• EU City Lab on Changing Habits for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System

    Join us in Mouans-Sartoux to learn how habits’ transformation can lead to a healthier and more sustainable urban food system!


    The EU City Lab on Local Food Systems #1 will take place in Mouans-Sartoux, France, on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 March 2024. It is a knowledge-sharing event co‑organised by URBACT and the European Urban Initiative (EUI), with support from the municipality of Mouans-Sartoux.


    This EU City Lab lab will focus on Changing Habits for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System. Through discussions and knowledge-sharing, thematic sessions, “walkshops” and group activities, the event aims to explore how transformation of food habits can leverage systemic sustainability transition in European cities.




    The lab is a unique opportunity to:


    - Learn more about the Mouans-Sartoux’s Good Practice in the field of collective school catering


    - Explore how other EU cities followed Mouans-Sartoux’s example through the URBACT BioCanteens and BioCanteens#2 Transfer Networks


    - Discover further good practices implemented by other EU cities to foster sustainability in local food systems


    - Visit sites in Mouans-Sartoux and exchange with locals about citywide food sustainability, citizen engagement actions and learning communities


    - Discuss how local projects towards more healthy and sustainable food habits can be put in place in different national contexts


    - Better understand the EU landscape around food systems.




    The Mouans-Sartoux event will be the first in a series of three EU City Labs on Local Food Systems, exploring systemic food transition in European cities from different thematic perspectives. The next labs will be organised in the course of 2024:


    - Public Procurement for More Local, Seasonal and Sustainable Food – Liège, Belgium, 29 and 30 May 2024


    - Sustainable Land Use for Agri-food (place and date to be unveiled soon).


    Click here to learn more on the EU City Lab series. 




    Here is some practical information to organise your trip to Mouans-Sartoux and prepare your participation. 




    Preliminary programme (download it here:  English  |   French)

    (Please click on the arrow to switch to page 2)




    *Meals during the EU City Lab programme are offered.





    Do you wish to learn more about URBACT cities' past work on building sustainable local food systems? Visit the URBACT Knowledge Hub on Food and read the following articles:


    On the BioCanteens Transfer Network journey and the Mouans-Sartoux Good Practice:


    - Jégou, F., Food purchase is an agriculture act!, 8 November 2022


    - Jégou, F., BioCanteens#2: cities engaged for food democracy and sovereignty, 13 October 2021


    - Copying neighbours. Lessons of BioCanteens Transfer Network. Final publication of BioCanteens#1, June 2021. 


    On URBACT work in the field of healthy and sustainable local food systems and the European and international background:


    - Bonneau, M., Cities nurturing local food systems to fight climate change, 10 November 2021 (updated on 21 December 2023).


    - Bonneau, M., Let's talk about food!, 24 August 2022


    - Bonneau, M., Reinforcing local food ecosystems: a recipe for success?, 9 October 2020




    Join [u]s for the EU City Lab on Local Food Systems #1 by URBACT and European Urban Initiative! Scroll down to discover the programme of the event and register now!

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  • New beginnings: the start of a journey

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    Group picture of +50 attendees to the Kick-off meeting in Avilés in front of a modern building (Niemeyer Center) in Avilés

    On the 24th and 25th of October, the first transnational meeting of the In4Green network was held in the heart of Avilés, bringing together representatives from 10 industrial cities in Europe

    From urbact

    A deep dive into Avilés’ industry

    On the morning of the first day, the meeting kicked off with an insightful symposium which provided a comprehensive understanding of how collaboration, innovation, development, and social cohesion converge to form the backbone of Avilés’ industrial success. The round tables delved into the city's unique model of public-private partnership, highlighting the existent synergies between public bodies, social partners, and private companies.

    The first round table, titled "Avilés Model for Economic Development, Sustainability, Employment, and Social Cohesion," provided a comprehensive overview of how Avilés has successfully integrated innovation and sustainable development into its industrial fabric.

    The second round table, focusing on Avilés' public-private collaboration with leading companies, showcased real-world success stories. Industry leaders from ArcelorMittal and IDONIAL R&D Center shared how these partnerships are driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of industry standards in Avilés.


