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  • RESILIENT EUROPE

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in September (Katowice).
    Transnational meetings in March (Ioanina) and October (Malmo).
    Final event in March (Rotterdam).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    Becoming more resilient means that a city strives to enhance its ability to bounce back and grow even stronger and better in the face of the chronic stresses and acute shocks. As such, city resilience is a continuous challenge for individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and infrastructure systems to address current trends and future transitions. This Action Planning network looked at the challenges of achieving resilience in and of our cities in a comprehensive and holistic way, by applying the lessons from the innovative governance approach of Transition Management. This approach is a process-oriented and participatory steering that enables social learning through iterations between collective vision development and experimenting.

    Improving city resilience
    Ref nid
    7522
  • sub>urban

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in July (Antwerp). Transnational meeting in November (Casoria).
    Transnational meetings in February (Oslo), June (Brussels) and October (Dusseldorf).
    Transnational meeting in January (Brno). Final event in May (Barcelona).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    The cities from this Action Planning network searched for a solution to the following challenge: how can we make existing 20th century urban tissue attractive and qualitative again? How can we add a different urban layer? For the past two decades, urban development and planning practice in European cities and regions have focused on the renewal of metropolitan cores and historic inner cities. This has resulted in numerous success stories, but the wave of urban renewal in inner cities has generally coincided with strong population growth and demographic changes. Many inner cities have reached their peak in terms of density, population and mobility. At the same time most of the housing in 20th century (sub)urban areas are in need of renovation. The next logical step is a combined solution to these issues by reconverting this areas, to create a more sustainable and attractive environment.

    Reinventing the fringe
    Ref nid
    7541
  • Thriving Streets

    Summary

    Lead Partner : Parma - Italy
    • Antwerp - Belgium
    • Igoumenitsa - Greece
    • EDC Debrecen - Hungary
    • Klaipèda - Lithuania
    • Nova Gorica - Slovenia
    • Oradea - Romania
    • Radom - Poland
    • Santo Tirso - Portugal
    • London Borough of Southwark

    Timeline

     

     

    • October 1: Kick-Off Meeting Phase I, Parma









       

     

    • June 9-10: Kick-off meeting Phase II
    • June 25: Online coordination meeting
    • September 11: Online coordination meeting
    • October 26, 28: Online coordination meeting
    • November 25: Thematic learning event “Active mobility vs car dependency”
    • November 26: Transnational meeting, Antwerp
    • December 15: Thematic learning event “Co-creating Thriving Streets”
    • February 26: Thematic learning event “Thriving local economy”
    • April 14-15: Transnational meeting, Nova Gorica
    • May 7: Thematic learning event “Places for people”
    • June 21-22: Transnational meeting, Santo Tirso
    • July 20: Masterclass “Placemaking for recovery”
    • July 22: Thematic learning event “Streets for all”
    • September 30-October 1: Transnational meeting, Southwark
    • December 10: IAP Peer review meeting
       

     

    • March 30: Thriving Communities, digital learning event
    • April 26-28:Transnational meeting in Santo Tirso (Portugal) and study visit in Pontevedra (Spain)
    • May 24, 25: Transnational meeting in Nova Gorica and study visit in Ljubljana (Slovenia)
    • June 14-16: URBACT City Festival, Pantin / Greater Paris (France)
    • July 5-8: Walk and Roll Cities Final Event, Barcelona (Spain)
    • July 14: Masterclasses on Urban Freight and Parking Management

    Outputs

    Integrated Action Plan

    Integrated Action Plan for sustainable mobility in Oltretorrente

    Read more here !

    Parma - Italy
    Igoumenitsa Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Igoumenitsa - Greece
    Klaipèda Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Klaipèda - Lithuania
    Oradea Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Oradea - Romania
    Southwark Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    London Borough of Southwark - United Kingdom
    Toward live and attractive Solkan’s historical core

    Read more here !

    Nova Gorica - Slovenia
    Towards a dynamic center for Deurne

    Read more here

    Antwerp - Belgium
    Debrecen Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here

    Debrecen - Hungary
    Increase attractivity and decrease car-dependency in Santo Tirso

    Read more here !

    Santo Tirso - Portugal

    Transforming streets to create people-friendly places. The ambition of Thriving Streets is to improve sustainable mobility in urban areas from an economic and social perspective. The premise of the Thriving Streets network is that break-troughs in sustainable urban mobility can be established when mobility is no longer framed as just going from A to B but rather as a means for social-economic development of the city. The key question Thriving Streets network intends to answer is the following: “How can mobility become a motor for urban health, inclusivity, economy and social cohesion?”

    Thriving Streets
    Designing mobility for attractive cities
    Ref nid
    13423
  • Walk and Roll Cities: a transformation towards people-centred streets

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    15/11/2022

    Meet the URBACT cities exploring links between mobility and public space to promote sustainable, inclusive, attractive urban areas.

    Articles
    City planning

    In recent decades, mobility in cities has become strongly dominated by cars. The moving and parking of quickly expanding numbers of cars led to the shrinkage of public space available for residents.

    In order to reverse the dominance of cars, since the 2010s many European cities have started to explore new measures to deter the use and storing of cars on streets, and support alternative uses of public spaces. Three ongoing URBACT Action Planning Networks address these issues: Space4People, concentrating on parking management and pedestrianisation; Thriving Streets, on streets as public spaces and placemaking; and RiConnect, dealing with the links between regional and local aspects of mobility infrastructures.

    Under the banner of #WalkAndRollCities, these three URBACT city networks decided to set up a collaboration to explore the links between mobility and transport and public space use, and collect good practices on progressive changes in cities. Set to run until summer 2022, their joint activities include a series of three seminars, and a LinkedIn group for case studies and debates.

    The first URBACT #WalkAndRollCities webinar

    The first webinar of this collaboration was held on 29 November 2021. In his keynote presentation, Tiago Lopes Farias, CEO at CARRIS – the Lisbon Municipal Bus and Tram Operator, and associate professor at Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon (PT), highlighted Lisbon’s main efforts. The starting point was the strengthening of powers at metropolitan level – stretching over 18 municipalities, and 2.9 million people, only 0.5 million of whom live in Lisbon itself. This enabled new efforts to streamline the public transport system across the whole metropolitan area, starting with a ticketing reform to introduce a new, integrated tariff model. This was followed by efforts to establish a joint public transport company for the whole area.

    Cities from the URBACT networks Space4People, Thriving Streets, and RiConnect have been sharing their experiences of strengthening urban sustainability by giving more ground to active mobility modes and enhancing the people-friendly use of public spaces. Here are a few interesting examples presented during the recent webinar. (See the #WalkAndRollCities LinkedIn group for more details.)

    Arad (RO) implemented pilot pedestrian interventions on one of the main boulevards of the city. The majority of people supported the idea to expand walking areas, mainly as a leisure form, especially on weekends or during warmer weather. The city recognised the importance of building trust through active communication, complemented by delivery, in the form of pilot interventions.

    Bielefeld (DE) focused on parking management, to give public space back to people, reducing street parking and changing vehicle access regulations to the city centre. The five-month period of idea raising was followed by a five-month-long testing phase, during which opinions about the pilot projects were collected. The process will end with a four-month evaluation and decision-making phase.

    Nova Gorica: removing a car, installing a kiosk

    Nova Gorica (SI) aimed to restructure a square in the historic core area of the city by removing parking spaces while installing a pop-up kiosk to enhance public activities – as shown in the photo. A detailed insight into the issue of space only became possible when the vision-building period was followed with a concrete action, making the idea visible for residents. The pilot intervention sparked heavy debates between residents, which led to further changes being made.

    Antwerp (BE) wanted to stimulate change in a peripheral neighbourhood where the share of younger people, preferring bikes instead of car use, is increasing. The temporary installations of the city, aiming to create more space for pedestrians and slow down car traffic, however, were not prepared and discussed properly. The municipality has learnt a lot from this failed experiment: how temporary interventions should be prepared; what needs have to be taken into account; and how important it is to engage residents fully in discussions, by municipal employees who get enough resources to organise that.

    The Métropole du Grand Paris (FR) is aiming to calm traffic on a four-lane national road running through the centre of a peripheral municipality. The attempts to ‘localise’ the road by creating new crossings and green spaces will hopefully incentivise private actors to invest in housing and prompt the regeneration of heritage buildings. For the idea to succeed, coordination between different levels of governance is of crucial importance.

