• 9 Cities to link issues of Public Procurement and Gender Equality

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    Vila Nova de Famalicão - Core Meeting 1

    The GenProcure Action Planning Network (APNs) is focused on the thematic topic of Gender Responsive Public Procurement. Over the next two years and until December 2025, it will seek to support 9 partner cities to develop Integrated Action Plans (IAPs) that enable Gender Equality to be a key consideration in Public Procurement. Public Procurement is the process utilised by public authorities, including local municipalities and regional governments to spend money on the goods, services and works that they require to function effectively. Public Procurement spreads from the design of goods and services to the tendering of opportunities to the monitoring of outputs and outcomes.


    From urbact

    Historically, Public Procurement has been seen as a very dull and bureaucratic process, with decisions often made on the basis of lowest price, and the process driven by complex EU and National Level law. However, in recent years, and inspired by the activities of two URBACT Networks (Procure and Making Spend Matter), and URBACT capitalisation activities through an online course, cities across Europe have started to adopt a more ‘strategic’ approach to Public Procurement. By this we mean, as well as considering the price and quality of businesses bidding for Public Procurement opportunities, procurers are also thinking about how the process can contribute to realising wider local economic, social and environmental outcomes.

    As well as seeking to change cultures around Public Procurement, the URBACT Programme has been also through Networks and capitalisation activities seeking to create more Gender Equal Cities – ensuring that decisions around the design of services are made with the needs of both men and women in mind, ensuring that the Gender Pay Gap is reduced, and ensuring that the politicians that represent cities are representative of their communities. Indeed, Gender Equality is a key cross-cutting theme that is framing all 30 APNs that are currently evolving, and which are focused on a range of themes.

    So why has the GenProcure Network brought together the dual themes of Public Procurement and Gender Equality – well, the Lead Partner City of Vila Nova De Famalicão (Portugal) recognised that whilst cities are increasingly considering social considerations such as job creation and environmental considerations such as climate change in Public Procurement, they are not considering the implications their spending choices will have upon addressing Inequality, and specifically Gender Inequality. The GenProcure Network is NOT seeking to ensure that Gender Equality considerations are included in all Public Procurement procedures but shift cultures so that Gender becomes a consideration in relevant opportunities.

    Realising this objective around changing the cultures of our 9 partners around Public Procurement and Gender Equality is not going to be easy. Indeed, our partners face a range of key challenges around Public Procurement, and including bureaucratic and rigid procurement law, a lack of trained procurement officers around social and environmental considerations, a lack of willingness to take risks, and a lack of desire from the market to consider other aspects other than the price of the good, service or work they will provide. In addition, our partners face a range of challenges around Gender Equality and including around the traditional cultures of their countries, the lack of experience of addressing Gender Inequality, and challenges particularly around the pay and representation of women. All in all, there are a real lack of experiences in undertaking Gender Responsive Public Procurement.

    Cycle of Public Procurement


    The GenProcure APN is therefore seeking over the next two years to enable our cities to learn about how they can consider and embed Gender Equality in Public Procurement and through the production of IAPs detail how they are going to shift Public Procurement cultures in the future so that Gender Equality is a key consideration. Our Network is framed by the ‘Cycle of Public Procurement’, and which details six key stages of the Public Procurement process at which social, environmental, and gender factors can be considered. Our partners will learn about how they can understand the number of women owned enterprises that form part of their existing supply chain, how gender focused outcomes can be included in Procurement Strategy, how gender considerations can be reflected in the design of services, the types of procedures that can be used to embed gender considerations in tendering, and how gender impacts can be measured into the delivery of contracts.





    Image from URBACT Online Course on Strategic Procurement


    Over the course of the last three months, we (the Lead Partner City and the Lead Expert) have visited each of our partners of: Koszalin (Poland), Satu Mare (Romania), Umeå (Sweden), Alcoi (Spain), Messina (Italy), Zenica-Doboj Canton Development Department (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Zagreb (Croatia), and Újfehértó (Hungary). In this we have realised that our partners have very different experiences when it comes to Public Procurement and Gender Equality, with some already having Gender Equality Plans in place and accompanied by a set of activities, others already engaging with Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to make them aware of upcoming Public Procurement opportunities, and others having started to include social and environmental criteria. We have also realised that none of our partners are really doing work around Gender Responsive Public Procurement which makes GenProcure a fantastic opportunity.

    The activities of GenProcure will not just be restricted to the APN – indeed, the City of Famalicão has already been asked to present to the Procura+ conference in Lisbon in March 2024, and our Lead Expert continues to feed URBACT’s work around Strategic Public Procurement into the activities of the EU Urban Agenda Partnership for Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement. As a Network, we are very much looking forward to taking work around Gender Responsive Public Procurement to the next level.


  • Get ready for the Innovation Transfer Networks!

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    Person writing with a permanent marker on a transparent blackboard

    The new URBACT call builds on almost a decade of experience supporting the transfer of effective urban solutions.

    Person writing with a permanent marker on a transparent blackboard.
    From urbact

    From 10 January to 20 March 2024, URBACT is running a call for the next generation of Innovation Transfer Networks (ITNs). These networks aim to transfer projects that were funded under Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) to other cities across the EU, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.  

    What’s in it for cities?


    Through the ITNs, it’s up to the cities who received UIA funding from 2016 to 2023 to act as Lead Partners and to transfer their experience, know-how and advice to cities interested in implementing a similar project. Using the URBACT transfer methodology – Understand, Adapt and Re-use – project partners will create a deeper, three-dimensional understanding of the UIA original practice. Ultimately, the cities in these networks will improve their capacity to design innovative solutions in an integrated and participatory way and identify funding for implementation.

    Listen to experts Eddy Adams and Matthew Baqueria-Jackson discuss the Understand, Adapt, Reuse method:

    Over a two-year period, through an organised process of exchange and learning among peers, the project partners will work together to develop a tailor-made investment plan for the implementation of the innovation project. This will be done with the support of URBACT experts and anchored by a group of local stakeholders in each city (URBACT Local Group) that gathers different profiles from within and outside the local administration. 