    5 speakers of the first round table discussing



    Shared dreams, diverse cities

    All the partners of the In4Green network are united by a common commitment: to lead transformative change within European industry and strive for a greener future. Nonetheless, our cities are well aware that, to achieve this goal, they must overcome their specific local challenges and forge their paths towards a green transition.

    Based on the findings of the Lead Expert of the Network, Jose Costero, during the initial study visits to the network cities, a participatory session was held. The local challenges, good practices and learning needs of each city were identified and shared, and all attendees had the chance to discuss their expertise and background in relevant topics such as circular economy, energy transition, digitalization and investment attraction.


    Exploring possibilities

    Sharing and transferring successful industrial models among the cities of the network is a fundamental part of the mission of In4Green. For this reason, several study visits were organised in order to showcase Avilés’ best practices and initiatives.

    The study visits included explorations of the Renewable Energy Exhibition (NorteRenovables), IDONIAL Foundation, and ArcelorMittal. Partners had the opportunity to connect with relevant stakeholders and experts in the field and gain a better grasp on the strengths of Avilés’ industry first-hand.  


    Great Things Await

    The kick-off meeting marks a promising first step for the implementation of network. In4Green partners returned to their cities with insights, knowledge and an even stronger motivation to shape sustainable industries and work towards the green transition.

    But the journey has just begun: in the months and years to come, the network will continue evolving and striving for a better change in the industry sector. The path ahead seems challenging, but it will pave the way for the generations yet to come.

  • EU City Labs take on agriculture and food systems

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

    How can we put the transition issues related to food back on the table and in the minds of policy-makers and citizens?

    Urban garden in Mouans-Sartoux (FR).
    From urbact

    The global food systems cause roughly 1/3 of the greenhouse gas emissions, and the climate impact of major industries (e.g. meat, dairy) brings into question the sustainability of our eating habits. New solutions are being considered to facilitate the transition away from food waste to more sustainable agri-food systems. Unlocking the potential of urban agriculture and building communities around solutions for organic farming, urban greening and biodiversity can accelerate the transformation of food practices, as the URBACT Network Sustainable Food in Urban Communities has clearly shown. 

    In March 2024, URBACT and the European Urban Initiative will kick off a series of EU City Labs on Local Food Systems. On 21-22 March, the first of three in the series puts the spotlight on Mouans-Sartoux. Here’s how this small French town has taken on organic, locally sourced food and emerged as a major player in the urban food transition and the leader of two URBACT Transfer Networks. 


    When in Mouans-Sartoux


    To better understand Mouans-Sartoux's food policy achievements, why not take a closer look at the local way of life? Between 2016 and 2022, a study financed from ADEME (French Agency for Ecological Transition) evaluated carbon impact in Mouans-Sartoux. According to the evaluation, while food represents a yearly average of 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per person in France, it is only about 1,17 tonnes in the city. In addition, the number of inhabitants reducing their consumption of meat has increased to 85% in less than 10 years. Of course, Mouans-Sartoux doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Other European cities, including Haarlem (NL), are pushing forth legislation to ban meat advertisements. 

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

    Group discussion during the A Table ! Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum. Source: François Jégou.


    Visual transcription 


    In France, Mouans-Sartoux is one of four towns offering 100% organic meals in public school canteens, where 1 000 primary school children eat every day. Half of the meals are strictly vegetarian, and almost exclusively locally sourced. Also, the municipal farm, located 700 metres away from the town centre, supplies the school kitchens, and the three municipal  farmers harvest 25 tonnes of vegetables per year. The municipality's support for the installation of young organic producers on communal land represents another successful measure, accompanying a general embrace of “zero food waste”. 

    The municipality also succeeded in creating the MEAD – Center for Sustainable Food Education: the true city public food service. The centre is politically committed to fair trade and it supports the Positive Food Families Challenge. As Valery Bousiges, a parent of a primary school student, put it: "The question is not when is something happening about food in Mouans-Sartoux, but what is happening today." 

    Finally, the city's "permanent public activism" is proving its effectiveness with the Citizen feeds the city urban gardens. "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 association’s six gardens, a project that was conceptualised by the MEAD - Sustainable Food Education Centre and set up by the local residents. 