    Transport for Greater Manchester (UK) aims for similar interventions in a peripheral sub-centre of the Greater Manchester metropolitan area. The aim is to ‘humanise’ the entry area of a motorway by improving the crossings, creating streets for all, and introducing a quality bus service. Manchester hopes that this will lead to longer-term changes in the mobility behaviour of local residents.

    Then came COVID

    All these efforts in URBACT cities started a few years ago. Then suddenly, in March 2020, Covid-19 hit. The quickly introduced lockdown measures brought dramatic changes in the first months, which planners couldn’t have dreamt of earlier: huge decreases in car use, alongside much more intensive use of public spaces. In some cases, areas originally used by cars were even ‘stolen’ for temporary measures.

    A few months later, however, a very unfortunate rearrangement started: the use of cars increased again, and in many cities reached higher levels than before the pandemic – not least because people continued to avoid public transport. As a result, pressure was growing to eliminate new measures favouring walking and cycling in cities. Municipalities now face the dilemma of how to react to the anger of car drivers while listening to the (often less well-articulated) opinion of pedestrians and cyclists who are satisfied with the public places which were expanded for their use.

    In Budapest, one of the newly installed bike lanes had to be redirected to the pavement in order to give back partially a lane to car drivers.

    Claus Köllinger, Lead Expert of the Space4People network, told the URBACT #WalkAndRollCities webinar: “Due to increasing car use, if nothing changes in centres, depopulation and retail extinction can happen. There are many alternative futures for central areas possible, such as Disneyland, large gastronomy bars, entertainment centres, or good mix of different functions. Wise interventions are needed to favour the last option, and this requires to push back car access to the central areas.”

    Positive visions for mobility and public space use in the post-Covid city

    Over the course of the webinar, important statements were articulated towards a positive vision for the post-Covid city. As Béla Kézy, Lead Expert of the Thriving Streets network, said: “Mobility – how far you can go in a given amount of time – should be replaced by Access – how much you can get in a given amount of time. The '15-minute city’ idea aims to provide access instead (or besides) mobility, for which you need proximity, diversity, density, ubiquity.”

    There are no standard solutions for changing existing neighbourhoods along these principles; the concrete needs of people always have to be studied and understood first. It might be useful to ease strict zoning regulations – such as allowing a café to open in a residential area – and handing over places to community functions, for example opening up existing public buildings in the evenings and putting in new community buildings wherever possible.

    Rebuilding a transfer station area

    Roland Krebs, Lead Expert of the RiConnect network, emphasised the need for integrated solutions. He said: “Old infrastructures, which were once in the centre of activities, are overdone by new layers, totally changing the earlier important places, making these peripheral and through-locations. Over time, transfer places become monofunctional, losing identity and human scale. The task is to re-arrange earlier-built infrastructures by new uses, urban intensification and urban regeneration, assuring more mixed functions than just stations for exchange between mobility modes. In peripheral areas, all this needs strong multi-level government cooperation.”

    In his keynote address, Tiago Lopes Farias addressed the question of how to build on the pandemic-created momentum of changes towards less car dominant mobility and public space use, by raising new aspects for consideration:

    1. Customer needs and mobility patterns will change due to teleworking, e-commerce, growing expectations of customers due to accelerated digitalisation, increased attention to the ’local’ (15-minute city), safety concerns.

    2. New mobility players are coming in, and an innovative and dynamic ecosystem will be built up, based on more electrified, shared technologies. All these need space and raise the challenge of how they can be connected.

    3. All this leads to the scarcity of space: how to better manage urban space and mobility services towards more sustainable cities. Where to put the bike-share rack, the e-roller rack within the same physical space? To whom to give parking space: residents, long-term visitors, loading of goods? But first other questions have to be asked: is the space for parking, or a bus lane, or pedestrians…?

    4. Added to all that, there is a growing pressure to reduce our carbon footprint. In Lisbon, the bus fleet will be zero emission by 2040… the first 15 electric buses are already running, but depos also have to be changed…

    Tiago Lopes Farias said: “We need to change, adapt how we live, plan, manage our lives. This means that also mobility patterns have to be changed. But it should be ensured that public transport remains the backbone of urban mobility, and that cities remain the centres of urban areas.”

    Serious barriers endangering sustainability changes

    The first webinar of URBACT Walk And Roll Cities ended with an emphasis on the need to connect changes in mobility and public space use to each other. The leading role has to be played by the public sector, based on the cooperation of municipalities in the metropolitan areas, in partnership with private actors and in active consultation with the population.

    It is, however, not at all easy to reach the envisioned changes. There are already signs in many cities of an approaching financial austerity, which would heavily affect services, public transport amongst the first. If the next decision has to be about which line to shut down or how to save money by decreasing the frequency of services, little room will remain for innovative ideas about the future. Thus, financing and resourcing of mobility services is one of the most important questions for the near future. This will be the topic of the next URBACT #WalkAndRollCities webinar, planned for the first quarter of 2022.

    All the materials of the first webinar will be available on the URBACT Walk And Roll Cities LinkedIn group, open to all. Join up to discover new information about Walk And Roll Cities, and contribute with innovative ideas for improving mobility and public space in towns and cities across the EU.

    You can also donwload the PowerPoint presentation on the event's page.

    Network
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  • Five flawless ways to revitalise small town centres

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    15/11/2022

    Are town centres ready to welcome people again? Five solutions to make small city centres more attractive in the post-Covid era.

    Articles

    There is no doubt that town centres were among the places hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic, worsening a crisis already felt in many European highstreets. Nevertheless, many elements of these town centres can be potential engines for attracting new residents or creating new economic opportunities for small shops and other commercial activities. 

    Coming from a big city, the most striking aspect when you arrive in a small or medium-sized town is the silence, the slowed-down activity compared to the symphony of horns, buses and incessant background noise that characterises a day spent in a larger urban context. This is particularly true when visiting the partner cities in URBACT networks that deal with the revitalisation of small historic centres, such as City Centre Doctor. The network has represented in recent years one of the main arenas of dialogue for small and medium-sized European municipalities committed to finding common solutions to a plurality of cross-cutting issues to design the small liveable cities of the future.

    Environmental care, the promotion of tourism, the revitalisation of urban spaces, economic growth: these are just a few of the main concerns for cities whose centres were hit first by the economic crisis and then by Covid, with each new crisis increasing the risk of depopulation.

    San Donà di Piave (IT)

    Much smaller than nearby Treviso or Venice, San Donà di Piave (IT), with 40 000 inhabitants, is the right size to be able to experiment with shared methodologies for the recovery and improved quality of public spaces, creating spaces where new forms and methods of innovation and participation can be tested. It is perhaps no coincidence that this municipality is the first in Italy to have launched a Department for Participatory Urban Regeneration, with clear mention of the URBACT Local Group as a long-term tool to make the collaborative methodologies promoted by the European programme part of the regular activities of the municipality.

    Compared to bigger cities, it is easier to focus attention on these issues in small towns where social cohesion is stronger and local government actions can be more incisive in revitalising social spaces, in order to recreate a new community spirit. It is also in small towns that important approaches can be developed to make centres more liveable and inclusive, with valid lessons for larger urban contexts too.

    The solutions, and food for thought, produced by City Centre Doctor and other URBACT networks on the theme of small city centres have animated national and European debates on the implementation of European and global Urban Agendas, as well as contributing to the new European cohesion policy. Here are five key lessons:

    1. To revitalise a city centre, think about what you want to do with the urban space

    Many cities focus on using empty spaces for parking, but the experience of cities such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Copenhagen teaches us that reducing the space allocated to cars can be a decisive contribution to making a city more vibrant and liveable.

    The use of large spaces, such as squares, for a variety of functions is the ideal way to revitalise a city, whether large or small, perhaps even providing original uses: a playground, an urban beach, or a place for art installations, yoga, or music for young people.

    In small towns, it is possible to return to the concept of the square and enrich it with new uses. The same is true for streets, which are transformed into temporary open-air markets during neighbourhood festivals in Belgian cities, or given back to the citizens to pedal, walk, meet or eat together in Medina del Campo (ES).

    It's not just a matter of pedestrianisation, but also of making the streets more beautiful: covering them with marble, as in Portugal, or with street artworks, as in San Francisco or in Quito, Ecuador, where a work of tactical urbanism was created at the occasion of the Habitat III Conference in 2016.

