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  • Γνωρίζοντας τον νέο Διευθυντή Γραμματείας του URBACT

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    Teofil Gherca
    28/11/2022

    Με σπουδές στις πολιτικές επιστήμες και στη δημόσια διοίκηση, ο Teofil εργάστηκε επί 11 χρόνια για την κυβέρνηση της Ρουμανίας στο Υπουργείο Μεταφορών και στο Υπουργείο Περιφερειακής Ανάπτυξης. Στο υπουργείο, ήταν διευθυντής για εννέα χρόνια, προϊστάμενος των εργασιών που πραγματοποιήθηκαν για τον χωροταξικό σχεδιασμό, τις εδαφικές και αστικές πολιτικές και την εδαφική συνεργασία. Πιο πρόσφατα, εργάστηκε ως επικεφαλής της μονάδας διοίκησης και διαχείρισης στο ESPON EGTC - τον μοναδικό δικαιούχο του προγράμματος ESPON. Επί έξι χρόνια ήταν υπεύθυνος για τη διαχείριση του προϋπολογισμού, τις δημόσιες συμβάσεις, την υποβολή εκθέσεων και τις διοικητικές δραστηριότητες.

    Είχαμε την ευκαιρία να συνομιλήσουμε με τον Teofil, και να ανακαλύψουμε τα οράματά του!

    Πώς πιστεύετε ότι το URBACT ξεχωρίζει στο αστικό τοπίο της ΕΕ;

    Τα τελευταία χρόνια, η αστική ανάπτυξη αποτελεί καυτό θέμα στις ατζέντες της ΕΕ και των κρατών μελών. Από αυτή την άποψη, το URBACT έχει αποκτήσει μια σταθερή φήμη ως πρόγραμμα της ΕΕ, προσφέροντας οφέλη στις πόλεις από το 2002. Οι ενδιαφερόμενοι σε ευρωπαϊκό, εθνικό και τοπικό επίπεδο είναι βέβαιοι για την ικανότητα του προγράμματος να εξασφαλίζει στις πόλεις τη σχετική υποστήριξη κατά την αντιμετώπιση των διαφόρων προκλήσεων.

    Η προσέγγιση "από κάτω προς τα πάνω" είναι το κλειδί για να εξασφαλιστεί η δυνατότητα των πόλεων να συνεργαστούν σε όποια θέματα θεωρούν πιο σημαντικά. Αυτός είναι ο λόγος για τον οποίο η μέθοδος URBACT - δηλαδή η συμμετοχική και ολοκληρωμένη προσέγγιση μαζί με την προσανατολισμένη στη δράση ανταλλαγή και μάθηση - έχει αποδειχθεί αποτελεσματικός τρόπος προκειμένου οι πόλεις να  ενισχύσουν τις γνώσεις και τις δεξιότητές τους για να δράσουν.

    Επιπλέον, η εξατομικευμένη υποστήριξη που παρέχεται σε όλους τους εταίρους των εγκεκριμένων δικτύων από τη Γραμματεία του URBACT μέσω δραστηριοτήτων ανάπτυξης ικανοτήτων και γνώσεων, είναι μια ιδιαιτερότητα του προγράμματος και ένας σημαντικός λόγος που έχει επιτύχει!

     

     

    Teofil Gherca

    Εντός της επόμενης προγραμματικής περιόδου, ποια είναι τα βασικά θέματα και εργαλεία στα οποία πρέπει να δώσει προσοχή και να αξιοποιήσει το URBACT;

    Σκοπεύουμε να αξιοποιήσουμε όσα έκαναν εξ αρχής το URBACT ένα επιτυχημένο πρόγραμμα. Αυτός είναι και ο λόγος για τον οποίο λέμε ότι το νέο πρόγραμμα αποτελεί εξέλιξη και όχι επανάσταση, ενώ παράλληλα περιλαμβάνει ορισμένες καινοτομίες. Στόχος μας είναι το URBACT να αγκυροβοληθεί καλύτερα στη συνολική προσφορά της ΕΕ για τη στήριξη της βιώσιμης αστικής ανάπτυξης. Οι πυλώνες του νέου προγράμματος είναι οι ίδιοι με το προηγούμενο πρόγραμμα: συνεργασία μέσω της δικτύωσης των πόλεων, ανάπτυξη ικανοτήτων και ανταλλαγή γνώσεων. Φυσικά, παραμένουμε ένα πρόγραμμα "από κάτω προς τα πάνω", που ακούει και ανταποκρίνεται στις ανάγκες που εντοπίζουν οι κύριοι δικαιούχοι μας, δηλαδή οι πόλεις όλων των μεγεθών.

    Μεταξύ των καινοτομιών, έχουμε ως στόχο να επιτύχουμε τον εξ ορθολογισμό τριών διατομεακών αρχών: ισότητα φύλων, πράσινη οικονομία και ψηφιακός μετασχηματισμός. Όλα τα έργα θα πρέπει να ενσωματώνουν, με προσαρμοσμένο τρόπο, αυτές τις αρχές και θα παρέχουμε μεθοδολογικές κατευθυντήριες γραμμές και εξατομικευμένη υποστήριξη στα δίκτυα για να το επιτύχουν. Προσβλέπουμε επίσης στην ενίσχυση της συνεργασίας και των συνεργειών μας με την Ευρωπαϊκή Αστική Πρωτοβουλία, όσον αφορά τις δραστηριότητες ανάπτυξης ικανοτήτων και γνώσεων. Η συνεργασία των εθνικών σημείων επαφής του URBACT και των εθνικών σημείων επαφής της Ευρωπαϊκής Αστικής Πρωτοβουλίας είναι απαραίτητη, για να εξασφαλιστεί ότι οι δυνητικοί δικαιούχοι θα έχουν σαφή εικόνα για την ευρεία προσφορά της ΕΕ όσον αφορά τη στήριξη της βιώσιμης αστικής ανάπτυξης και τις ιδιαιτερότητες των διαφόρων μέσων και προγραμμάτων.

    Επιπλέον, για πρώτη φορά θα μπορέσουμε να εντάξουμε επίσημα στο URBACT πόλεις από πέντε προ ενταξιακές χώρες. Ανυπομονούμε να συνεργαστούμε με τις εθνικές κυβερνήσεις, τις πόλεις και άλλους σχετικούς φορείς από τις χώρες αυτές, ώστε να μπορέσουμε να θέσουμε σε εφαρμογή την πιο κατάλληλη υποστήριξη που μπορεί να προσφέρει το URBACT για την ολοκληρωμένη ανάπτυξη στις νέες πόλεις.