    Two URBACT Networks standing up against bio sceptics


    The "Mouans-Sartoux approach" is a bearing fruit, as it builds on long-term awareness and education for a sustainable transition. Yet, this transition is rooted in changing behaviour which, even when anticipated, is not always speedy or easy. 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. 

    As Andrea Lulovicovà, from 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. This is also why the pioneering town was primed to lead two URBACT Transfer Networks advancing good practices, transfer modules and stories on sustainable local food models. BioCanteens (2018-2021) and BioCanteens#2 (2021-2022) involved the following partner cities and organisations: Gavà (ES), LAG Pays des Condruses (BE), Liège (BE), Rosignano Marittimo (IT), Torres Vedras (PT), Trikala (EL), Troyan (BG), Vaslui (RO) and Wroclaw (PL). 

    True to name, the BioCanteens URBACT Transfer Networks aimed at reducing food waste by 80%, specifically in the field of collective school catering. Through these networks, Mouans-Sartoux devised and shared good practices for an integrated local agri-food approach, protecting both citizens’ health and the environment. These practices, and more, can be found in the BioCanteens toolbox, which includes 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. The card game is intended to debunk clichés associated with organic food heard from farmers, traders, consumers, municipal services and others. 

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

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


    A key output of the BioCanteens Networks was the “A Table !" Mouans-Sartoux Food Forum”. Between 26-28 September 2022, the 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. 

    The central question of the event was: How can we support cities in food transition at national and European level? It is worth re-listening to some voices from the Forum, which divulge more ‘food for thought’: 

    - According to Gilles Pérole, Deputy Mayor of Mouans-Sartoux, “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". 

    - Food sovereignty – the central theme of the Forum – means reclaiming the ability to choose what we put on our plates. Fabrice Riem, lawyer and Coordinator of the Lascaux Centre on Transitions, presented an interesting take on how to operationalise exceptions, without breaking the rules. 

    - Riem and Davide Arcadipane, from the city of Liège (BE) discussed 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. 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), require human resources 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. 

    - Kevin Morgan, of Cardiff University, noted that if cities want to “express their purchasing power to bring about a local food system”, 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. 

    - 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. 

    - All these ideas represented, in a practical and operational way, the principles outlined by 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. 



    Going back to the Lab

    EU City Lab Mouans-Sartoux

    Now, Mouans-Sartoux will host the EU City Lab on Local Food Systems #1 on 21-22 March 2024. The agenda is already available online and registration is open until 7 March! This will be a unique opportunity to learn more about good practices in the field of collective school catering, look closer at the URBACT BioCanteens and Biocanteens#2 Transfer Networks and discuss how local projects can boost more healthy, sustainable food habits among citizens across different countries and regions. 

    Do you wish to learn more about URBACT cities' past work on building sustainable local food systems? For a deep dive into Moans-Sartoux’s and other urban agri-food practices, there are plenty of materials on the URBACT Knowledge Hub – Food and sustainable local systems.  



    Disclaimer: This article is an update to a publication by François Jégou from 08/11/2022 

  • Nuevo EU City Lab: cambiando de hábitos para un sistema alimentario sano y sostenible

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    El primer City Lab de la UE sobre Sistemas Alimentarios Locales tendrá lugar en Mouans-Sartoux, Francia, el jueves 21 y el viernes 22 de marzo de 2024. Se trata de un evento de intercambio de conocimientos coorganizado por URBACT y la Iniciativa Urbana Europea (EUI), con el apoyo del municipio de Mouans-Sartoux.

    From urbact

    Este City Lab se centrará en el cambio de hábitos para un sistema alimentario saludable y sostenible. A través de debates e intercambio de conocimientos, sesiones temáticas, talleres "a pie" y actividades de grupo, el evento pretende explorar cómo la transformación de los hábitos alimentarios puede impulsar una transición sistémica hacia la sostenibilidad en las ciudades europeas.


    El laboratorio es una oportunidad única para:


    • - Conocer mejor las buenas prácticas de Mouans-Sartoux en el ámbito de la restauración escolar colectiva.

    • - Explorar cómo otras ciudades de la UE han seguido el ejemplo de Mouans-Sartoux a través de las redes de transferencia URBACT BioCanteens y BioCanteens II.