    2. It won't be the big stores that save the historical centres, but small-scale, high quality commerce

    Can bringing Primark or McDonald's into a small town make it more attractive? Not really, especially if you think about the economic and social sustainability of the whole operation. Instead, create the conditions to make historic centres a framework in which quality commerce can grow, bringing creativity and value to small towns, starting with a redefinition of public spaces to make them liveable, walkable, and attractive. Heerlen has tried this with the widespread use of street artwork, making the Dutch town an open-air museum of urban art – certified as a good practice by the URBACT programme.

    Antwerpen (BE)

    But street art alone is not enough. Experimenting with new systems of rules to encourage creative entrepreneurship, for example by making it possible to open temporary stores or encouraging young people to open new businesses with specific training actions and exemption from paying local taxes for two years, are some elements of the strategies revitalising cities in Belgium or Ireland, for example. Solutions include Cork’s ‘Streetwise’ programme or Antwerp's ‘Pop up to date’ initiative, another URBACT good practice.

    Many small centres are also focusing on maintaining local stores and enhancing activities such as craft breweries and bars. They put the focus on quality and reasoned use of public spaces, giving inhabitants the perception of an attractive and liveable place.

    "A place needs to be cool, but you only create ‘coolness’ if you create better public spaces and properly support the work of entrepreneurs," comments Wessel Badenhorst, City Centre Doctor lead expert.

    Proximity shops proved their importance during the lockdown, helping revive community spirit in many towns and villages. What happened in 2020 is a reminder of the importance of this particular category of commercial activities, some of which innovated their offers to contrast the rise of online commerce with more personalised customer service.

    3. Kicking cars out of downtowns to make them more liveable

    In small towns, you can still see children riding their bikes on sidewalks, but residents are often dependent on cars to access basic services. There is no doubt that the longer cars stay out of town centres, the more attractive they become.

    The issue of mobility in small towns concerns not only the way people move from one place to another, but also the system of transporting goods, especially now that online platforms and courier lorries are revolutionising the way we shop, even in the smallest towns.

    Reducing pollution by organising mobility and supply systems differently is a key solution to improving the way people perceive the spaces around them. For example, the use of cargo bikes instead of polluting trucks to create delivery systems that are environmentally friendly and close to the end user is becoming increasingly popular in a sector that, despite a lack of major innovative improvements, can act strongly on established habits of the various links in the chain.

    Cure people from car dependency: an assumption that becomes the cornerstone of structured and collaborative actions and policies, especially in small towns.

    4. Making young and old the protagonists of change in historic centres

    Young people and the elderly are two social groups tied more closely than others to historic town centres. For young people who do not own a car, the historic centre can become part of their identity, with the consequence that if there are few local activities, they grow up hoping to leave, abandoning their small centre. Making young people protagonists of their hometown’s future is a solution to stop them wanting to ‘escape’.

    Idrija (SI)

    The mayor of Idrija, Slovenia, asked local young people to indicate a series of actions to be carried out in different parts of their town. Unexpectedly, rather than asking for disruptive, chaotic actions, they asked for re-appropriation of spaces, activities in the squares such as music and dance performances, or playing with skateboards. This proved that it is not just bars that make young people stay in a place, but rather the freedom to do their own thing. This was also true in Amarante, Portugal, where young people were able to organise a week of events on the theme of citizenship. "Young people are the ones who implement change in the inner cities," says Wessel Badenhorst.

    As for the elderly, and others who are unable to drive, access to healthcare and social services becomes a key factor in their ability to live in the area.

    Udine’s Playful Paradigm – a good practice shared with other medium-sized city partners thanks to URBACT – is one solution to help counter depopulation and promote social cohesion. The approach fosters links between different segments of the population through programmes and initiatives that strengthen people’s sense of belonging to the place they live, and promote its quality of life. Better urban planning starts from places and spaces designed and shared with people: Jane Jacobs' teaching is even more valid in centres where different parts of the population must cooperate to keep alive the branch of the tree on which they are sitting.

    Collaboration among residents of different generations during the Covid crisis is a perfect example of how communities can be resilient in small centres: a lesson for cities to implement in wider, integrated policies for social welfare, urban planning and liveability.

    5. Making inhabitants proud of the place in which they live

    Creating trust among people to change the collective perception of small historic centres is a political and cultural operation that participatory processes can help to revive by giving inhabitants a more complete picture of the in which place they live. By setting up URBACT Local Groups, and exchanging with other URBACT towns on the challenges of revitalising their historic centres, cities gain ideas and possible solutions not only to help manage, but also promote, their town centres.

    Though the history of a small centre cannot be changed, the trends and prospects for future development can be oriented to start again from an act of co-creation that makes people protagonists of the processes of change and management of their town centres. "No one owns the cities," said Jane Jacobs – and this is more true than ever in the centres, where collective action can lead to a collective re-appropriation of governance, in which everyone can have a decisive role. Making people proud to participate in the future development of their community also favours the visibility and attractiveness of small towns, the silent engine of a Europe that grows thanks to the vital and vibrant places that contribute original visions and practices in the time of big cities.

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  • Small cities surviving Covid-19: “Without frequent sharing we would have felt more alone”

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    15/11/2022

    Stakeholder engagement, cross-sectoral cooperation, integrated planning – an URBACT recipe for resilience!

     

    Articles
    City planning

    Cities have been using agility, creativity and community spirit to respond to the challenges of Covid-19. Here, we share stories from some of URBACT’s smaller municipalities, where helping residents and businesses through the crisis goes hand-in-hand with sustainable integrated urban development.

     

    With most of Europe’s urban population living in communities of under 100,000 inhabitants, these towns and cities are strongly represented in URBACT networks, some working alongside major metropolises. “If we want small cities to be resilient, they’re going to have to develop confidence and capacity – and that’s where URBACT comes in,” says Wessel Badenhorst, Lead Expert for the URBACT iPlace network. And what a year to put that resilience to the test.

     

    Covid-19 challenges for small cities

     

    Although small cities generally record lower infection rates than their bigger neighbours, the pandemic has exacerbated the economic challenges they were already facing. The burdens of empty town centres, lack of economic mobility, and isolated, ageing populations have worsened, while trading conditions for small and medium enterprises have also been hit by public health measures. Smaller cities whose economies rely predominantly on one activity such as tourism, hospitality, transport or logistics are particularly vulnerable.

     

    To find out how smaller URBACT cities have been surviving Covid-19, we contacted council staff, elected representatives, local group leaders and urban experts in eight EU countries. We discovered significant variations in the impacts of the pandemic – and city reactions – not just due to infection rates, public health measures or budgets, but to a multitude of factors, from economic diversity and main industry to local politics, demographics and geographical location. Levels of digitalisation and integration of local services also affect how each city copes with the crisis.

     

    Despite these differences, four key URBACT principles shine through cities’ Coronavirus responses.

     

    1. Stakeholder and community engagement

     

    Positive relations with citizens and stakeholders have been helping smaller municipalities coordinate responses – a factor strengthened by URBACT Local Groups (ULG). “On one side smaller cities have fewer resources to face this situation. But on the other side, since the community is not as big, it’s easier to get in touch with the stakeholders,” said Daniel Castejón Llorach, from Igualada (ES), whose pandemic experiences we share here.

     

    Community actions have grown in 2020, boosting the “feeling of belonging to our town,” says Alicia Valle, City Council Manager, Viladecans (ES), a change she hopes will last. “Citizens’ solidarity was awakened and we showed the capacity to help and find solidarity with others in situations where we really needed each other.” Initiatives include volunteers supporting older residents, businesses donating equipment, and employment schemes for disinfecting playgrounds. In Fundão (PT), for example, the Professional School joined the Centre for Migration and 30 volunteers to produce masks using donated material.

     

    Smaller councils say good relations with local businesses help provide information, connections and communications support. In the coastal university town of Halmstad (SE), Chief of Staff Anna Wallefors says this has supported “very agile” smaller manufacturers shifting to products such as PPE, hand gel – even Covid-themed t-shirts. Despite this, she says “we’ve been hit hard – it impacts everyone”; unemployment rose from 4-5% to 8-10%. In industrial Gabrovo (BG), where a strong manufacturing base means the economy is not slowing, the city tracked the health of 55 local companies in an online survey, anticipating future employment.

