve alongside the project's progress. These living documents serve as adaptable roadmaps, continuously updated to reflect changing circumstances, emerging insights, and evolving goals. By being alive, these documents remain relevant, responsive, and valuable tools for guiding decision-making processes, ensuring alignment with current trends, technologies, and community needs. Their dynamic nature fosters engagement, encourages collaboration, and enables stakeholders to contribute meaningfully, ultimately enhancing the project's effectiveness and longevity.


    Work during PUMA kick-off meeting


    Who are We and where are we today as a network?


    Liepaja, nestled in Latvia's western region of Kurzeme along the Baltic Sea, stands as the country's third-largest city, home to nearly 70,000 people. The city has made significant strides in reducing CO2 emissions by 46% since 2006. However, the transport sector has seen a concerning spike of 29% in greenhouse gas emissions, constituting over half of the total emissions. Efforts towards sustainable transportation in Liepaja include the introduction of low-floor trams, cycle paths, aånd a modern public transport payment system. Despite these initiatives, they fall short of meeting the ambitious EU climate goal of at least a 55% decrease in GHG emissions. The city's next major focus, as part of the "100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities" mission, involves crafting an Integrated Mobility Action Plan alongside various infrastructure projects.


    Dienvidkurzeme, a newly formed municipality post a 2021 administrative territorial reform, closely collaborates with Liepaja. The region faces challenges in ensuring equal mobility opportunities for its residents. The lack of public transport connectivity outside urban centers forces many to rely on personal vehicles, highlighting the need for improved accessibility.


    In the Taurage region of Lithuania, represented by the Public Institution "Žaliasis regionas," efforts are directed toward curbing high private car usage. Initiatives include implementing a common e-ticket system, establishing new regional public transport routes, and acquiring electric buses. However, a comprehensive long-term strategy is imperative to achieve an efficient, popular, and climate-neutral public transport system in the region.


    Larissa, the capital of Greece's Thessaly region, boasts a diverse landscape hosting public organizations, educational institutions, and a bustling commercial infrastructure. The city stands as a pioneer in Greece, implementing a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) and prioritizing bicycle/pedestrian connections for better urban accessibility.


    The Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences at the University of Zagreb holds a prestigious position in Croatia, engaging in national, regional, and international projects to address transportation challenges. The faculty emphasizes international collaboration for academic exchange and research initiatives.


    Gdansk, Poland's principal seaport, leads the charge in sustainable urban mobility policies. The city has introduced various initiatives aligned with the Sustainable Urban Mobility 2030 plan, focusing on modern, eco-friendly practices. Efforts are underway to prepare a regional SUMP for the Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area.


    Cento, situated amidst Italy's important cities, faces challenges stemming from heavy private car usage due to a lack of widespread public transportation. The municipality is aligning itself with European green initiatives, emphasizing an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to create a sustainable urban mobility system.


    Viladecans, part of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, emphasizes aligning urban mobility strategies with international agendas such as the UN 2030 agenda. With mobility contributing to a significant portion of CO2 emissions, the city aims to update its mobility plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.


    Nova Gorica, Slovenia, strategically prioritizes sustainable mobility in its SUMP 2030 plan. The city focuses on reducing carbon footprints by enhancing transportation systems and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations, aiming for a more inclusive and sustainable urban landscape.


    Each partner brings forth a distinct and invaluable contribution—be it the rich academic expertise of the University of Zagreb, the pioneering endeavors in pedestrian zone implementation showcased by Larissa, the astute crafting of cycling policies exhibited by Gdansk, groundbreaking innovations in public transport witnessed in Taurages, the fervent commitment to green transformation activities exemplified by Viladecans, the dedicated involvement in advocating for equality among women and immigrants demonstrated by Cento, the adeptness in fostering international cooperation across various spheres shown by Nova Gorica, or the unwavering dedication towards creating resident-centric environments displayed by Liepaja and Dienvidkurzeme. Each partner city possesses a unique reservoir of knowledge, experiences, and initiatives that collectively enrich and bolster the collaborative efforts within the PUMA project, promising a wealth of shared insights and transformative advancements in urban mobility strategies. An intense period is behind us - the time of expert visits and the first international meeting. The first transnational meeting took place From 16th to 19th October in Liepāja and Grobiņa.