    • - Descubrir otras buenas prácticas aplicadas por otras ciudades de la UE para fomentar la sostenibilidad de los sistemas alimentarios locales.

    • - Visitar lugares de Mouans-Sartoux e intercambiar opiniones con sus habitantes sobre la sostenibilidad alimentaria en toda la ciudad, las acciones de participación ciudadana y las comunidades de aprendizaje.

    • - Debatir cómo pueden ponerse en marcha proyectos locales para lograr hábitos alimentarios más saludables y sostenibles en diferentes contextos nacionales.

    • - Comprender mejor el panorama de la UE en torno a los sistemas alimentarios.


    Este será el primero de una serie de tres City Labs de la UE sobre sistemas alimentarios locales, en los que se explorará la transición alimentaria sistémica en las ciudades europeas desde diferentes perspectivas temáticas. Los próximos laboratorios se organizarán a lo largo de 2024:


    • - Contratación pública para una alimentación más local, estacional y sostenible - Lieja, Bélgica, 29 y 30 de mayo de 2024

    • - Uso sostenible de la tierra para la agroalimentación - el lugar y la fecha se desvelarán próximamente.


    Más información y registro


    Haced clic aquí para obtener más información sobre la serie EU City Lab.


    Aquí tenéis información práctica para organizar su viaje a Mouans-Sartoux y preparar su participación.


    Programa preliminar (  Inglés  |  Francés)

    (Haz click en la flecha para cambiar de página)

  • EU City Lab on Public Procurement for More Local, Seasonal and Sustainable Food

    Join us in Liège to learn how public procurement can become a leverage for more sustainable local food systems! 

    The EU City Lab on Local Food Systems #2 is a knowledge-sharing event co organised by URBACT and the European Urban Initiative (EUI), with support from the host municipality of Liège (Belgium). It will take place from 29 to 30 May 2024. 

    The event will focus on Public Procurement for More Local, Seasonal and Sustainable Food. Through discussions and knowledge-sharing, thematic sessions, “walkshops” and group activities, the event aims to explore how public procurement can become a leverage for the sustainability transition of local food systems in European cities. 


    This City Lab is a unique opportunity to:


    __Find out how Liège succeeded in learning from peer cities and adopting new Good Practices in the field of collective school catering, as part of the URBACT BioCanteens#2 Transfer Network


    __Discover the approaches experimented by other EU cities to foster public procurement as a leverage of sustainability in local food systems.


    __Visit sites in Liège and exchange with locals about citywide food sustainability, citizen engagement actions and learning communities


    __Improve your understanding of the EU landscape around local food systems


    __Bring back home inspiring lessons and concrete tools to spur transformation in your city

    The event will gather city representatives and urban policy experts from across Europe working on the green transition of local food systems.  

    Register now to join them in Liège!


    … and stay tuned for the event’s programme and more practical information to prepare your participation. 



    The Liège event is the second in a series of three EU City Labs on Local Food Systems:

    __The EU City Lab #1 on Changing Habits for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System will take place in Mouans-Sartoux, France, on 21-22 March 2024.


    __The place and date of the next EU City Lab #3 on the Sustainable Land Use for Agri-food will be announced soon.



    Join [u]s for the EU City Lab on Local Food Systems #2 by URBACT and European Urban Initiative!

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  • How did the first EU City Lab go?

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    Viladecans EU City Lab on Energy Transition

    Together with the European Urban Initiative (EUI), URBACT has launched a series of green policy events for city practitioners to increase their knowledge. Read on to learn about the very first experience.

    From urbact

    How it all started?


    Back in 2022, more than 70 cities across Europe – alongside relevant organisations working with environmental matters – took part in an URBACT study. The goal was to better asses capacity-building needs of cities when it came to the green transition, a term that requires some demystification as the findings suggest.URBACT green capacity-building assessment

    In a nutshell, a green and just transition consists of a shift towards new and affordable models that value the environment, while prioritising people’s well-being, resource-efficient and sustainable economies. Among urgent, priorities respondents highlighted their needs for creating further awareness and increase their knowledge, as well as finding resourcing and financing the green transition.

