POINT (2.173404 41.385064)
  • Why are we still talking about gender equality?

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

    According to the EIGE’s Gender Equality Index, progress has been very mixed across the EU-27, and true gender equality still remains out of reach. Source: EIGE(2023).

    A person with a tote bag walks in front of a yellow metro or train.
    From urbact

    It’s been over 25 years since the signing of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the legal document that made gender equality compulsory in the European Union. The work on the topic however has a longer history, as even before that, a handful of Member States were already enacting their own gender equality policies. 

    A wide range of laws and measures that have been put in place to combat inequality in the last quarter century, and yet it continues to be a main policy topic. So, why are we still talking about gender equality? Haven’t we moved beyond this topic?

    Unfortunately, the reality is that not only haven’t we closed the gap between men and women in terms of wages, pensions, school achievement, participation in STEM fields, number of political representatives, and many other topics; in fact, recent data from the European Institute on Gender Equality (EIGE) shows that, on the whole, the EU-27 are still far from achieving gender equality. These statistics, which come from the Gender Equality Index 2022, attributed the stalling or fluctuations in progress predominantly to the gendered effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.


    Figure 3. Gender Equality Index

    While all 27 Member States have enacted federal laws to translate the principle of gender equality into the national legal framework, implementation at local level remains uneven and tends to favour certain topics, despite the fact that women continue to experience urban spaces, public services, the labour market, education and training and even healthcare in Europe differently than men. Despite nearly a quarter-century of policy, the role of gender equality as a cross-cutting topic that is vital to all policy areas remains poorly understood. 

    This does not mean that there haven’t been some positive trends. Disparities between Member States have decreased between 2010-2022. Furthermore, there has been an increase of women in decision-making roles across 19 Member States since 2020. According to the Gender Equality Index 2023, this is a key driver of gender equality, more generally. 

    A handful of cities and regions, for example Vienna (AT), Barcelona (ES), Umeå (SE) and the Basque Country (ES), have made a concerted point of focusing on the role of gender in urban and regional development and have worked to push policy innovation and new approaches, including in sectors which were previously not considered relevant. Some of these cities are documented in URBACT’s Gender Equal Cities - Inspirations and Knowledge series, which is filled with testimonials and interviews from URBACT experts, partners and workshop coordinators.

    However, the reality for many more municipalities, intermunicipal areas and regional authorities in Europe is that their work on gender equality implementation is hampered by knowledge and data gaps, lack of dedicated personnel, lack of awareness, lack of political support and both active and passive resistance. 
    For gender equality to become a reality in European cities and regions, it is critical not only to work across sectors and with a variety of stakeholders but also to work on awareness, acceptance and training at the municipal or organisational level, identifying and actively combatting stereotypes and raising awareness and allyship among men, who are all too frequently missing from the conversation. Networking and peer learning between municipalities can help transfer knowledge and effective practices as well as increase the effectiveness of those working on this topic and the policies they develop.


    FEMACT-Cities & gender equality policy: taking on the implementation gap


    Against this backdrop, the URBACT FEMACT-Cities Action Planning Network seeks to improve the implementation of gender equality on a local level and to increase innovation and knowledge sharing in gender equality in topics shared by the partners. Following on the success of other cities, the network’s work plan will focus on both internal and structural gender mainstreaming in the partner organisations and three thematic clusters shared by the partners: urban development, labour market and training, and health and safety. The goal of the network is to create cities and regions in which all residents, irrespective of gender, can experience freedom of movement, freedom from violence, freedom from fear, freedom to pursue their dreams, and freedom to reach their full potential.

    FEMACT-Cities is composed of eight partners (Länsstyrelsen Skåne (SE), Comunidade Intermunicipal da Região de Coimbra (PT), Clermont-Auvergne Métropole (FR), Kraków (PL), Turin (IT), Municipality of Postojna (SI), Cluj Metropolitan Area Intercommunity Development Association (RO), and Szabolcs 05 Regional Development Association of Municipalities (HU)) who have embarked on a two-year journey of learning, sharing and testing in order to create integrated action plans for their local policy challenges. This network will tackle a host of topics, including gender-based violence, women’s health issues and gendered approaches to mobility planning. It will build on and complement the work of the URBACT Action Planning Network GenderedLandscape (2019-2022).


    Doing the work: more from URBACT


    To learn more about URBACT’s work on gender equality and how it affects your sector, check out the Gender Equal Cities report (2022), which is packed with case studies, helpful tools and methods. 

    Watch this video for an introduction to gender-responsive public procurement.

    You can also get a refresher on 10 times URBACT has driven change for gender equal cities in recent years.


    Photo by Christian Lue.

    Submitted by Mary Dellenbaugh on 28/11/2023.





  • Is the compact city model endangered?

    Copy linkFacebookXLinkedInEmail
    Is the compact city model endangered? Article COVER

    Three Action Planning Networks (2019 - 2022) came together to gather inspiration on how people can experience and move through the city.

    From urbact

    The Walk’n’Roll initiative, 27 different towns, cities and metropolises from the RiConnect, the Thriving Streets and the Space4People networks had a common mission. Together, they reflected about how mobility can play an important role when building better public spaces and increase the quality of life for local communities.  Iván Tosics, URBACT Expert who followed their exchange and learning journey, shares with us some of the key take-aways, findings and open questions that were raised during the Walk’n’Roll many and which are compiled in a brand new Guidebook. Take a ride with us and enjoy the read!



    URBACT Walk'n'Roll


    The recent pandemic was an important episode in the history of urban development. Much can be learnt from the immediate reactions to the health crisis, especially in dense cities. There were many brilliant examples about innovative tactical interventions in public space, inclusive housing policies, new types of economic support and social protection mechanisms, from which we can take stock.

    As the peak of the pandemic has slowly come to an end, the life in cities has quickly returned to its pre-Covid pace. A negative legacy is the incessant growth of suburbanisation, a process that has exploded over the last two years not only in Europe, but also in almost all parts of the world...


    A common effect in different cities


    In Oslo (NO), internal movements in and around the city, have shown an increased outmigration in the past two years with people aged between 25-30 and 60-70 moving away from the city, towards its outskirts and beyond. The “working from home effect” can partially explain this phenomenon. People with higher wages had a tendency to move away. It’s interesting to note though that most of the outmigrants were people who were not born in Oslo, according to studies.

    Likewise, in American cities, a substantial reallocation of housing and office demand has become tangible. People chose to move to the suburbs, away from dense city centres. Some analysts have called this as the “doughnut effect”. Meaning the rise of the suburbs and the slump of the city centre, driven by a fear of crowds and the opportunity of working from home.

