• Five ways URBACT makes cities greener

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    Five ways URBACT makes cities greener_COVER

    Throughout the years, URBACT has led the way to make cities more resilient. Today, the future looks greener than ever before.

    From urbact

    This year’s EU Green Week (3-11 June) is an opportunity to debate, become familiar with, or even celebrate EU environment policy. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of URBACT’s accomplishments, what the programme stands for and, most of all, what lies ahead. Read on to grasp how URBACT promotes an environmentally-friendly, sustainable urban development.


    Co-creating a greener EU

    The Cohesion Policy 2021-2027, aims amongst others, for “a greener, low-carbon transitioning towards a net zero carbon economy and resilient Europe”. Unsurprisingly, many URBACT cities are taking on this challenge: a vast majority of the recently approved Action Planning Networks will work around this topic. From local circular economy, green spaces in industrial zones and abandoned spaces, rural-urban connections, to green growth in small cities and nature place-based solutions, 84 partners will co-create their own green action plans. The networks of BiodiverCITY, COPE, EcoCore, Econnecting, GreenPlace, In4Green, Let's Go Circular, PUMA and SCHOOLHOODS will benefit from URBACT's capacity-building and knowledge activities, expertise, and methods to help them achieve their goals during the next 2.5 years. The URBACT team looks forward to seeing what solutions and ideas these cities will come up with.


    Leveraging on public procurement

    Food URBACT Knowledge Hub gif

    Green public procurement has long been a hot topic for municipalities and other public authorities. In this context, URBACT has been a pioneer when it comes to re-thinking the way EU cities produce, distribute and consume food. Beyond all the food for thought the programme has provided to city practitioners over the years, URBACT has also developed its Strategic Public Procurement Online Course to help cities navigate and face legal frameworks. 2023 is a particular important year in this regard, with the launch of the Urban Agenda for the EU partnership on Food (planned for September) and the announcement of the EU Framework for Sustainable Food (foreseen to be released by the end of the year). To facilitate the access from cities to any novelties, URBACT will create a follow up public procurement module on food, so stay tuned!



    Steering an energy transition

    With the recent conclusion of the VILAWATT URBACT Network, the programme aims at mainstreaming lessons learnt, policy recommendations and other practices to cities across Europe. Based on an Urban Innovative Action (UIA) project that consisted in developing a people-public-private consortium to pool energy purchase, while retrofitting buildings and raising awareness, this pilot network shared the original practices from Viladecans (ES) with partners from Belgium, Hungary and Greece. Throughout this experience, they have taken on the challenge to co-create energy citywide plans to nudge its inhabitants and tackle different issues, such as energy poverty. More information on how the programme will further share this knowledge on energy governance will follow in the months to come.


    Pushing for soft mobility

    Mobility URBACT Knowledge Hub gif

    Ever since the launch of the open call for Action Planning Networks (January – March 2023), many cities have shown their interest in working with mobility issues. This trend was particularly noticeable in the many project ideas that ware published in URBACT’s Partner Search Tool, but also in some of the approved networks. In total, five partnerships will work around mobility, the 15-minute city concept, public transportation and, overall, improving the liveability of public spaces. Such objectives are aligned with the Cohesion Policy objective for a more connected EU. This is not the first time, URBACT cities join forces to gather inspiration, practical interventions and long-term visions on this subject. To discover some of the existing tips and ideas, be sure to check URBACT’s Walk’n Roll guidebook. Composed by three booklets, this product complies different stories and tools that are fit for cities of literally all sizes.  



    Supporting the European Urban Initiative

    As it’s stated in the URBACT IV Cooperation Programme, the programme has among its thematic priorities to support a green urban transition. Likewise, according to the document, URBACT shall support and coordinate relevant actions with its key partner: the European Urban Initiative (EUI). Besides leading the work developed by the Urban Agenda for the EU partnerships, notably on food (to be launched in September) and on green cities (launched earlier this year), EUI has just launched its second call, this time for innovative actions. Do not wait any longer, this call could be the right fit for greening your city.





    Interested by any of these topics?

    Save the date for the 2023 European Week of Regions (EWRC) and Cities in Brussels (BE)! Between 9 - 12 October, URBACT will contribute to two sessions:

    - Participatory lab ‘How can regions and cities drive a just energy transition with and for their citizens?’, co-organised by URBACT, ESPON, Interreg Europe and Interact

    - Participatory lab ‘Use tech to accelerate the green transition in your region or city’, including Horizon Europe project ‘Knowing’

    Registrations for the EWRC will open during the summer.




  • Can public procurement be a leverage for local food transition?

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    Can public procurement leverage local food transition - COVER

    Discover how cities have taken on the challenge to push for more organic, local and sustainable food systems.

    From urbact

    URBACT cities and networks have been very active in the development of innovative approaches and solutions when it comes to public procurement and gender-sensitive responses. Their practical insights and experience are told in the different modules of the Strategic Public Procurement Online Course. Some municipalities have also taken advantage of it to re-think the ways we produce, distribute and consume food. Read on to see how cities are taking matters into their own hands.



    Food Public Procurement: what and why?


    Food procurement relates to the provisioning of food, via catering services (with or without supply), canteens, and vending machines. It targets the public sector and sectors managed by public authorities: school and childcare centres, health and welfare centres (including hospitals), senior or retirement homes, and public administrations.

    Paying attention to the way this food is purchased by public authorities is crucial.  The overall environmental impact of the food system is undeniable: it contributes to 1/3 of GHG emissions globally and drive up socio-economic and health inequalities. In addition, within the agricultural sector in Europe, livestock farming is responsible for 78% of biodiversity loss and 81% of global warming. Food waste of the catering sector is also estimated to account for 14% of all EU waste, accounting for almost 12.5 million tonnes. Energy produced effectively by the catering sector could, for example, achieve savings of more than 20% leading to a saving of EUR 95 million (80 million GBP) per year and reducing national energy consumption by over 4 000 million kWh per year.