    The mood after the first meeting was fantastic and Lead partner Aksels summed it up as follows: “Now I am confident that the right partners have been selected. Each partner has its own positive and negative experiences to share, and a vision for transport development on local and broader level. I also hope that this project will help to introduce new planning methods, promote public participation in planning processes and a sense that we can all plan our city together.  At the end of the day, the abbreviation PUMA fits the essence of the project and mobility quite well. Mobility is not about something aggressive and predatory, but it is about how to deliver people and goods from A to B in a fast and accurate way”.


    Project partners working on Baseline study


    It was a meeting of people who believe in change, people committed to their work and proud of their cities and areas. Committed public administration workers are the backbone of effective governance and the driving force behind transformative change within communities.


    These dedicated individuals tirelessly strive to enhance the quality of life for residents by embracing innovative solutions, implementing forward-thinking policies, and actively engaging with the needs of the community. Whether they are urban planners, transportation engineers, policymakers, or public service personnel, their commitment shines through in their relentless pursuit of creating sustainable and inclusive urban environments. Their passion fuels the translation of visionary concepts like SUMPs into actionable strategies, fostering collaboration, innovation, and ultimately, the realization of thriving, accessible, and environmentally conscious cities for generations to come. Following numerous visits and extensive meetings, it is unequivocally evident that these individuals stand as the esteemed representatives of the partner cities within the ambit of the PUMA project.


    What lies ahead our network?


    As a project network embarks on creating Integrated Mobility Action Plans, several key elements lie ahead in the journey towards successful planning and implementation:

  • Mesta se energično spopadajo s podnebnimi spremembami

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    Viladecans (ES)

    Odkrijte inovativno upravljanje Viladecansa za energetski prehod za manjša mesta in širše.

    From urbact

    Pomislite: trenutno je približno 35 % stavb v EU starejših od 50 let. Stavbe so odgovorne za 40 % porabe energije v EU in 36 % emisij CO2, pri čemer te starejše stavbe porabijo vsaj petkrat več energije kot nove. Z izboljšanjem energetske učinkovitosti stavb je mogoče skupno porabo energije v EU zmanjšati za 5−6 %, emisije CO2 pa za približno 5 %.

    Zdi se, da bi morala biti velika mesta vodilna pri uvajanju inovacij na tem področju. Konec koncev je v njih največja koncentracija stavb in emisij CO2. Čeprav to drži, so v mestu Viladecans v Španiji prepričani, da ne gre le za inovacije na področju energetske učinkovitosti. Gre za inovacije pri upravljanju, za spremembo miselnosti, pri čemer lahko srednje velika mesta, kot je Viladecans, spreminjajo pravila igre v Evropi, ki jih lahko upošteva tudi preostali svet. To mesto je živ dokaz, da lahko družbene inovacije majhnega obsega pripomorejo k doseganju globalnih ciljev.

    Cilji Evropske komisije za zeleni prehod neizogibno pomenijo, da je treba spremeniti vedenjske vzorce. Gre za spremembe pri ljudeh in v procesih družbenopolitične ekonomije ter pri načinih, kako dobavitelji, potrošniki in javni akterji ponujajo energetske rešitve. Zato je ključno sodelovanje gospodarskega sektorja, institucij mestne uprave, šol, raziskovalnih ustanov, univerz in predvsem občanov, zlasti tistih, ki čutijo ekonomski pritisk visokih stroškov energije. Kako začeti? Tukaj je drzen predlog mesta Viladecans, imenovan VILAWATT.


