POINT (23.583333 46.766667)


    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


    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

    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
    Ref nid
  • Innovato-R


    Kick-off meeting phase 1 - Turin
    Kick-off meeting phase 2 - Paris / Transfer Period
    Transfer Period
    Final meeting

    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)



    The Innovato-R Transfer network builds upon the Innova.TO project, which is a competition open to Municipality employees aimed at developing innovative projects improving the Administration performances, reducing wastes and/or valuing resources. Proposals can be focused on service quality, goods/services acquisition, costs rationalization, energetic optimization, bureaucratic impact reduction and increase in data and in digital tools management.

    Everyone's an Innovator
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  • What will happen to our jobs when cities go climate neutral? 

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    Green jobs @IStock


    URBACT Expert Eddy Adams explores the green shift’s potential impacts on employment.


    Temperatures are hitting record highs across Europe. In Western France, meteorologists talk about a ‘heat apocalypse’ as more than 25 000 people flee their homes to escape forest fires. Spain, Portugal and Italy have all been on an emergency footing with fires and recorded deaths due to heatstroke. Northern Europe has also experienced temperatures normally associated with the Middle East, and a recent German Environment Ministry report estimated that the financial impact of drought, floods and extreme heat in the country had been EUR 145bn since 2000.


    The Climate Emergency is a real and present danger. To combat this, the EU has committed to be climate neutral by 2050 - a central objective of the European Green Deal. Cities are in the front line of this transition, being the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide (more than 60% according to UN Habitat), consuming 78% of the world’s energy and being home to 65% of the EU’s population. Recognising this, the URBACT IV programme has Green Cities as one of its strategic priorities. But what will the transition to climate neutrality mean for jobs and skills as our economy makes this huge green shift in less than a generation?



    What are green jobs?


    The twin megatrends of green and digital will affect every industry sector, and every occupational skill level. The EU forecasts that a handful of carbon-intensive industries will disappear altogether by 2050. These include coal and lignite mining, together with their support services, as well as oil and gas extraction. The decline of these sectors is expected to remove 338 000 jobs, heavily clustered in specific regions. Although this pathway is now slightly less clear, as Member States stall on decommissioning these sectors in response to the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine, the overarching European Green Deal policy goal of climate neutrality remains intact.


    Four other industry sectors - chemical manufacturing, non-metallic-mineral manufacturing, basic metal manufacture, and the automotive sector - are expected to be totally transformed, as their use of energy and materials is revolutionised. However, every industry sector is likely to be affected by the shift that’s already taking place. A very narrow definition of the ‘Green Economy’ suggests a relatively modest workforce of 4.5 million workers in the EU. But EU data shows that low carbon sectors - the fastest growing in the economy - already employ more than 70% of workers. As the concept of circularity is embedded across key, high-energy industry sectors like construction, which currently accounts for one third of all EU energy related emissions and over 35% of waste, this trend will continue, as will the demand for properly skilled workers at all skill levels.



    What does this mean for skills in the city?


    Vilawatt field visit to Viladecans (ES)
    Vilawatt field visit to Viladecans (ES).




    As Ed Glaeser, Harvard Economics professor and expert on cities, consistently points out, skills are a valuable commodity for every city. Successful cities are those that nurture, retain and attract talent. Organisations need skilled people, while workers need to refresh their skills continually to remain in demand in a competitive job market. Linked to this, the pace of change - driven by digital innovation and the need to reduce carbon emissions - is accelerating. At the same time, the OECD estimates that the declining demand for lower level skills will continue, driven by automation and other digital developments. All of this means that frequent upskilling will be required for workers to VILAWATT URBACT Network during a site visit to Viladecans. 
    stay in touch with labour market developments.


    That is potentially a growing problem for urban economies. For many, the profile is one of rising vacancies with residual pools of unemployment and economic inactivity. The recently refreshed EU Skills Agenda noted that 70 million EU adults lack basic numeracy, reading and digital skills. At the same time there is a wide - and potentially growing - skills gap as employers struggle to find staff with the right skillset.


    However, recent research shows that higher skilled people are those most likely to participate in further training. Only one in five low skilled workers participates in upskilling, often through lack of funds, knowledge or time. So a major shift is required if we are to avoid a widening skills gap, with the risk of increased social polarisation.



    Who’s most at risk of being left behind - and what are cities doing about it?