    Ποιο είναι το όραμά σας για το μέλλον του URBACT;

    Προσωπικά, ελπίζω ότι το URBACT θα συνεχίσει να προσφέρει, για μεγάλο χρονικό διάστημα, την εξατομικευμένη υποστήριξη που παρείχε τόσο καλά τα τελευταία χρόνια. Οι ενδιαφερόμενες πόλεις θα πρέπει να βρουν την καλύτερη λύση σε σχέση με τις αστικές προκλήσεις που αντιμετωπίζουν, επωφελούμενες από το πρόγραμμα μέσω της συνεργασίας με ομότιμους, της βελτίωσης των ικανοτήτων και της αμοιβαίας μάθησης. Το URBACT θα πρέπει να είναι τόσο ευέλικτο και καινοτόμο όσο και οι πόλεις μας, παρέχοντάς τους την ευκαιρία να πειραματιστούν και να δοκιμάσουν δράσεις.

    Για το μέλλον, θα πρέπει επίσης να είμαστε σε θέση να βρούμε τα καλύτερα μέσα για να εξασφαλίσουμε συγκεκριμένη υποστήριξη σε σχέση με την παρακολούθηση της συνέχειας των οριστικοποιημένων δικτύων. Έτσι ώστε, οι πόλεις του URBACT να μπορούν να έχουν περισσότερα ολοκληρωμένα σχέδια δράσης που θα μετατρέπονται σε συγκεκριμένες δραστηριότητες και επενδύσεις. Επιπλέον, πρέπει να ανοίξουμε ακόμη περισσότερο το πρόγραμμα σε περισσότερες πόλεις όλων των μεγεθών και σε άλλα ενδιαφερόμενα μέρη που είναι φορείς αλλαγής - όπως ΜΚΟ, πανεπιστήμια, επιχειρηματίες και η νεολαία.

    Ποιο είναι το μήνυμά σας για τις πόλεις που σκέφτονται να υποβάλουν αίτηση στην επόμενη πρόσκληση του URBACT;

    Ενθαρρύνουμε όλες τις πόλεις να θέσουν τις προτεραιότητές τους και να οικοδομήσουν εταιρικές σχέσεις με αφοσιωμένους ανθρώπους. Όπως και στο παρελθόν, έτσι και τώρα το URBACT θα συνοδεύσει τα επιλεγμένα δίκτυα στο ταξίδι τους για να διασφαλίσει ότι η εμπειρία που θα έχουν θα προσφέρει προστιθέμενη αξία σε όλους τους πολίτες και τις περιοχές που συμμετέχουν στα χρηματοδοτούμενα έργα.

    Προετοιμαστείτε για να συμμετέχετε στην επόμενη πρόσκληση του URBACT για τα δίκτυα σχεδιασμού δράσεων στις αρχές του 2023! Μπορείτε ήδη να αρχίσετε να μοιράζεστε ιδέες και να αναζητήσετε συνεργάτες χρησιμοποιώντας το εργαλείο αναζήτησης συνεργατών!

    Με 17 χρόνια εμπειρίας σε έργα που χρηματοδοτούνται από την ΕΕ, στη διαχείριση προγραμμάτων και στη χάραξη πολιτικής, ο Teofil Gherca ανέλαβε επίσημα το ρόλο του διευθυντή της γραμματείας του URBACT.

    Γνωρίστε τον λίγο καλύτερα και μάθετε για το όραμά του για το μέλλον!

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  • REFILL

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in June (Amersfoot). Transnational meeting in September (Cluj Napoca).
    Transnational meetings in March (Helsinki), September (Ostrava).
    Political event in March (Athens). Final event in April (Ghent).

    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

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    City of Loulé
    Praça da República, 8104-001 Loulé
    Phone +351 289 400 600

    CONTACT US

    City of Igualada
    Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 1, 08700 Igualada, Barcelona

    CONTACT US

    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    In many European cities one of the positive side effects of the financial-economic crisis is the growth of innovative forms of solidarity and commitment at local level. This Action Planning network pioneered, in terms of bottom-up civic initiatives, by co-creating solutions for social challenges in an urban context. Cities are often perceived as a laboratory and governments are no longer the only actor to solve complex challenges faced in cities. Therefore, temporary use is a powerful tool to make our cities "future fit". Since the concept of temporary use is interacting with many other urban dynamics it creates the right environment for social innovation to develop by: exchanging and evaluating of local supporting instruments; ensuring long lasting effects of temporality; building a more flexible and collaborative public administration.

    Reuse of vacant spaces as a driving force for innovation at the local level
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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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  • 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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  • More URBACT learning for better funding

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    15/11/2022

    One year on, cities say URBACT leads to more learning and more funding.

    News

    Of the 205 cities involved in URBACT sustainable urban development networks in 2018, 99% would recommend the programme to another city.

    Why? Improved urban policymaking and capacity building are big reasons, with over 95% of cities adopting an integrated, participatory approach based on their learning from URBACT. Transnational cooperation is another; 62% of cities took up a good practice from another EU city in their local Integrated Action Plan, or “IAP”.

    URBACT is considered a valuable, enriching and concrete programme which empowers city stakeholders, changes the way cities work and has a real impact at local level – even in remote areas,” says Céline Ethuin, URBACT Project & Finance Officer, who analysed the URBACT III Action Planning Network closure reports. “It’s also a gateway to other EU funds and programmes.

    To hear about these benefits from the cities themselves, we caught up with Athens (EL), Morne-à-l’Eau (FR), Almelo (NL), and Bologna (IT), all of which completed URBACT networks in 2018.

    First some introductions…

    Athens (EL) investigated the reuse of vacant urban spaces during the URBACT REFILL network. Local coordinator Nicholas Karachalis says the city now links temporary use with social challenges such as immigration or youth unemployment, integrating the approach into mainstream local policies. The recent Athens Resilience strategy includes REFILL’s outcomes as a priority.