    Energy, mobility and waste ranked as the most relevant topics for cities, followed by food, health, circular economy, housing and jobs & skills. With EUI, URBACT has decided to build on the energy experiences from the VILAWATT Innovation Transfer pilot, which was originally an Urban Innovative Actions-funded project (former EUI - Innovative Actions) in Viladecans (ES); and the food achievements from the BioCanteens and BioCanteens#2, Transfer Networks that were led by Mouans-Sartoux (FR), a city that is now a partner in EUI’s Urban Agenda for the EU Food Partnership.


    What was the first EU City Lab like?


    Viladecans EU City Lab on Energy TransitionBetween 23 and 24 November 2023, 61 people – from city representatives to Managing Authorities – took part in the first EU City Lab in Viladecans (ES). The intense two-day event enabled participants to discover local practices in the field of energy transition, the challenges to set up energy communities, and how a multi-level governance approach can help shape more energy-efficient cities. It was also an opportunity to learn more about the experience of the host city, while making connections to a green just transition.

    Under the VILAWATT Urban Initiative Actions’ project, Viladecans developes a citywide energy strategy, as well as to explore alternatives for citizen engagement and retrofitting buildings. With the URBACT network, the city could further refine actions, while learning and exchanging with three project partners. The work of this network also reflected on the possible ways to implement the European Commission's Clean Energy for All Europeans Package (2020), which recognises the rights of citizens and communities to engage directly in the energy sector, while contributing to the Cohesion Policy – particularly the Policy Objective 2 for a “greener Europe”.

    In total, 11 countries were represented at the EU City Lab. Spain had the largest representation with a total 32 attendees, followed by Greece and North Macedonia, with four attendees each. The remaining eight countries were represented by one attendee each. Although beneficiaries from current URBACT networks and previous EUI projects were present, 40% of the attendees were newcomers to the programme and the initiative. This proves to be a successful experience as to how we can connect and strengthen a larger knowledge community. It’s worth mentioning that the majority of attending participants worked in energy-related areas and had a medium to high level of knowledge of and experience with energy transition, as shown by their responses to the following two questions in the online registration form:


    Participants’ previous knowledge and background in the field of energy transition


    The feedback received from participants on-site indicate that this event was appreciated by its attendees, who valued both the learning component and the networking opportunities that it offered. The city visits, in their format of “walking and learning” tours, were one of the most appreciated components of the EU City Lab. According to a follow up survey on the visits, participants particularly enjoyed the occasion to exchange with people working on the ground and other locals, but also to get a glimpse of hands-on examples. Viladecans has managed to adapt the “EU energy community” concept to its own needs, creating its own “sharing communities”.

    Participants were asked if they would be interested in the continuation of URBACT-EUI labs in energy transition and, if so, which topics and challenges should the next event focus in. Responses were positive among the people sitting in the room. The most recurrent ideas were summarised in a word cloud:


    URBACT and EUI consider a good result the diversity achieved in the audience, both in terms of geographical scope and professional background. The presence of many energy transition experts, with sound knowledge and experience in the field, proves the quality and interest of the programme proposed. The lessons learnt from this pilot experience will be used to increase the attendance rate and refine the EU City Lab format in view of future iterations.  


    When will the next lab take place?


    Save the date! The next EU City Lab, co-organised by URBACT and EUI, will be on the topic of food governance and will take place in Mouans-Sartoux (FR), early March 2024.  This edition of the event will focus in the cities’ role to change food production and behaviour patterns for a greener future. Other EU City Labs on food, as well as a lab on funding the energy transition is also planned throughout the year.

    Stay tuned and be the first one to know about upcoming events by subscribe to URBACT’s newsletter and EUI's newsletter. In the meantime, you can check below some of the material from the first EU City Lab and browse through Portico to get more knowledge on energy transition!


  • Is citizen engagement a waste of time in policymaking? Never!

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    The URBACT Action Planning Network Action Planning Networks | urbact.eu  is all about unlocking the green potentials of citizen action. Being a network of city administrators, we know we need help. We need help to understand what green citizen action can look like and how we as an authority can co-create with our citizens. This is the reason why we have formed the network COPE. Together we will explore and test how we can engage with our citizens in making changes in our local environments in favour of the climate and biodiversity in a way that considers equity and justice. And not least how we can administrate these activities within our governance framework.