    Just transition, a concept initially developed by trade unions in North America, means achieving climate neutrality without leaving any person or place behind. It is a central part of the European Green Deal. A recent report by Urban Innovative Actions (UIA), Skills for a Green Future, focused on the employment and skills dimension to the Just Transition, setting out the challenges cities face as well as the innovative approaches being developed in response. This identifies five specific groups at risk of being left behind as the economy transitions to climate neutrality:


    • Vulnerable people already marginalised in the labour market
    • The low-skilled
    • Women, older people and youth
    • Micro-businesses and the self-employed
    • Workers in energy intensive and high-carbon emitting industries


    At the recent URBACT City Festival 2022, Maarten van Kooij, Strategic Adviser to the City of Rotterdam, showed that Rotterdam (NL) workers already in precarious jobs and sectors face increasing risk as the economy transitions. The pandemic had exposed their situation, evidenced by the fact that 15 000 of the city's 43 000 self-employed workers required temporary income support during the crisis. With limited resources and minimal access to careers guidance and training, they remain poorly informed and ill-equipped for the shift that’s already happening. Rotterdam is designing new approaches to address this, including its innovative Work Learning Agreements.


    Anamaria Vrabie, Director of the Urban Innovation Unit, echoed these points from the perspective of Cluj Napoca (RO). Although the city’s economy has been a big success story in the past decade, their work has identified significant risks due to high levels of automation, with implications for the lower-skilled in particular. Supported by its strong higher education offer, the growth of the creative and cultural industry sector has been part of the Cluj success story. However, the pandemic underlined the vulnerability of many workers in this sector, which is characterised by micro-businesses and the self-employed. The development of their so-called culturepreneur programme, designed to enhance the resilience of cultural and creative industries, has been a key innovation. Through its UIA project ‘Cluj Future of Work’, the city is also piloting innovative approaches to preparing one of Europe’s most vulnerable communities - the Roma - to improve their employability, through potential links to the circular economy.


    Sonia Dominguez, Head of EU funds at  Viladecans (ES) showed how supporting micro-businesses has also been a priority, after the city identified them as being at risk. Public procurement has been a key driver in changing mindsets here, as has the city’s establishment of spaces, both digital and physical, to promote cross-sectoral collaboration. This has been particularly effective at facilitating dialogue between businesses in ‘old’ and ‘new’ sectors.




    'Cities in the frontline of the climate emergency' panel during the URBACT City Festival, June 2022.
    'Cities in the frontline of the climate emergency' panel during the URBACT City Festival, June 2022.



    As the UIA report notes, the energy transition will also have implications for gender balance in the workforce, creating more jobs traditionally associated with men according to the International Labour Organisation. For example, in the renewable energy sector, where the number of jobs is forecast to jump from 10.3 million in 2017 to almost 29 million in 2050, only 32% of the current workforce are women. In response, Viladecans has targeted interventions towards women to raise their awareness of the employment shift that is taking place, and the opportunities and threats it brings. 


    The link between the gender equality mission and the transition to climate neutrality is clear. So too is the need to combine the climate and social justice agendas effectively if cities are to achieve just transition, as Mathew Bach of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability noted in the URBACT Festival session. This means informed investment and a drive to promote cross-departmental collaboration within administrations, as well as effective partnerships across the public, private and NGO sectors.



    Where do we go from here?


    The challenges ahead cannot be overstated. As the slogan says, “there is no planet B”, and cities must lead in implementing the transition to a climate neutral Europe. The front-runners are already showing the way, and initiatives like the EU’s Climate Neutral Cities Mission and Scalable Cities are setting the pace. But a mass movement is required to reach the goal of climate neutrality, with small and medium sized cities fully on board. Supporting all cities to make a successful transition requires everyone to raise their game.


    A just, green transition also requires smart cooperation across traditional silos, informed by smart strategic investment. The URBACT IV programme, with its pillars of green, digital and gender-equal cities, anticipates these needs in cities, and will provide space for collaboration, peer-learning and capacity building. URBACT will also offer a platform to transfer experience and techniques in effective urban interventions, both through its own good practices and its ongoing cooperation with UIA and the future European Urban Initiative.