    Next stop Morne-à-l’Eau (FR), in the ‘ultra-peripheral’ Caribbean. This town is using sustainable urban mobility plans defined during the URBACT CityMobilNet network to improve traffic conditions, air quality and social inclusion. Local project coordinator Linda Docan says despite the challenges of distance, Morne-à-l’Eau embraced URBACT, its methods for co-creation, citizen mobilisation and joined-up policy development. Elected officials and agents are increasingly asked to share their CityMobilNet experiences at home and abroad.

    Almelo (NL) and Bologna (IT) were both in the URBACT Procure network on harnessing the power of local public spending. As a result, Almelo’s local project coordinator Maarten Visscher says his city gained new procurement policy guidelines – and a lasting enthusiasm for increasing local spend by involving regional suppliers. Discovering the 5% local spend rate was “an eye-opener for local politicians”. In Bologna, which has a broad URBACT experience, local project manager Marino Cavallo says Procure has brought green and sustainable criteria into the procurement process for local businesses and public administrations.

    How about longer term benefits? Are cities adopting and implementing local integrated action plans made under URBACT? Is URBACT a step towards more funding and bigger EU programmes?” The answer: a resounding “Yes”! 

    On completing URBACT networks in 2018, more than 80% of cities started implementing the local plans they’d built during the project, with 48% securing at least some financing. URBACT reports show many cities go on to apply to EU programmes such as INTERREG Europe, Horizon 2020, Erasmus Plus, Creative Europe, or Urban Innovative Actions (UIA).

    Athens

    In Athens, for example, “One of the important next steps already being implemented is a pilot initiative called Polis Square (Polis2) that was partly based on REFILL,” says Nicholas. “Its aim was to test the viability and impact of citizen and culture-led city interventions facilitated by the Athens municipality in specific areas and empty shops. One of the funded projects is the Traces of Commerce project at the ‘Stoa Emporon’ that was already in operation during REFILL, while others, such as the ‘Plateia Theatrou’ project, were new.

    Athens’ UIA project Curing the Limbo also draws on URBACT REFILL methodology and involves local stakeholders who met through URBACT. The project promotes social innovation and the temporary use of buildings, empowering stranded refugees who have been granted asylum. The municipality of Athens is also active in projects funded by other programmes such as Interreg and H2020, including the cultural heritage partnership ROCK.

    URBACT has definitely improved participation in other European programmes such as UIA, but was also a very inspiring journey in terms of transnational exchange,” Nicholas adds.

    Morne-à-l'Eau

    Morne-à-l’Eau obtained financial support for its IAP in parallel with its development. So, actions linked to creating nature areas, parking places, and e-mobility benefit from designated “ecological transition” funding. Linda says one IAP objective is to improve people’s living environment by encouraging “gentle wandering”. Here the main action is to renovate public lighting, co-financed under ERDF 2014-2020 within a large call for projects launched by the Guadeloupe Region managing authority. Other financial partners are the French state, the Guadeloupe region, and electricity operator EDF.

    Taking part in URBACT increased our awareness of other programmes such as Horizon 2020, BEST and LIFE,” says Linda. “It’s very likely that the work with URBACT and resulting IAP facilitates access to certain funding.

    Morne-à-l’Eau will keep using URBACT’s methodology in new projects. These include: an atlas of communal biodiversity, sharing and improving knowledge on local biodiversity using participatory science actions; and Mornalo Vélo Soleil, experimenting bike-sharing and developing the territory’s bike plan.

    Almelo

    For Almelo, “URBACT Procure has been really helpful, as it’s a framework which we can refer to in applications for EU funding,” says Maarten. Recently, Almelo highlighted procurement’s ability to unlock local potential in an H2020 call for projects on making cities healthier.

    Almelo is seeing a more “integral approach” to new projects, with more awareness of long term effects, and of the power of procurement, especially at strategic, management level. Through their focus on procurement, Almelo also got involved in a large national initiative on conditioned based maintenance of infrastructure, part of their IAP.

    URBACT is a programme we are interested in because it's more about capacity building and policy development, instead of the usual investments subsidies,” explains Maarten. “In particular it’s valuable because it also stimulates the European awareness of our organisation and employees.”

    Bologna

    As for Bologna, the URBACT Procure network made a “fundamental” contribution to training envisaged in the action plan. For example it enabled dozens of officials from municipalities and public administrations of the Bologna metropolitan area to follow a high-level course by a successful business school. They learned techniques in green procurement and were able to innovate internal organisational processes.

    Thanks to URBACT Procure, the Metropolitan City has been included in a European Union DG Grow pilot group on innovative procurement issues”, reports Marino. Bologna will also focus on public procurement and green procurement in a new H2020 project, Belt, on energy labelling, linking in with local and national institutions and businesses.

    Another URBACT network that Bologna completed in 2018 was GEN-Y CITY, bringing local government, scientists, businesses and residents together to develop, attract and retain local, young, creative talent. Encouraged by this experience, and the improvements URBACT was bringing to their city, Bologna went on to join a new URBACT Transfer Network, Urban Regeneration Mix, about bringing life back to historical areas – and citizens back to regenerated areas.

    Overall, URBACT’s working methodology has promoted collaboration and integration between partners to draw on better and better good practices – and provides helpful teamwork procedures, says Marino Cavallo. “Every URBACT project brings new pieces to build the future of our metropolitan area, knowledge that brings benefits especially in the long term.

    Has your city seen positive knock-on effects after completing an URBACT network? Share your story with us! Send an e-mail to communication@urbact.eu

    For more accounts from cities in URBACT networks read “Cities in Action – Stories of Change”.

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  • REFILL@LILLE: Policy Design Labs and URBACT exchange networks

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    15/11/2022

    How civil servants from Lille Metropole benefited from the experience of URBACT REFILL network to shape a roadmap to set their temporary use policy. 

    Articles
    Abandoned Spaces

    The first part of this article (see REFILL@LILLE, PART 1) showed the policy design lab approach of the Metropole of Lille (FR) to kick-off support for a Working Group on Temporary Use. The second part focuses on how civil servants from Lille Metropole benefited from the experience of URBACT REFILL network.