     

    Halmstad - KMB - 16000700003014

    Halmstad is a port city on the Swedish coast with around 100,000 inhabitants – and member of OnBoard network.

     

    Examples of sustainable community responses also include creative outdoor events and active travel in Mantua (IT). Meanwhile, a host of city-run websites linking consumers and producers look set to continue promoting local business while reducing carbon footprints. Medina del Campo’s (ES) eCommerce site ‘Medina Shopping’ has boomed during the pandemic. Viana do Castelo’s (PT) centralised platform ‘Viana Market’ features over 100 retailers, one of many Covid-19 initiatives developed with the agricultural cooperative, local business and digital economy groups.

     

    UBRACT provides a structure and methodology for such stakeholder involvement. For example, in Viladecans, after initial lockdowns in the spring of 2020 the URBACT Local Group met online to plan a response to new education needs. As a result, ULG members – from schools, families, companies, universities and the city’s Educational Innovation Network – started to define an initiative to provide ICT training and support to teachers and families. Viladecans has inspired other cities in the URBACT OnBoard network to explore similar participative approaches. Schools in Halmstad now involve parents, businesses, sports clubs, something the city’s OnBoard coordinator Jonas Åberg says “normally wouldn’t happen at all”.

     

    2. Cooperation across sectors and levels of government

     

    The sort of close links that URBACT encourages between sectors and municipal departments, and with other bodies at local, regional and national levels, are vital to small city resilience. Anna Wallefors says strong cooperation is central to Halmstad’s response, with neighbouring municipalities, the healthcare system, and many local bodies. With just six municipalities in the region, and 10 000 municipal staff, “it’s easier to work together”. 

     

    The regional hospital city of Viladecans relies on “good coordination with the sanitary facilities responsible for managing the pandemic,” says Alicia Valle. The council coordinated a transversal work group including a Viladecans City Council steering group and representatives from the hospital and five geriatric centres. “The evolution of the pandemic was monitored and solutions were sought in addition to sharing protocols and what messages should be spread among citizens.” A similar joint working group for school safety includes people from primary health care centres, the council’s Education department and school educational teams. 

     

    Spain.Catalonia.Viladecans.Ramblas

    Viladecans is a service-based town of around 67,000 residents located 15 km from Barcelona and is Lead Partner of OnBoard.

     

    Meanwhile, in the agricultural Jelgava Local Municipality (LV), Deputy Head of Development Anita Škutāne says: “We use a cross-sectoral approach in our everyday life in the municipality as it proves that you can achieve the result easier and faster when many interested parties or stakeholders come together and look for solutions.” This has underpinned their response to the pandemic, with actions ranging from increased social support, food-package deliveries, and re-employment of cultural workers, to renovating public buildings and spaces while access is restricted.

     

    3. Learning from other cities – URBACT transnational exchanges

     

    “There’s one place where small European cities feel comfortable and where they can learn from each other – and that’s URBACT,” says URBACT Lead Expert Mireia Sanabria. “There are very few other programmes where they can be on a par with bigger cities.”

     

    Most cities in URBACT networks have been able to stay connected during the pandemic, moving their meetings online. Spanning six countries, the URBACT Card4All network’s smart city project promoting digital ‘citizen cards’, is particularly timely. Caterina Fresu, Municipality of Sassari (Sardinia, IT) says her city’s online services are improving as a result: “Through the URBACT programme we had the opportunity to confront our colleagues in partner cities almost every week, sharing problems and solutions and finding common ground. Without this frequent sharing we would certainly have felt more alone in facing an unknown and unpredictable challenge.” Jurmala (LV), for example, shared how their municipality’s citizen card enabled a valuable analysis of public transport use during Covid-19. “Although still in an initial study phase, thanks to Card4all, during the lockdown important steps have been made in activating digital services for citizens in Sassari,” concludes Catarina Fresu.

     

    “The most powerful thing is for people to stay together and overcome challenges together,” says Gabrovo municipality’s Desislava Koleva. With iPlace city partners, Gabrovo explored how to support vitality and re-open economies post-Covid. In Amarante (PT), iPlace project manager and InvestAmarante director Tiago Ferreira says: “Those discussions enriched all the participants. We felt lucky to have this opportunity to share ideas and access a network of support.” Amarante’s small size was “a big advantage” in terms of health. Tourists came back “very fast” in the summer and economic clusters such as metalwork, woodwork and construction remained open.

     

    Amarante, Portugal (6776300885)

    Amarante is a historic city of around 56,000 inhabitants in northern Portugal - and Lead Partner of iPlace.

     

    URBACT’s transnational exchanges are also boosting resilience in Medina del Campo (ES). “Not only thanks to the experience and knowledge of partner cities – which is always helpful,” says ULG coordinator Juan González Pariente, “but thanks to networks with some of these cities which can help Medina to find new employment niches and resources.” For instance, URBACT CityCentreDoctor network led to synergies between Medina del Campo and Amarante’s wine industry, creating new economic opportunities and lasting support.

     

    OnBoard partners agree. In Viladecans, Sara Cerezo, OnBoard project support, says: “Sharing experiences with URBACT partner cities has been truly useful and interesting. Each city had a different approach and different actions.” And for Jonas Åberg of Halmstad, “staying regularly in touch with the URBACT partners, sharing experiences and tips, in online meetings has been really helpful throughout the crisis.”

     

    4. The power of integrated sustainable planning

     

    URBACT improves cities’ capacities to build sustainable Integrated Action Plans (IAPs) – boosting resilience to face unexpected challenges (see Igualada, for example). While some smaller cities have accelerated these plans to strengthen their Coronavirus response, others have been less lucky. Hoogeveen (NL) was reviving its town centre with local stakeholders, thanks to an Integrated Action Plan built with the URBACT RetaiLink network (2016-2018). Without the funds – or political support – to accelerate the plan during Covid-19, branding and public space improvements were cut, and about 15 central retailers shut: 50 shops now stand empty.

     

    But there are many positive stories: Vic (ES) accelerated municipal measures to promote health and wellbeing while supporting the local economy. This included the "Vic city 30" programme to calm traffic, set a 30km/h speed limit and promote sustainable alternatives like walking, cycling and public transport. The city now restricts motorised weekend traffic on main streets. “This measure responds to the need to be able to guarantee social distance, but also to the desire to move towards a more sustainable and healthy city, which gives priority to active travel,” says Marta Rofin Serra, architect in urban planning for Vic municipality, and URBACT Healthy Cities Project Coordinator. Vic has also extended and improved cycle lanes, and expanded pavements.

     

    Meanwhile, Gabrovo “is very optimistic,” says Desislava Koleva. With 29% of residents over 65, one long-term strategy has been to attract younger people to the city – a trend that has accelerated during the pandemic. “Young people in Bulgaria, mostly living in Sofia, have been coming back to their native cities. Young families have started to buy houses in the villages surrounding Gabrovo. So we will need to build new infrastructure and attractions.” New to URBACT, Gabrovo is finding the iPlace network a particularly useful source of learning and benchmarking with other cities.

     

    Gabrovo - View from the hill

    Gabrovo is an industrial town of around 62,000 people located near the Balkan Mountains in central Bulgaria - and member of the iPlace network.

    Future hopes 

     

    For many smaller cities, though times are tough, Covid-19 has sparked lasting positive change. “The bad outcomes of the pandemic will force everyone to change the way we work or we worked so far,” says Juan González Pariente in Medina. Sassari’s council has recognised the importance of digitisation, training, and distance-working technology. Caterina Fresu hopes that “the emergency may turn into an opportunity to start the transformation of Sassari into a Smart City.”

     

    Cities have also seen the value of clean air and healthy lifestyles. “If there’s one good thing that has come out of the Covid crisis, it’s the environmental improvements such as reduced traffic, cleaner air,” says Mantua Deputy Mayor Adriana Nepote. “We need to be resilient not as individuals but as European citizens. We need to implement the idea of community and being more generous, and then we need to learn – this could be considered a great opportunity for all of us to implement and develop new ways of living.”

     

    Overall, says URBACT Expert Mireia Sanabria: “Although it’s still too soon to prove just how instrumental URBACT has been, those cities that have been involved in URBACT projects, and have used the methodology and incorporated this way of working, have probably reacted better during the pandemic. If the public administration has these capacitated teams, if it has the flexibility and the technology to react in these situations, it makes a big difference.”