    URBACT IV official logo
    The URBACT IV Programme (2021 -2027) will retain the principle that cities will be free to select their own network themes according to their needs and priorities. Nevertheless, it will also explicitly aim to build the awareness and capacity of all programme actors “to better include cross-cutting considerations such as digital, environment and gender equality” in their work and activities both at programme and network-level.
    From urbact



    Lead Partner : Turin - Italy
    • Budapest - Hungary
    • Gdańsk - Poland
    • Cluj-Napoca - Romania


    • Launch of pilot network (03/09)/21
    • Kick-off Meeting (05/10)
    • 1-TNM-Kick-off meeting - Virtual (08/01)
    • Boot Camp in Ljubljana (SI) (09/06)
    • Kick-off meeting (09/08)
    • Kick-off meeting (09/13)
    • Kick off meeting (09/14)
    • Gdańsk Meeting (09/16)
    • Kick off meeting (09/17)
    • Kick-off meeting (September), Transnational Meeting (November) (09/21)
    • SEPTEMBER / Kick-off meeting (hybrid event) (09/22)
    • Thematic Transfer meeting in Osijek (HR) (11/08)
    • NOVEMBER 2021 / Ocean Hachathon in Boulogne sur Mer (11/10)
    • Budapest Meeting (11/25)
    • Algeciras Transnational Meeting (12/15)
    • 2-TNM-Grosuplie (Slovenia) - Virtual (12/16)
    • JANUARY 2022 / TNM#2 / Location: Metaverse (01/26)/22
    • 3-TNM-Jelgava (Latvia) - Virtual (02/11)
    • Cluj-Napoca Meeting (02/21)
    • Thematic Transfer meeting in Bansko (BG) (03/21)
    • MARCH 2022 / TNM#3 / Boulogne sur mer, France (03/22)
    • Carlow Transnational Meeting (05/04)
    • World Play Day 2022 (05/28)
    • Thematic Transfer meeting in Bergamo (IT) (06/06)
    • JUNE 2022 / TNM#4 / Koper, Slovenia (06/22)
    • Alexandroupolis Transnational Meeting (06/30)
    • Torino Meeting (06/30)
    • 4-TNM-Igualada (Spain) - In presence (07/07)
    • Thematic Transfer meeting in Sosnowiec (PL) (09/26)
    • Split Transnational Meeting (09/28)
    • Transnational Meetings (April, June, September), Final Event (December) (10/14)
    • Final Conference in Ljubljana (SI) (10/24)
    • RU:RBAN 2nd Wave Final Event in Rome (11/09)

    CO4CITIES is the UIA - URBACT Transfer Mechanism pilot network that transfers the methodological structure of UIA CO-CITY: the Regulation on collaboration between citizens' organizations and the Municipality in the co-management of urban commons; the Pact of collaboration, a legal tool providing for a change of attitude in the public/communities relationship; the essential role of Community Hubs in the process of community empowerment and in the path of building a new collaborative approach between the citizens and the public administration.

    Collaborative Tools for Cities in Urban Regeneration
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  • UIA Transfer Mechanism: five pilot projects ready to take off!

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    Urban Innovative Actions and URBACT come together to put into practices the lessons learnt from the Transfer Networks. 


    Last week, on the 9 March, URBACT's Monitoring Committee have approved five pilot networks to transfer innovative solutions. In 2020, the UIA first call projects came to a close and a proposal was made to test a new URBACT tool which aimed to support the transfer of innovation. The UIA Transfer Mechanism experiment will support a group of EU cities to understand, adapt and prepare to re-use the UIA practice through the co-creation of an investment plan. The 18-month journey of these networks builds on the success of the URBACT Transfer Networks model.


    Following a competitive call, 7 pilot projects were submitted for approval. When considering all the 28 potential city partners, 6 candidates were URBACT newcomer cities from 5 different countries, while 16 cities were also newcomers to UIA. This shows what a unique opportunity this networks represented for cities discovering the universe of EU cooperation! As foreseen by the Terms of Reference, eligible proposals have been assessed by a two assesors from URBACT and UIA. Scroll down to find out more about the five newly approved networks.  

    The URBACT Programme acknowledges and thanks every city that has submitted proposals and used the URBACT Marketplace for this call. URBACT also warmly welcomes the new UIA Transfer Mechanism partners, who will take their first steps in the kick-off meeting on 23 March.