    The URBACT network COPE

    From urbact

    Participatory effect

    Lead Partner Øystein Leonardsen have a lot of experience in testing methods for citizen engagement and explains that “in the city planning COPE seek to strengthen the empowerment of the citizens and their individual ownership through engaging and co-creative methods”. 

    The COPE project seeks to push three levels of change: the structural, the individual and the societal. We do not only need to make the structural changes through policymaking and governance in a traditional top-down process. We have tried, but our societal challenges are getting more and more complicated and the traditional processes of finding solutions falls short. If we do not develop new methods going from looking at our challenges as something technical easy to fix with a simple technological solution, to looking at our challenges as so-called wicked problems with no clear single answer the risk is that we evoke opposition and conflict in the society.

    We cannot let the individual change stand alone either relying on a bottom-up transition. This can be overwhelming and create anxiety at individual level.

    In the process of policy making we need to create People's acceptance of inconvenience or cost and link this to their understanding of the importance and share the experience of ownership. We as human beings care more about the decisions and things we have contributed to or created ourselves. We call this the participatory effect. Read more about the participatory effect in relation to bottom-up collective citizen climate action on page 49 in “Omstilling på Vippen: Hvidbog om forbrug, adfærd og folkelig deltagelse i grøn omstilling” by DeltagerDanmark here (in Danish). It can be fuelled not only through information, but also through conversations, involvement, and co-ownership. We also use the term social tipping point when talking about this societal level, where the change is becoming a norm that people start to follow. In our COPE city Vilnius a bright example of the co-ownership transforming a local area into a vibrant and inspiring green area is the old hospital ground that through citizen engagement started with making urban gardening evolving into creating a place for gatherings, eating and experimenting with a green lifestyle and is now functioning as a solid local community creating new ideas and initiatives.  

    In COPE we aim to find methods for working towards positive social tipping points in favour of the just green transition where as many as possible feel included or represented in the decisions and solutions. Just as we aim to avoid negative social tipping points like we saw with the yellow wests in France for example.

    Building capacity – we learn from each other.

    Our city network COPE consists of A Coruña (ES), Bistrita (RO), Copenhagen (DK), Kavala (EL), Korydallos (EL), Pombal (PT), Saint Quentin (FR) and Vilnius (LT). Our cities are very different on all levels; political, cultural, and societal. We have quite diverse narratives about the interaction between our political institutions and the citizens. But all cities are very eager to work together and learn from each other sharing knowledge and experiences.

    In each partner city a group of local stakeholders and citizens have been put together in a so called Local URBACT Group with the local municipality functioning in a new role as facilitator. And particularly this role as facilitator in the local groups is something that COPE aim to mirror in the bigger picture on local level. Through participatory and deliberative processes, we seek to explore the interface between the citizens participation and the governance structures and culture. How do we as a municipality co-create with our local citizens? How do we make certain that we do not invite into processes that have no mandate, no power, and no real influence?

    Sustainable urban development – going very local

    As you see we have many questions, that we aim to find answers to during the project. Our approach for this ambitious goal is to zoom in on a local neighbourhood in the city. Through this place-based focus we will engage the local community; the citizens, the institutions and the industries and explore what is at stake in this neighbourhood. What hopes and ambitions do they have for their neighbourhood and how do they see themselves and their neighbourhood in the shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle? Do they agree on the needed actions? Do they need to agree, and can they reach a common understanding? How can they work on fulfilling their ambitions? What can be done today with local resources and what do the municipality need to plan and find funding for?

    Change of mindset - Knowledge to action

    No real change come from above alone. The changes we confront are so enormous, that we as individuals easily get caught in despair, hopelessness or anger and frustration and that we as governance institutions may give up and just follow the short-term populistic perspective.

    The next two years of 2024 and 2025 each COPE city will work on both local and network level to find and experiment with methods for working towards positive social tipping points in favour of the just green transition. Seeking to push for a shift in mindset, not only within political institutions and the governance and planning processes of our cities. But also, through acknowledging the local knowledge, hopes and ambitions of the citizens and local interests evoking trust and engagement. This, we believe, will foster sustainable change within our society – no more no less 😊

    Please follow our work and let us know if you find the Philosopher's Stone. We would love to engage and share!