    In a very recent analysis on the situation of the Paris urban area (FR), the academia has tried to collect all available information about internal residential migration, using unusual data. Information from rural associations, from the post office regarding permanent re-direction of mails to new address, or even schools' registrations were used as unexpected, yet rich sources. As evidence shows, migration flows from the downtown to the urban fringe are visible. According to this analysis, such movement of people cannot be considered as an urban exodus though. So, if not an exodus, what are these new forms of migration then?


    The new intra-urban migration tendencies


    First of all, research suggests that no direct, causal links exist between the spread of the virus and urban density. According to an OECD, it’s not density alone that makes cities vulnerable to Covid-19, but rather a mix of factors. The structural economic and social conditions play a role in this regard with overcrowdness, inequality, insufficient living conditions and the spatial concentration of the urban poor.

    The consequences from this new suburbanisation, on the other hand, are very clear: growing climate and energy problems due to increasing car-use, intensification of social disparities, since those who are leaving the city centre are the ones who can afford to do so. Moreover, there are also more and more problems in places where people tend to move out from. In the Budapest area (HU), for example, there are growing complaints in the agglomerational settlements with physical and human infrastructure problems, caused by the quick, unplanned growth of new residents.

    That being said, the post-Covid city presents us with a silver lining, an opportunity to rethink the principles of the urban compact development. For instance the British professor, Greg Clark, offers us a vision with blended cities and a more spread planification process. He argues for a wider distribution of activities between urban areas to offer second and third tear cities more chances. He also makes the case for better disposition of services within functional urban areas, based on the growth of "neighbourliness" and the emerging social capital.  

    Clark argues that people living in the fringes might still travel to the larger city centers from time to time, and acknowledges that they might not always work from home. At the same time, they will also get a taste for the local life where they live. People will spend more time – and money – in their neighbourhoods and, by consequence, new opportunities might arise for towns, suburban and secondary downtowns. So, these are not simply places where people sleep and work from home, but also places of exchange and for gatherings. Where, eventually, communities might thrive.

    This idea raises challenges for future urban development, for instance, issues related to metropolitan planning. Where to build new housing and dwellings? And how to regulate transport fares? These are just a few of the questions that were discussed during the Walk’n’Roll conference in Barcelona (ES), held in July 2022. The findings are summarised below.



    How to improve existing dense areas?


    The most widely accepted definition for adequate urban density is the one that acknowledges the need for an accessibility shift: changing urban transportation and land-use planning on the basis of people's ability to reach destinations, rather than on their ability to travel fast. This vision relies on the principle of re-humanising cities.


    The proximity aspect


    In the Walk’n’Roll conference the topic of proximity was at the heart of the discussion. In order for residents to give up the frequent use of car and, in perspective, also the ownership of a car, urban areas have to be changed. They must allow people to reach the most important everyday-destinations in a short time on foot, by bicycle or using public transport rides. There are many ideas raised for this shift, like the concept of the 15-Minute city. Besides the innovative practices of superblocks, Tempo30 and parking management – which are thoroughly described in the Walk’n’Roll Guidebook, Booklet 2 – you can find below two other ideas.


    The pedestrian-priority city


    Pontevedra (ES) is a medium-sized city with 83 000 inhabitants. In 1999 it was just another car-oriented city, but things started to change with the election of a new mayor – who still holds this position until this day. Mr Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores told citizens back then that the act of buying a car didn’t magically grant people with 10 square meters from the public space for a parking spot.

    His ideas consisted of making a distinction of the need for mobility, according to social criteria. He put people in the foreground, with at least half of the surface of all original streets turned into pedestrian areas. Intersections without lights and raised promenades were created, alongside he limited of parking hours in the downtown to a maximum of 15 minutes. In addition, underground parking was built under a concession and free public parking spaces were provided within a 15-20 minute walk of the centre.

    The results of these interventions were staggering: a decrease of motorised traffic by 77% in the dense urban area and by 93% in downtown, besides a decline in traffic accidents with no fatalities at all. Pontevedra became a high quality place to live with all public spaces serving the people, instead of the cars.


    Car-free places in every neighbourhoodURBACT Walk'n'Roll


    Back in 2014, in collaboration with 24 parish councils, the municipality of Lisbon (PT) started a programme called “Uma Praca em Cada Bairro” (“A space in every neighbourhood”). Currently being implemented, the programme is helping to renovate areas in the city to get people out of cars and to create new public spaces. The squares and streets will become the meeting point of the local community and “microcentres”, concentrating activity and employment.

    Henceforth, walking, cycling and public transport will be favoured, as the car traffic will be significantly restricted. The citywide programme in 150 squares and streets, practically in all neighbourhoods of Lisbon, could only be carried out with the support of the population. The programme counted with strong public participation processes.


    Potential externalities of public space improvement policies


    It goes without saying that the improvement of living conditions, with more public spaces and fewer cars, can lead to raising rents, pushing the most vulnerable residents away from the city. This is why it’s fundamental for the public sector to control the gentrifying effects. The efficiency of the public intervention depends on the willingness and political power of the municipal leadership, as well as on the housing system of the given city. A good example is the city of Vienna (AT), where the majority of the housing stock is under direct or indirect public control, with little or no gentrifying effects as a consequence of mobility and public space improvements.

    The situation is slightly more difficult in Barcelona, where the share of rental housing represents 31% of the housing sector. Only a small portion of these houses is actually owned by the public sector, making it almost impossible for the municipality to defend tenants. To tackle this challenge and avoid a “New York Highline effect”, the municipality provides subsidies to the urban poor, regulates private rents, oversees the housing market and even negotiates with landlords.



    How to create efficient metropolitan cooperation in blended cities?


    In the post pandemic world it’s not enough to make the dense urban cores more attractive, attention has also to be paid to those peripheral locations where many families aim to move to. Planning in larger territories can bring to light different questions, as to where new housing stock should be constructed or how to regulate and tax different forms of transport. The key aspect for public intervention in wider territories is a metropolitan coordination, which can be illustrated by the examples below.


    Turning highways into urban boulevards


    The classic period of suburbanisation started in the late 1950s in the USA, with the construction of 40 thousand miles of motorways financed by enormous central state grants. Urban planners were unstoppably carving highways into the urban structure, eradicating vulnerable neighbourhoods with fewer abilities to resist and, finally, ensuring the separation of functions following the leading planning concepts of the time. A similar car-oriented “modernisation” wave also reached most of the European cities. During the Walk’n’Roll conference, city practitioners showcased examples of recent efforts to reverse this phenomenon.