    Learning from inspirational practices

    The field experience of settling a “temporary public policy design lab" only scratches the surface of the problem of more than 5,000 vacant spaces on the territory and the appetite local stakeholders have for temporary use. But, immersion is worth 1,000 words: the Metropole civil servants do not usually address a new project in this way! By acquiring a significant experience of the problem, they are ready to explore and analyse other temporary use experiences in France and Europe. A wealth of case studies awaits from sixty local and national examples, as well and many European references conducted across Europe for three years within URBACT "REFILL The City" including 10 European cities: Ghent (BE), Athens (EL), Amersfoort (NL), Bremen (DE), Cluj (RO), Helsinki (FI), Nantes (FR), Ostrava (CZ), Poznan (PL) and Riga (LV).

    A temporary roadmap

    Building on the Roadmap to temporary use tool (from the toolbox produced and made available by the REFILL network) helps the establishment of a practice of temporary use in cities. This roadmap represents the “city of REFILL”: a virtual city that would combine the best practices of the 10 participating cities.

    Different neighbourhoods represent the different major steps of the establishment of a temporary use practice: a "zone of cultural, social, entrepreneurial" candidates for temporary use; an "administrative district" dealing with legal, technical and safety; a "district with support services” to temporary use; etc.

    A circular road connects each of these neighbourhoods, suggesting about fifteen milestones as "mapping the vacant spaces":
    - "Analysing the supply and demand";
    - "Building the political support";
    - "Developing a new temporary use value creation model"; etc.

    Unlike a framed method, the REFILL Roadmap is like a tourist map suggesting different possible itineraries each city must choose, starting with the most pertinent actions, organising its progress in the local context and creating its own route.

    The forming lab ambassadors discussed the implications of each example, gathering in small groups to fill in an analytical framework. After the field immersion, the lab consolidated and enriched its understanding of temporary use.

    A pitch presenting a first rational of temporary use applied to the Metropole supported by a series of examples was recorded in the form of a short video. The film raised awareness about the many vacant spaces, the costs incurred for the public authority, and showcased temporary use as an opportunity with potential to host social, cultural, entrepreneurial initiatives - bringing people together, revitalising neighbourhoods, experimenting urban development projects and so on.

    Sparking political attention

    Thanks to experience and research, the Metropole forming lab had got a good idea of ​​the challenges and opportunities for temporary use public service, putting together a kind of "service desk" of knowledge open to all. To create a solid launching pad for the future service, the Metropole required a large-scale demonstration project, drafting and accelerating the service and likely to convince at political level.

    Inspiration then came from the city of Riga, REFILL network partner. Elected Capital of Culture in 2014, the city was experiencing a strong economic crisis and did not have the necessary infrastructure to host such an event nor the means to build them. The city made a collaborative agreement with a group of urban activists, squatters and actors of the cultural scene taken via the association Free Riga. The plan? To start a practice of temporary using vacant spaces to host the programming of its Capital of Culture! The urgency to find spaces to showcase the vibrant Latvian art scene helped to overcome the political cautiousness and set a precedent on which to build for all stakeholders.

    The European Metropole of Lille will be the World Design Capital in 2020. The Metropole’s application was selected because it offered an ambitious territorial transformation through design, based on a call for innovation projects by the design of a set of social themes and particularly the emergence of design applied to public policy.

    Although not comparable in all respects to the context of Riga in 2014, Lille Design World Capital 2020 seems to be a potential "launching pad" to install the practice of temporary use in the territory. More than 450 Proofs of Concept (POC) are announced in the territory for 2020. The POC is a key step in the design process allowing a light experiment to demonstrate viability of a concept before further developing the project.

    The Metropole lab and the Working Group for Temporary Use have taken up the REFILL toolbox and co-constructed their own route towards the implementation of temporary use.

    • First, the creation of a series of temporary use spaces during the Lille Design World Capital 2020. To do this, the ambassadors of the forming lab and the Property department identified a first group of 20 potential spaces, visited and documented the most promising and put together a first online catalogue of options. In parallel, they explored contracts, which services to provide and how to assess the proof of concepts of temporary use during 2020.
       
    • Secondly, (after an assessment a year in) a policy of temporary use at the Metropole of Lille is to be established. This step includes the registration of "temporary use" in the territorial development and patrimonial valuation strategy of the Metropole, completing the online catalogue of vacant spaces and the establishment of a mediation service between supply and demand (technical and legal tools, financial support, etc.) internal or outsourced to a third party.

    Conclusions

    This experience allows us to make some assumptions of mutual enrichment between the URBACT approach (networks of towns sharing at European level on a specific challenge in terms of public policy creating an action plan) and, secondly, the approach of co-construction a public policy design lab (based on an innovative action-training process based on pilot projects).

    The capitalised experience of 10 cities over a period of 3 years from REFILL network has accelerated the process of reflection of our Working Group for Temporary Use.

    The organisation of the network deliverables in the form of a modular toolbox, together with a wide range of case studies (all articulated in the form of an open roadmap) was immediately actionable by a third city. Mediation transfer by an actor involved in both REFILL and the Metropole’s lab is a facilitating factor.

    The existence of a public policies design lab in the Metropole’s administration helped seize the REFILL network’s experience faster and more efficiently.

    The lab’s ability to partially overcome the slow decision-making and reporting processes and at least initiate a first experiment extends the co-construction process to stakeholders, making it immediately actionable.

    The public policy design lab and URBACT methods have an integrated approach in common, as well as the involvement of an ecosystem of stakeholders committed to co-design and public policy programming. The lab approach adds field experimentation, a key step in the design process to simulate and test each action of an action plan before its deployment on the ground. Its benefit is on the one hand, to test and improve each action and on the other hand to involve the actors and trigger its implementation.

    The exchanges about a wide range of "inspiring cases" collected through REFILL helped initiate the strategic conversation among stakeholders in Lille and identify what they consider a good practice for their situation and seize an opportunity such as the Lille Design World Capital 2020.

    The examples of Ghent and Riga, even if they are from different socio-cultural contexts, comfort the actors in the idea that if it is not a given, it's possible since others have already done it.

    Finally, the partnership with the European Metropole of Lille proves the usefulness of lessons capitalised by an URBACT network such as REFILL. It validates the methodology and tools developed for the workshop: “Make your own path to the temporary use” at the URBACT Festival in Lisbon in September 2018. It also heralds the arrival other REFILL development processes, like the one initiated with the City of Brussels and Brussels at the end of 2018.

    Know more about reusing vacant spaces on Remakingthecity.urbact.eu!

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  • The housing paradox: more financing - less affordability?