     

    URBACT will continue to support cities of all sizes, working closely with the programme’s 23 Action Planning Networks over the next two years. Does your city have experiences to share? Let us know!

     

    Further reading

     

    Other Coronavirus-related articles include a snapshot of URBACT cities’ early reactions, as well as how urban poverty, gender equality, climate – and the new Leipzig Charter – have been impacted. We’ve shone light on improving resilience in tourist towns, visited a hard-hit Catalan city, and explored Covid-19 responses that support food solidarity and mental and physical wellbeing.

     

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  • Engaging cities to reject housing exclusion as a ‘fact of life’

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    15/11/2022

    The article is based on the joint URBACT-UIA web conference ‘No one left behind’ of 26 June 2020.

    Articles
    City planning

    Could Covid-19 prove a turning point in the fight against homelessness? The second URBACT-UIA web conference on the right to housing engaged cities to find out.

    Covid-19 gave an alarming impetus to suffering among the most vulnerable all over Europe, but also showed what a sense of urgency, political will, and mobilisation of resources can do to tackle structural problems, proving that solutions to eradicate homelessness are available. The urgent need is to maintain such initiatives as we emerge from the crisis.

    This was the key message from the second web conference that was jointly organised by URBACT and Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) on ‘cities engaging in the right to housing’ held on 26 June 2020.

    Government decisions can save lives

    During Covid-19, officials and public authorities have faced an unprecedented surge of challenges in dealing with the growing number of people in need. Such dynamics have only exacerbated longer-term trends of increasing homelessness identified in the recent ‘Fifth overview of Housing Exclusion in Europe’ by FEANTSA and the Foundation Abbé Pierre. This report signals a 70% increase in homelessness in Europe over ten years and an alarming growth in homelessness among minors, young people, LGTBIQ, single women, asylum seekers and people under international protection.

    Housing is a key determinant of health, and the impact of the healthcare crisis during Covid-19 has been hitting people without dignified accommodation the most. However, some governments across the world also acted promptly with different measures. For example, it is claimed that more than 90% of people sleeping in the streets in the UK have had a safe place to stay during the peaks of the virus.

    S. Coupechoux and C. Serme-Morin authors of the Fifth overview of Housing Exclusion in Europe’ report highlighted that such efforts by governments - aimed at accommodating people sleeping rough to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus - showed that homelessness is not systematic and could be eradicated if political will, cross-sectoral collaboration funding and human resources are aligned to hit the same target”.

    However, as Europe emerges from the worst period of the crisis, it is unclear as to whether and how governments will turn such short-term emergency measures into permanent solutions. Housing ministries in the Netherlands, in Wales, and officials from Brussels, Lyon, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid and London have already announced plans to consider long-term post-Covid solutions to various forms of housing-related exclusions.

    From managing to eradicating homelessness at city level

    At local level, many EU cities experience the same homelessness trends, with diverse forms of the phenomena, capacities, and political commitment of public administrations to address these issues. The UIA-URBACT web conference explored a variety of approaches that cities have taken, including co-designing city-wide strategies, creating solidarity networks of cities or launching innovative projects.

    The City of Ghent (BE) leads an URBACT network of nine cities called ROOF with the goal of Functional Zero Homelessness - in other words eradicating ‘structural’ homelessness. They aim to achieve this by: gathering accurate data on homelessness using ETHOS Light methodology that was developed to measure homelessness at EU level; working with civil society, public institutions and private sectors to shift from managing to eradicating homelessness; and adopting a Housing First (HF) model.

    "It's proven that Housing First really works: in many cities that are using it, people stay in their house for years. It's also cost-effective, and in the end, cheaper than sheltering. And it's better for health because people are more likely to stay outside of the health system".
    Patricia Vanderbauwhede, Project Leader in Ghent

     

    The network is an opportunity for cities to exchange and learn from each other as they go about co-designing integrated action plans for structural housing solutions. It already benefits from the presence of cities with long-term experience in HF, such as Odense (DK), or with significant experience of progressive policy legislation, such as Glasgow (UK).

    Six key lessons can be specifically taken from the examples of Ghent and the Metropole of Lyon:

    1. Better prevention is a precondition to ending homelessness - Ghent has adopted an integrated poverty reduction plan to coordinate cross-sectoral actions such as provision of rental arrears mediation and support for people at key life moments that are predictive of homelessness.
    2. Increasing housing stocks is essential - through city-wide planning for affordable housing, gathering funding, expanding the rental housing stocks for the most deprived and improving quality of existing ones - e.g. UIA ICCARUS project using revolving funds in Ghent.
    3. Housing provision has to respond to diverse needs - Ghent is developing a HF model in collaboration with local social housing companies aimed at doubling social rental units (from 266 to 532) and experimenting with housing-unit projects based on social mix. The Metropole of Lyon is implementing the UIA Home Silk Road project, which experiments renovation of an emblematic building as temporary housing for 30 families, creating neighbourhood cultural and job opportunities in circular economies.
    4. Outreach services are key for maintaining sufficient social support.
    5. Systems of temporary housing and orientation need to be optimised, especially for people without legal status.
    6. Working in multi-scalar way is necessary - by engaging local stakeholders, including the volunteer sector and also advocating on national and European levels to align and coordinate homelessness and housing policies.

    Housing is critical for fair and welcoming policies

    City strategies also need to be adapted to specific demands of asylum seekers and people under international protection who face particular challenges and risks of housing exclusion as identified above. Further, the joint FEANTSA - Fondation Abbé Pierre Housing Exclusion report points out the currently inadequate reception and accommodation conditions, which are most under pressure in receiving countries in southern Europe. As an example, in Spain, asylum applications multiplied by 45 times over six years. Standards and practices vary among EU Member States but common features are:

    • outdated and unsuitable emergency accommodation system;
    • access to dignified housing conditions hindered by the abuses of the Dublin Regulation and a tightening up of national legislation;
    • inadequate or ad hoc measures for people in vulnerable situations (minors, victims of violence, people with mental and health issues etc.);
    • and the absence of accommodation options for migrants in transit.

    Thomas Lacroix from CNRS France explains that the role of cities in providing better inclusion policies – with housing a fundamental area – has seen a tremendous shift in the world. According to his analysis, the growing reliance of national governments on cities to deliver inclusion policies has led to a growing protagonism of cities, which have sought to present themselves – often in contradiction to national policy directions – as Welcoming-, Arrival-, Sanctuary-, or Solidarity- cities, changing their local policies from long-term integration to short-term reception and inclusion.

    The city of Athens is exemplary in this sense: in the aftermath of 2015, when the reception crisis of refugees was last its peak, the city was joining networks and partnerships among European cities: Eurocities campaign on solidarity cities and later the EU urban agenda partnership inclusion of Migrants and refugees. At that particular time, Athens also launched the UIA Curing the Limbo project for the inclusion of refugees. The innovative project focuses on housing as part of a holistic approach of inclusion of newcomers in the labour market and in the active socio-cultural life at neighbourhood level. A Housing Facilitation Unit manages the provision of housing and acts as a hub for the provision of several services such as conditional cash subsidies, household finance planning and legal support linking renters and owners.

    The goal is to create a dynamic and holistic solution for people that have been in limbo. We really want to help them transit from a humanitarian aid approach to a life that they get to choose in the city. We created a housing facilitation unit [that is] a mediator who helps people to transit from a housing emergency system to independence.
    Antigone Kotanidis, UIA project manager, Athens

     

    When growing numbers of asylum seekers needed adequate housing in their urban area – due also to neglected social housing policies at national level – the city of Thessaloniki pushed towards the creation of a local city-managed rental agency. The effort was supported by the creation of a multi-stakeholder consortium whose establishment was helped with the Arrival Cities URBACT network.

    Taking a different approach, the city of Antwerp implemented the UIA CURANT project in which co-housing was created in order to link 81 young unaccompanied refugees with 77 local inhabitants called ‘buddies’ who acted as facilitators in the inclusion process in the neighbourhood for three years. The housing provided by the municipality included 37 rental units from private landlords, 4 renovated units, 1 students’ housing unit and 16 modular units, the latter in one location. This project required mutual learning, behavioural adjustments and some frustrations related to the difficulties of transmitting the concept of co-housing, which was not familiar to the inhabitants. While the project has eventually turned into success, with outreach and continued support of social services, the current challenge is to sustain and scale up this model.