    In the course of the work done by Metrex for the From Roads to Streets learning platform –with support from Eurocities and URBACT – many European cases are analysed, including the transformative strategies adopted in Helsinki (FI), Oslo (NO), Lyon (FR) and Brussels (BE). In these dynamically growing cities the leading model is the urban intensification to concentrate growth and avoid urban sprawl. One way to achieve this principle is to direct new development to areas along the highways – provided that these are transformed into urban boulevards, with more space given for non-motorised vehicles. In Utrecht (NL), for example, two alternative projections were calculated for future scenarios and, according to them, the "A Proximity Model" foresee 20% less car-use.

    The opportunities and challenges of these new urban boulevards are gathered in a project to humanise the N-150 road, which is the central element of Barcelona’s Integrated Action Plan for the RiConnect network. This project deals with the motorway-like national road at the fringe of the metropolitan area, which created a division between the settlements and was putting the speed of mobility as the top priority. In order to restore old connections between the peripheral municipalities, the concept of metropolitan roads was born: without building new roads the extinct links between areas should be revived. This shall calm down traffic on the national road and even enable people to cycle from one town to another, which was not previously possible with the highways.


    URBACT Walk'n'Roll


    Improving the rail network to ensure metropolitan cooperation


    The Krakow (PL) Integrated Action Plan for the RiConnect network shows another way how metropolitan cooperation can be created. The Skawina Mobility Hub aims to create a connection point in one of Krakow’s satellite cities, on the line of the fast speed agglomerational railway that is under construction.

    Besides exploring the future functions of the evolving mobility hub, the intermodal links, park and ride (P+R) facilities and how to connect the station with city centre of Skawina, many efforts are being made to change the mobility mindset of people. This includes co-creation workshops, which resulted in the establishment of the integrated ticket system.

    Krakow is a good example for bringing public transport to the overall reflection on the metropolitan area. Such strategies, however, have to face the financial challenge of running public transport. During Covid times the ridership of public transport decreased almost everywhere and the rebouncing is still slow.


    Bringing planning and governance together at metropolitan level


    The Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) is a great example of how planning and governance can come together, not only at city, but also at metropolitan level. The AMB, the Lead Partner of the RiConnect network, is an agency with competencies in terms of mobility and public space in the metropolitan area – which counts with the double of inhabitants in comparison to the city itself. AMB is managing a very innovative mobility plan covering different aspects, such as generating safe and comfortable spaces for pedestrians, and sustainable methods of mobility, while reducing the use of private motorised transport.

    Unfortunately, not all cities have powerful metropolitan governance systems and/or strong agencies for planning and mobility. In the lack of these, urban planning cooperation between the municipalities of the urban area can help a lot. Sometimes these are initiated in bottom-up process, in combination with the national level, in order to use efficiently the EU Cohesion Policy resources. The Kraków Metropolitan Area (KMA), for instance, is responsible for coordination of transportation investments, which are implemented in the Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI) framework for the city and and its 14 surrounding municipalities.


    How to move towards an accessibility shift?


    Action Planning Networks labelThe new Walk’n’Roll Guidebook is split in three booklets – WHY, WHAT and HOW – and brings to light solutions that any city, regardless of its size, can use as a reference to drive change towards more blended and less compact cities. In order to tackle the most recent challenge of post-Covid suburbanisation, however, the practical interventions that are presented have to be combined with territorial visions. Regulation, planning and the support of governance institutions are equally important. Although this might sound challenging, there are different resources that can be particularly useful. Take for instance the EU Cohesion Policy, where investments in urban transport have more than doubled – from 8 billion EUR in 2007 - 2013 to 17 billion EUR in the 2014 - 2020, with even more opportunities in the next programming period.

    The first URBACT IV (2021 - 2027) call for Action Planning Networks is also a great occasion for cities to find partners to exchange, pilot ideas and develop an integrated set of actions at local level. While URBACT stresses the importance of the priorities of green - gender - digital, the RiConnect, the Thriving Streets and the Space4People networks are living proof of the wealth of themes that can be tackled within the spectrum of any urban subject, as today’s mobility challenge. These projects are in the crossroad of building more inclusive cities – for women and all – while also promoting the reduction of carbon emissions.

    Cities that wish to apply to the call are welcome to choose whichever network topic they deem relevant to their context. URBACT welcomes – and always will – bottom-up approaches that look at the big picture. Walk’n’Roll is bear fruit of the past round of Action Planning Networks and, hopefully, the next batch of URBACT cities will carry on its legacy and put its knowledge into action.

    URBACT Walk'n'Roll Guidebook

  • URBinclusion


    Kick-off meeting at Paris URBACT secretariat (Phase I)
    Thematic Seminar in February (Trikala), Transnational Meeting and Final Conference “Networking for social inclusion in Europe” in March (Barcelona), URBinclusion Manifesto, partners Operational Implementation Frameworks (OIF), Partners Solution Stories
    Transnational Meeting in February (Barcelona), Project Phase I closure, Project Phase II launch, Transnational Meeting in September (Copenhagen - Kick-off meeting Phase II)
    Thematic Seminar in January (Lyon), June (Glasgow), December (Naples), Transnational Meeting in April (Krakow), October (Turin), URBinclusion partners Implementation Plans

    Arwen Dewilde
    City of Ghent



    Plaza de la Constitucion 1

    Baena (Cordoba) - Spain


    Artur Katai
    City of Újbuda


    Barcelona City Council - Social Rights Area

    Lluis Torrens:

    Sebastià Riutort:

    Socioeconomic disparities and other forms of inequalities are a major issue in European cities which are threatened by social polarisation increase. Poverty does not only create social differences between people and groups; it also leads to spatial differences.
    URBinclusion implementation network focused on the co-creation of new solutions to reduce poverty in deprived urban areas, focusing on some key challenges to be tackled when going from the strategic to the implementation dimension: integrated approach and inter-departmental coordination, involvement of local stakeholders, monitoring and evaluation and financial innovation.
    Partners cities interchange showed that this requires integrated, cyclical and monitored processes made of recursive actions and feedbacks that produces stable conditions of engagement for continuous improvement.

    Combating poverty in deprived urban areas
    Ref nid
  • Stay Tuned

    LEAD PARTNER : Ghent - Belgium
    • Ampelokipi - Menemeni - Greece
    • Aveiro - Portugal
    • Barcelona - Spain
    • Berlin - Germany
    • Gothenburg - Sweden
    • Nantes - France
    • Sofia - Bulgaria
    • Tallinn - Estonia

    Operational Implementation Framework

    European cities face higher levels of Early Leaving from Education and Training (ELET) than their national averages, meaning that some urban areas have more ELET rates, than the countryside areas - contrary to the national trends of these cities' countires. This represents a serious challenge, as ELET has significant societal and individual consequences, such as a higher risk of unemployment, poverty, marginalization and social exclusion. Tackling this issue means breaking the cycle of deprivation and the intergenerational transmission of poverty and inequality.