  • The EU City Labs: New tools for challenging times

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    Group of people on top of a mountain with a sunset in the background.

    As we gear up for the next EU City Lab, URBACT Expert Eddy Adams recaps the challenges and priorities for cities on the path to climate neutrality.

    Group of people on top of a mountain with a sunset in the background.
    From urbact

    The (bumpy) road to climate neutrality


    What do we know about Europe’s journey to climate neutrality? Well, most of us are aware of the headline commitment: through the European Green Deal, the EU is committed to becoming the world’s first climate-neutral bloc by 2050. Ahead of that, the Climate Mission’s 100 front-runners, the NetZeroCities, will hit this target by 2023.

    But we also know that this transition to climate neutrality won’t be smooth sailing. The scale of the challenge is as undeniable as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conclusions about the planet’s current level of danger. Despite this, we can see that the mood may be shifting in the wrong direction. Pushback and resistance are rising, as climate change sceptics seek to hinder the transition to net zero. For example, misinformation about the 15-minute city model has been circulated to stoke citizens’ concerns about their civil liberties, capitalising on post-pandemic anxieties.

    We also know that the scale and complexity of the climate-neutral transition creates particular challenges for small and medium-sized cities. Earlier this year, URBACT investigated exactly what this means, through a research project involving 68 cities.


    Where are cities going to struggle?


    URBACT’s analysis of cities’ needs provides helpful insights into the specific areas where they might struggle. Respondents, most of whom were from small and medium-sized cities, identified the headline challenges as:

    1. urgency
    2. complexity
    3. low awareness levels
    4. finance
    5. mixed quality data
    6. behaviour

    For participating cities, energy transition emerged as the highest priority under the broad banner of ‘green transitions’, followed by housing, then education, the latter most likely linked to mindset shifts and reskilling. When it comes to the types of capacity-building needed, energy and energy policy were most frequently cited, specifically in relation to implementation.


    How can URBACT help?


    URBACT’s core focus is transnational city networks. The programme provides a framework for city authorities – and their thematic stakeholders – to collaborate on addressing their most pressing priorities. Not surprisingly, the most recently approved set of 30 Action Planning Networks (APNs) featured a high proportion of broadly ‘green’ themes. These include:

    1. Circular Economy
    2. Sustainable Land Use
    3. Climate Adaptation
    4. Energy Transition

    In this new programming period, URBACT also has three cross-cutting themes, which will run through all networks, regardless of their thematic focus. These are: Green Cities, Gender Equal Cities and Digital Cities. At the recent URBACT Summer University, an intensive capacity-building experience for new networks, these transversal themes were highly visible, and the programme plans to further support network activity under them in the months ahead.

    In light of the above, an important instrument will be the EU City Labs, the first of which will take place in Viladecans, Spain, on 23-24 November 2023.


    City Lab 2 Sustainable Urban Development


    Where do the EU City Labs come in?


    Starting this month, the EU City Labs will showcase leading-edge activities related to selected themes. These events are co-hosted by URBACT and the European Urban Initiative (EUI), who collaborate on supporting sustainable urban development across the EU. The City Labs will provide a trusted space to identify challenges, examine effective methodology and explore the potential for future city-to-city collaboration. Most importantly, they will demonstrate what works, giving participants first-hand experience of the most advanced urban practices in Europe.

    In this respect, Viladecans is the perfect host for the first EU City Lab. This Catalan municipality provides an inspiring example of how a smaller city, with big ambitions, can punch above its weight. Its innovative, inclusive approach to tackling energy transition has already been the subject of much attention and acknowledgment. Earlier this year, the city was given the EU Green Leaf award, together with the city of Treviso (IT), in recognition of its efforts towards climate neutrality. Viladecans was also a lead partner in the pilot URBACT Innovation Transfer Networks (ITNs), where it sought to transfer its Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) project on local energy communities to three other EU cities.

    Two of those cities, Trikala (EL) and Nagykanizsa (HU), will join the November City Lab to share their own stories of that replication journey. Other UIA cities, such as Getafe, will also share the stage, which is appropriate at an event jointly supported by URBACT and the EUI.