    In terms of economic impact, the current food system sustains unfair working conditions practices for farmers and their respective difficult to access land and to sustainable production. Not to mention the working conditions of migrant workers. With regards to the fact that, on average, 85 million meals are catered every day in the EU (over 50% through contract catering), and that there are about 3.7 million vending machines in Europe that are run by around 10 000 different companies (mostly SMEs and family businesses that employ directly more than 85 000 people and many more in supportive industries), sustainable food procurement in public institutions provides an enormous potential to push market demand for greener products.




    In terms of social and health-related impact, the current mainstream food system has led to a higher risk for disease and mortality in Europe: unhealthy diets are responsible for 49% of cardiovascular diseases, with an estimated annual cost of EUR102 billion for health systems and society; and with 16-22% of EU school-age children are overweight, 1/4 of them are obese. Last but not least, 36.2 million people, including children, cannot afford a quality meal every second day, which could be compensated by healthy school meals to a certain extent.

    As such, using food procurement strategically can impact the whole society directly. First by promoting the purchase of certified (ideally organic) products, seasonal products, reducing the called "food miles", and reducing packaging and food waste. Procurement can lower pesticides and antibiotic residues in food air and water pollution and greenhouse emissions. Then by promoting the purchase of certified (ideally fair trade) local products. Procurement can support the fair retribution of producers, boost local economy and employment, supporting local entrepreneurship and innovation, increase or convert organic production. And finally, by promoting the purchase of sustainable products and healthy meals and raising awareness. Procurement can contribute to the reduction of obesity, health problems, boast local communities’ prosperity and wellbeing.


    The EU Framework for Sustainable Food Procurement


    When addressing food procurement, the first strategic frameworks which come to mind are those related to the EU (green) Public Procurement: the EU public procurement directive, the EU Green Public Procurement criteria, the Communication on public procurement for a better environment, Public Procurement for a Circular Economy. Good practice and guidance, and the  Food & catering – GPP Product Sheet.

    Yet, Food Procurement can also rely on a range of other EU initiatives, to further develop innovative solutions:

    1. European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy
    2. The Action Plan for the Circular Economy, the EU waste directive, the EU Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, the Directive on single-use plastics, and the Directive on packaging and packaging waste
    3. The EU Strategy on nutrition, overweight and obesity-related health issues
    4. Food 2030 research and innovation policy framework


    Key URBACT cities’ solutions


    Some URBACT cities have been exemplary in seeking to identify practical solutions for the transition of their food procurement processes. Below some city cases:


    Engaging users and the market in Liège


    The city of Liège (BE), partner in the BIOCANTEENS#2 Transfer Network developed a strong knowledge of their local producers, while adapting the needs of their local canteens to their local offer. The city starts all its tendering processes by an analysis of the needs with the food users, such as canteens managers and cooks: products used, their quantities, frequencies and other relevant factors. The research then focuses on local producers and enterprises that could potentially respond to these needs, leading to drafting specifications corresponding to both needs and offer.

    Market engagement also enables the city to build the capacity of the market to meet their requirement(s), inform on the design of the procurement and contract, and help suppliers to submit quality bids. This process also tests the maturity of the market, the feasibility of the procurement, the level of technical and product innovation, the type of exiting composition and the concern about sustainability. Once the city is certain that producers can deliver healthy and diversified meals, the tenders integrate a new selection criteria.

    It is important to note that market engagement is legally possible under Article 40 of Directive 2014/24/EU, provided that legal consideration are taken into consideration, as transparent and non-discriminatory process, not providing unfair advantage, keeping a record of all market engagement activities, giving equal access to all suppliers and treat all suppliers equally.


    Training, supporting, monitoring and control in the Region of Brussels-Capital


    The Region of Brussels-Capital (BE), was the Lead Partner of the URBACT II Sustainable Food in Urban Communities Network, which designed a complete training and support for school canteens and caterers: awareness-raising for future catering professionals, pilot projects with catering companies, training schemes, support with communication tools and equipment, and access to a help desk. This scheme is linked to the Good Food labelling of canteens, part of the Region Sustainable Food Strategy – the Good Food Strategy that is now in its second version.

    The Region also published detailed Guidelines for canteens which stress the importance of control and monitoring, in order to ensure that the contractor commitments are respected in the delivery of contracts. It can take the form of an administrative monitoring (e.g. on a trimester basis), as well as -surprise (bi-)monthly check at the place of production (in case of on-site production). A third check is only necessary if there is any doubt about a possible problem. The guidelines also distinguish canteens with food prepared on the spot or delivered, describing criteria in concrete details and technical clauses.



    Combining procurement solutions for more sustainability in Torres Vedras


    As part of its Sustainable School Food Programme, which aims to provide healthy school meals in a social, ecological and sustainable way, the city of Torres Vedras (PT) a partner of the BioCanteens original Transfer Network looks out at food procurement concerns for its municipal kitchens, which prepare 1 400 meals per day. The city seeks to purchases raw food material exclusively and directly from local producers and suppliers, with the following combined solutions:

    1. Lots for raw food material: organic fruits, conventional fruits, organic vegetables, conventional vegetables, meat, fish, grocery, bread and eggs.
    2. Decision criteria applicate a percentage for: price, samples for quality evaluation, technical data sheets of the products, freshness related to the food transport time (minutes).
    3. Mandatory conditions for supply: bulk products (if applicable), specific capacity of the suppliers, and replacement of non-acceptable products by quality issues.
    4. Mandatory documents: price, products data sheets, document to evaluate freshness through the distance of the food production/storage.

    Indeed, the 2014 Directives allow contracting authorities to both: exclude companies from tendering for not meeting certain conditions (exclusion criteria); and select the most suitable companies to bid based on technical ability and previous experience in relation to the subject matter of the contract (selection criteria).