    Boosting the Frequency of Qualification
    Ref nid
  • BoostInno

    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

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter


    Kick-off meeting in July (Wroclaw). Transnational meeting in November (Barcelona).
    Transnational meetings in March (Baia Mare) and November (Paris).
    Transnational meeting in January (Milan). Final event in April (Gdansk).

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


    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela


    Municipality of Udine (Italy)


    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email:

    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:




    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora



    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801


    City of Rome

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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



    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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



    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council


    Municipality of Piraeus


    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029



    Riga NGO House


    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


    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

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


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


    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    City of Genoa
    Via di Francia, 1 - XI floor. 16149 Genova


    City of San Donà di Piave Piazza Indipendenza, 13 – 30027


    City of Naples
    Urban Planning Department 
    Phone +39 081 7958932 - 34 - 17 


    The Barnsley Digital Media  County Way, Barnsley, S70 2JW
    Phone +44 01226 720700 


    Preston City Council
    Town Hall, Preston, PR1 2RL

    City of Piacenza
    piazza Cavalli 2 - 29121 Piacenza - Italia
    tel centralino 
    Phone +39 0523 492 111 

    City of Bilbao
    Plaza Ernesto Erkoreka nº1. 48007 Bilbao. Phone +32 944 204 200 

    City of Poznan
    plac Kolegiacki 17,
    61-841 Poznań


    Westmisnter City Council
    Phone +44 020 7641 6500

    City of Gdańsk
    5 prof. Witolda Andruszkiewicza St.
    80-601 Gdańsk

    The work developed by the cities of this Action Planning network has proven that social innovation is not just a trend, but it could also be qualified as a fundamental change in the management of cities, in the management of impact and in the relations cities uphold and develop with their inhabitants. Some would describe this change as an equivalent of the industrial or the IT revolution: up until now, one of the basic assumptions of urban policy was that citizens were to accept what is decided, planned and built. Recent years have shown that it is often the citizens who make the city, in a collaborative perspective.

    Boosting social innovation
    Ref nid
  • Civic eState

    Lead Partner : Naples - Italy
    • Amsterdam - Netherlands
    • Barcelona - Spain
    • Gdańsk - Poland
    • Ghent - Belgium
    • Iași - Romania
    • Presov - Slovakia


    Kick-off meeting, Naples (IT)

    Mid-term meeting, Iași (RO)

    26-28 May 2021, Final Network Event (online)

    Transnational meeting, Prešov (SK) / Transnational meeting, Amsterdam (NL)

    The Civic eState network worked on new models of urban co-governance based on the commons. Two years of EU cooperation for promoting urban co-governance and experimenting public-community partnerships to enable inhabitants and local communities constitutional rights to self-organize and collectively act for the urban commons. The network outputs aim at guaranteeing the collective enjoyment as well as collective management of urban essential facilities, to secure fair and open access, participatory decision-making, sustainability and preservation for the benefit of future generations.

    Pooling Urban Commons
    Ref nid
  • Genderedlandscape


    LEAD PARTNER : Umea - Sweden
    • Trikala - Greece
    • Barcelona - Spain
    • Panevėžys - Lithuania
    • La Rochelle - France
    • Celje - Slovenia


    Contact information for Lead partner:


    Start of phase 1

    Closure of phase 1

    Start of phase 2

    Final Conference: The Gendered Landscape of European Cities
    Closure of network

    Integrated Action Plans

    Integrated Action Plan JZ SOCIO Celje

    Read more here !

    Celje - Slovenia
    Integrated Action Plan Umeå

    Read more here !

    Umeå - Sweden
    Integrated Action Plan Trikala

    Read more here !

    Trikala - Greece
    Integrated Action Plan Panevėžys City

    Read more here

    Panevėžys - Lithuania
    Integrated Action Plan La Rochelle

    Read more here !

    La Rochelle - France
    Integrated Action Plan Barcelona

    Read more here

    Barcelona - Spain


    Gender equality is a fundamental goal of EU policy. Unfortunately, many urban policies, services, and physical developments still do not take gender into account, despite the fact that men and women use the city and its structures differently. Genderedlandscape is the Action Planning network that sought to create an understanding of the city as a place where gendered power structures are always present and develop locally contextualised tools and approaches to work towards gender equality in urban policies, planning, and services.

    Genderedlandscape APN logo
    Gender + Equal + Cities
    Ref nid
  • Re-humanising cities: new approaches to urban mobility and public space

    Copy linkFacebookXLinkedInEmail

    How are towns and cities rebuilding streets for people, not cars? Answers in the latest URBACT Walk and Roll Cities webinar…


    It is a well-known fact that car-oriented urban development in the second half of the 20th century led to pollution, congestion and other serious problems, with quality of life deteriorating dramatically in many areas. These unfortunate developments did not occur by themselves, they were brought about by systematic political and planning interventions favouring car use.

    In the United States, for example, 44 000 miles of publicly funded motorways were built in the 1950s, interlinking large cities and cross-cutting their city centres. Moreover, the price of oil was kept at an artificially low level and large mortgage subsidies were given to single-family house builders and infrastructure subsidies to suburban settlements.

    The outcome of these policies in the US was widespread suburbanisation and urban sprawl. Similar tendencies were also seen in European cities, although in most European countries, the control over land use was stricter and public subsidies for car-oriented development were more limited. Even so, there were lasting visible changes, for example wide streets replaced demolished historic areas in central Stockholm, in northern Brussels, and in a number of British inner cities.

    In the 21st century, cities across the EU started rethinking mobility and public space, attempting to correct earlier mistakes and promoting car alternatives. Their new visions and tools were the focus of URBACT’s latest #WalkAndRollCities webinar. Held on 5 April 2022, the online talks brought leading urban mobility and public space experts together with more than 80 participants from URBACT cities and beyond.

    ‘Re-humanising’ cities

    Reversing the dominance of cars in our cities is not impossible: again, systematic political and planning interventions are needed, this time in the opposite direction from the 1950s. New, parallel and interlinked changes in mobility and public space development must aim to limit car use and support active travel modes, while transforming public spaces in order to benefit residents.

    For such a re-humanising agenda, the overarching concept of Levine-Grengs-Merlin (2019) can be taken as one of the starting points. Their book ‘From Mobility to Accessibility: Transforming Urban Transportation and Land-Use Planning’ describes the idea that transportation planning and the transportation dimensions of land-use planning should be strongly connected and based on people's ability to reach destinations, rather than on their ability to travel fast. The primacy of mobility – how far you can go in a given amount of time – should be replaced by a priority given to access – how much you can get in a given amount of time. The new approach should be based on connectivity (being connected to online tools and networks, enabling some activities without physical relocation), proximity (bringing city services closer to one another in space) and innovated mobility (taking an integrated approach to promote public transport as a backbone for the remaining mobility needs).