    Projekt VILAWATT, ki je bil leta 2016 zasnovan z evropskimi sredstvi kot inovativni urbani projekt UIA - Urban Innovative Actions, je inovativno javno-zasebno-civilno partnerstvo za energetsko upravljanje na lokalni ravni, v katerem participativni proces vključuje lastnike in projektante. Njegov splošni cilj je sprožiti spremembo v razmišljanju prebivalcev o energiji, opolnomočiti in motivirati prebivalce za aktivno vlogo, ki vodi k temeljiti spremembi stališč do energetske prenove in njenih procesov. VILAWATT sestavljajo mestna uprava Viladecansa, metropolitansko območje Barcelone in dve združenji: Združenje državljanov za energetski prehod ter Združenje podjetij in trgovcev na drobno za energetski prehod.

    VILAWATT in njegovo javno-zasebno-civilno partnerstvo temelji na ideji, da energija ni luksuzna dobrina, temveč osnovna potreba. Da je naloga in odgovornost lokalnih oblasti, da državljanom zagotovijo, da inovacije na področju energetske avtonomije in upravljanja temeljijo na odprtosti, preglednosti in zaupanju. Ključni zavezniki so torej ljudje in uporabniki energije ter tisti, ki živijo na energetsko revnih območjih. Osrednji orodji sta ozaveščanje in delo v skupnosti. Čeprav je projekt VILAWATT tehnično gledano namenjen energetskemu prehodu, njegovi ukrepi presegajo električno omrežje in premisleke o stroških in koristih na energetskem trgu. Je socialna inovacija, ki spodbuja samorefleksijo in preventivne ukrepe v korist večje učinkovitosti in proti energetskim delitvam v družbi.

    vilawatt viladecans

    Tukaj je nekaj konteksta o tem, kako je lokalno postalo »glokalno«, zahvaljujoč motiviranemu in drznemu vodstvu, ki je vodilo ta proces. Viladecans, mesto na jugu okrožja Baix Llobregat, se nahaja v bližini Barcelone in je del metropolitanskega območja Barcelone. Gosto naseljeno mesto s 67.197 prebivalci (2020) na območju, velikem le 20,4 km2, je zaznamoval velik val priseljevanja in industrializacije v 20. stoletju − v dvajsetih letih ter nato v šestdesetih in sedemdesetih letih −, ki ni le spremenil majhnega agrarnega mesta v industrijsko in storitveno mesto, temveč je botroval tudi gradnji stavb v novih in obrobnih soseskah.

    Jordi Mazón, podžupan za zeleni prehod in vodja projekta VILAWATT, je predstavil dvojnost energetskega izziva, ki ga ima mesto na dolgi rok: »Upravljanje z energijo je del problema in del rešitve«. Vendar Mazón priznava, da je »največja prednost projekta VILAWATT vzpostavitev dobro uveljavljene strukture, konzorcija javno-zasebno-civilnega partnerstva, ki drugače upravlja z energijo in vodi k spremembi energetskega modela. Viladecans je na zelo dobri poti, da postane energetsko samozadostna skupnost in začne pot do ogljično nevtralne skupnosti do leta 2050«.

    Ta ogljično nevtralna pot sovpada z drugimi cilji Viladecansa, Evrope in sveta. Viladecans kot podpisnik Konvencije županov s svojim akcijskim načrtom za trajnostno energijo, ki se izvaja od leta 2009 in je bil leta 2017 posodobljen v akcijski načrt za trajnostno energijo in podnebne spremembe, SECAP, sledi ciljem, ki jih določajo Združeni narodi in Urbana agenda Evropske unije, ter vključuje eno od prednostnih osi mesta v strategiji Viladecans 2030 − zeleni prehod, skupaj z inovacijami na področju izobraževanja, odpornosti mesta in kakovosti življenja.