    Creating a whole food ecosystem using procurement as a lever in Mouans-Sartoux


    Mouans-Sartoux (FR), is a flagship URBACT city that has achieved and shared its secret recipe for years now, especially as the Lead Partner of both editions of the BioCanteens Transfer Networks. As part of its overall transition, it has used procurement as a main tool to ensure the coherence of its entire food ecosystem. By combining lots, market engagement, use of labels, weights and criteria, in its tenders it has sought the pave the way and leading role cities can play. Yet, procurement is only one of the tools used to this end, and the dynamics go beyond food itself (see the image below). The experience of this city has been told using different formats (kitchen micro-good practices, Education Micro-good practices, set-up of a Maison de l’Alimentation Durable, among many others) and stories.




    What if my city wants to go further?


    Then above-mentioned examples are all accessible for interested readers to consult. And the cities that were used as examples for this article will undoubtedly be happy to share more about their experience. Other material can be found as part of the StratKit Interreg Baltic Sea project, the EU Food Policy Coalition paper on sustainable public procurement of food, and, the Manifesto for establishing minimum standards for public canteens across the EU.

    Last but not, least, URBACT will carry on the debate and reflections on the subject of food procurement in the course of this year. So, stay tuned and be sure to check the URBACT Knowledge Hub!






    URBACT Knowledge Hub


    Get more food for thought in the URBACT Knowledge Hub!



  • 10 times URBACT has taken the leap towards digital

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    10 times has led digital transition - COVER

    Throughout the years, URBACT has led the way to a just digital transition. The experience from cities bears witness of change.

    From urbact

    Among its core objectives, the EU cohesion policy has set as a first priority to create a more competitive and smarter Europe. But what does it mean to take the leap towards the digital transition? Read on to get a glimpse of how URBACT cities have faced today's challenges using tech solutions and ideas.




    Piraeus (EL)

    Blue Growth Entrepreneurship Competition 


    As part of its efforts to create new jobs and innovation opportunities within the local economy, Piraeus launched its blue growth entrepreneurship competition, which is recognised as an URBACT Good Practice. As a coastal city, with a strong maritime industry, it’s in the best interest of the city and its citizens to explore and take a dive into the blue economy. At the core of its practices it’s a contest, where business plans are prepared and submitted by aspiring entrepreneurs and then compared and judged against a set of predetermined criteria. The aim is to get potential entrepreneurs to explore new opportunities and set up growth opportunities within the digital economy.


    One past winner is the Ferryhopper – an online ferry-ticketing marketplace that helps consumers with access to multi-trip tickets, which are sold by a whole range of different transport operators. This competition is an interesting example of how to intersectional priorities, with tech and digital opportunities in mind, can offer a huge potential. Piraeu’s experience has led the city to become Lead Partner in two Transfer Networks: BluAct (2018 - 2021) and BluAct Second Wave (2021 - 2023). The results have been outstanding and this Good Practice has become a source of inspiration beyond the EU. Most recently, the United Nations Development Programme has taken interest in it and the BluAct team has presented its work to citymakers in different countries.


    Promotional video for the competition led by Mataro (ES), Project Partner of the BluAct Transfer Network


    Jelgava (LV)

    Supporting environmental data


    As a Project Partner of the IoTxChange Action Planning Network (2019 – 2022), which was led by Fundão (PT), the city of Jelgava uses Internet of Things sensor technology since July 2021 to measure local meteo and environmental data. The municipality has seized the testing activities budget to use IoT as a policy instrument for the city change, with an overall goal to support farmers, other stakeholders and, more broadly, the civil society. As a pilot, Jelgava installed four stations with IoT connections in the downtown and farmers’ premises. Different type of data is collected – air temperature, soil humidity, rainfall, wind speed and wind direction – using two different heights, at 2 and 10 meters high, which is considered as proof of concept for the data validation, which should play a role if new sensors should be put into place.



    Bassa Romagna (IT)

    An app for sustainable food chain


    Comprised by nine municipalities, the Union of Bassa Romagna took part in the FOOD CORRIDORS Action Planning Network (2019 – 2022) to promote sustainable food systems in the framework of health, environment and climate change. Using an integrated approach, this territory has chosen to focus on the local economy by, among other things, enabling the creation of food start-ups and relying on tech to innovate the local value chain. When it came to social and environmental aspects, the concept of proximity, also known as “food to fork” or “0 km”, was key. Together with their URBACT Local Group, the municipalities planned different actions on food redistribution to support NGOs and tackle poverty, while avoiding waste – a surplus for solidarity.


    Other actions included territorial marketing initiatives to support responsible and health local food consumption. In addition, during the lifespan of the network, people became increasingly aware of the potential of digital tools, due to the pandemic’s constraints. Such context and ambitions led the network to use its testing activities budget to develop a brand new app. Currently available for Android phones, the app collects the geolocation of local producers, featuring the history of the companies, local markets and even tourism farms and other information for citizens and potential consumers in the area. New features are still on the making, notably for creating a repertory of typical local products. Other functionalities are also under reflection, such as food redistribution.



    Saint Quentin (FR)

    Engaging all citizens in the digital revolution


    Saint Quentin’s has taken part in two Action Planning Networks (2019 – 2022), DigiPlace and ACTIVE CITIZENS. Following a strong political desire to face the main challenges of the future together – and implementing its 2050 strategy with a people-centric city approach – the city has also defined its digital plan. Based upon the principles to use new technologies to promote sustainable development, reduce costs and support local stakeholders in the ownership of digital tools, the city wanted to tackle the digital divide. Even if most public administrative services were made digital – as taxes and health services – about 20% of the local population were still feeling excluded to a lack of digital skills. This has prompted the city to invest, mainly through municipality, regional and state funds and other local resources, in activities to get closer to citizens, in simple but effective ways. The city has established several Solidarity Hubs, community spaces where people can access ICT facilities and support. Social cohesion is at the heart of ACTIVE CITIZENS, reason why the network was an occasion to further explore an involve locals in this inclusion process.



    Barnsley (UK)

    Adapt or die


    As a British medium-sized city with big ambitions, the city has long been keen to develop a “new” economy based on innovation and the Industry 4.0, following the contracting of the mining industry in the 1980’s. A story many European cities and towns can relate to. To this end, for more than a decade the city has committed to growing higher value jobs, particularly within its creative, tech and digital sectors. At the heart of recent successes are the Barnsley Enterprise – an entrepreneurship programme, providing a one-stop-shop for local businesses that seek the City Council’s support – and the Digital Media Centres, physical hubs for creative and digital initiatives.