    As described in one of my earlier articles, the #WalkAndRollCities cooperation was launched by three URBACT networks: RiConnect, Space4People and Thriving Streets. Their most recent webinar explored the best ways for cities to plan and implement new public space visions and innovative mobility tools. Here are some highlights…

    1. New public space visions

    The 15-minute city vision

    Figure 1. The 15-minute city, Source: Paris en Commun

    Carlos Moreno, Scientific Director of the ETI Chair, Sorbonne University IAE Paris, is the best-known inspiring person behind the idea. He showed how this vision aims to humanise cities through creating a new urban lifestyle in ‘15-minute neighbourhoods’. As Jane Jacobs suggested: the real capability of a city is to offer multiplicity of choice under all circumstances. Places must be viable, liveable, equitable and most of the necessary functions should be reached within 15 minutes in dense urban areas – or within 30 minutes in the case of less dense territories.

    Proximity solutions are based on six basic factors: work, supply, caring, learning, enjoying, living. And in all of these, monofunctional solutions have to be broken up into interrelated wellbeing, sociability, and sustainability factors. There are three rules for mixing uses within proximity: chrono-urbanism (a new rhythm of the city), chronotopia (multipurpose functions of given places), and topophilia (love of the place).

    Carlos Moreno is also set to speak at the URBACT City Festival on 14 June 2022. More detailed information about the 15-minute city vision is available here.


    The superblock vision

    Ariadna Miquel, Director of Urban Strategy at the Chief Architect Office, Barcelona City Council, put the spotlight on Barcelona’s ‘superblock’ programme, a well-known, brave attempt to innovate the city. Actions include the recovery of high-quality public spaces, CO2 reduction, greening, pedestrianisation, and sustainable mobility. Superblocks, or ‘Superillas’, constitute one of the key ideas in the regeneration of the city. The idea emerged in the 1990s by Salvador Rueda, but it was not until 2016 that it became widely known due to the Superilla implemented in the Poblenou area of Barcelona.

    Figure 2. The superblock model, Source: Ajuntament de Barcelona

    The basic idea of a superblock is to exclude through-traffic of non-resident cars from a designated area of three-by-three blocks, assigning the inner streets and squares as shared-use space, with priority to walking. This means that everyone in the superblock has access to green and public spaces – and cyclists and pedestrians take over the space previously used by cars. After initial debates, the Publenou superblock became accepted and beloved by residents, particularly when picnic tables were installed in the inner streets (see more details in this article).

    Recently, the city has been scaling up the idea: six superblocks are under development in Barcelona, and in the longer run the municipality intends to create over 500 such areas. Also, the ‘Superblock Barcelona’ idea has emerged, with green streets connecting local projects to one another. So far, 21 of these streets have been planned, fully redesigning the streetscape, and changing crossings into liveable squares. The first of these green streets will be developed in summer 2022.

    2. New mobility innovations

    The Tempo 30 idea

    The Brussels region consists of 19 municipalities, where more and more 30 km/hour speed limitations have been introduced since 2010. Presenting the Tempo 30 idea, Kristof De Mesmaeker, Directeur Mobiliteit en Verkeersveiligheid @ Brussel Mobiliteit, said the breakthrough came in 2019, when a new government was elected with the following political programme: “The government will create one big zone of 30 km/h from 1 January 2021, with exceptions on the biggest roads.” This political programme has been implemented in recent years. Of course, initially many actors resisted the idea, however, rather than reacting to everyone, the city focused mainly on the programme’s supporters.

    Figure 3. The map of the Brussels Tempo 30 area, Source: Brussels Mobility

    Tempo 30 became the new normal, thus the 4 000 ‘zone 30’ signs were removed and new ‘Tempo 50’ signs were put up in specific areas with a higher speed limit. Communication was very important: all public services advertised the idea and information was mailed to 600 000 addresses. The press and social media were full of news about the change. The implementation was carefully steered and speed controlling was strengthened, thanks to 80 invisible new cameras.

    As a result, recent monitoring shows that the average speed of cars decreased, even on roads that already had 30 km/hour speed limits earlier. Total car journey times increased, but not much, while the number of accidents dwindled. Noise levels decreased: people even started to complain about the noise of the tram, previously hidden by louder road users. Further materials on the Tempo 30 programme in Brussels are available here.


    Parking management

    Robert Pressl, mobility expert and consultant, Graz (AT), described powerful tools to free public space from being occupied by cars. Figures from Graz prove the very unjust use of space: parked cars occupy 92% of public space while their share in modal split (traffic) is 47%. The UVAR – Urban Vehicle Access Regulations – method includes onstreet parking space management, using tools such as time limits, restricting access to certain groups, charging fees, or marking areas where parking is prohibited.

    One of the innovative tools is multiple parking facilities, in the form of shared parking, for example using theatre parking for offices during the day, or downtown parking for local residents during the night. Copenhagen (DK) is making parking in front of schools available for bike parking between 8:00 and 17:00. In Vienna (AT), the average time to find a parking space, responsible for 30% of traffic flow, was reduced from 9 to 3 minutes in districts 6-9 after implementation of parking space management, and Munich (DE) has achieved similar success. It is important to make complementary improvements, such as improving the pavement when introducing paying parking, as seen in Sofia (BG), or establishing Parking Benefit Districts for the use of extra revenues.

    In Amsterdam (NL), parking fees amount to 160 million eur/year, of which 38% funds management of the system, while the rest is spent on improving public spaces in the city. In Lisbon (PT), a programme named ‘Uma Praca em Cada Bairro’ (A square in every neighbourhood) is fostering the car-free rehabilitation of key public squares in the city with the aim of getting people out of cars and turning roads into public space, making the city more people friendly. Further materials on SUMP and parking management are available here.


    Figure 4. The effect of parking management in Zürich, Source: CIVITAS, PARK4SUMP


    Watch the video recordings of the Walk’n’Roll webinar presentations


    URBACT cities share their experiences

    The URBACT Walk’n’Roll Cities webinar was a chance for representatives of similarly sized cities to exchange experiences. Representatives of larger cities like Graz (AT), Porto (PT), Thessaloniki (EL) and Krakow (PL) raised the importance of political leadership. If a new city leadership is committed to stepping up against car use, many things can be done, like pedestrian zone extension, increasing parking fees, including cycle highways in new public development projects, or creating a bike network for the whole area. There are, however, also examples of reverse trends, where a period of successful pedestrianisation might be followed by more car-oriented development, reflecting a new leader’s priorities.