    In a nutshell, cities involved in this type of networks should expect… 

    ITN - what to expect


    Putting innovation transfer to the test


    Replicating innovation is never easy, but between 2021 and 2022, five pilot innovation transfer networks were tasked with testing the URBACT transfer method. Twenty cities in total were involved in these five networks, each one of them led by a city who had implemented an UIA project. 

    The pilot’s final evaluation proved the URBACT transfer method to be successful, shedding light on some important points to consider:

    •    Breaking down the UIA practice

    A transferable project is one that can be easily modularised. UIA projects are large, complex strategic interventions designed for a specific territory. While wholesale transfer is a rarity, it helps if you can break it down into its core parts. In most of the pilot networks, partners had a pre-defined list of components, which enabled them to select those that would work best in different local contexts. An analysis of the assets and barriers, produced by the network expert, helped guide these choices.

    For instance, Rotterdam (NL) was able to adapt an investment plan developed by Birmingham (UK) through the USE-IT! network. Rotterdam customised tools and methods in Birmingham’s investment plan to support the development of a procurement hub for neighbourhood work-cooperatives. Involvement in USE-IT! has also had a profound impact upon partnership working in Rotterdam with enhanced relationships between the Municipality, the Voor Goed Agency that promotes social entrepreneurship, and the Social Impact Fond Rotterdam.

    Nevertheless, there are risks that come with modularising. It may be challenging for partners to fully understand each component and reject one or more potentially impactful modules. To mitigate this, most networks offered the option of modules, but included amongst these one which all partners would agree to transfer. 

    ●    Building back up

    The point has already been made about the importance of chunking up large strategic innovation projects. Think of it like an engineer, dismantling a machine to better understand how all the component parts work – so long as you remember where everything goes when you reassemble it! 

    This approach is also helpful when transfer partners do not have the scale of funding available. They can pick those elements which they are confident of being able to finance. The risk to be aware of here is that partners may select elements which are easier, or cheaper, and potentially less innovative.


    Stepping stones on the transfer path


    The URBACT transfer method is composed of different milestones that pave the way to the transfer. The first important milestone is the transferability study. This is composed of information, data, and figures around the topic of the UIA project that are gathered following visits to each network city and with discussions with the city administration, elected officials but also other relevant stakeholders outside the city administration. All the data gathered and analysed constitute a baseline for each city, but they also indicate the transfer potential of each city, with strengths and weaknesses that need to be further worked on. This transferability study becomes the reference for the way forward in terms of network activities and learning points before the actual transfer. 

    Other milestones include capacity-building activities organised by the URBACT Secretariat, trainings with tools or thematic sessions and events like the URBACT City Festival which is a source of inspiration for cities. 

    Finally, the main tangible result of each project partner is an investment plan that features all the necessary resources and steps to follow for the implementation of the UIA practice (partly or fully). 


    Show me the money


    Transferring innovative urban solutions is very rarely a copy-and-paste process. A degree of adaptation and reuse is still needed for genuine transformation. Reuse requires resources – people, plans and, most crucially, funding.

    A new feature for the upcoming networks, cities will also have the possibility of testing actions with a small budget before including them in the investment plan.

    At the end of the five pilot networks, more than three-quarters of partners said that they would transfer at least 50% of the original UIA innovation concept. The survey also showed that 15% of the partners already had secured funds for this, whilst almost half were confident that their transfer plans would be funded by the time the pilot concluded. 


    So, where do you sign up?


    If this article has whetted your appetite, then you might like to know how your city can get involved. 

    If you are a city interested in becoming a transfer partner, you can connect here from 10 January and find the necessary resources on how you can apply by 20 March 2024.  

    And don’t forget to sign up for the URBACT newsletter and follow us @URBACT to get updates. 

    We look forward to welcoming you to the URBACT community, 

    The URBACT team


    Special thanks to Eddy Adams for bringing together the findings of the evaluation of the previous pilot networks in this article.





  • Suomalaisten APN-kaupunkien keskustelutilaisuus Tampereella

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    URBACT meeting in Tampere

    Parikymmentä URBACT-hankkeissa toimivaa tai sen parissa muuten vaikuttavaa kotimaan kansalaista kokoontui 8.9.2023 Tampereelle livenä tai etänä vaihtamaan kokemuksia alkaneen uuden ohjelmakauden tiimoilta. Keskustelutilaisuuden järjestivät URBACT IV -ohjelman Suomen yhteyspiste (Alue- ja kuntatutkimuskeskus Spatia, Itä-Suomen yliopisto), työ- ja elinkeinoministeriö ja Kuntaliitto.


    URBACT APN meeting in Tampere

    From urbact

    Tilaisuuden aluksi vastikään valittuihin uusien APN-hakkeisiin kuuluvien suomalaiskaupunkien edustajat esittelivät hankkeitaan. Samalla kartoitettiin käsityksiä Malmössä pidetystä ohjelman kick-off -tapahtumasta. Suomalaiset ovat ohjelmassa hyvin mukana (8 kaupunkipartneria ja Åbo Akademi), ja ensimmäistä kertaa myös APN-hankkeen pääpartnerina on suomalainen kaupunki (Espoo). Suomalaiset hanketoteuttajat näet tästä.

    Jatkokeskustelun virikkeeksi Olli Voutilainen (TEM) esitteli kotimaisen ja eurooppalaisen kaupunkipolitiikan ajankohtaisia kuulumisia. Kuluvan hallituksen kaupunkipoliittiset linjaukset herättivät huomiota: innovaatioekosysteemit ja MAL-sopimukset jatkuvat, teemakohtainen sopiminen kehittynee ja myös ns. allianssimalliin suurten kaupunkien ja valtion välillä ollaan hakemassa muotoa ja sisältöjä. EU-tasolla kiinnostavaa on Eurooppalaisen kaupunkialoitteen (EUI) eteneminen ja kotimaisen EUI-yhteyspisteen toiminnan käynnistyminen lähiaikoina.