    EU City Lab Viladecans 23-24 November 2023


    Beyond Viladecans


    The City Labs are, in essence, experimental spaces. To reiterate, each EU City Lab will have a thematic focus. The first shines a light on the energy transition, with two related events taking place within a period of months. The second, launching in early 2024, will focus on food, a theme around which the programme has an established body of experience.

    Starting with Viladecans, the City Labs should provide an important platform for leading stakeholders, focused on the energy transition and other themes, to consider future collaborative options through URBACT and EUI channels.


    URBACT City Lab 3


    For example, the upcoming URBACT ITN call (January 2024) will fund completed UIA city projects to transfer their innovation experiences across Europe, as Viladecans did in the pilot. The programme will also deliver a series of capacity-building activities under each of its three cross-cutting themes.

    From the EUI side, it is worth mentioning other collaborative opportunities:

    1. Cities can participate in EUI capacity-building events such as the Green Transition capacity-building event that took place recently in Tourcoing.
    2. They can apply for EUI Innovative Actions call, the last one included the Greening Cities theme.
    3. The EUI City Exchange provides a way for cities to follow up bilaterally to deepen their knowledge of others’ experience first-hand.
    4. Through the Peer Review channel, cities can collaborate on improving their sustainable urban development strategies, which can of course include interventions linked to energy transition.


    If you didn''t make it to Viladecans, you can surely sign up for future City Labs, so sign up for the URBACT newsletter and stay tuned!


  • S.M.ALL

    LEAD PARTNER : Ferrara - Italy
    • Larissa - Greece
    • Komotini - Greece
    • Associação de Municípios de Fins Específicos Quadrilátero Urbano - Portugal
    • Sofia - Bulgaria
    • Druskininkai - Lithuania
    • Eurometropolis Strasbourg - France
    • Škofja Loka - Slovenia
    • Bucharest Metropolitan Area Intercommunity Development Association - Romania


    First transnational meeting on 6-7 December 2023 in Ferrara, Italy.


    Lead Expert



    The S.M.ALL network  addresses urban challenges, promoting and implementing sustainable mobility solutions for all, including safe home-to-school journeys, accessible routes and tailored Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, realizing targeted action plans for vulnerable groups. Using a transnational approach to reduce urban inequalities, harmonize sustainable mobility practices and enhance inclusivity, the S.M.ALL consortium brings together different experiences and expertise in sustainable urban mobility aiming to foster significant changes in the urban spaces, making them more inclusive and accessible for all.

    Sharing urban solutions towards Sustainable Mobility for ALL
  • Re-Gen

    LEAD PARTNER : Verona - Italy
    • Business Innovation Centre Albacete - Spain
    • Daugavpils - Latvia
    • Vila Do Conde - Portugal
    • Kapodistriaki Development S.A. - Greece
    • Pula - Croatia
    • Dobrich - Bulgaria
    • Milan - Italy
    • Lezha - Albania


    • 18/19/20 September – Daugavpils, Latvia: study visit
    • 25/26/27 September – Dobrich, Bulgaria: study visit.
    • 16/17/18 October – Albacete, Spain: study visit.
    • 24/25/26 October – Corfu, Greece: study visit.
    • 01/02 November – Lezha, Albania: study visit.
    • 20/21 November – Pula, Croatia: study visit.
    • 23/24 November – Milan, Italy: study visit.
    • 28/29 November – Verona, Italy: first transnational meeting.
    • 06/07/08 December – Vila do Conde, Portugal: study visit.


    • 06 March – First Online Meeting.
    • 15 March – Verona, Italy: Local Event, ULG Launch Local Experiment.
    • 31 May / 01 June –  Daugavpils, Latvia: Second Core Meeting. 


    Lead Expert



    Re-Gen is a European network of cities that aims to support sustainable urban development and social inclusion thanks to the protagonism of secondary school students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Young people, aged between 10 and 18, will be involved in the transformation of abandoned public areas into urban sports hubs, with the approach of tactical urbanism and inclusion of green and gender criteria in architecture.

    Youth and urban regeneration: let's take back public spaces!