    Metropolitan cooperation, across administrative borders, is of key importance in communicating new actions widely and getting them accepted. However, if there is no metropolitan political commitment, and no metropolitan authority exists with sufficient responsibilities, each municipality is likely to carry out its own innovative interventions in its own central area, perhaps only coordinating aspects such as the trains and ticketing system with other municipalities. On the other hand, substantial amounts of EU money can help to create cooperation between the city, the metropolitan organisation and the region – as the case of Polish cities shows.

    The group of medium-sized cities highlighted the cases of Edinburgh (UK), Debrecen (HU) and Parma (IT). These cities play with many innovative ideas, such as the 30 km speed limit, shared street use, and incentives for biking to work. There are, however, many barriers to making the cities more sustainable. Critical remarks were raised for example about certain national financial subsidies, for example subsidising travel to work by car.

    On the topic of implementing innovative ideas, obstacles in governance, institutions, and financing were discussed. Examples ranged from the discontinuation of a biking lane due to complaints from elderly people, to regional level blocking of strict parking regulations in a city, as surrounding municipalities opposed restrictions against car use.

    Webinar participants agreed that the public sector should oppose the view that people have unlimited right to use cars. But there was a debate about how far regulatory restrictions can go, if many people do not agree or cannot go along with the changes? For example, progress towards biking solutions is complex in our ageing society.

    Tips for a successful shift towards ‘soft’ mobility

    It was a common view that the best approach is first to discuss the vision at city or metropolitan level, before introducing any measures affecting residents. Barcelona was identified as a positive example for such systematic policy development efforts, correcting some initial mistakes. The objection bias (the usual fact that citizen groups opposing restrictions are louder than those who would support the changes) can be handled with systematic co-creation efforts from the beginning. It is very important to educate decision-makers, not only about the innovative visions and tools, but also about how to implement such progressive changes.

    How to link visions and tools on different territorial levels

    The next task for the URBACT Walk’n’Roll Cities partnership is to explore potential links between the visions and tools for developing people-centred urban areas, raising new ideas on the basis of innovative city approaches. Investigations will focus on different territorial levels: metropolitan-wide (integrated system with Park+Ride, metropolitan boulevards); city wide (15-minute city neighbourhoods and superblocks with Tempo 30 and parking management solutions); neighbourhood-based (car-free neighbourhood with circular roads, pedestrianisation, shopping streets, green squares).

    All these issues will be discussed at the URBACT Walk’n’Roll Cities final event, a face-to-face seminar in Barcelona, on 6-8 July, hosted by Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona.

    Read more on the #WalkandRollCities cooperation and our final event in a LinkedIn discussion group, where you can discover the products of the three URBACT networks dedicated to improving urban mobility and shared space – and join the conversation on #WalkandRollCities!


    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • Greening as a pathway to resilience in urban areas

    Copy linkFacebookXLinkedInEmail

    Leafy places in cities can greatly improve health and happiness. But here’s the thing: green isn’t always good for everyone.


    Most people now agree that green is good for health and resilience. Greening urban areas and connecting them to water, or ’blue’ areas, is high on the agenda in most towns and cities. Yet, says URBACT Programme Expert Iván Tosics, even this seemingly self-evident issue is not without contradictions. In this article, he looks beyond the general “green is good” statement and finds a more nuanced picture.


    It has been said many times, almost to the point of banality, that during Covid times, the demand for outdoor activites grew dramatically, leading to a marked increase in the use of parks and outdoor spaces. We all saw this in our cities in Europe. However, this did not necessarily happen to the same extent everywhere in the world. There is an interesting website, based on Google data, showing how the number of visitors to parks and outdoor spaces has changed compared to the selected baseline period, January 2020. Although it is not easy to interpret the data due to factors such as seasonal differences between North and South, we can hypothesise that in Europe and the global North, green areas were able to meet the increase in demand more easily, being generally more secure and better maintained than those in many parts of the global South.


    There are many good summaries about the immediate, easy-to-reach interventions by cities as a reaction to Covid – see for example my article on temporary interventions in the use of public spaces, such as closing streets and creating pop-up bike lanes, or encouraging street play. Key questions discussed in this article are: what kind of tactical interventions into greening are observable? And how can these be turned into long-term, strategic programmes, avoiding potential pitfalls?


    Many people think that all greening efforts are good for the wellbeing of citizens in general, and their health in particular. However, it is necessary to go beyond this cliché, understanding the different ways to implement the greening of cities, highlighting the efforts made to achieve synergy with other aspects of sustainable and resilient development, and calling attention to potential unwanted externalities of greening projects – among which the most important is the potential increase in socio-spatial differentiation through gentrification.


    Types and benefits of green places


    Owen Douglas, of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly in Ireland, listed the benefits of green spaces in his presentation at the URBACT Health&Greenspace Academy in December 2020. These include: enabling physical activities; improving mental well-being; supporting social interactions; and reducing environmental risks of air pollution and extreme weather events.


    Green infrastructure planning can do a lot to mitigate stressful city life in compact cities, with strategically planned networks of natural and semi-natural areas, and creating new green and ‘blue’ spaces – areas of water. To achieve that, green infrastructure planning has to be multifunctional, including a diversity of green elements, such as: large natural areas as hubs; forests and parks as green parcels; smaller private gardens, playgrounds, roadside greenery, or green roofs as individual elements; corridors connecting the hubs, parcels and elements; and finally land use buffers, as transition areas, separating dense urban spaces from the suburbs.


    In another presentation at the December 2020 URBACT Health&Greenspace Academy, Eduarda Marques da Costa, of the University of London, listed different types of green space interventions, from overarching development of new neighbourhoods through regeneration of residential areas and brownfield areas, including smaller-scale improvements to public spaces and support for urban gardening.


    Innovative greening examples


    Let us see now a few examples of the different types of greening interventions and their potential consequences.

    Certain European cities have conducted large projects of strategic importance to improve sustainability and resilience.


    Barcelona, Parc de les Glories (photo by Iván Tosics, November 2021)


    Barcelona (ES) provides an excellent example, with its efforts to renaturalise the densely built-up city. One of the emblematic projects is the rebuilding of the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes: besides the demolition of the elevated roundabout for cars and the building of a new High Speed Train station, a large new park is being erected under the motto of renaturalisation.


    Utrecht (NL) has put re-canalisation into the core of its urban development strategy. Forty years after the historic mistake of converting the canal that encircled Utrecht’s old town into a 12-lane motorway, in 2020, the city opened the canal back up again. The restoration of the waterway was the central piece of the 2002 referendum in which residents voted for a city-centre master plan with the aim to replace roads with water. With the reopening of the Catharijnesingel, Utrecht’s inner city is again surrounded by water and greenery rather than asphalt and car traffic.