    Niilo Rinne (Porin kaupunki) ja Kimmo Rautanen (Åbo Akademi) esittivät puheenvuorot URBACT-veteraanien näkökulmasta. Molemmat korostivat kaupungin sitoutumista ja hankkeiden jatkuvuuden turvaamisen merkitystä sekä toivat esille URBACT-ohjelman työtapojen (URBACT-metodi) ja asiantuntija-avun hyödyt. Päätteeksi pohdittiin tapoja vahvistaa kotimaisten URBACT-toimijoiden yhteistyötä ja tiedonvaihtoa kuluvalla ohjelmakaudella. Tilaisuuden lopuksi tutustuttiin Silva Vuopposen (Ekokumppanit Oy / Tampereen kaupunki) johdolla Naistenlahden voimalaitoksen kehittämistoimintaan.

  • Promoting the 30-minutes Territories - Challenges and Ambitions for Small and Mid-size Communities

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    From urbact

    About one third of Europe´s population is living the rural areas and half of the rural territory is close to regional hub cities. This is the context where the URBACT Action Planning Network ECONNECTING gets active: we seek to establish strategies and actions for those rural-urban functional areas, fostering the integration of urban sustainable development, well-being, and robust social connections with active citizen participation. The initiative will engage nine European cities from distinct countries in collaborative efforts to shape their "proximity territories." Through a cooperative planning process, ECONNECTING aims to harmonize those urban and rural dynamics while prioritizing on mobility and accessibility of those areas, create vibrant public spaces for the people, all based on environmental consciousness and community engagement.



    Our partners during the Transnational Meeting in Orihuela
    Our partners during the Transnational Meeting in Orihuela


    Challenges and Opportunities for Rural Development

    The development of rural areas in the European Union poses a complex challenge, as highlighted by the Rural Vision set by the European Commission. While these territories are characterized by their natural beauty and strong communities, they grapple with various obstacles. With over 341 million hectares, constituting 83% of the total EU area, rural areas encompass agricultural land, forests, and natural spaces. Despite their significant contribution, they face demographic challenges, marked by an aging population, with the lowest shares below 50 years. Moreover, rural areas confront a heightened risk of poverty and social exclusion, surpassing urban counterparts. Although the employment rate has risen, the increase is attributed to a decrease in the rural active population, underscoring the need for sustainable job creation. Gender disparities persist, with a notable employment gap between men and women, and having the women trapped with the caring activities with no access to jobs because of lacking caring facilities. Additionally, there is a growing disparity in education, as the share of tertiary-educated individuals in rural areas lags behind cities, exacerbating the urban-rural educational divide. Furthermore, rural residents trail in basic digital skills, emphasizing the necessity for comprehensive development strategies to bridge these gaps and ensure the holistic progress of rural regions in the EU.


    Our sessions during our first Transnational Meeting in Orihuela
    Our sessions during our first Transnational Meeting in Orihuela


    Insights from ECONNECTING's Baseline Study Visits

    Over the past six months, we embarked on a comprehensive journey to visit every project partner affiliated with ECONNECTING. This tour-de-force led us to diverse and often remote cities and village locations in Montenegro, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia and Hungary, each emblematic of the challenges stemming from inadequate public transportation services, compounded by the proximity of a central hub city. The on-site visits illuminated a multitude of shared challenges among our partners, emphasizing the imperative for holistic and collaborative solutions. Car dependency, inadequate public transportation networks, and a prevailing car culture dominate the urban and rural landscapes. The lack of safe cycling and pedestrian infrastructure further hinders alternative modes of transportation, contributing to the connectivity challenges between suburban and rural settlements. The dispersed population and settlements exacerbate these issues, creating unequal access to services in rural communities and fostering a sense of isolation. A common objective among the partners is to address these challenges by implementing and enhancing green public transport infrastructure, improving cycling and pedestrian pathways, and promoting active mobility. Additionally, there is a shared commitment to raising awareness, improving connectivity between urban centers and rural settlements, ensuring equal access to services, developing innovative mobility solutions, and creating appealing and accessible public spaces. Through concerted efforts, the ECONNECTING partners aim to overcome these challenges, achieve shared objectives, and address common learning needs to foster a more sustainable mobility behavior and enable a more inclusive urban and rural development.


    Our Project Partners of ECONNECTING
    Our Project Partners of ECONNECTING


    Our hypothesis for bridging these gaps involves the establishment of accessible regional hubs designed to serve rural areas, fostering connections through sustainable mobility solutions.

    In the project initiation phase, we pinpointed four crucial topics that now serve as our guiding pillars: a) the 30-minutes Territories, b) Accessible and Welcoming Cities, c) Green Community and d) Good Governance. These constant discussions around these themes facilitate an integrated, multisectoral planning approach. This ongoing dialogue not only refines our strategies but also promotes a holistic perspective, fostering adaptability and innovation within our Action Planning Network. By consistently addressing these key topics, we establish a resilient framework that enables us to navigate challenges and capitalize on opportunities effectively. This integrative approach ensures the sustained success and coherence of our project initiatives.


    Emerging Topics of the URBACT Action Planning Network ECONNECTING
    Emerging Topics of the URBACT Action Planning Network ECONNECTING


    A Dialogue-Oriented Approach to Integrated Action Plans

    The innovative planning process within the ECONNECTING project is characterized by a dialogue-oriented approach, ultimately guiding the development of Integrated Action Plans. This process adheres to the URBACT methodology, a framework founded on participatory tools and co-creation methodologies that actively involve a diverse array of stakeholders in the planning process.

    the ECONNECTING Plannig Process at a glance
    The ECONNECTING Plannig Process at a glance


    By fostering collaboration and inclusivity, the methodology ensures that the perspectives and needs of various stakeholders, including local communities and authorities, are taken into account. The planning process embraces experimentation and testing of novel tools, seeking to explore the efficacy of transit-oriented development within the context of rural-urban linkages. This approach enables the project to adapt and refine strategies based on real-world experimentation. Moreover, the planning integrates mobility planning with urban planning and strategic management, fostering synergy between these domains. This holistic approach not only enhances the efficiency of the planning process but also facilitates the expedited implementation of crucial investments for the ECONNECTING partner cities, ensuring a swift and comprehensive approach to sustainable urban and rural development.