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    15/11/2022

    Programme expert Ivan Tosics, vice chair of the European Network of Housing Research (ENHR) and executive committee member of the European Urban Research Association (EURA) explores the effects of the "financialisation of housing".

    Articles
    Disadvantaged neighbourhoods

    Two decades ago, housing problems seemed to be solved once for ever in many developed countries. Then something unusual happened: capital investments into the housing sector grew sharply, and – within a few years– so did housing problems.

    Economists call this phenomenon the "financialisation of housing". Indeed, as housing increasingly became a financial asset, a tool to keep the value of savings, it lost its social meaning. Moreover, new investments led to sharp price increases crowding out families from the opportunity to acquire new units, and at times even from their existing housing.

    In this article we analyse first the process itself, then give an overview of national and local government reactions, and how investments into housing (which are generally welcome) could be influenced towards minimising their unwanted negative consequences.

    1. The financialisation of housing

    New investments don’t always cause problems, so we have to raise the question: what proves that the financialisation of housing increases housing problems, rather than solving them?

    Saskia Sassen, at the Urban Future conference in Vienna (AT) in February 2018, highlighted the uneven territorial spread of these foreign investments: the top 100 cities with 10% of population concentrate 70% of financialised assets. Housing prices in so-called "hedge cities" like Hong Kong (HK), London (UK), Munich (DE), Stockholm (SE), Sydney (AU) and Vancouver (CA) have increased more than 50% since 2011, creating vast amounts of assets for the wealthy, while making housing unaffordable for most households who had not already invested in the market. Moderate and low-income households are pushed to peri-urban areas with scant employment and services.

    Sassen adds that in many cases new developments bring around empty buildings in the best locations. Besides, when rented homes or mortgages are owned by remote investors, money mostly flows out of communities and simply creates a greater global concentration of wealth. Tenants living in housing owned by absentee corporate landlords complain of sharp increases in rent, inadequate maintenance and conditions as a result of substandard renovations undertaken quickly to flip the home for rentals, and an inability to hold anyone accountable. Finally, financialised housing markets create and thrive on gentrification and the appropriation of public value for private wealth: improved services, schools or parks in an impoverished neighbourhood attract investment, which then drives residents out. (Plan Limited, 2017)

    Besides directly financing new investments, financialisation also means expanded credit opportunities, leading to increasing debt for individual households. This might make people vulnerable to predatory lending practices and the volatility of markets, leading to unprecedented housing precarity. Financialised housing markets have caused displacement and evictions on an unparalleled scale: in the United States of America over the course of 5 years, over 13 million foreclosures resulted in more than 9 million households being evicted. In Spain, more than half a million foreclosures between 2008 and 2013 resulted in over 300 000 evictions. (Plan Limited, 2017).

    Of course not all publications are so negative about the financialisation of housing. According to Gerritsen Leilani (2018) financialisation is not inherently bad or good, and financial innovation can have both positive and negative effects. However, the existence of negative outcomes and the need for additional regulation to counteract the negative effects of financial innovation are acknowledged.

    In a thorough analysis Fernandez and Aalbers (2016) show that the dangers of financialisation are the lowest in countries where privately-owned housing stock dominates, mostly free of mortgage debt – this is the sign that the housing market has not been financialized yet. However, the case of Spain, once following this trajectory, but having been transformed radically in the brief period from the late 1990s till the collapse of the bubble, shows that not even these conditions give a guarantee to keep out the global forces of financialisation from entering the national system of housing finance.

    A special case: Airbnb

    Airbnb is one of the leading examples of the innovative and recently very popular sharing economy. However, as Juliet Schor (Professor of Sociology at Boston College) has shown in a presentation at the Smart Cities Expo World Congress in Barcelona (ES) in November 2018, almost all hopes that the sharing economy can decrease inequalities and can contribute to sustainability, proved to be wrong. It is clear that there are such potentials but these are not at all automatic: cities have to intervene with conventional policies (taxation, incentives) as well as novel arrangements (big data sharing and use, social aspects, etc.) to make the promises to become true.

    Viennese investigations about Airbnb units have shown that these are located in the same districts as the hotels – thus the promise "you will live as the locals" is not at all true. Vienna (AUT) contacted 16 platforms, but only 10 of them agreed to collect the freshly introduced tourist tax, the others rejected to give the data, referring to EU data protection laws. The efforts of Vienna to influence the Airbnb market are (for the moment) constrained as many aspects can only be handled by national laws (e.g. income tax), while some aspects would need EU regulation (e.g. related to the privacy law).

    In a meeting of the European Network for Housing Resarch in Athens (EL), Dimitris Balampanidis gave an overview about the situation in his city. As a result of the economic crisis 15-20% of the housing stock stays vacant in Athens. Airbnb rentals took over the market, recently counting some 10 000 units. While Airbnb created work for many people and also contributed to the renovation of many vacant buildings and flats, re-introducing them to the market, it is further increasing income and wealth differentiation in an untaxed way, pushing up rental prices and leading to monofunctional uses. As one of the hottest topics of urban development, there is a debate going on in Athens whether the positive or negative effects of Airbnb are more important. It is clear that Airbnb is targeting the same stock as the public efforts directed towards the vulnerable people. Agencies interested in affordable housing already have growing difficulties to find apartments to rent as Airbnb is considered to be a better option by the landlords.

    In the Housing for All conference in Vienna in December 2018 Rui Franco reported on the Lisbon (PT) situation. In countries like Portugal, Airbnb contributed to escalating prices of housing and gentrification of neighbourhoods, without creating affordable housing or other benefits for the local population (Plan Limited, 2017). A prime example is the centrally located Alfama neighbourhood, which was once a dangerous area – now the danger and the original residents are gone, the area fully changed, taken over and dominated by accomodations for tourists. Lisbon municipality did the opposite to what the financial actors suggested, i.e. tried to avoid an austerity policy. The challenge is that local salaries do not match levels from which local rents could be paid. Since last year Lisbon introduced a charge on tourism platforms, such as Airbnb and Booking.com and on global real-estate investors. However, the leaders of the municipality understand that to achieve significant impact of these new tools, strong cooperation between cities and also EU regulation would be needed.

    2. How to handle the negative consequences of the financialisation of housing with national regulations?

    The Plan Limited (2017) publication lists a series of examples on national or regional level policies to handle the negative consequences of the financialisation of housing.