    Paris (FR) has undergone large changes since the election of Mayor Anne Hidalgo in 2014. One of the key elements of the changes towards more sustainable urban development is the permanent pedestrianisation of roads along the river Seine and certain canals, which made the access to waterfront areas much easier.


    Another pathway towards more sustainability is to renovate, animate, and improve the safety of existing green areas. A prime example of this is the case of Bryant park in New York (US). This was one of the no-go areas of the city, getting the nickname 'Needle Park' in the 1970s because of the large number of drug addicts who frequented it. Changes started in 1988 with an extensive renovation of the park, including radical physical restructuring of the area, making the green space attractive, transparent and lively, clearing areas to let in light, installing many moveable chairs, and creating coffee places. The park has been transformed from an insecure to a lovely space. 



    Breda, Valkenberg Park

    A similar story is the redesign of the Valkenberg Park in Breda (NL) to improve safety, presented at the URBACT Health&Greenspace Academy in October 2021 by David Louwerse, project manager, Municipality of Tilburg.


    The most common greening interventions in European cities are smaller interventions, such as creating urban gardens, or greening streets and rooftops. An article by Tamás Kállay, Lead Expert of the URBACT Health&Greenspace network, gives a good overview of such initiatives. He mentiones Tartu (EE), where “meadow boxes were placed on the road. A beach bar was opened, and the street section accommodated also an outdoor reading room, a market, picnic tables, an outdoor cinema, and various programs”. Another example from the Health&Greenspace network is Poznań (PL), where “as part of a pilot activity natural playgrounds were created in the yards of several kindergartens providing direct contact with nature and supporting creative play”.


    Such examples demonstrate that “… small green space interventions, both physical changes and social activities can trigger a massive change and lead to larger actions promoting positive health outcomes.” This conclusion is further supported by another URBACT article, arguing for the importance of walking, not only in shopping streets, but also across all neighbourhoods – including ‘consumption-free’ areas.


    Besides punctual interventions, many cities aim to ensure fair distribution of green across the whole city and to connect green areas into networks. Poznań is good example for the latter, aiming to protect the green belt around the city from real estate development and urban sprawl, while also increasing forest cover within the city boundaries and preserving and improving existing parks and green spaces.


    Changing people's mindset and reorganising the structure of local government


    Hegyvidék, district 12 of Budapest, Lead Partner of Health&Greenspace, provides innovative examples of public spaces being improved and used more frequently thanks to new ideas, rather than concrete physical greening interventions. In order to change people's mindset, the “…municipality identified ‘green prescription’ as an appropriate tool for linking cardiac rehabilitation with the Active Hegyvidék program. Green prescription is a written advice of a health professional to a patient to participate in some sort of nature-based activity.”


    Hegyvidék is also pioneering an institutional restructuring of the the municipality, creating a so-called Green office. Changes can also be achieved without reorganising the municipality. For example, the URBACT network UrbSecurity presents an Urban Planning Game where Leiria’s municipal technicians develop step-by-step new approaches to increase the security of public spaces in the city. Cities can also use nudging techniques to influence behaviour, as many of the publications of Pieter Raymaekers (Leuven) show.


    The positive effects of greening and their link to urban planning


    Another URBACT network, Healthy Cities, focuses on including health considerations systematically into urban planning. To make this easier, a new tool has been developed, enabling users to quickly assess the health impact of their whole urban plan, and see how small adjustments could make a big difference to the lives of local people. This Healthy Cities Generator is a practical planning tool designed to give actionable indicators for anyone looking to integrate health into planning. It is based on a systematic review of scientific peer-reviewed publications linking urban determinants and their impact on health, through which the tool automatically calculates the health impact of urban planning actions.


    The integration of green considerations into planning can best be achieved by regulating the access to green areas at metropolitan level – this proved to be very useful during the Covid pandemic in those urban areas, where metropolitan coordination was strong enough.


    A word of caution: potential dangers of greening interventions


    Against all good will, greening interventions can also have negative effects, if not applied in an integrated manner, without creating synergies with other aspects of development.  


    Greening usually goes well with sustainable urban mobility interventions. When regenerating public spaces, areas taken away from cars can give place to green elements, for example changing motorways into urban boulevards with trees, pedestrianising streets, turning parking spaces into ‘parklets’ with moveable plant pots. However, if large green developments are concentrated in peripheral areas of cities that are difficult to access by public transport, they can easily result in increased car use. In a broader sense, this is a danger in all green developments that create large spatial imbalances in cities, i.e. new green areas far away from many residents who would like to use them.


    When managed in the right way, greening can have very important social advantages: it is a good tool to better involve disadvantaged groups into society. Greening can help the social involvement of the elderly and school children – see for example the OASIS project, converting schoolyards into green cooling islands in Paris. Even so, the biggest danger of greening interventions lies in their negative social externalities, through the gentrification process.


    Gentrification can take various forms. The direct form is the regeneration of socially contested areas into high-quality neighbourhoods. If no parallel efforts are made to support disadvantaged groups, the outcome will be socially unacceptable: pushing out disadvantaged social groups to other parts of the city. I described this process in an earlier article, on the case of Teleki tér, Budapest (HU), comparing this one-sided, gentrifying regeneration to the more integrated approach used in the case of Helmholtz square, Berlin (DE). The latter, through ongoing social assistance, is much closer to the URBACT-supported integrated approach, despite the fact that participative planning was also applied in the Budapest case. 


    Budapest, Teleki square with fences around, 2015.

    Berlin, Helmholtz square, 2015.
    Source: Imre Pákozdi

    A more common and less direct form of gentrification prevails through the increase of property values and rents in areas of improving quality of life, for example due to green interventions, which leads to the gradual displacement of people of lower socio-economic status. This well-known market mechanism can be kept under control with public regulations on rents, housing allowances and/or maintaining a substantial share of publicly owned housing. Unfortunately, such public interventions to control gentrification are rarely applied (or even considered) along with urban greening.


    Greening is an essential form of environmental intervention. The principle of integrated development requires a certain balance between economic, environmental and social aspects of development. This, however, is not easy to achieve, even in cases when there is strong determination to keep the balance. The comparison of two European cities, developing new ecological areas, illustrates the difficulties, showing how overly strong insistence on high environmental standards might lead to the deterioration of social goals, if public resources are limited. If greening aspects are given preference over social protection aspects, the outcome is again gentrification, against the original will of the politicians.