    Where there’s a will there’s a way, and the time is now

    Europe faces a worrisome situation in the case of homelessness and housing exclusion. At the same time, there is nothing inevitable about it and public policies and cities’ engagement can indeed end homelessness. Covid-19 can potentially be taken as a turning point, building on the exceptional efforts to get people housed during the crisis, and new ways of providing services to those most in need – both within public administrations and thanks to the engagement of volunteers.

    The discussions at the joint URBACT-UIA web conference in June 2020 show that homelessness cannot be eradicated if public actions are not coordinated and integrated, including addressing the current policy failures around migration at both European and Member State levels.

    The new recovery package at EU level and other national recovery measures can provide significant opportunities. There have been promising signs for strengthening the EUs role in the fight against homelessness, with the European Commission set to launch next year an Action Plan to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights.

    But cities are on the front line of tackling housing exclusion and homelessness and many are campaigning for fairer and human rights-based welcoming policies in Europe. EU programmes like UIA and URBACT can continue to provide valuable resources and support to cities tackling homelessness. Furthermore, ongoing European-level collaboration involving UIA and URBACT – but also partners including FEANTSA, Fondation Abbé Pierre, Housing Europe and others – can play a key role in further incentivising cities to refuse the very idea that homelessness and housing exclusion are a ‘fact of life’.

    The UIA and URBACT programmes join the efforts of many European and international organisations to call for adequate and affordable housing rights, by providing a space to exchange practices among cities’ administrations. This account is based on the 26 June 2020 UIA-URBACT web conference ‘No one left behind – the second in a series of Knowledge Hub events dedicated to 'Cities engaging in the right to housing.

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  • 23 Action Planning Networks ready for Phase 2!

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    15/11/2022

    On 7 May, URBACT's Monitoring Committee has officially approved all Action Planning Networks to proceed to Phase 2.

    News

     

    The main objective of Action Planning Networks is to bring together between 7 and 10 cities across Europe to exchange their experience in a particular thematic urban development challenge and to share their ideas about possible solutions, during a period of over 2 years. The Phase 1 (from late June 2019 to February 2020) focused on the development of baseline studies, city profiles and the production of the Application Form for Phase 2.

    Following the Monitoring Committee's approval of the networks, cities are now ready to focus on the exchange and learning activities using a range of learning tools and approaches in line with the URBACT Method. Every partner city will consolidate an URBACT Local Group, which will co-design Integrated Action Plans for future implementation. The Phase 2 also presents a novelty for the projects, from now on cities are encouraged to undertake pilot actions (Small Scale Actions), to experiment with new ideas for projects gained from other network exchanges and in line with the cities’ network topic.

    As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the URBACT Secretariat will follow up with a series of adapted activities to support these networks and their partners, including the delivery of trainings using online formats and a 3 months extension of the network life-cycle, meaning that projects will run until August 2022. Thus, networks will respect the following calendar:

     

    • Activation Stage (May - December 2020): putting together an Integrated Action Plan roadmap
    • Planning Actions (December 2020 - December 2021): drafting the Integrated Action Plan
    • Planning Implementation (December 2021 - June 2022): finalising the Integrated Action Plan
    • Integrated Action Plans Finale (June - August 2022): sharing knowledge

     

    You can find all approved networks in the table below, the Lead Partner city is indicated is bold. To find out more about each one of the projects, check the network's webpages.
    Congratulations to the 23 approved projects!

     

    NETWORK

    PARTNERS

    DESCRIPTION

    Research, technological development and innovation

    UrbSecurity

    Leiria (PT)
    - Longford (IE)
    - Madrid (ES)
    - Mechelen (BE)
    - Michalovce (SK)
    - Parma (IT)
    - Pella (EL)
    - Unione della Romagna Faentina (IT)
    - Szabolcs 05 Regional Development Association of Municipalities (HU)

    Security and safety are two common goods and fundamental components of European democracy. This network intends to analyse strategies and concepts of urban design and planning, which could contribute to prevent segregation and anti-social behaviour. Additionally, this network wishes to co-create an integrated approach towards urban security focusing on improving citizens’ quality of life and the city’s smart, sustainable and inclusive growth towards a good living environment.

    Find your Greatness

    Alba Iulia (RO)
    - Bragança (PT)
    - Candelaria (ES)
    - Perugia (IT)
    - Wroclaw (PL)
    - Võru (EE)
    - Limerick (IE)
    - Budafok-Tétény 22nd district of Budapest (HU)

    The challenge is to build on the cities' opportunities. The partners of the project need to identify locally a strength, which was built as a sustainable mechanism generating urban development. The goal of this network is to explore and enhance the potential of the city, combining strategic marketing approach with innovative smart city tools.

    Access to and use of ICT

    DigiPlace
    (previously DI4C)

    Messina (IT)
    - Botosani (RO)
    - Oulu (FI)
    - Portalegre (PT)
    - Roquetas de Mar (ES)
    - Saint- Quentin (FR)
    - Trikala (EL)
    - Ventspils Digital Centre (LV)

    This network aims to set up an acceleration mechanism to enable cities to catch up the digitalisation opportunities in hard & soft infrastructure. Remove all the obstacles encountered by mid-sized cities in their digital journey: lack of strategic & global vision lack of technical and engineering capacities difficulties in incorporating the digital innovation. Municipalities need to guaranty the uptake of digital innovation by the local stakeholders: citizen and entrepreneurs.

    IoTxChange

    Fundão (PT)
    - Dodoni (EL)
    - Jelgava (LV)
    - Nevers Agglomeration (FR)
    - Razlog (BG)
    - Ånge (SE)
    - Kežmarok (SK)
    - Åbo Akademi University (FI)

    The objective is to encourage the creation of a network of European cities committed to the design of digitalization plans based on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to increase the quality of life in small and medium sized EU cities, guiding us through a new age of digital transformation.

    Competitiveness of SMEs

    iPlace

    Amarante (PT)
    - Balbriggan (IE)
    - Pori (FI)
    - Pärnu (EE)
    - Grosseto (IT)
    - Gabrovo (BG)
    - Heerlen (NL)
    - Kočevje (SI)
    - Medina del Campo
    (ES)

    - Saldus (LV)

    This network aim to produce 10 different and unique robust economic development strategies, targeting their own genuine niches, and generating urban innovation ecosystems. City partners will focus on deepening the understanding of their own local economic strengths and establish strategic methods to revitalise their economy, adapt their city to the next economy and to future economic changes, establishing methodological bases for generate resilient cities.

    Tourism Friendly Cities

    Genoa (IT)
    - Braga (PT)
    - Rovaniemi (FI)
    - Venice (IT)
    - Utrecht (NL)
    - Krakow (PL)
    - Cáceres (ES)
    - Druskininkai (LT)
    - Dún Laoghaire Rathdown (IE)
    - Dubrovnik Development Agency (HR)

    This network aims to explore how tourism can be sustainable in medium-sized cities, reducing the negative impact on neighbourhoods and areas interested by different types of tourism to reach this ambitious aim, the project will create integrated and inclusive strategies which can keep a balance between the needs of the local community, in terms of quality of life and of services available, and the promotion of sustainable urban development at environmental, social and economic level.

    Low carbon economy in all sectors

    Urb-En Pact

    Clermont Auvergne Metropole (FR)
    - Bialystok Association of the Functional Area (PL)
    - CIM Alto Minho (PT)
    - Rouen Normandie Metropole (FR)
    - Elefsina (EL)
    - Galati (RO)
    - Palma di Montechiaro (IT)
    - Tampere EcoFellows (FI)

    Local authorities embrace the ambitious goal to become a zero-net energy territory within the next 30 years. Thus, the aim is to define the local action plans to become zero-net (ZNE) territory by producing and delivering local, renewable and regulated sources of energy by the implementation of an energy loop which gathers all the stakeholders of this circular economy, especially the consumers included in this fair trade business in and around the metropolitan area.

    Zero Carbon Cities
    (previously ZCC)

    Manchester (UK)
    - Bistrita (RO)
    - Zadar (HR)
    - Modena (IT)
    - Frankfurt am Main (DE)
    - Tartu (EE)
    - Vilvoorde (BE)

    The network will support capacity building of cities to establish science-based carbon reduction targets and their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) aligned to Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Working with 7cities to adopt different approaches to carbon budgeting and science-based targets, the network will undertake a programme of capacity building in order to support their local activities and integrated action plan and influence Covenant of Mayors' signatory cities.