  • Social isolation: a silent and nearly invisible epidemic that needs to be broken

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    Breaking Isolation - european Urbact program

    Humans are, by nature, social creatures. We, humans, need social interactions. We need to talk, to laugh, to cry, to play, to share. Of course, we also enjoy, sometimes, to withdraw and take a break from social interactions. This is the need for solitude. And it’s just fine and a rather healthy practice. Because it’s temporary, it’s about taking time just for yourself.

    But what happens when one does not get any social interaction, at all? And when it’s not by choice? When a person has, completely, and for a long period, no meeting, no sharing, no exchanging with his/her fellow human? What happens when one gets truly isolated, left alone? What happens to our society when more and more people get isolated, feel left out, abandoned, unfit for society?

    Breaking Isolation Network

    Breaking Isolation Network

    From urbact

    More and more people, today, suffer from social isolation. True isolation (not a desired break from family and friends). The World Health Organization, in November 2023, just decided to launch a special international Commission on Social Isolation and Loneliness, because: ‘Anyone, anywhere, can be lonely or socially isolated. Across all ages and regions, loneliness and social isolation have serious impacts on our physical and mental health, and the well-being of our communities and society [...] Social isolation and loneliness are widespread, with an estimated 1 in 4 older people experiencing social isolation and between 5 and 15 per cent of adolescents experiencing loneliness [...]’. Not only more and more people suffer from social isolation, but they also experience it in all age groups. And numbers are rapidly growing. Some describe social isolation as a growing ‘silent epidemic’.

    But, what do we really mean by ‘social isolation’ ? Well, social isolation is a situation in which a person suffers from a long term deficiency of social relations, both in terms of quantity and quality. This definition is key because it highlights the fact that the isolated person is in a situation of suffering (it’s not an enjoyable situation), due to a long term lack of relations (we are talking about months and years), in terms of quantity (the number of social interactions you have, ranging from a phone call with your family, a drink with a friend, or a chat with your neighbour or postman) and quality (who do you care for and cares for you, who can you count on, who do you trust to share your problems/feelings with, etc.). A person who suffers from isolation has, basically, near to no social relation, whatsoever, or at least none that are really fulfilling or satisfying. You are alone. Desperately alone.

    Jean Dionis, the Mayor of the City of Agen (France), lead partner city of the Breaking Isolation network, told the founding story of this network to all cities partners on the day of the Kick-off meeting :

    In Agen, on December 2020, there was a terrible event. One that deeply shocked the mayor of Agen. A woman, age 68, was found dead in her apartment after 2 years. She lived 200 meters away from the City Hall. Dead for 2 years. No one noticing or reporting her death. No family, no friend, no neighbour, no administration, no medical staff, no one who realized they had no news from that woman.

    This short story profoundly shocked the mayor and convinced him that cities needed to take action against social isolation and loneliness. The City of Agen (former lead partner of a previous network on citizen participation called Active Citizens), decided to launch an URBACT network on this topic of social isolation : Breaking Isolation.

    After publishing the concept note on the URBACT page, the city of Agen received over 30 applications from cities all over Europe willing to join their network on social isolation, proving the importance of the topic. The City of Agen, decided to prioritize cities of similar sizes, meaning small and/or medium sized cities. In the end, the Breaking Isolation network was formed and got approved, with 10 cities in 10 EU countries!

    10 european project partners on Breaking IsolationThe Breaking Isolation network is composed of: the City of Agen in France, the Municipality of Bijelo Polje in Montenegro, the City of Fót in Hungary, the City of Isernia in Italy, the Municipality of Jumilla in Spain, the Municipality of Pombal in Portugal, the Municipality of Roman in Romania, the Municipality of Serres in Greece, the City of Skofja Loka in Slovenia, and the Municipality of Tønder in Danemark.

    The literature review conducted for the baseline study, reveal the gravity of social isolation:

    • - Social isolation increases the risk of developing dementia by 40 to 50%
    • - Social isolation increases the risk of early death by 25% (which is comparable to tobacco consumption or alcohol consumption – there are national awareness-raising campaigns against tobacco and alcohol but none about social isolation –)
    • - Social isolation increases the risk of heart stroke and cardiovascular disease by 30% (due to the benefits of social interactions both psychologically and physically on stress reduction, lower blood pressure, etc.).

    information about social isolation



    The study visits throughout the network cities also show that:

    - People living in urban centers tend to be more easily isolated than those living in smaller villages (as people know each other more because of very little population)

    - People suffering from social isolation often combine multiple factors of isolation:  death of a loved one (or couple break up), unemployment/retirement, mental health issues, physical impairments/disabilities, poverty, domestic violence, living remotely (away from family and friends), addictive use of social media, addictions to drugs/alcohol/gambling and the lack of social skills


    issues about isolation

    • - People suffering from social isolation don’t necessarily identify themselves as socially isolated and easily enter a vicious circle : indeed they often deny their situation (because of shame) and tend to convince themselves (and sometimes people around them) that their isolation is actually their choice, that they’ve decided to isolate and stop socializing. The problem is, then, that the less a person socializes, the less the person is able to trust social relations. This leads to a growing distrust towards everyone, even sometimes familiar/close relatives. And, inevitably, this reinforces even more the isolation of the person. Sometimes, this situation makes the isolated people become more and more ‘sour’ or ‘cantankerous’ when interacting with others, leading again to more isolation.
    • - Isolated people tend to shut off: they stop letting anyone step inside their home, close their curtains and/or shutters of their home, don’t engage with anyone stranger to them, etc.


    And finally, isolated people tend to let go of their own self-care : Neglecting personal hygiene, neglecting their home (accumulating mess, reduced cleaning), neglecting their health (stop going to the doctor, not doing medical check-ups), neglecting healthy food habits (proper nutrition, weight excessive loss or gain), etc.


    The study visits, the literature review, the World Health Organization’s decision to launch a dedicated Commission on social isolation, everything confirms the importance of the challenge of the Breaking Isolation network. As Julianne Holt-Lundstad and her co-researchers [1]conclude: ‘Social relationship–based interventions represent a major opportunity to enhance not only the quality of life but also survival.’