    Barnsley was awarded an URBACT Good Practice label and has led three URBACT projects: the TechTown Action Planning Network (2015 – 2018) and the Transfer Networks Tech Revolution (2018 – 2021) and Tech Revolution 2.0 (2021 – 2023). Thanks to these experiences, the local council has developed beyond the town itself and, in 2022, was asked to pilot a regional digital strategy. Such achievement will allow the city to carry on its principles, while expanding its activities including in universities, residential, retail and travel facilities.


    Barnsley (UK) interview during the Lisbon URBACT City Festival in 2018


    Nyiregyhaza (HU)

    An active business system to support the digital economy


    Through its participation in the TechTown Action Planning Network (2015 - 2018) and, later, in the Tech Revolution Transfer Network (2018 - 2021), Nyiregyhaza has witnessed big transformations. The city has set up an active – and coordinated – business support service within its arms length Industrial Park Company. The city is now home to a new Technology and Innovation Centre with a stable operating budget, provided by the municipality, and with six full-time staff members, working on economic development, business support and investment promotion. The mayor now lists economic development and job creation as key priorities and seeks to focus on growth within the digital economy.



    Oulu (FI)

    Smart bins and digital twins


    During its participation in the DigiPlace Action Planning Network (2019 – 2022), the city of Oulu (FI) collaborated with a start-up to develop an app for enabling waste collection on-demand for citizens as well as active monitoring of municipal waste bins. The on-demand option allows residents to use the app to request a collection when their bin is getting full, which leads to a collection being dynamically scheduled into the waste company’s collection route. This uses AI algorithms to calculate the optimal route for waste collection vehicles to move around the bins that need to be collected in the most efficient manner, only visiting bins when needed. A similar algorithm is linked with the municipal bin monitoring system, which tracks how much waste is in over 1 000 of the city’s bins using sensors, and schedules bins into the collection cycle when they become close to being full.


    This experience has resulted in a 40% reduction in both the number of collections and of the number of vehicles needed in the fleet, with the associated reductions in cost and carbon emissions. Similarly, the Lead Partner of DigiPalce, the municipality of Messina (IT), has active management of its waste services using a network of sensors, cameras and associated machine learning and AI algorithms. These are both great examples of existing technology and know-how – IoT sensors, route optimisation, machine learning and video recognition – being combined to tackle real city challenges or to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of city services, while also learning from peers.



    Bielsko – Biala (PL)

    Creating a digital economy


    Through their participation in the AS-TRANSFER Network (2021 – 2023) – a pilot collaboration between URBACT and the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) to mainstream the lessons learnt from previous project – the municipality of Bielsko-Biala has drawn inspiration from the AS-FABRIK initiative in Bilbao (ES). The original project consisted of developing a comprehensive concept that offered new training schemes, partnerships and actions to accelerate digitalisation and boost innovation startups in the Spanish city. Throughout the pilot, the Polish city has developed in a participatory way an investment plan to further seize the Industry 4.0. The city has long been a pioneer when it comes to tech. Back in 2014, Biesko-Biala opened its first creative space and Poland’s first ever FabLab. If successful, the investment plan will enable the city to create a well-connected and vivid local innovation ecosystem with its existing Digital Innovation Hub at heart.



    Aveiro (PT)

    A card to simplify local services


    Following Aveiro’s participation in the CARD4ALL Transfer Network (2018 – 2021), the city has become known as a digital cluster, a territory of innovation with a strong knowledge economy, dynamic university, centre for telecoms R&D, and innovative firms in the digital and traditional sectors. However, the increasing development of new digital solutions had created a complex system of providers, interfaces and information sources for various services around the city, which was increasingly hard for local people to navigate.The Municipality has been wanting In an attempt to simplify citizens’ access to public services and transform Aveiro into a smarter, more open, resilient and inclusive society, the municipality an Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) project in 2018. The Aveiro STEAM CITY, supporting the adoption of 5G and Internet of Things technologies. Based on the URBACT Good Practice of Gijon (ES), the Lead Partner from CARD4ALL, Aveiro has started by introducing a common card for all students across its different schools.


    All services provided by the municipality and schools can be managed and paid with it. This includes the cafeteria, school supplies, photocopying, even access to the buildings and school-day extensions. Crucial preparatory actions included mapping different systems to ensure compatibility and ease of use. Almost simultaneously, the city also activated new online services, with a wide range of options. Today, different municipal departments are working together to create a broader citizen card system covering almost all sectors of local life, including mobility, education, sports, culture, tourism and IT. Each department acts as an intermediary with their own external service providers and concession holders, encouraging strong cross-sectoral cooperation.



    Keeping up with the Digital Transition

    URBACT's brand new online course


    URBACT is committed to improving the digital transition in all programme activities: in EU responses to urban challenges and in the planning processes of all URBACT cities. Unsurprisingly, digital is among the three crosscutting priorities for this programming period (2021 - 2027) – alongside the green and the gender themes. Time after time, the programme has supported the knowledge dissemination on the subject, with TechPlace and, most recently, the Keeping Up with the Digital Transition Moodle, which is open to anyone who takes an interest in this topic.



    Digital solutions and ideas are coming at us thick and fast, and it can be hard for city staff and politicians to keep up. It’s therefore important for cities to be able to navigate around this universe and take advantage of its full potential. Cities have a vital role to play in the digital transition, alongside the private sector. From green matters to participative governance, from education to economy, digital solutions can help urban practitioners to deliver better and more integrated approaches at local level. Start the course now and build your capacities!






    URBACT Knowledge Hub


    After reading these 10 examples, we trust that you will be as enthusiastic as we are to keep up with the digital transition across Europe.

    To find out more about TechPlace and other resources, be sure to check the URBACT Knowledge Hub!