    • In response to the mortgage crisis in Spain, the autonomous regions of Andalusia and Catalonia introduced progressive laws explicitly affirming the social function of housing and facilitating temporary expropriation of vacant housing. Catalonian legislation also prohibited foreclosures and evictions that would result in homelessness. Both of those regional initiatives were struck down by the Spanish Constitutional Court as encroaching on the jurisdiction of the national government and opposing the general economic interests of the country. In response, at least in the case of Catalonia, the legislation was reintroduced with amendments and was passed again by the Catalonian parliament.
       
    • A number of countries, including Austria, China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, have instituted restrictions on foreign purchasers of residential real estate. The province of British Columbia in Canada has introduced a 15% foreign homeowner tax. Net revenue from those taxes is to be invested in affordable housing initiatives. Singapore imposes an 18% property sales tax and an additional buyer stamp duty on wealthy property owners and investors, with revenues used to subsidize homeownership of low-income individuals. A number of jurisdictions, including China, Germany and Malaysia, have introduced a property speculation tax.
       
    • Some governments have chosen to encourage a more inclusive approach to private investment in housing via financial incentives to encourage the development of affordable units. The Government of Algeria, for example, finances the development of rental housing for households earning less than 1.5 times the minimum wage, on free government land. It also provides a lease-to-own programme for households with little down-payment capacity. Other governments require that developers include a proportion of affordable units. The Mayor of London recently announced that builders will be required to ensure that 35% of new homes that are built are genuinely affordable. Such prescription exist since long time in some other countries, e.g. France, Germany.

    Although similar examples could be brought up from many other countries, the best that can be said is that the reactions of the most affected countries are sporadic and mostly reactive. On the other hand, there are some countries which are relatively protected from the problems, having well regulated credit markets and strong national governance of the housing system (e.g. Germany). All in all, the large varieties in the national situations shows that without international cooperation the goal of ensuring access to adequate housing for all by 2030 is impossible to reach – partly due to the negative effects of the financialisation of housing.

    ***

    Our in depth article by Ivan Tosics continues here with what municipalities can do.

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  • Plan your own temporary use journey!

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    15/11/2022
    Rencontrez Kieran McCarthy , membre du Comité des régions de l'UE et conseiller municipal de Cork (Irlande).
    Articles
    Circular economy

    Visiting the City of Temporary Use

    Who can still remember vacant spaces and buildings, which someday were spaces free of rules, a ground for fertile experimentation, individual empowerment and creativity development? We could grow and empower ourselves as we can remember from the 50s’ film “Le chantier des gosses”, where children were spending their leisure time in an yet-to-be-built abandoned lot in the very centre of the city of Brussels, and where the nephew of Tati’s “My Uncle” was eating doughnuts and whistling at pedestrians so that they would bump into a lamppost.

    Vacant (abandoned places, urban wastelands, brownfields, derelict lands, degraded and deteriorated lands or buildings) can still foster creativity and experimentation for the city, benefitting from a Temporary Use. And many cities have experimented with them over the past few decades, putting together a source of inspiration for innovation and change and thus providing a new driver and incubator for urban development.

    During two and a half years, the URBACT REFILL network sought to identify ways to access Temporary Use, notwithstanding the municipalities’ stage of implementation of Temporary Use projects. These ways are compiled in the REFILL Temporary Use Roadmap. “There are many entries to the Temporary Use of vacant spaces and buildings. These are not linear, depending on each of the cities’ point of departure but also interests and needs.” explain François Jégou and Marcelline Bonneau, Lead experts of the REFILL network.

    I invite you to take a tour in the five neighbourhoods of the City of Temporary Use while looking into some flagship initiatives.

    Raising awareness through a video and a kiosk

    How can you work on Temporary Use if you do not know what Temporary Use is about? If you do not know the way it looks? If you do not know what benefits it can have for the City? Many of the municipalities which seek to promote Temporary Use have noticed the difficulty to communicate on it: to first make it simple, understandable, but then convincing to the different stakeholders which could potentially be engaged. The URBACT REFILL network therefore co-created a user-friendly video, freely accessible online: “Temporary Use for Dummies”. In 4 minutes, it gives an overview on origins, assets and possible frameworks for the development of Temporary Use in your cities.

    The approach of the city of Athens (EL) was to make Temporary Use visible, accessible and an easy way of reinforcing local cohesion. For this purpose, it has used a small kiosk, Synathina, in front of the Central Market, a highly symbolic and visible spot, to host activities and events. The system is straightforward: interested citizens book beforehand and pick up the keys from the nearby Municipal Office. This approach is relatively low-risk, and also low in terms of resources needed from the municipality. It has appeared to be a highly valorizing way of promoting citizens’ initiatives in a place that is central with the square around it make it a beloved place for such gatherings.

    Addressing supply and demand by researching the opportunities and matching the needs

    How can you identify what Temporary Use is possible in your city? Who are the stakeholders involved? How can you bring them together? It can indeed be crucial to assess the Temporary Use potential of your city as a whole by mapping vacant spaces, outlining the scope, space requirements, level of autonomy and added value of each initiative and determining the state of the vacant spaces. In Ostrava (CZ), the Municipality conducted a qualitative study to test whether Temporary Use could be a solution for empty buildings and vacant plots. It surveyed owners and users of Temporary Use projects and used the results as evidence for decision makers within the administration. Through the research, the Municipality also gained visibility of its activities and interest in Temporary Use, and made the exchange of views between stakeholders possible… A tool developed within the network, the matchmaking methodology enabled Municipalities to bring together those who have a space with those in need for one and vice-versa: it meant going beyond the traditional silos of administration, ensuring that each partner gets to know each other.

    Putting Temporary Use on the city agenda by designing targeted strategies

    How can you ensure that the opportunities of Temporary Use are integrated in urban planning, but also in other local strategies? How can you bridge the gap between the rigid legal framework and Temporary Use’s flexibility? How can you spark interest on Temporary Use in your city? Cities are seeking to support Temporary Use by setting common objectives and creating step-by-step plans for city development, economic activities and social goals. They try and find ways to work within the legal framework, while also allowing for flexibility. They liaise with elected representatives, city administration legislators and powerful external stakeholders to discuss how Temporary Use could help them solve their problem. In Ghent (BE) the Temporary Use Fund has been used as a financial incentive for new ideas and initiatives related to Temporary Use since 2014. Via a simple call for projects, the Fund distributes 300,000 EUR annually, to be used on infrastructure, safety measures and soundproofing, insurance, maintenance and in some cases communication. Such strategy has supported the burst of smaller, bottom-up Temporary Use projects in the neighbourhoods of Ghent.