    We need to socialize more, to share more, to care more. We need to reinforce social ties, to make sure no one is left out, alone, in the dark. And to do so, we need to explore all possibilities, all tools, all enabling policies...

    Opening up new public services? Developing new social policies? Stimulating citizen-based community support? Enhancing peer-to-peer solidarity? Rethinking urban planning to support socialization? Installing new collective social practices? Creating new digital leverage to provoke local social relations? The Breaking Isolation network will have two years to explore the best ways to break isolation, so, stay tuned… and connected.



    [1] Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB (2010) Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Med 7(7): e1000316. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316


  • Unifying Efforts for Bringing One Health in Cities

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    Avatar of One Health 4 Cities Network


    A European collaboration for human, animal and environmental health


    In the face of diverse health and environmental challenges across European regions and globally, the One Health 4 Cities Network emerges as a beacon of collaboration and knowledge exchange looking for holistic solutions in cities.

    The need for systemic approaches that support not only the current states of living but safeguard our environments for the future is very prominent. The One Health approach will bring us solutions that never were so urgent before.

    Unique of its kind, the Network brings light on how to implement the One Health approach in urban public policies, strategies, and projects. It recognises that the perception of the One Health concept may vary according to EU regions and cities and it aims to refine and propagate this transformative approach by bringing together partners representing a wide variety of local contexts.

    Comprising cities with varying levels of experience in One Health, the network fosters a collaborative environment where the nine partners come together to learn and share experiences: Benissa (ES), Elefsina (GR), Kuopio (FI), Lahti (FI), Loulé (PT), Lyon (FR), Munich (DE), Eurometropolis of Strasbourg (FR) and Suceava (RO).

    From urbact

    What is One Health and why is it important in cities?

    "One Health" is an approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of human health, animal health, and environmental health. The interactions between people, animals, plants and our environment have changed in many ways in the past years (increased travels, emerging diseases, extreme weather). One Health analyses these three components and how they behave when they interact. It recognizes that it is impossible to take care of one aspect without taking care of the others. One Health has become more important in recent years due mainly to the COVID 19 crisis. 

    This approach emphasizes the need of collaboration, cooperation, capacity building and communication across multiple disciplines (including human health, veterinary medicine, environmental science, social sciences and more), to address complex health issues.

    One Health is imperative for cities, given the unique challenges they face – dense populations, pollution, close human-animal interaction, shared environmental spaces, heat waves, invasive species – and their role in the biodiversity crisis and their adaptation to climate change impacts. In such context, it is crucial for cities to implement the One Health approach as a preventive strategy. It will increase the benefits and mitigate the negative impacts of this evolving context on the well-being and health of the living beings.

    As analysed by WHO, ‘cities are central actors for the implementation of One Health thanks to their characteristics of action. They are a key actor of the diagnosis of the health needs and inequalities among their population. They are implementing health prevention policies on the field, they are in charge of hygiene on their territory, and lead the urban policies to organize public spaces’.

    One Health 4 Cities Mission

    One Health in urban environments is an immense topic to handle, involving different disciplines, priorities, strategies, policies, etc.

    The Network One Health 4 Cities will navigate through these challenges and find ways to make meaningful actions locally but also develop knowledge for more cities to explore how to integrate One Health in their contexts. Through collaboration and shared insights, the Network aims to pave the way for a collective and informed approach to integrating One Health practices, fostering healthier and more sustainable urban environments and communities.

    The Network will work on how to integrate One Health horizontally into different disciplines experimenting its concrete implementation on specific thematic including: healthy lifestyles, active ageing, green prescribing, and nature connectedness, healthy urban planning, and biodiversity. The complexity of the approach requires also from the Network to look into topics of stakeholder engagement, monitoring, funding and policy integration.

    To do so, the Network will also embark on the mission to integrate One health on the health impact assessment methodology, develop some easy-to-use tools and guidance on the novel 3 Healths Impact Assessment.

    Through local testing, the Network will pilot and compare different methods to identify working solutions and potential synergies between topics. Regular meetings and working sessions will facilitate the sharing of results, enabling the identification of actions beneficial to cities of a variety in sizes, climates, and governance structures. All knowledge development and exchanges will fuse the URBACT’s proven methods and tools to achieve better results.

    The overarching goal is that each city will develop a specific Integrated Action Plan with a unique focus, all aimed at implementing the One Health approach as one of the responses of the diverse challenges they are facing.

    The One Health 4 Cities Network is co-funded by URBACT.


    Pictures of the Network activities





  • 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:


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    From urbact

    NÁRODNÝ KONTAKTNÝ BOD URBACT: Európska únia už pred viac ako 20 rokmi predstavila operačný program URBACT, ktorého hlavným cieľom je podpora integrovaného a udržateľného rozvoja v mestách tým, že vytvára podmienky pre európske mestá, aby spoločne vyvíjali riešenia podobných urbánnych výziev, vymieňali si skúsenosti a zdieľali osvedčené postupy medzi sebou!

    - Akým spôsobom ste sa dozvedeli o operačnom programe URBACT?
    - Mohli by ste nám priblížiť, ako ste sa do jedného z podporovaných typov tematických sietí zapojili?
    - O aký typ tematickej a nadnárodnej siete ide, a aké ďalšie európske mesta v nej participujú?

    RESPONDENT: O operačnom programe URBACT sa naše mesto dozvedelo prostredníctvom informačných dní URBACT, ktoré organizoval národný kontaktný bod pre operačný program URBACT v SR (Ministerstvo dopravy SR). Zapojiť sa nám podarilo prostredníctvom nástroja URBACT „PARTNER SEARCH TOOL“ – ide o online nástroj pre vyhľadávanie partnerov resp. miest, ktoré majú záujem zapojiť sa do tematickej siete URBACT a stať sa buď projektovým partnerom alebo vedúcim partnerom. Prostredníctvom vyššie spomínaného nástroja sa nám podarilo nájsť vhodné mesto, ktoré sa uchádzalo o post vedúceho "lead" partnera v téme nášho záujmu, ktorou je téma participácie a otvoreného vládnutia. V našom prípade išlo o belgické mesto Genk, ktoré sme informovali o našom projektovom záujme. Následne nás mesto Genk oslovilo a pozvalo na krátky rozhovor v rámci ktorého sme diskutovali o našich predstavách. Zároveň nás vedúci partner preveril prostredníctvom dotazníka do akej miery sme pre tematickú sieť vhodným partnerom. Tento „výberový proces“ dopadol pre nás úspešne. Spolu s ostatnými vybranými mestami siete “AGENTS OF CO-EXISTENCE” (Agenti koexistencie) sme sa pustili do prípravy pod vedením vedúceho partnera. Naša projektová žiadosť bola schválená dňa 30. mája 2023 Monitorovacím výborom operačného programu URBACT.  