    Environmental protection and resource efficiency

    RiConnect

    Barcelona Metropolitan Area (ES)
    - Porto Metropolitan Area (PT)
    - Krakow Metropole Association (PL)
    - Paris Metropolitan Area (FR)
    - Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area (PL)
    - Amsterdam Region (NL)
    - Transport for Greater Manchester (UK)
    - Thessaloniki Major Development Agency (EL)

    The overall goal is to rethink, transform and integrate mobility infrastructure aiming at reconnecting people, neighbourhoods, cities and natural spaces. The project will develop planning strategies, processes, instruments and partnerships, fostering public transport and active mobility, reducing externalities and unlocking opportunities of urban regeneration with the objectives of structuring the territory, and achieving a more sustainable, equitable and attractive metropolis.

    URGE

    Utrecht (NL)
    - Riga (LV)
    - Oeste CIM (PT)
    - Copenhagen (DK)
    - Granada (ES)
    - Munich (DE)
    - Kavala (EL)
    - Prato (IT)
    - Nigrad (SI)

    URGE (circUlaR buildinG citiEs) aims to design integrated urban policies on circularity in the building sector – a major consumer of raw materials – as there is a gap in knowledge on this topic. The result is an in-depth understanding of this theme and a first plan for a tailor-made methodology that allows the circular dimension to be widely integrated in the large construction tasks the URGE partnership is facing. URGE thus accelerates the transition towards a circular economy.

    Healthy Cities

    Vic (ES)
    - Anyksciai (LT)
    - Bradford (UK)
    - Alphen aan den Rijn (NL)
    - Falerna (IT)
    - Farkadona (EL)
    - Loulé (PT)
    - Pärnu (EE)
    - Malta Planning Authority (MT)

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

    KAIRÓS

    Mula (ES)
    - Belene (BG)
    - Cesena (IT)
    - Malbork (PL)
    - Roskilde (DK)
    - Heraklion (EL)
    - Šibenik (HR)
    - Ukmergè (LT)

     

    The ultimate goal is to represent a moment of change, improving the urban environment of cities involved, developing heritage-led urban regeneration. It will enhance the potential of heritage in small and medium cities developing strategies for economic and social cohesion, inclusion and sustainable urban development. This network fosters the transnational exchange of experiences to test an innovative policy framework, combining a sound integrated approach with a real transformation purpose.

     

    Resourceful Cities
    (previously UrbReC)

    The Hague (NL)
    - Bucharest 3rd district (RO)
    - Ciudad Real (ES)
    - Mechelen (BE)
    - Cáceres (ES)
    - Patras (EL)
    - Oslo (NO)
    - Opole (PL)
    - Vila Nova Famalicão (PT)
    - Zagreb (HR)

     

    This network seeks to develop the next generation of urban resource centers to promote the positive economic, environmental and social impacts for the circular economy. They facilitate waste prevention, reuse, repair and recycling. The centers 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.

    FOOD CORRIDORS
    (previously Rurban Food)

    Coimbra Region (PT)
    - Alba Iulia (RO)
    - Córdoba (ES)
    - Larissa (EL)
    - Szécsény (HU)
    - Bassa Romagna Union (IT)
    - Tartu Tartumaa Arendusselts (EE)
    - BSC Kranj and Gorenjska (SI)

    Recent experience suggests that it is necessary to promote a transition towards regional food systems. This network encourage the creation of a network of European cities committed to the design of food plans that extend from the urban and periurban areas through a corridor that facilitates urban-rural re-connection. This approach enhances production and consumption environments founded on a base of economic, social and environmental sustainability, integrated into development policies.

    Health&Greenspace

    Hegyvidék 12th district of Budapest (HU)
    - Espoo (FI)
    - Limerick (IE)
    - Messina (IT)
    - Breda (NL)
    - Poznań (PL)
    - Santa Pola (ES)
    - Suceava (RO)
    - Tartu (EE)

    As a response to the various health risks related to rapid urbanization and the densification of cities, this network project promotes health-responsive planning and management of urban green infrastructure with an overall aim to bring health and wellbeing benefits for citizens across Europe. The network applies a holistic approach that addresses the main functions provided by urban green infrastructure that deliver health and social benefits.

    Sustainable transport

    Space4People

    Bielefeld (DE)
    - Arad (RO)
    - Badalona (ES)
    - Nazaré (PT)
    - Turku (FI)
    - Guía de Isora (ES)
    - Panevèžys (LT)
    - Saint-Germain-en-Laye (FR)
    - Sérres (EL)
    - Valga (EE)

    This network improves quantity and quality of attractive public spaces in urban areas. For this, it tackles the main public space use being transportation in 3 aspects: improving user experience and adding space to pedestrian networks and (semi) pedestrianised places, upscaling intermodal hubs to urban centres of mixed use as well as reducing and optimising parking in public space. The project takes a user-centric approach by users assessing and creating future use and design of public space.

    Thriving Streets

    Parma (IT)
    - Antwerp (BE)
    - Igoumenitsa (EL)
    - Klaipèda (LT)
    - Nova Gorica (SI)
    - Oradea (RO)
    - Santo Tirso (PT)
    - Radom (PL)
    - Southwark London Borough (UK)
    - Debrecen Economic Development Centre (HU)

    This is a network that addresses the bottlenecks in sustainable urban mobility. The project will focus on the economic and social benefits of sustainable mobility, rather than on the widely demonstrated environmental effects. The network argues that working with local amenities and social networks at neighbourhood level could unlock the hidden demand for active mobility in cities, and thus act as enabler of behaviour change towards more resilient and liveable neighbourhoods.

    Employment protection and resource efficiency

    SIBdev

    Heerlen (NL)
    - Aarhus (DK)
    - Baia Mare (RO)
    - Fundão (PT)
    - Kecskemét (HU)
    - Pordenone (IT)
    - Zaragoza (ES)
    - Võru Development Centre (EE)

    This network aims to explore how social impact bonds can be used to improve public service delivery in areas such as employment, ageing, and immigration. Often, the delivery of services is hindered by fragmented and siloed agencies and budgets, financial and political shorttermism, and an aversion to risk and difficulty creating change. The social impact bond is a promising model that ameliorates these issues by increasing collaboration, prevention, and innovation.

    Social inclusion and poverty

    ROOF

    Ghent (BE)
    - Braga (PT)
    - Glasgow (UK)
    - Thessaloniki (EL)
    - Liège (BE)
    - Odense (DK)
    - Poznań (PL)
    - Toulouse Metropole (FR)
    - Timisoara Department of Social Assistance (RO)

    This project aims to eradicate homelessness through innovative housing solutions at city level. It will exchange knowledge on how to gather accurate data and make the conceptual shift from the symptomatic management to the actual ending of homelessness, with Housing First and Housing Led as guidance model. This network will guide the partner cities towards integrated local action plans linked to the long-term strategic goal of Functional Zero (no structural homelessness).

    ActiveCitizens

    Agen (FR)
    - Bistrita (RO)
    - Cento (IT)
    - Dinslaken (DE)
    - Hradec Králové (CZ)
    - Santa Maria da Feira (PT)
    - Saint-Quentin (FR)
    - Tartu (EE)

    The aim of this network is to rethink the place of the citizens in the local governance by finding a balance between representative democracy and participatory democracy. This network of European small and medium-sized cities, with the same expectations and similar challenges, will notably take into account, to do this, new digital tools while integrating the issue of citizens away or not comfortable with digital tools.

    Access

    Amsterdam (NL)
    - Dublin (IE)
    - Lisbon (PT)
    - Riga (LV)
    - Sofia (BG)
    - Tallinn (EE)
    - Vilnius (LT)
    - London Greater Authority (UK)

    This network addresses the importance of inclusive cultural policies. A challenge all cities in this project face is that culture does not enrich or empower all people equally. We need to gain a better understanding of our communities in order to engage all citizens in our cities. We have identified four topics to work on that will enable us to gain that understanding and support us in reaching all population groups in the participating cities from the west, east and south of Europe.

    Genderedlandscape

    Umeå (SE)
    - Frankfurt am Main (DE)
    - Panevèžys (LT)
    - Trikala (EL)
    - La Rochelle (FR)
    - Barcelona Activa SA (ES)
    - Celje JZ Socio (SI)

    Creating conditions for gender equality through a holistic understanding of how gender inequality is created in the specific place. This network creates an exchange on challenges faced by cities with an understanding of gender inequality that is globally understood but locally contextualised.