  • URBACT launches a training for cities to "Keep Up with the Digital Transition"

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    A brand-new Moodle course on a key crosscutting theme of the URBACT programme. 

    • Demystifying Tech - introducing eight essential tech terms - IoT, AI, Robots, Drones, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Blockchain and 3D Printing

    • Digital Environment - exploring how digital tools can help us cope better with today’s challenges related to climate

    • Digital Society - exploring how tech and digitalisation are shaping society and how society is shaping digitalisation

    • Digital Government - exploring what digital transformation means for governmental structures and organisations and why it is important

    • Digital Economy - exploring what a digital economy is, what role the city might play in growing a digital economy and how to make it happen



    From urbact


    This training aims to build the capacities of city-practitioners and policy-makers to understand the main concepts and challenges associated with digital transitions in a few key policy areas. The goal is to help them feel more comfortable in considering digital tools and new technologies as a way of delivering against policy goals. 


    Target Audience: the training isn’t for seasoned ‘techies’. Rather, it targets people who might self-define as tech ‘newbies’ and/or people from smaller and medium sized cities. This is because these are the places which have most to gain from understanding and embracing digital transition. The training has been developed by the TechPlace community, which is an online place for city practitioners and policy makers wanting to make a positive difference using tech. We’re building a community of interest and a safe place to exchange, learn and ask stupid questions. We welcome practitioners from across all URBACT cities and beyond. 



    The training is broken down into the following 6 modules, each one with a short video, written and video case studies, city use cases plus a range of handouts and some short tasks to help you check your understanding and progress. The modules are designed to be used together or in isolation so you can dip in and out or watch from the beginning to the end. 

  • Localising the 2030 Agenda

    Localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an ever-evolving practice. Following the unanimously adoption of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda, for the first time ever, sustainable cities and communities were singled out as distinct objectives in a multi-lateral agreement. An important milestone, acknowledging the central role of cities in the achievement of the SDGs. According to the OECD, it has been estimated that over 65% of the Sustainable Development Goals' targets need the active involvement of local and regional governments. Today, an increasing number of regions, cities and municipalities have started to use its 17 objectives and 169 indicators as a holistic framework to shape and improve their local strategies, translating these global goals into their local contexts.


    The lessons and tools to localise Sustainable Development Goals are drawn from the URBACT Global Goals for Cities pilot (2021 - 2022), the largest European network of cities to ever tackle the challenges from the Agenda 2030.


    Global Goal for Cities logo

    “The Sustainable Development Goals
    provide one of the best frameworks yet
    to achieve holistic and integrated
    sustainable urban development”.

    From the Global Goals for Cities joint statement
    that was signed by 19 cities.





    Using the global goals at local level involves designing actions that contribute to the individual objectives, while monitoring progress accordingly. Used as a policy-making tool, the SDGs can help cities to develop better and more coherent policies and plans for an integrated urban development. Very much in line with URBACT, the SDGs offer a common language for working across policy silos and with different local stakeholders, often strengthening the social dimension of sustainability work and gaining a strong momentum.

    Making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality in EU cities

    The URBACT Knowledge Hub brings together the latest urban trends, so good practices are within everyone's reach. Back in 2015, the urban perspective was officially placed at the heart of the global 2030 Agenda, a major change in comparison to the original UN Millennium Development Goals (2000 - 2015). Throughout the last years, also known as the "decade of change", the importance of cities was acknowledged beyond the spectrum of a single goal and they have an important role to play in all objectives. URBACT supports cities by providing concrete tools and methodologies for localising the global goals within an integrated action-planing process.

    • Social cohesion
    • Local economy
    • Climate action
    Transnational meeting from the Global Goals for Cities Network



    Process & Tools

    Combined with the URBACT Method, localising SDGs can create long-term impact.
    Check below each step, related tools and success stories towards change:



    About the 2030 Agenda

    Made by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Agenda 2030 has corresponding targets and indicators which are directly or indirectly related to the daily work of local and regional governments and local stakeholders -- with a specific objective dedicated to urban matters, the SDG 11. The 2030 Agenda must not lose momentum at this crucial stage of implementation, now is the time to speed up the delivery of all of these global goals. To be impactful, localisation needs to be anchored on the principles of integration, multi-stakeholder participation, inclusive partnership and multi-level governance and build on adequate data and financing resources at the local level, but not only.


    The achivements and findings from the Global Goals for Cities pilot network also relied on URBACT tools, external partnerships and methodological support from the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) -- more especifically the use of the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC) tool -- and the expertise from the Joint Research Centre's (JRC) on localising SDGs.




  • Mobility

    The Walk'n'Roll lessons were drawn from the following Action Planning Networks (2019 - 2022):


    URBACT RiConnect logoURBACT Space4People logoURBACT Thriving Streets logo





    The URBACT Knowledge Hub brings together good practices from across the EU, with the latest urban trends, to fill the gaps and make sure that the learning is within everyone's reach. Despite of their size and number of inhabitants, cities have often been designed to make room for cars. Three URBACT Networks have reflected on how we can shift the mobility paradigm in Europe to create more inclusive spaces. Together under the Walk'n'Roll initiative, 28 cities -- from towns to metropolises -- have explored common visions and practical interventions through different workshops, events and a series of guidance. Take a ride with us and discover why streets belong to people!

    • Climate action
    • Urban planning
    • Social cohesion
    • Public space
    Taking the necessary steps towards Walk'n'Roll

    URBACT Walk'n'Roll Guidebook

    Guidance for cities of all sizes


    URBACT Walk'n'Roll who is it for?