    Smart specialisation in advanced services towards the digital transformation of industry

    Bilbao (ES)

    Bielsko Biala (PL)

    Tartu (EE)

    Timisoara (RO)



    The collaborative management of urban commons to counteract poverty and socio-spatial polarisation

    Torino (IT)

    Budapest (HU)

    Gdansk (PL)

    Cluj-Napoca (RO)



    Unlocking social and economic innovation together

    Birmingham (UK)

    Rotterdam (NL)

    Trapani (IT)

    Poznan (PL)



    Innovative local public-private-citizen partnership for energy governance

    Viladecans (ES)

    Eriges Seraing (BE)

    Nagykanizsa (HU)

    Trikala (EL)



    New skills for new jobs in peri-urban agriculture

    Milan (IT)

    Almere (NL)

    Stara Zagora (BG)

    Vila Nova de Gaia (PT)

    *Bold letters used for UIA cities who will act as Lead Partner



    Interested in the findings of the URBACT Transfer Networks?
    Check all related activities here!





    From urbact
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  • Five ways to promote an integrated approach in your city

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    Lessons from the URBACT City Lab #3 focused on the principle of integration.

    Disadvantaged neighbourhoods

    Integration is a weasel word. Hard to pin down, it means different things to different people. The 3rd URBACT City Lab brought city practitioners and policy

    makers together in Warsaw to explore this tricky principle. What does it mean for cities and what do we mean by an integrated approach to sustainable urban development?

    The Lab findings will feed into the German EU presidency’s refresh of the Leipzig Charter in 2020.
    So, what did we learn?

    Here are five headlines.

    1. Re-state our values and find new ways to measure success

    The world now looks very different to 2007, when the Leipzig Charter appeared. Since then we’ve witnessed a global financial crisis, the digital revolution and increasing globalisation. We’ve also seen the rise of populism and the fragmentation of trust between the public and politicians. Many European cities struggle with widening inequalities.

    Going forward into the 2020s, do we expect our cities to adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach or, instead, are we at a fork in the road? New economic thinkers like Kate Raworth are creating an alternative economic framework that challenges the old assumptions. Her "Doughnut Economics" approach bounds our economic activity within the scope of the environment, raising questions that every city should consider.

    Kate sets out seven ways to think like a 21st century economist. The first is to change the goal. Across Europe cities including Stockholm (SE), Amsterdam (NL) and Berlin (DE) are exploring these new ideas, looking to reshape our idea of successful integrated cities.

    2. Become bilingual and free range

    Lab participants spoke about the factors driving mistrust between citizens and government. They include the use of official language which alienates people as well as the impersonalisation of services through the use of technology. The net effect is a barrier between the people and the services which their taxes fund.

    Cities are exploring ways to address these challenges. In a previous URBACT network, the Mayor of Amersfoort (NL) encouraged City Hall staff to get out from behind their desks in order to engage directly with citizens. He spoke about free range civil servants, who are comfortable out in the community. In fact they are part of the community; parents, neighbours and citizens like everyone else. But this requires a shift in mindset for some municipal officials, which requires support and encouragement.

    The city of Łodz (PL) has embraced this concept in its regeneration approach to a 6.5 hectare site characterised by residential buildings constructed in the late 19th century. As part of this sensitive work, the city recruited and trained a large team of local mediators, literally go-betweens linking the neighbourhood with the municipality. This element of their good practice is one of the components being transferred to cities in the Urban Regeneration Mix network, includes Zagreb (HR), Braga (PT) and Toulouse (FR). Too often, city authorities outsource this engagement activity to third parties, and in doing so, miss the opportunity to build capacity and experience in house.

    3. Harness the power of public spending

    Making Spend Matter is an URBACT Transfer network focused on mobilising the significant power of public spending to achieve local impact. The starting point is recognising the significant scale of public budgets, and their importance to local economies. The approach, which started in Preston (UK) has involved getting a better snapshot of what is spent, where and with whom.

    During this initial phase, the city saw the proportion of its public spend with Preston based suppliers increase from 5% to 18%, and the proportion spent with regional based suppliers increase from 39% to 79%. The model starts with a local spend analysis, and seven other cities are currently transferring the approach through this network. By definition, the approach requires public partners to collaborate, through the mobilisation of anchor institutions across all sectors. This is integration in action!