    Viladecans je vodil tudi ambiciozni pilotni mehanizem za prenos inovacij VILAWATT. Ta mreža je delovala od marca 2021 do septembra 2022 in si je prizadevala prenesti znanje, ki ga je mesto pridobilo v štirih letih izvajanja projekta UIA, na mesta Seraing (Belgija), Nagykanizsa (Madžarska) in Trikala (Grčija).

    Cilj te mreže, ki jo je financiral program URBACT III, je bil pomagati lokalnim oblastem pri spodbujanju energetskega prehoda z vzpostavitvijo inovativne strukture upravljanja, lokalnega javno-zasebno-civilnega partnerstva, ki zagotavlja štiri ključne storitve za izboljšanje upravljanja energije na lokalni ravni: oskrbo z energijo, energetsko kulturo, energetsko prenovo stavb in lokalno kripto valuto, povezano s prihranki energije.


    Seraing, Nagykanizsa in Trikala so majhna do srednje velika mesta, kot je Viladecans, z ambicioznimi energetskimi strateškimi načrti. Vsa so tudi podpisniki Konvencije županov in pripravljajo lastne akcijske načrte za trajnostno energijo in podnebne spremembe za preusmeritev svojih gospodarstev v pametnejša, energetsko učinkovitejša in krožna. Vsi si želijo biti vodilni v svojih regijah, da bi njihova mesta postala bolj zdrava in zelena, kar je prav to, za kar si prizadeva VILAWATT.

    Mazón in drugi pionirji pobude VILAWATT želijo s skupnimi močmi v vsakem mestu poiskati način, ki bo deloval v lokalnih razmerah, in si izposoditi prakse, ki so bile uspešne v partnerskih mestih. Kot je dejal, »inoviranje metod za nas pomeni tudi ponoven razmislek o tem, kaj se že počne, in kombiniranje z novimi idejami in trendi«. V mestih namreč živi največ ljudi, navsezadnje skoraj 75 % evropskega prebivalstva živi v urbanih okoljih. Zaradi tega so mesta, tudi ta, ki so vključena v mrežo VILAWATT, idealen poligon za preizkušanje inovacij na številnih ravneh.

    Mesta lahko spremenijo okvir, skozi katerega se gleda na skupno težavo. Mesta so lahko testna okolja, lahko preizkušajo spodbude za spremembo obstoječega stanja. V primeru mreže VILAWATT lahko mesta tudi poganjajo spremembe z ukrepi, ki jih podpirajo državljani in ki jih skupaj oblikujejo za pravično in trajnostno preobrazbo mesta v ogljično nevtralno. Mreža je partnerjem predlagala (in še danes vabi mesta EU), da poiščejo projekte, ki bi prebivalcem omogočili izboljšanje stanovanjskih razmer in s tem večjo energetsko učinkovitost, dostop do zelene energije ter cenovno ugodnejše in preglednejše račune za energijo. To pomaga izboljšati življenjske pogoje, hkrati pa so prebivalci deležni usposabljanja, bolj ozaveščeni o energetski učinkovitosti in zavestni glede porabe energije. Ustvarjajo se tudi nova delovna mesta.

    Zato je VILAWATT vzpostavil več učnih skupnosti in ponuja posebno usposabljanje na področju energetske učinkovitosti in obnovljivih virov energije, v katerega so vključene šole, trgovci na drobno, podjetja in brezposelni. Partnerska mesta na primer uporabljajo »igrifikacijo«, da bi ljudem pomagala razumeti tehnične vidike pobude, pri čemer se osredotočajo na skupnosti, ki so pripravljene na demonstracijsko gradnjo in so pripravljene izvesti energetsko prenovo ter se spopasti z energetsko revščino. Podjetjem pa ponujajo spodbude, da se pridružijo valutnemu krogu in imajo koristi od njegove uporabe, vključno z brezplačnimi energetskimi pregledi za trgovce na drobno.