    Check out all booklets


    Intro and challenges
    Visions and interventions
    This booklet delves into the mobility challenges and the roots of the problems. To face adversities, readers are invited to consider new ways of thinking urban planning. The second booklet showcases principles and visions that can lead the way forward. Specific interventions are also described,so cities can adapt them to their needs. The final booklet looks at how cities can make change happen in the long run. It introduces methodological and policy recommendations, alongside interviews from the Action Planning Networks' cities.
    Booklet 1 CTA Booklet 2 CTA


    Booklet 3 CTA


  • Resourceful Cities

    LEAD PARTNER : The Hague - Netherlands
    • Mechelen - Belgium
    • Patras - Greece
    • Ciudad Real - Spain
    • Zagreb - Croatia
    • Oslo - Norway
    • Vila Nova de Famalicao - Portugal
    • Bucharest 3rd district - Romania
    • Cáceres - Spain
    • Opole - Poland




    • Phase 1: Kick-Off Meeting 1, The Hague 3-4 Oct


    • Phase 1: Kick-Off Meeting 2, Mechelen 12-14 Feb
    • Phase 2: Kick-Off Transnational meeting 1, online 7-8 Jul; Transnational meeting 2 *Stimulating Collaboration* 25-26 Nov
    • Phase 2: City-to-City Session *Scoping the eco system* 9 Sep; City-to-City Session *Scaling up local circular economy* 14 Dec
    • Transnational meeting 3 *The role of the city* 27-28 Jan
    • City-to-City Session *Circular Economy and territorial food systems* 18 Feb
    • Transnational meeting 4 *Education, Awareness & Engagement* 30-31 March
    • Transnational meeting 5 *Funding, Monitoring & Risk Assessment * 29-30 June
    • Phase 2: Final event in The Hague

    RESOURCEFUL CITIES is an URBACT Action Planning Network of ten European cities. This project seeks to develop the next generation of urban resource centres, so they can serve as catalysts of the local circular economy, by adopting a participative and integrated approach. The resource centres strive to promote the positive economic, environmental and social impacts, notably for the circular economy. Thus, the network facilitates waste prevention, reuse, repair and recycling. The centres also work as connection points for citizens, new businesses, researchers and the public sector to co-create new ways to close resource loops at the local level. By bringing together interested actors to work alongside, the goal is to promote the change of values and mindset.

    Resourceful Cities APN logo
    Spaces for circular co-creation & action
  • Food purchase is an agriculture act!

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    Urban garden in Mouans-Sartoux (FR) - Photo by François Jégou

    An overview of the "A Table ! Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum" and what cities have on their plate.

    Urban garden in Mouans-Sartoux (FR).

    Photo by François Jégou

    "These collective gardens grow vegetables and fruit, but above all they produce socialisation between the inhabitants of the neighbourhood", says Rob Hopkins during a visit to one of the Citizen Feeds the City‘s six gardens, a project that was conceptualised by the MEAD - Sustainable Food Education Centre and set up by the local residents of Mouans-Sartoux (FR).


    What the famous creator of the Transition Towns movement nicely calls as "patchwork farming" offers the potential to feed a few families in the neighbourhood, but as the URBACT Network Sustainable Food in Urban Communities has clearly shown, it actually represents an important symbolic vector for local gatherings and the transformation of the inhabitants' food practices.






    As an echo, at the opening of the "Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum - A Table!" the city’s Deputy Mayor in charge of Children, Education and Food, Gilles Pérole, shared with participants the first results of a carbon impact evaluation that was carried out at local level. Over the period between 2016 and 2022, this study was conducted under Andrea Lulovicovà's thesis at the University of Cote d'Azur and with financed from ADEME. According to the evaluation, while food represents a yearly average of 2 tons of carbon per person in France, it is only about 1.17 tons in the city of Mouans-Sartoux. The average diet of the locals has an impact of 43% of carbon emissions, when compared to the national average. In addition, the number of inhabitants eating less meat has increased to 85% in less than 10 years.


    Considering that the food sector roughly represents 1/3 of the greenhouse gas emissions in our European lifestyles, Mouans-Sartoux's food policy achievements become even more impressive. These results are also proof that when it comes to changes “the carrot and the stick approach" is not always the best solution – take for instance the Netherlands, where meat advertisements are banned. The "Mouans-Sartoux approach" is a bearing fruit, as it builds instead in the long-term awareness and education for a sustainable transition.

    A Table ! Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum - Photo by François Jégou

    Photo by François Jégou

    Group discussion during the A Table ! Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum.


    The city's "permanent public activism" is proving its effectiveness with the Citizen feeds the city urban gardens, but above all, it has proven its worth with the 100% organic and almost exclusively local canteen where 1 000 primary school children eat every day – being half of the meals strictly vegetarian. Also, the influence of "zero food waste" on families, the municipal farm located 700 meters away from the town centre that supplies the school kitchens, the three municipal agents-farmers who harvest 25 tons of vegetables per year and the municipality's support for the installation of young organic producers on communal land are among other successful measures.


    At last, the municipality has also succeeded to create the MEAD - Sustainable Food Education Centre: the city true public food service. The centre is politically committed to fair trade and it supports the Positive Food Families Challenge As Valery Bousiges, a parent from a primary school student, who we met at the start of the first URBACT BioCanteens Network in 2018, summed it up: "The question is not when is something happening about food in Mouans-Sartoux, but what is happening today. We are being asked every day!".


    The “A Table !" Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum” brought together more than 150 stakeholders from 10 countries – including 50 local authorities, more than 20 NGOs and official structures involved in the food transition – on the occasion of the closing of the URBACT BioCanteens #2 Network from September 26 to 28, 2022. The title of the event was spot on:  how can we bring the transition issues related to food back to the table and to the citizen’s attention?


    According to François Collard-Dutilleul, from the Lascaux Centre on Transitions, food sovereignty – which was the central theme of the Forum – means reclaiming the ability to choose what we put on our plates. This goes far beyond the oversimplified idea of food autonomy, which is so often put forward after the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.


    As Andrea Lulovicovà, who now works with the Greniers d'Abondance, and Chantal Clément, from IPES FOOD, remind us, the food transition rests on three critical pillars: the agricultural transition, the relocation of food and the transformation of food practices. It is not enough to produce organic and local food if we do not change the way we eat. The example of Mouans-Sartoux and all the other towns in food transition tick all three boxes. 