    Mesto Banská Bystrica je zapojené do siete pre akčné plánovanie “AGENTS OF CO-EXISTENCE” (Agenti koexistencie), ktorú vedie mesto Genk (Belgicko). V rámci tematickej siete spoluprácuje medzi sebou 9 európskych miest, ktoré sa zameriavajú na podporu inovatívnych prístupov k spoločenským výzvam a inkluzívnu tvorbu miestnych politík s aktívnym zapojením obyvateľov. Okrem mesta Banská Bystrica a mesta Genk, ktoré vedie sieť, sú do partnerstva zapojené mestá Aarhus (Dánsko), Breda (Holandsko), Quart de Poblet (Španielsko), Gdansk (Poľsko), Budaörs (Maďarsko), Kekava (Lotyšsko) a územné združenie Iasi Metropolitan (Rumunsko). Sieť pre akčné plánovanie “AGENTS OF CO-EXISTENCE” (Agenti koexistencie) a zapojené mestá sa zameriavajú na hľadanie spôsobov, ako posilniť zručnosti a kompetencie zamestnancov verejnej správy a vytvárať nové organizačné štruktúry a kultúry v organizáciách verejnej správy pre podporu participatívneho riadenia, resp. spravovania vecí verejných a tým aj podpory demokratického systému. Zdieľaním vedomostí a skúseností sa mestá budú od seba navzájom učiť a spoločne dospievať k novým poznatkom. Každé mesto vypracuje miestny integrovaný akčný plán v spolupráci s miestnymi zainteresovanými aktérmi.


    NÁRODNÝ KONTAKTNÝ BOD URBACT: Jedným z benefitov operačného programu URBACT je tvorba nadnárodných tematických sietí, ktoré pomáhajú mestám po celej Európe plánovať, implementovať a zdieľať udržateľné riešenia súčasných hospodárskych, sociálnych a environmentálnych výziev! 

    - Akým výzvam v súčasnosti čelí Mesto Banská Bystrica?
    - Prečo ste sa rozhodli riešiť spomínané výzvy prostredníctvom operačného programu URBACT?
    - Aký je spoločný cieľ miest zapojených do nadnárodnej siete, v ktorej participujete?
    - Aké ambície/ciele si Mesto Banská Bystrica stanovilo v rámci tejto nadnárodnej siete?

    RESPONDENT: Spravovanie mesta musí reagovať na spoločenské javy a zmeny, musí vedieť zvládať aktuálne komplexné výzvy, vrátane polarizácie, technologických zmien (najmä v oblasti digitalizácie), umelej inteligencie, bezpečnostných výzviev globálneho charakteru, ktoré majú dopad na ešte väčšiu polarizáciu či prežívanie migračných javov na miestnej úrovni. Mesto chce na tieto zmeny reagovať prostredníctvom transparentného, spolupracujúceho a participatívneho prístupu /s cieľom zabezpečenia kvalitného partnerstva a dialógu všetkých aktérov v ekosystéme samosprávy. Preto mesto kladie dôraz na dialóg a rozvoj dialógovej kultúry, učenie sa schopnosti a zručností využívať dialóg v rôznych kontextoch a podporovať využívanie participatívnej demokracie. A to je jeden z hlavných dôvodov, prečo sa naše mesto zapojilo do siete “AGENTS OF CO-EXISTENCE” (Agenti koexistencie). Veríme, že prostredníctvom tohto projektu sa zdokonalíme vo využívaní participácie výsledkom čoho budú inovatívne a efektívne verejné politiky k súčasným komplexným výzvam.


    NÁRODNÝ KONTAKTNÝ BOD URBACT: Hlavným mechanizmom operačného programu URBACT je uplatňovanie viacfázového prístupu, ktorý sa využíva predovšetkým na skvalitňovanie stanovených cieľov a na formovanie konečného partnerstva!

    - Aké konkrétne kroky resp. aktivity plánujete realizovať v rámci „aktivačnej fázy“?
    - Ako prebieha spolupráca s „lead partnerom“ a „lead expertom“ a ďalšími zapojenými mestami?
    - Aké výsledky očakávate na miestnej úrovni vďaka účasti v nadnárodnej sieti?

    RESPONDENT: Na úrovni medzinárodných aktivít sme v našom meste privítali vedúceho "lead" partnera a experta, kde prebehlo niekoľko hĺbkových rozhovorov o kontexte a výzvach nášho mesta vo vzťahu k téme projektu. Tieto rozhovory pomôžu v vedúcemu "lead" expertovi vytvoriť profil nášho mesta a identifikovať naše kľúčové potreby. Zároveň sme absolvovali aj zahraničnú študijnú cestu do miest Genk (Belgicko) a Breda (Holandsko). Na úrovni miestnych aktivít sme začali s aktívnou komunikáciou projektu, zároveň sme absolvovali niekoľko stretnutí s miestnymi aktérmi, resp. “AGENTS OF CO-EXISTENCE” (Agenti koexistencie) kde sme získali zaujímavé dáta na ktorých budeme stavať náš akčný plán.


    NÁRODNÝ KONTAKTNÝ BOD URBACT: Dňa 28. – 30. augusta 2023 sa uskutočnilo podujatie URBACT University 2023, ktorého cieľom bolo posilniť zručnosti súčasných zástupcov miest v participatívnej a integrovanej tvorbe politík a cykle akčného plánovania!