    Education, skills and lifelong learning

    Cities4CSR

    Milan (IT)
    - Bratislava (SK)
    - Budaörs (HU)
    - Guimarães (PT)
    - Molina de Segura (ES)
    - Nantes Metropole (FR)
    - Rijeka (HR)
    - Kekava (LV)
    - Sofia (BG)
    -Vratsa (BG)

    Through intensive capacity building of local actors, the network will increase collaboration among municipalities, businesses and the civic society in order to promote sustainable, inclusive & innovative urban change. The project aims at increasing the role and added value of companies’ CSR activities at local level, towards urban regeneration and social innovation, with a special emphasis on education, in order to better address emerging and unmet local needs.

     

    -

     

    Interested in finding more about the approved networks and what they will do? Watch the URBACT Method video and check out the Action Planning Network's infographic!

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  • Cities engaging in the right to housing

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    15/11/2022

    Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) and URBACT are joining forces on housing!

    News
    Housing

    Throughout 2020, UIA and URBACT have explored how cities can design housing policies and practical solutions to implement the right to housing.

     

    We have collected stories and concrete examples from European cities already implementing the right to housing that others can take inspiration from.

    Three questions were leading this work:

    • What are the most innovative practices at city level concretely delivering the right to housing?
    • What can cities do to ensure that everyone – particularly the most disadvantaged groups - have access to safe, adequate and affordable housing?
    • How can the EU and member States create an enabling environment for cities to innovate?

    The ultimate goal is to push the agenda on the right to housing EU wide and to further enrich the work done by the EU Urban Agenda.

    The launch of the joint initiative happended during the Cities Forum on 31 January 2020. Experimenting new housing models and governance structures, designing strategies for those locked out of the housing market, and implementing anti-speculation measures were some of the main themes arising from the discussions regarding the role of municipalities.

    Webinar series

     

    A series of webinars and more digital outputs were delivered on the following themes:

    Themes

    Save-the-date for our webinars

    Community-led practices: cooperative, co-housing and CLT practices

    24 April 2020

    No one left behind: addressing specific issues of accessibility to adequate housing by vulnerable groups

    26 June 2020

    Fair finance : municipal strategies protecting housing from speculation

    19 November 2020

    An additional session was organised during the European Week on How to implement the Right to Housing in Covid times.

    Beyond the cities working with UIA and URBACT on this topic, the success of this knowledge activity relies on the contribution of key stakeholders representing housing practitioners, administrations, EU wide organisations, academia and civil society initiatives. 

    To receive more information and get involved, click here.

     

    More activities are planned for 2021. Videos, podcasts and more inspiring content will be available through a new platform soon to be launched.

     

    If you have any questions, you can contact:

    Amélie Cousin, a.cousin@uia-initiative.eu
    Alice Fauvel, a.fauvel@urbact.eu

     

    Interested in the topic? Click here to read the article written by Laura Colini, Programme Expert coordinating the joint activity!

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  • 9 European cities acting together to end homelessness. Ambitious? Hell, yes!

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    15/11/2022
    What do we talk about during a 2,5 day summit on transforming planning? Catch a glimpse on our Day 2 Recap.
    Articles
    Housing

    Homeless people are increasing in all European countries except one: Finland. The most extreme form of poverty is becoming ever more urgent to tackle. Cities are struggling with understanding the numbers they deal with, define their specific problem and finally find innovative solutions to work with. A time of crisis calls for radical answers and a shift in mind-set. Can the collaboration between 9 European cities lead towards the end of an era? 

    “I see this lady, just outside the centre where they distribute methadone. Every morning she stands there. She is old and not in a good shape. I have been walking past her every day for the last year; -a whole year, every day. Now we wave hello to each other. She reminds me of why I do my job”. Says Steven as we walk away from the MSOC in Ghent, a medical centre where people can get methadone and support. Steven Vanden Broucke has been working for the Belgian city of Ghent since 2018 and is working on a local action plan to end chronic homelessness. 200 people arrive at the MSOC every day suffering from drug dependency and often mental disease. About half of them are homeless. “Not all of them are without a roof,” tells us one of the project medical doctors “but many live in insecure, inappropriate housing or couch surf.” 

    The city of Ghent (BE) has the challenging role of leading the new Action Planning Network ROOF in the URBACT program. ROOF is focusing on ending homelessness through innovative housing solutions. The project is a partnership between 9 cities: Ghent (Lead partner), Braga (PT), Glasgow (UK), Gothenburg (SE), Liège (BE), Naples (IT), Timisoara (RO), Thessaloniki (EL) and Toulouse (FR). The cities will compare best and worst practices, learn from one another and grow together with two main objectives: 1. gather accurate data about homelessness in their own city 2. make the shift from managing to the actual ending of homelessness, with Housing First and Housing Led as guidance model.

    Room in a homeless shelter in Naples (Italy)


    To measure is to know

    Homelessness does not have one single definition, and this lack of definition is also part of the problem. While the common image of a homeless person is a person living in the streets, many homeless people are sleeping with friends or relatives, in their cars or in unsuitable conditions. Homeless people often do not want to be seen. When visiting one of the day shelters for the homeless in Liège, the director explained: “The people coming to our service to get a meal and a bed, may remain anonymous. We only ask them to maintain the same identity for the whole season.” Patricia Vanderbauwhede who works for the Housing Department of the city of Ghent and ROOF project leader, is certain that an accurate data collection on homelessness is a crucial step towards solving the problem. “It is very convenient for a city to think the numbers are smaller than they really are. We have to work together in order to make this problem visible and reveal the real numbers”.

    Even though the numbers are difficult to collect and compare, studies show that more than 4 million people are affected by homelessness each year in Europe. "Only crisis -actual or perceived- produces real change" said Milton Friedman. And for homelessness, the multiple crisis level is evident: the Global Financial Crisis brought higher levels of poverty; the Housing Crisis today makes the housing market become highly inaccessible for most vulnerable people and the European migrant crisis causes difficulty for migrants in finding affordable housing and a homelessness risk, due to their complex situation (such as lack of finances, language barriers, cultural differences, (mental) health issues.

     

    Street art in Sanità neighbourhood in Naples (Italy)

     

    The house as a human right, not a reward.

    The ROOF project will not stop at understanding the problem but will explore innovative housing solutions, and especially “Housing First”. The reasons for that come from the observation of, -the only European country showing positive trends on homelessness. It is the only country with a long and successful experience with “Housing First”. The traditional model is a staircase model, where people have to go through several steps before they can get a house, for example by curing their addiction first. In “Housing First”, to be given a home is a first step. Once one has a home, other problems are taken care of, with freedom of choice and flexibility. This puts the house as a human right and not as a reward. Temporary solutions in housing are often unsuccessful for people with complex needs. I met three young adults in Queens Cross housing association in Glasgow during my city visit. “I am very easily influenced,” one of them shared, “going back to an institution or a temporary housing solution, and living with other people that have similar problems would have meant going back to drugs, losing my job… I needed my own space, I needed to put my life together, on my own.” The three young adults now live in small and independent apartments, and have 24/7 support from the housing association if needed.

    Study visit to Glasgow (Scotland)

    The URBACT framework is perfect for this network, it facilitates exchange and learning on transnational and local level, it offers capacity building, it provides cities with guidance to make a local action plan together with their stakeholders and puts focus on communication and dissemination. These four aspects make a great opportunity for the cities to act. “URBACT allows each city to have a spotlight on a desired topic, to bring it to the political agenda and to the citizens’ attention,” says Ariana Tabaku, from the coordination team of the City of Ghent. “All cities should use this opportunity strategically.”

    Professor Eoin O'Sullivan (Trinity College, Dublin) speaks at ROOF kick-off meeting

    The ROOF network is determined to influence the European strategies on the topic. Europe does not have a specific policy for homelessness. During the network Kick-off Meeting in Naples this October, Professor Eoin O’Sullivan spoke about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with one of its aims to reduce homelessness to functional zero (meaning homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurrent) in all member states by 2030. Action plans of 9 cities and small scale solutions in the next two years, may well serve the ambitious aim to end homelessness.

     

     

     

     


     

     

    Network
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