    Bio Sceptics card game

    Bio Sceptics card game

    Card game called ORGANIC SKEPTIC: We all have a good reason to distrust organic certification The cards are spread over the table, with a myth busting messages

    Bio Sceptics


    In his book “L'Homnivore”, Claude Fischler, explains that through the mechanism of “food embodiment”, we become what we eat. This applies both physically and symbolically, hence an increased resistance to any diet changes. Unless our lives depend on it, like they once did for the first humans, dietary changes can threaten one’s identity altogether.


    We have seen such a resistance about organic food in all partner cities from the BioCanteens #1 and #2 Networks: "organic food is not reliable, not useful, not healthy, not sustainable, not...". To acknowledge that it’s scientifically proven that organic is better for your health and for the planet, it means to become aware of the fact that the conventionally grown food that most of us eat every day is poisoning – not just for us, but also for the world.


    To explore the hidden psychology behind organic food, the BioCanteens team has developed the "Bio Sceptic" card game, which gathers the scepticism clichés heard from farmers, traders, consumers, municipal services and others. The game provides the knowledge and arguments of field actors, toxicology and certification experts to reduce any misconception towards organic certification.


    Organic certification is essential for the food transition, human health and societal resilience. It is not without its problems and it can certainly be improved. Playing with stakeholders in the territory, the game consists of finding all the argument-cards responding to each mistrust-card. Thus, discussing them, opening the debate, targeting the main controversies, defusing some misunderstandings or irrational fears and, most importantly, highlighting some concrete problems that still need to be solved.


    Participants of the A table ! Food Forum in Mouans-Sartoux (FR) playing the Bio Sceptics card game - Photo: François Jégou

    Photo: François Jégou

    Participants of the A table ! Food Forum in Mouans-Sartoux (FR) playing the Bio Sceptics card game.



    But what are all these cities in food transition doing and how can we support their movement at national and European level? During the second part of the Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum, participants were asked these questions in the marketplace booths, where an open-air market was set up to promote exchange and provide some food for thought.


    In these booths participants were invited to discover the journey from cities in transition, particularly the BioCanteens #1 and #2 partner cities: Gavà (ES), LAG Pays des Condruses (BE), Liège (BE), Rosignano Marittimo (IT), Torres Vedras (PT), Trikala (EL), Troyan (BG), Vaslui (RO) and Wroclaw (PL). These partners have adapted and transferred Mouans-Sartoux’s Good Practices in different ways.


    During this process the cities have also gathered their own local Micro-Good Practices when cooking and in terms of food education in the canteens. In the booths, interested visitors could also check the BioCanteens toolbox, which is composed of a projective exercise on the Food Sovereignty of each city and the future of its food-producing land by 2040, in addition to a simulation game to create a Municipal Food Platform, a poster outlining a Multi-Level Food Governance Plan and the Bio Sceptics card game.

    Market place at the A Table! Food Forum in Mouans-Sartoux (FR) - Photos: François Jégou

    Photos: François Jégou

    Market place at the A Table! Food Forum in Mouans-Sartoux (FR).

    In one particular booth, participants were asked to consider what actions should be taken to amplify this movement of cities that are committed to food. Among the suggestions that were collected, innovative trends emerge. Examples include the recognition for cities of a food competence, of a role as active producers of the food system and not only as organisers, the use of pre-emption rights as a resort for municipalities to acquire agricultural land and the consolidation of the status of public agent farmers.  See a snapshot of the ideas below:




    The suggestions have been clustered in five categories: - Local civil servants - Funding - Regulations - Land - Networks

    At the European level, the suggestions that were collected point to the same direction: it is fundamental to create a direct link between Europe and the cities that are capable of rebuilding a high-quality local agricultural fabric. Especially in terms of direct funding for public agricultural production, as for example the potential creation of "urban leader" or "inter-rural urban leader" projects.




    The suggestions have been clustered in four categories: - Funding of the project - Public markets - Territories - Networks




    The last part of the Forum reflected upon a key question: what about the food exception? “We cannot buy food for community canteens like we buy pens”, says Gilles Pérole. “The free circulation of goods guaranteed by the European Market Code goes against the re-territorialisation of food and support for local agricultural transition. We need an exception to this European Code for food markets".


    This hypothesis was already raised in early 2021, notably on the occasion of the BioCanteens #1 Network’s Final Event – “COP26 is already today, join the movement of European cities committed to democracy and food sovereignty”. Fast-forward to today this debate is still subject to controversy. Among the different voices that were heard during the Forum, Fabrice Riem, lawyer and Coordinator of the Lascaux Centre on Transitions, presented an interesting take on how to operationalise exceptions, without breaking the rules.


    While Davide Arcadipane, from the city of Liège, described the process of dividing public tenders into multiple lots – in order to facilitate the access of school canteens to supplies coming from small local producers – Fabrice Riem pointed out how this process, which is now commonplace, represents a way to bend the Public Procurement Code without undermining it. That being said, splitting tenders into 300 to 400 lots, as practiced by the city of Dijon (FR), requires a HR capacity that small cities do not have at their disposal and, therefore, a first distinction has to be made in terms of the size of the different cities.


    Still according to Fabrice Riem, "the relocation of food must not become localism, clientelism or favouritism. The European Market Code is a protection to which it is perhaps dangerous to make an exception, and also perhaps unnecessary”. If cities want to “express their purchasing power to bring about a local food system”, to use Kevin Morgan Cardiff University’s scholar own words, it would be possible to do so using current rural laws and seizing existing competencies from municipalities. At least in France, this is the way to ensure territorial anchoring, to design a call for tenders for food supply that requires a contribution to the construction of the local food system and that, ultimately, are in line with a Territorial Food Plan.


    The applicant would then need to reply to questions in their bid like: when you supply this canteen, how do you contribute to the construction of the local food ecosystem? This is still a potential scenario, which should still deserves further work and that still respects the Public Procurement Code. Riem’s legal terms translated the systemic nature of food and it echoed the position that was taken by other speakers during the Forum.