    Assembling a toolbox to start projects and assess their value

    How can both the owner and user kick-off their project? How can you think about the potential evolution of your project? How can you ensure a clear mutual understanding of the terms and conditions? During the URBACT REFILL network, it became clear to the partner cities that they needed to clarify upfront their collaboration when promoting Temporary Use of vacant spaces. One such need led to the creation of a Temporary Use Value Creation Plan: an informal contract and adaptation of the Business Model Canvas which asks crucial questions, for the owner and user in terms of objectives, values, benefits, plans, etc.

    In order to address the needs of their stakeholders, the City of Poznan (PL) compiled a toolbox that is available both online and offline. It covers practical tips, successful mediation solutions and social agreements, a list of useful local contacts and recommendations for Temporary Use agreements.

    Making Temporary Use the new normal by intermediating between owners and Temporary Users

    How can you ensure that everything runs smoothly from A to Z? How can you make Temporary Use a standard service? Cities have developed a series of actions to keep in touch as long as the Temporary Use project is up and running, to make sure that the project takes an integrated social, environmental and economic approach, and to analyse stakeholders’ feedback as well as to support the transfer of assets and the relocation of the initiative. Others have organized technical, administrative, financial and connector services and any others as needed. In order to ensure a constant follow-up of the project, the city of Bremen (DE) set up an agency for Temporary Use: the ZZZ (ZwischenZeitZentrale Bremen). The agency, managed by a private company, supports, initiates and oversees Temporary Use projects all over Bremen: it plays a mediator role between owners and tenants on the one hand, and the administration on the other.

    Take-away and Learnings on Temporary uses

    Here are only a few of the examples and cases from the URBACT REFILL Network.

    There were many obstacles and challenges, varied learnings and even greater constructive evolutions. We can summarise some of the main takeaways from this project as:

    • Temporary Use is entangled in a web of complex (private, public, associative) interests and issues at stake;
    • The dichotomy between some of these motives, but especially the infancy of this topic on the agenda makes it important for city administration to question themselves, their urban planning and the way they can bring together interests (which are at first sight diverging) in order to contribute to developing more integrated urban planning;
    • Focusing on this issue can have a strong economic, social, environmental and cultural potential for city development; and,
    • Temporary Use questions the way cities are governed and the role city administration can play in meditating between the different stakeholders.

    The REFILL project had the opportunity to present its roadmap during the URBACT City Festival in Lisbon in September 2018. It appeared clearly that many of the issues faced by the participants had their solutions in some of the work carried out by the network during two and a half years.

    Check out the back of the REFILL Temporary Use Roadmap and identify the further information, resources and contacts that might be useful for your own journey towards Temporary Use!

    New types of vacant space have emerged

    European cities have evolved, we see less and less of these places yet to be transformed into modernized neighbourhoods of the city.

    However, new types of vacant spaces have emerged: these are buildings which have been abandoned as they do not fit with the evolving needs of companies and working practices, these are brownfields where heavy industries left deeply rooted pollution which makes impossible commercialization of these lands, these are leftovers from strong industrial pasts of some regions – in the form of buildings or abandoned lands, former docks, … All of these give a new face to European cities and create a potential for redynamisation through the realm of temporary activities which can take place on them.

    However, taking them into consideration in city governance is still recent, inexistent in some cities. Municipalities are yet to develop structures and frameworks which can enable taking advantage of their potential at most. As has been observed in many cities, such initiatives are strongly led by citizens and creative entrepreneurs. Society is changing, cities as well. Citizens are asking for greater involvement in city development. They are taking an increasingly important role in city governance, what questions the way cities are currently being governed. Temporary Use of vacant places can be an entry point into a transitional organizational shift of governance, giving increasing room for manoeuvre to citizens.

    ---

    • Cover Photo: Agnieszka Osipiuk
    • Photo 1: REFILL Temporary Use Roadmap
    • Photo 2: Synathina
    • Photo 3: Strategic Design Scenarios
    • Photo 4: REFILL TU Value Creation Plan
    • Photo 5: ZwischenZeitZentrale
    • Photo 6: REFILL Temporary Use Roadmap
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  • The growing role of food in fixing our cities

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    15/11/2022
    El pasado 7 de enero de 2019 se lanzó oficialmente la nueva convocatoria las URBACT Action Planning Networks, que estará abierta hasta el 17 de abril. Puedes conocer todos los detalles aquí
    Articles
    Circular economy

    Representatives from small and medium sized cities in the URBACT network Agri-Urban met recently in Fundao to exchange ideas about improving the food infrastructure in their cities. They got together to ask: How can we work more effectively with producers? How can we stimulate innovation in the supply chain? How can we optimise public sector procurement in schools and care homes to reshape our local food supply lines - and consumption habits?

    Around the table, Agri-Urban brings some heavyweight experience. Among the partners is Sodertajle from Sweden, with its trailblazing work in public procurement. There is also Mouans-Sartoux, a small French city punching above its weight and challenging city decision-makers on key questions of land use.

    Fundao itself has overcome its apparent vulnerability to dependence on one product by diversifying its local cherry economy in highly innovative ways. Its “Fablab” enables local producers and creatives to collaborate using state-of-the art facilities. One local business is cultivating mushrooms in used coffee grounds, exploiting commercial waste to generate value – a great example of the circular economy in action.

    In the fading sunlight of a long productive day the international group visited the Natura glamping site, glamorous camping to the uninitiated, where Agri-Urban’s city partners planted a row of trees – cherry trees of course – on a ridge overlooking the valley.

    In this network we can see the URBACT integrated principles at work, truly encompassing environmental, economic and social activity. And Agri-Urban is not working alone in this sphere. Food has become a hot topic for cities.

    Main course: URBACT’s food adventure continues

    At the recent Unusual Suspects Festival in London, Agri-Urban had the chance to connect with a global audience interested in their work. With inputs from across the city, participants from as far afield as Canada and South Korea assembled at the wonderful Calthorpe Project to exchange ideas and inspiration.
     