    4. Revisit approaches to tackling poverty

    Although welfare models are complex and varied across Europe, there’s a general consensus that they are failing. At the same time, we see that investment in physical revitalisation can often lead to gentrification and the displacement of the most vulnerable.

    Many city authorities are looking at new and innovative ways to address this. One example is Aarhus (DK) which is successfully personalising budgets designed to support people back to work. Another is Barcelona (ES), which has an Urban Innovative Actions project, B-MINCOM aimed at breaking cycles of deprivation in Besos, one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods. There, average household income is around 50% of the city rate.

    The approach provides a guaranteed minimum income level to 1,000 households on a trial basis. It combines the income guarantee with an active programme of employment support and enterprise development. As the pilot concludes in autumn 2019, it will have important lessons to share across Europe.

    5. Embrace the integrated approach!

    The Leipzig Charter was one of the earliest documents to promote an integrated approach to urban development. Almost 13 years later, many still struggle to understand what this means in practice. Many barriers stand in the way - including the departmental silos we find in City Hall.

    In response to this, URBACT has recently conducted detailed research exploring integrated working in practice. This identifies examples from cities working this way across Europe, and sets out practical tips to follow. Stories from Strasbourg (FR), Cluj-Napoca (RO) and Antwerp (BE) provide guidance and inspiration.

    A key message is that this isn’t as hard as it sounds, and city practitioners can break things into manageable chunks to help take them forward. The watchword is letting go of perfection. Perhaps that’s the first stage to adopting a more integrated approach.

    More learning from URBACT City Labs:

    More on Integrated approaches:


    The key principles of the original Leipzig Charter provided the focus for each URBACT City Lab.

    Explore the related outputs on Participation, Sustainability, Integration and Balanced Territorial Development.

    From urbact
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  • Making integrated urban development more manageable

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    How can cities improve their plans for integrated urban development?


    By recognising its complexity and breaking it down into its component concepts cities can better manage integrated urban development. One of the findings of the recent study of URBACT cities’ Integrated Action Plans (IAP Study) was that cities need to fully understand, but also break down, the complexity of ‘integrated urban development’ in order to better take on the challenge of systematically improving their approaches.

    Integrated Urban Development: a challenging concept

    Previous efforts by URBACT to communicate what 'integrated urban development' means have typically focused on the ideas of ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ integration. These are useful concepts for enabling a general understanding of the topic, but the IAP Study found that practical efforts to both improve and assess the integration of an urban action plan require more detailed definitions.

    ‘Horizontal integration’ potentially incorporates: diverse policy areas/sectors; different locations and spatial relationships; the diversity of local stakeholder groups; and the balancing of economic, social and environmental objectives. Thus, the apparently simple question “is this action plan horizontally integrated?” becomes extremely difficult and complex to answer in practice. The various dimensions mean that a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is not enough.

    Meanwhile, ‘vertical integration’ between levels of governance can refer variously to the engagement of decision-makers and stakeholders, the alignment of strategies and the mobilisation of funds from different levels. Once again, the question of whether an action plan is vertically integrated or not becomes complex and nuanced and does not lend itself to a simple answer.

    In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that the IAP Study found that cities were often struggling to process and communicate the complexity they were dealing with in trying to deliver integrated approaches to urban development.

    The Integrated Action Plan of Medina del Campo (ES) from the CityCentreDoctor network describes the revitalisation of the city centre “as an integrated process. Integrated because it includes social, economic, environmental, cultural and institutional areas.” This definition does not really do justice to the level of integration demonstrated. In fact, the IAP shows coordination between sectors, across locations and spatial relationships, between levels of governance and with stakeholder groups, as well as between economic, social and environmental aspects.

    The need for a clear and detailed definition

    For some IAPs then, the lack of a clear and detailed definition of ‘integration’ affected their ability to fully communicate the complexity of their plans. However, for many, the lack of such a definition also increased the risks that certain aspects of integration would be missed.

    In conducting its analysis, the IAP Study found that the picture was extremely varied across and within the IAPs. Sometimes aspects of integration were clearly addressed. Sometimes they were addressed, but not clearly or not fully. Sometimes they did not seem to be addressed at all. And when they were missing, it was not clear if this was an oversight or an intentional decision not to focus on an aspect not considered to be of importance.