    - Mohli by ste zhodnotiť Vašu účasť na podujatí?
    - Čo si odnášate podujatia URBACT University 2023?
    - V čom podujatie URBACT University 2023 bolo pre Vás prínosné? 

    RESPONDENT: Na podujatí URBACT UNIVERSITY sme získali množstvo potrebného know how a nástrojov na spustenie tvorby akčného plánu. Zároveň sme mali príležitosť absolvovať študijné návštevy s ukážkami dobrej praxe v oblasti otvoreného spravovania v mestách Malmo a Kodani, čo bolo pre nás veľmi inšpiratívne.


    NÁRODNÝ KONTAKTNÝ BOD URBACT: Čo by ste odkázali, resp. aké rady a typy by ste ponúkli slovenským mestám, ktoré majú záujem zapojiť sa do operačného programu URBACT a nadchádzajúcej výzvy zameranej na inovatívny transferový mechanizmus a replikáciu prvkov Urban Inovative Actions?

    RESPONDENT: Nám veľmi pomohol vyššie spomínaný „PARTNER SEARCH TOOL", prostredníctvom ktorého sme mali príležitosť spoznať podobne zmýšľajúce mestá so záujmom o projektové partnerstvo. Samozrejme je dobré mať od začiatku jasný cieľ a včasne začať s hľadaním partnerov.

  • The FEMACT-Cities Action Planning Network: Addressing the implementation gap in gender equality policy

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    Why are we still talking about gender equality? The FEMACT-Cities Action Planning Network: Addressing the implementation gap in gender equality policy

    Why are we still talking about gender equality?


    2024 will mark the 25 year anniversary of the Pact of Amsterdam, the legal document which made gender equality compulsory in the European Union. But even before that, gender equality policy had been enacted on national and regional levels in the member states. So why are we still talking about gender equality?


    Haven‘t we moved beyond this topic yet?


    Unfortunately, the reality is that not only haven‘t we closed the gap between men and women in wages, pensions, school achievement, participation in STEM fields, number of political representatives, and many other topics, in fact, recent data from the European Institute on Gender Equality (EIGE) shows that progress on gender equality in the EU-27 stalled or was in some places even negative between 2019 and 2022, due largely in part to the gendered effects of the pandemic.


    The Gender Equality Index for the EU-27 2022. Progress in EIGE’s gender equality index has slowed since 2019 and progress has been very mixed across the EU-27. Source: EIGE(1)

    From urbact
    Gender Equality Index for the EU-27 2022

    The Gender Equality Index for the EU-27 2022. Progress in EIGE’s gender equality index has slowed since 2019 and progress has been very mixed across the EU-27. Source: EIGE. 2022. Gender Equality Index 2022: The COVID-19 pandemic and care. p. 20. Available at: https://eige.europa.eu/publications-resources/publications/gender-equality-index-2022-covid-19-pandemic-and-care. Accessed on 18 October 2023.

    The fact is that while all 27 member states have enacted federal laws to translate the principle of gender equality into their national law, implementation on a local level remains uneven and tends to favour certain topics, despite the fact that women continue to experience urban spaces, public services, the labour market, education and training and even health provision in Europe differently than men.

    Despite nearly a quarter century of policy, the role of gender equality as a cross-cutting topic which is vital to all policy areas remains poorly understood. A handful of cities and regions, for example Vienna (AT), Barcelona (ES), Umeå (SE) and the Basque country (ES), have made a concerted point of focusing on the role of gender in urban and regional development and have worked to push policy innovation and new approaches, including in sectors which were previously not considered relevant. However, the reality for many more municipalities, intermunicipal areas and regional authorities in Europe is that their work on gender equality implementation is hampered by knowledge and data gaps, lack of dedicated personnel, lack of awareness, lack of political support and both active and passive resistance.

    For gender equality to become a reality in European cities and regions, it is therefore critical not only to work across sectors and with a variety of stakeholders, but also to work on awareness, acceptance and training within the municipality or organisation itself, identifying and actively combatting stereotypes and raising awareness and allyship among men, who are all too frequently missing from the conversation. Networking and peer learning between municipalities can help transfer knowledge and effective practices, and increase the effectiveness of those working on this topic and the policies they develop.

    Against this backdrop, the URBACT FEMACT-Cities Action Planning Network seeks to increase innovation and knowledge sharing in gender equality in four thematic clusters shared by the partners: urban development, labour market and training and health and safety, flanked by internal and structural gender mainstreaming in the partner organisations. Four cross-cutting topics – stereotypes, urban/rural differences, intersectional identities and the role of men – will accompany this work. The goal of the network is to create cities and regions in which all residents, irrespective of gender, can experience freedom of movement, freedom from violence, freedom from fear, freedom to pursue their dreams, and freedom to reach their full potential.

    To do this, the eight partners (Länsstyrelsen Skåne (SE), Comunidade Intermunicipal da Região de Coimbra (PT), Clermont-Auvergne Métropole (FR), Kraków (PL), City of Turin (IT), Municipality of Postojna (SI), Cluj Metropolitan Area Intercommunity Development Association (RO), and Szabolcs 05 Regional Development Association of Municipalities (HU)) will embark on a two-year journey of learning, sharing and testing in order to create integrated action plans for their local policy challenges.

    This network will tackle topics never before addressed in an URBACT network, including gender-based violence, women‘s health issues, and gendered approaches to mobility planning. If you want to read more about the state of gender equality in Europe and how the FEMACT-Cities partners plan to tackle it, check out our baseline study.

    And to learn more about URBACT‘s work on gender equality and how it affects your sector, check out the Gender Equal Cities report, which is packed with case studies and helpful tools and methods.

    Photo by Christian Lue

  • Drie stappen om een project op te starten: lessen uit de URBACT zomeruniversiteit

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    URBACT University 2023 - problem solving tree

    De nieuwe URBACT-steden kwamen van 28 tot 30 augustus bijeen in Malmö voor hun eerste persoonlijke ontmoeting. Dit was een gelegenheid om hun respectieve netwerken een eerste impuls te geven. Ter herinnering: aan het eind van 30 maanden werk moet elk van de 30 actieplanningsnetwerken een geïntegreerd actieplan over zijn doelthema produceren.