    Projekt VILAWATT je transformativen, ne le z vidika predlaganega celovitega energetskega prehoda, temveč tudi z vidika upravljanja. Ne gre za ustvarjanje še enega birokratskega sloja, temveč za iskanje načinov za povezovanje različnih mestnih politik in omogočanje načinov za mobilizacijo prebivalcev, ustvarjanje socialnega kapitala in bogatenje mesta s tistim, kar je res pomembno − bolj zdravim in okolju prijaznim načinom življenja, pri čemer nihče ne sme ostati zadaj.

    Mesta v mreži VILAWATT so potrdila, da lahko projekt služi kot gonilo za razvoj njihovih dolgoročnih procesov energetskega prehoda ter s političnega vidika dokazuje njihovo usklajenost in solidarnost pri doseganju ciljev trajnostnega razvoja ZN in zmanjšanju emisij CO2. Trajnost teh ukrepov je bil eden od ključnih ciljev udeležencev. Ti so skupaj z direktivo o skupnih pravilih notranjega trga z električno energijo (EU 2019/944), na podlagi katere so bile ustanovljene energetske skupnosti, igrali ključno vlogo v prihodnosti mest in vplivali na razvoj posameznih projektov vsakega partnerskega mesta.

    Glede na višino potrebnih naložb mora vsako mesto najti način, kako podpreti in spodbuditi lastnike, da se odločijo za energetsko prenovo. Medtem ko predpisi ostajajo na ravni EU in nacionalni oziroma državni ravni, se globoke spremembe dogajajo na ravni lokalnih skupnosti in jih je mogoče uresničiti le v mestih. Čas je pravi, v naslednjih sedmih letih so mehanizmi za krepitev zagona, kot sta Next Generation in Evropski zeleni dogovor, idealni za mesta, kot je Viladecans, in mesta, ki imajo podobne ambicije, da čim bolj povečajo svoj socialni kapital, politično voljo in zmogljivosti za socialne inovacije ter tako pospešijo uresničevanje ciljev za energetski prehod.


    Pri vzpostavljanju mreže za povezovanje po koncu projekta VILAWATT je vsako vključeno mesto pripravilo naložbeni načrt, ki vsebuje ponudbo posameznega mesta za različne deležnike in je namenjen zagotavljanju trajnosti projekta. Za Viladecans je bil izziv izkoristiti dragoceno izmenjavo znanja in povratne informacije ter hkrati izboljšati lastno izvirno energetsko strategijo in z njo povezane dejavnosti. Viladecans je na primer eksperimentiral z novimi načini sodelovanja z različnimi skupinami in preizkusil vzpostavitev skupnosti za izmenjavo in učenje.

    Zamisli in socialne inovacije projekta VILAWATT in mesta Viladecans so simbol nastajajoče politične vizije, ki se, kot je dejal Mazón, uveljavlja po vsej Evropi. Ta projekt ne prinaša le glokalnega, temveč tudi humanistični pristop. To je najbolje povzel Mazón: »Najbolj neverjetni materiali, ki se trenutno razvijajo − tisti, ki spreminjajo področja, kot so urbanizem, inženiring in merjenje, ter radikalno spreminjajo naš način življenja − temeljijo na nanoznanosti«. Kot pojasnjuje: »Ti inovativni materiali temeljijo na manipulaciji atoma za atomom in njihovem postavljanju v optimalne položaje, da bi dosegli boljši material. Makroskopske lastnosti materiala so rezultat optimalne mikroskopske strukture.«

    Na koncu je ustrezno sklenil: »Prav tako morajo inovacije v majhnem obsegu, na ravni malih občin, omogočiti gradnjo boljše družbe in planeta. Občine so to za svet, kar so atomi za materiale, politiki pa so enakovredni inženirjem nanoznanosti. Z izboljšanjem naših občin želimo ustvariti boljši planet.«

    Več na Mestnem laboratoriju EU za energetski prehod.


    Članek je preveden iz angleščine. Izvirnik Cities powering up to fight climate change je delo partnerjev mreže Vilawatt in je dostopen tukaj.

    Fotografije: © Ajuntament de Viladecans