    For example, Léa Sturton, from the MEAD, explained how Mouans-Sartoux asks its suppliers to describe the logistical routes and transportation system in an appendix to their offer. Benoît Bitteau, Member of the European Parliament, explained that when subsidies are paid to small agroecological farms, they do not discredit the value of their food production but, on the contrary, they rather constitute the remuneration for their secondary work of caring for natural areas and preserving biodiversity.


    All these ideas represented, in a practical and operational way, the principles that are outlined by of Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement: consuming food is much more than just eating, it is an agricultural act. Likewise, producing and buying food is not simply supplying the city's canteens, it means building a coherent local territorial food system.





    Interested on the topic of food? Check out URBACT's Knowledge Hub.
    Would you like to join an URBACT Action Planning Network on this topic? Share your project idea in the Partner Search Tool!

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  • Enriching the urban jungle with bees


    Connecting sites for bees freedom

    Natalia Majewska
    Department of Integrated Development and Environment
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    350 000


    Bees are rich in terms of biodiversity protection, education development and touristic attraction. Transferring the practice of Lubljana, Bydgoszcz develop its own approach of connecting sites in the city that are bee-friendly and where apiaries can be visited. This is also included in a wider campaign for bee awareness and protection.

    Solutions offered by the good practice

    Bydgoszcz is the eighth largest city in Poland, part of the Bydgoszcz–Toruń metropolitan area, set on the on the Brda and Vistula rivers in northern Poland. It is an increasingly important economic centre, but the city is well known for its water, Art Nouveau buildings, and urban greenery – including the largest city park in Poland (830 ha).

    The city has a dynamic approach to sustainable development as part of its efforts to improve the quality of life of the city’s inhabitants. Against this background, Bydgoszcz wanted to link its agricultural land and green spaces with ecological education and took a particular interest in Ljubljana’s approach to connecting sites in the city that are bee-friendly and where apiaries can be visited.

    The City started to test and promote the quality of Bydgoszcz honey and used World Bee Day to implement a campaign on the ‘Urban reality of bees and people - let’s create a more bee-friendly world’, including photos at bus and tram stops, and messages on billboards. A local biologist produced a brochure on proper human behaviour towards bees and an exhibition.

    But for ULG Coordinator, Justyna Olszewska, a highlight was local teachers getting enthusiastic about teaching children about bees. They developed a new educational programme called “With Bees Throughout the Year”, which gives children the opportunity to get to know about bees, beekeeping and related topics around health, plants and nature.

    Sustainable and integrated urban approach

    The approach undertaken by Bydgoszcz is fully aligned with the integrated approach of the Practice of Ljubljana that it transferred. Ecological practices related to beekeeping have been developed. The new EU project “Bez Lipy” introduces participatory approach to greenery development and a member of URBACT local group participates in the works.

    The practice is also focusing on children and their education and attitude towards bees. This has also meant the development of professional skills and capacity to raise their awareness and develop bee-related activities as well as the enlargement of the network of urban beekeepers in the city. The city also promotes new (touristic) products and services related to beekeeping such as educational workshops run by Dawid Kilon, a biologist, guide and draftsman and bee-keeping workshops run at WSG University of Economy in Bydgoszcz.

    Participatory approach

    Bydgoszcz municipality formed an URBACT Local Group (ULG) mixing around 30 members - beekeepers, teachers, entrepreneurs, researchers, local tour guides and interested individuals. The group identified 16 places in the city with apiaries and melliferous potential to appear on their own Bee Path map of 16 stops – from a roof on the university, through Shopping Mall with beehives, pollinator houses in city parks, sensory garden at school, Bydgoszcz Soap Works to the botanical garden.

    What difference has it made

    In 2018 the City of Bydgoszcz lifted the ban on beekeeping in the city centre. Within the project we have managed to get to know beekeepers and educators who are ready to share their knowledge – in the very 2021 there are new beehives in the city centre: in May an apiary was installed by Mateusz Andryszak in Ostromecko Park and Palace Ensemble, and in June another one was installed in the Biziel University Hospital (Mateusz guided the endeavour). There are more and more bees initiatives application within the city grants and Bydgoszcz Citizens’ Participatory Budget, e.g. in 2022 there will be a municipal beehive installed and a bee-themed playground. Bydgoszcz is also starting the promotion of the Bee Education Programme in schools and we celebrate World Bee Day by installing the exhibition on bees that is accessible and offered to download and use as an open source and to be installed in any other city that wishes to educate about bees.

    Transferring the practice

    Visiting Ljubljana in April 2019 - together with stakeholders of BeePathNet’s other partner cities - members of Bydgoszcz’s ULG were truly inspired by how they too could create their own story around bees, linking to history, architecture and natural values.

    The city hopes to install the popular bee educational programme across the whole education sector, from kindergarten up. There are also plans that Ania Izdebska with the local Tourist Office will create a ‘Bee Quest Game’ that will complement the town’s existing game for visitors.

    Finally, the city also plans to explore further business opportunities and promotion, to take advantage of the growing interest in the project - including in other towns in the region.

    Main Theme
    Is a transfer practice

    • Baena - Spain
    • Cesena - Italy
    • Fundão - Portugal
    • Jelgava - Latvia
    • LAG Pays des Condruses - Belgium
    • Mollet del Vallès - Spain
    • Monmouthshire County Council
    • Mouans-Sartoux - France
    • Petrinja - Croatia
    • Pyli - Greece
    • Södertälje - Sweden




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    • Kick-off meeting in June (Mollet des Valles).
    • Transnational meetings in October (LAG Payd de Condruses) and December (Pyli).
    • Transnational meetings in April (Sodertalye), June (Fundao), July (Jelgava) and September (Abergavenny).
    • Transnational meetings in March (Mouans Sartoux) and April (Petrinja). Final event in April (Baena).

    Rethinking Agri-food production in small and medium-sized European cities is the aim of this Action Planning network. Agri-food production is a mature industry that continues to play an important role in terms of GDP, employment and environmental sustainability. That is why new growth potentials must be activated by means of innovation, new business models and strategies. Our vision is to place cities at the core of a growing global movement that recognises the current complexity of food systems and the links between rural cities and nearby cities as a way to ensure regional development.


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