    Vienna, Aspern Seestadt, 2018. Source: Iván Tosics

    Stockholm, Hammarby Sjöstad, 2006. Source: Iván Tosics

    This article aimed to show that greening is usually a very advantageous aspect of urban development. However, certain dilemmas and potential pitfalls must be taken into account when planning green policies and interventions. With careful procedures, including green infrastructure planning as part of an integrated vision, and measuring the green and social outcomes of all investments, these pitfalls can be avoided.


    Come and meet us!

    This topic will be discussed at the upcoming URBACT City Festival on 15 June 2022 in a session titled ‘Greening as pathway to urban well-being and resilience’. The session will feature good practices from three URBACT Action Planning Networks, Health&Greenspace, Healthy Cities, and UrbSecurity.

    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • Cities are shaping the future of gender equality

    Copy linkFacebookXLinkedInEmail

    Towns and cities have a key role to play in supporting gender equality – “a prerequisite for well-being and prosperity”.


    Bianca Dreyer, Expert for URBACT Gender Equal Cities

    On 8 March, we celebrate International Women’s Day, which is both an important reminder of the progress already made in terms of gender equality – but also of the work ahead of us.

    URBACT’s Gender Equal Cities work, launched in 2019, brings together cities, researchers and partner organisations like the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), to examine the reasons for the ongoing structural and political inequalities in cities.

    In Europe, we have come a long way. 2021 marked the 15th anniversary of the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life with 1 860 signatories from 36 European countries to date. Gender equality is also recognised internationally in the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.


    Cities taking action

    “Gender equality is a prerequisite for the well-being of citizens and the prosperity of cities. It is a fundamental right”, said Corina Crețu, former European Commissioner for Regional Policy, in the first Gender Equal Cities report published by URBACT on International Women’s Day 2019. However, women continue to be underrepresented in many levels of governance; women make up 29% of members of the single or lower houses of parliaments and only 28.8% of board members for publicly listed companies in the EU, according to CEMR research. But how do we begin to close this gap in implementing these policies at municipal levels?

    The URBACT programme recognises the role that European Cohesion policy can play in helping to bridge the gender gap – for example, through knowledge proliferation, training and reports. The URBACT network GenderedLandscape brings together EU towns and cities working towards gender equality in urban policies, planning, and services. URBACT’s Gender Equal Cities work makes the case for the specific role of local authorities to drive positive change through gender-sensitive policy-making, through reports, social media engagement, events, curriculum, and toolkits. The Gender Equal Cities report points out where improvements can be made in municipalities across the EU, identifying best practices from cities driving transformative change toward gender equality.

    Yet, no country or city can claim that gender equality has been fully achieved, and the concept of gender equality is constantly evolving, driving new research and ongoing collaborations with cities.


    What upcoming gender topics is URBACT tackling?

    A new Gender Equal Cities report, to be launched during URBACT’s City Festival in June 2022, will address key topics for towns and cities supporting gender equality in the future. Reflecting these priority areas and URBACT’s integrated approach, here are three examples of city actions to look out for in the new report:  


    1. Intersectionality – Tilburg (NL)

                                        Photo credit: Urban Innovative Actions

    Gender is only one facet of identity, and URBACT’s work on Gender Equal Cities takes into account the diverse experiences of all women and men in the city. Urban residents share experiences, challenges and opportunities in a web of inter-connecting identities – such as race, class, sexual orientation or ability.

    Tilburg (NL) is addressing youth poverty through its Urban Initiative Actions (UIA) project ‘ForwArt - Moving forward with the power of art: from a place to hide to a place of pride’.

    Given how important culture is for social cohesion in towns and cities, the project is using the performing arts as a platform for exchanges between people with multicultural backgrounds. The cultural ecosystem this is creating in North Tilburg helps young people express their own intrinsic culture, supporting their subjective well-being.


    2. Ageing – Barcelona (ES)

                                      Photo credit: Barcelona City Council

    Vila Veïna in Barcelona (ES) is re-thinking ageing and the role of women in care-work – taking it out of the hands of individuals and putting it into the hands of municipalities. The initiative is providing care in small local units, where specialised professionals, people who receive care, and members of the community form part of a network which is jointly responsible for collective welfare.

    “The roll-out of Vila Veïna in the city corresponds to a transformation in the social and healthcare model, where priority is given to proximity, joint responsibility and personalised care. The main change comes through conceiving care as a shared community task, not something private or individual,” reports Barcelona City Council.



    3. Smart Cities – Umeå (SE)

                                  Photo credit: GenderedLandscape, URBACT

    Women are still highly underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) sectors, in terms of training, as well as employment. This has broad repercussions on society as a whole: can larger demographic diversity in climate change science result in more climate friendly solutions? And how can a smart city build attention to and connect more with the STEM sector? URBACT GenderedLandscape cities came together with leading experts – online and in person – to explore these questions in La Rochelle (FR) in September 2021.

    GenderedLandscape Lead Partner, Umeå (SE) is improving policies to integrate gender equality as a fundamental building block for sustainable urban development. Umeå’s growth plan recognises that only by creating more equal and inclusive cities, can we generate long-term sustainability for European citizens – socially, financially and environmentally.


    What are URBACT’s next steps?


    URBACT is building on its recent successes and strengths by bringing together European experts on gender equality with local municipal stakeholders. On 19-20 April 2022, URBACT is hosting the first in-person event of the new phase of #GenderEqualCities in Vienna, Austria, where we will introduce the rebooted report, present new case studies, network with city stakeholders, and reflect on new opportunities to promote gender equal cities under URBACT IV.

    Commenting on the exciting new time for URBACT, Adele Bucella, URBACT Projects and Programming Head of Unit, said “It’s all about building on URBACT’s experience so far to help cities become better places to work and live. While URBACT’s ‘DNA’ will remain in the new programme – like the tried-and-tested ‘URBACT method’ – there are also some inspiring changes to look forward to, such as new capacity-building support in key, cross-cutting areas relevant to all cities in Europe – such as gender equality.” The new Gender Equal Cities report, will be part of those supports.


    Further information


    For more on gender at URBACT, read the reflection by Sally Kneeshaw, URBACT Programme Expert and Jaimie Just, Policy Advisor CEMR, on exploring the gendered impacts of Covid-19.

    Meet GenderedLandscape at their international conference exploring current research and practice on gender equality in European cities, 9-10 June 2022 in Umeå, Sweden.

    Share with us on Twitter – by tagging @URBACT – good practice examples you have seen of cities addressing gender equality in effective and innovative ways.

    Don’t forget to check out the URBACT Knowledge Hub's Gender Equal Cities initiative and keep the conversation going using the #GenderEqualCities hashtag!

    From urbact
    Ref nid