    Albert Garcia, representing Mollet de Valles (Spain), another URBACT food pioneer, had some interesting take-aways from the event. He noted the important role of food in helping reach some of the goals cities have today – including meeting health, social and economic priorities. He said: “What I really thought in the plane is that I will commit as a civil servant to make the unusual more usual. To work hard to convince the main actors that making innovative contributions to their city with unusually good initiatives or approaches is possible. From the city hall we have to struggle to create the right framework to let the unusual grow and become usual as a major achievement for the city. A long way to go but lot of unusual suspects full with energy and commitment.

    In Mollet, as in many URBACT cities, the food theme remains strong. As well as Diet for a Green Planet, which was Mollet’s first programme experience, we have had Sustainable Food, led by Brussels, as well as URBACT Markets exploring the important role of city markets, led by Barcelona. The recent announcement of the URBACT Good Practices continued this food-related momentum, with labeled cities including Mouans Sartoux (France) and Turin (Italy). Mouans Sartoux confronts city planners with key questions about how urban land should be used in the 21st Century. Many cities are under pressure to accommodate growing populations and provide additional housing. But where will the land come from – and how can we ensure a balanced approach where cities retain green spaces, not only for recreation but also for cultivation?

    One of Turin’s two URBACT Good Practices taps into Italy’s integral relationship between food and local communities. In recent years the city has supported the redevelopment of its network of neighbourhood markets, giving each community access to local produce within walking distance of home. This helps sustain hyper-local micro-economies. It also provides a valuable social forum at a time when there is much talk of the increase in loneliness and isolation in our cities. Additionally, the fact that these markets are a short walk from home discourages driving and promotes cycling and walking which are not only low-carbon activities but also ones more open to chance encounters with neighbours and other shoppers.

    Food in the wider urban family

    A short hop from Turin, Milan has almost 30 square kilometres of agricultural land within its municipal boundary. On the back of its 2016 Food Expo, there is a variety of food-related activity in the city. Their URBACT Good Practice focuses on peri-urban agricultural activity, exploring the role of the food sector in driving entrepreneurship, innovation and employment. The city is also among the first wave of Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) cities, with this project building on their growing wealth of food-related experience. The potential crossover between this and some of the URBACT projects is clear, helped by the fact that this UIA and URBACT’s Agri-Urban project both have support from the same expert, Miguel Sousa.


    In the initial cluster of 18 UIA cities, two others also have a food dimension. Pozzuoli, in the greater Naples metropolitan area, focuses on encouraging zero-kilometre food production in a part of Italy that is the victim of its own gastronomic success. Local producers are more likely to export their mozzarella to New York than produce it for the local market. The domino (pizza?) effect is that the food for sale locally is often imported from North Africa. This may reflect an effective market at work – but it’s an environmental own-goal. Addressing this imbalance, with the aim of stimulating local production and consumption, is one of Pozzuoli’s UIA goals.

    And the UIA focus on food doesn’t stop at the Alps. In the north of France, the city of Lille is also embarking on an approach that puts food at the centre of its anti-poverty activity. Their intention is to transform a well-known local brownfield site, Fives Cail, into a variety of food-related initiatives. Their proposed Halle Gourmande will be a hub of food-related activities, providing opportunities to learn, share and enjoy. In doing so the project’s transformation of this old heavy industrial site will be emblematic of Lille’s post-industrial shift.

    So, when did food and cities hit it off so well?

    Why the big buzz around food? One clear reason is food’s role as a social connector. In an increasingly polarised world, where tribal behaviour and bubble living keep us apart from those who may think differently from us, food can act as a bridge. The inspiring Zipbob social dining project in Seoul, for example, brings neighbours together through food. This is important in a booming megacity where traditional neighbourhoods are fast disappearing with socially unsettling effects. Back in Europe, early findings from an ongoing OECD study on migrant integration in EU cities have underlined the importance of creating shared spaces where locals and new arrivals can meet. Sharing food is an obvious way to do this. For example, it is exactly what Options Food Lab does, linking migrants with cookery skills with Athenians willing to host food sharing events in their homes. As well as the evident social benefits, this has also created a pathway into employment for a number of new arrivals in the city.
     

    In this same space, we can also see initiatives like Conflict Kitchen using food as a platform for the building of mutual understanding and respect. This project, which initiated in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, runs a restaurant offering the cuisine of a country with which the US is at war. Over the years, the culinary offer has included Iran, Cuba and North Korea. Currently, it is focused on Palestinian food and the restaurant also provides a platform for cultural events including poetry and theatrical performances. The overall idea is to give Americans an insight into cultures that are often widely misrepresented in the mainstream US media.

    Afters: How do we maintain this momentum?

    One of the best things about this new urban food movement is its organic spontaneity. Innovative projects, often run on shoestring budgets, are popping up all over the place. Energetic young people with an interest in food and a commitment to social change are developing many of them, like Options Food Lab. Spark York is another example - a new social enterprise on a temporary site, modeled on London’s Pop Brixton. This will create an attractive pop-up facility where a diverse range of food outlets will each have a strong social purpose.

    We have also seen some of the biggest names in the food industry getting involved, investing their own funds and attracting support from others. The UK’s Jamie Oliver is one well-known example. Another is the French chef Thierry Marx, through his Cuisine Mode d’Emploi. Perhaps most impressive of all is the inspiring work of Modena super-chef Massimo Bottura, with his ambitious attempts to feed the homeless in his Reffetorio Ambrosiano in Milan. Superstar chefs can’t drive the structural changes our cities need, but they can draw attention to the issues and mobilise support across the political spectrum. This includes underlining the food sector’s long-standing role as a route into the labour market for people facing multiple barriers.

    The Botturas of this world don’t need much municipal support. But most social entrepreneurs do, and city administrations can help in lots of ways. They can ensure their cities have space for agriculture, as Bristol has done, through their innovative Food Plan. They can also help by supporting access to premises, even on a temporary basis – particularly when so many spaces lie empty in our cities. And, of course they can provide the financial and business support that all enterprises need.

    In the URBACT Good Practices, municipalities have played a key role which can inspire others. The URBACT Festival, in Tallinn on 3-5 October, will showcase these – and all the other good practices. URBACT will also be supporting a new generation of good practice transfer projects and, who knows, there may be some food projects amongst them.

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