    From urbact

    De URBACT Summer Schools zijn trainings- en netwerkevenementen die deelnemers toegang geven tot nuttige vaardigheden voor het uitvoeren van hun werk in netwerken. De editie 2023, die plaatsvond in Malmö, trok meer dan 400 praktijkmensen uit heel Europa. Het evenement was een echte kans voor de aanwezige steden om hun netwerkpartners beter te leren kennen en gezamenlijk de richting van hun project te bepalen. Het opstarten van een URBACT APN-netwerk vereist inderdaad dat steden een stap terug doen en nadenken over de kwesties die essentieel zijn om het proces soepel te laten verlopen.

    Drie sessies boden een kader voor de aanpak:

    - Gemeenschappelijke problemen en visies verkennen

    - In kaart brengen van en dialoog met belanghebbenden

    - Van problemen naar acties

    Voor elk van deze fasen werden tools van de URBACT toolbox gebruikt. Laten we eens kijken naar deze tools, die van onschatbare waarde blijken te zijn in een grote verscheidenheid aan contexten.


    Gemeenschappelijke problemen en visies verkennen

    Voor de eerste werksessie werden twee hulpmiddelen gebruikt: de probleemboom en de krant van morgen.

    Allereerst is de "Problem Tree" een diagram voor het ontleden en begrijpen van complexe problemen. Het doet dit door problemen te deconstrueren in hun samenstellende delen. De boom bestaat uit drie delen: de "wortels", d.w.z. de oorzaken; de "takken", d.w.z. de effecten of gevolgen; en tot slot manifesteert het probleem zich in de "stam" van de boom.

    Dit hulpmiddel geeft een overzicht van de onderliggende oorzaken en gevolgen van een specifiek probleem en helpt uiteindelijk bij het definiëren van strategische doelstellingen.

    Tomorrow's Newspaper is een anticipatietechniek die creativiteit, innovatie en inlevingsvermogen stimuleert. Het primaire doel van deze tool is het creëren van een levendig en overtuigend verhaal. Deze aanpak vraagt individuen of groepen om zich onder te dompelen in een toekomstscenario waarin de verandering die zij voor ogen hebben werkelijkheid is geworden.

    De kracht van de Morgenagenda ligt in de beknoptheid van de uitvoering in vergelijking met andere visualisatie- en scenarioplanningstechnieken. Het bevat alle essentiële elementen - impact op mensen, vermogen tot synthese, vermogen tot empathie en visualisatie van verandering.

    Voor meer informatie over deze sessie


    In kaart brengen van en dialoog met belanghebbenden

    Tijdens de tweede werksessie werkten de steden aan het identificeren en betrekken van de belanghebbenden bij hun toekomstige projecten. Er werden twee complementaire instrumenten gebruikt: de Stakeholders Ecosystem Map en de Stakeholders Power/Interest Matrix.

    Als onderdeel van zijn gereedschapskist biedt URBACT een set hulpmiddelen om belanghebbenden in kaart te brengen. De Stakeholders Ecosystem Map is een intuïtieve tool waarmee projectcoördinatoren de belangrijkste stakeholders in beeld kunnen brengen wiens steun en betrokkenheid nodig zijn voor het project.

    De macht/belangenmatrix voor belanghebbenden is ontworpen om het belang van de verschillende belanghebbenden te helpen begrijpen. Het geeft een beeld van de invloed en het belang van belanghebbenden en dient als basis om na te denken over hoe belangrijke spelers meer betrokken kunnen worden. 

    Naast het in kaart brengen en classificeren van belanghebbenden op basis van hun invloed, is het ook belangrijk om hen te beschouwen als onderdeel van een systeem van onderlinge verbindingen. Deze ecosysteembenadering kan lokale partnerschappen helpen om de interacties tussen belanghebbenden en hun rollen beter te begrijpen, door vast te stellen welke hulpbronnen gedeeld en uitgewisseld kunnen worden. Met andere woorden, een meer circulaire benadering van samenwerking.

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    Tomorrow's Newspape op de zomeruniversiteit


    Van problemen naar acties

    Het beschrijven, inkaderen en plannen van coherente acties is essentieel om de ambities van een stedelijk beleid te verwezenlijken. Dit is ongetwijfeld het langste deel van het proces voor elke gemeente die acties wil uitproberen en ze op lange termijn operationeel wil maken. Dit is geen uitzondering voor URBACT-steden.

    De derde en laatste werksessie gaf de steden de gelegenheid om deze acties te onderzoeken met behulp van het Action Planning Canvas.

    Het Action Planning Canvas stelt elke stad in staat om belangrijke informatie over haar actieplan op papier te zetten en de voortgang ervan te monitoren. De tool bestaat uit vier onderling verbonden secties. Het eerste deel presenteert de lokale context, behoeften en gedeelde visie, die allemaal werden verkend door universiteitsdeelnemers tijdens de eerste dag van het evenement. Het tweede deel presenteert het algemene logische kader en het verband met een geïntegreerde aanpak. In de laatste twee hoofdstukken worden de specifieke activiteiten gedetailleerd beschreven en wordt een implementatiekader voor een geïntegreerd actieplan gedefinieerd.

    Hoewel het actieplanningscanvas een belangrijk hulpmiddel is om de resultaten van het proces op te volgen, kan het ook worden gebruikt als informatiehulpmiddel voor een breder publiek.

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    Actie ondernemen

    De gepresenteerde hulpmiddelen zijn zeer nuttig en gemakkelijk te gebruiken, zowel voor steden in het actieplannings-netwerk als daarbuiten. Het kan steden en netwerken helpen om na te denken over lokale geïntegreerde actieplannen, om beknopt weer te geven welke richtingen worden ingeslagen en om de verschillende fasen van de uitvoering met elkaar te verbinden.

    Het is echter essentieel om met deze hulpmiddelen overweg te kunnen als je actie wilt ondernemen, dus we raden je aan om ze uit te proberen zodra je de kans krijgt. Dan zul je niet meer zonder kunnen! Als je nog twijfelt, neem dan contact op met je URBACT Nationaal Contactpunt, die je op weg zal helpen.