    For example, we can consider the IAP of Södertälje (SE) from the AGRI-URBAN network. This is generally an excellent example of an integrated action plan, which is presented extremely clearly and demonstrates various aspects of integration as well as good practice in stakeholder engagement and transnational exchange. However, unlike some other IAPs, it does not mention cooperation with neighbouring municipalities in developing actions. It is not totally clear if this potential aspect of a fully integrated approach to food policy was not considered or not deemed relevant.

    Meanwhile, the IAP of Strasbourg (FR) from the BoostINNO network does not set out actions that are integrated across sectors or that address different locations or spatial relationships within the city. This might seem like a major omission. However, given that its whole approach is to foster social innovation across all aspects of work and across the whole of the city, it is perhaps both understandable and legitimate that its actions are focused on governance aspects that lack sectorial and spatial dimensions.

    What these two examples show is that it is not enough to simply observe the presence or omission of one of the aspects of integration in order to assess the quality of the integration. It is important to also have an understanding of whether this aspect of integration is relevant and/or a priority in the specific case being addressed. Integrated action plans should ideally explain their choices clearly.

    Six aspects of integrated urban development

    The IAP Study strongly advocates that cities carry out a more systematic approach to developing their approaches to integrated urban development. This will not only enable cities to build a fuller picture of the complexity of integrated urban development, but also to do so in a way that is manageable in practice – by dealing with each of its component parts in turn.

    The IAP Study identified six aspects of ‘integrated urban development’ that all towns and cities should consider when working to improve the integration of their approaches in practice. These six aspects were mainly identified by separating out the various dimensions of horizontal and vertical integration demonstrated by cities. They also include the overarching elements of: the need for sustainable approaches and the involvement of stakeholders in implementation (in addition to consultation in the planning).

    Six aspects of integrated urban development

    1. Sustainable urban development - actions address all three pillars of sustainable development in terms of economic, social and environmental objectives
    2. Sectorial integration – addressing the full range of policies/sectors of activity, including infrastructure, transport, employment, education, green spaces, housing, culture…
    3. Local spatial integration – coherence of actions in different locations within the city and considering overall spatial coherence within and across locations and neighbourhoods
    4. Territorial integration – coherence and complementarity of actions and policies implemented by neighbouring municipalities
    5. Multi-level governance – actions are planned coherently at different levels of governance, covering local (district, city), regional and national levels
    6. Stakeholder involvement in implementation - the full range of relevant stakeholders are engaged in the implementation of planned actions

    Systematically addressing this list can help ensure that cities do not forget to give environment and social objectives equal billing in their plans and to demonstrate this clearly. It can encourage them to think about spatial dimensions within their city and integration beyond the scope of their municipality – whether with neighbouring municipalities or different levels of governance. The list can also ensure that cities do not forget to include stakeholders in the implementation of their plans – beyond a simply consultative role.

    Practical differences in applying integrated approaches

    Working systematically through the aspects of integrated urban development does not mean that each city has to plan actions on each or become somehow formulaic in its response. The systematic approach means only that cities need to consider improving their integration in each aspect and make a conscious decision on how to address it. This is why a quality planning process is such a crucial pre-requisite to effective integrated urban development and also why no two integrated action plans will ever be the same.

    For example, in the IAP of Szombathely (HU) from the MAPS network, the actions show a good level of integration of sectorial and spatial dimensions focused within the city limits, principally on the site of the former military barracks that is targeted. The plan balances economic, social and environmental aspects and engages stakeholders well. However, the study found no evidence of coordination with neighbouring municipalities and little evidence of multi-level governance. This might be justifiable, but the plan might be stronger if it explicitly addressed such potential.

    A very different example is provided by the IAP of Cluj (RO) from the REFILL network. The focus of the network on vacant spaces leads the city to prioritise governance aspects that will facilitate temporary use. This focus on governance rather than physical interventions leads to very different strategic choices in developing its integrated action plan. For example, there is no particular sectorial dimension to the actions planned – rather, such aspects will need to be considered in the actual implementation of temporary use that the action plan seeks to facilitate.

    A final example here is the IAP of Antwerp (BE) from the sub>urban network. The plan presents actions across multiple relevant sectors, with a strong spatial dimension and specific actions to collaborate with neighbouring municipalities. This fits quite logically with the focus of the network on the urban fringe. However, the IAP is less clear about its specific approach to multi-level governance and what potential this might have to improve the approaches developed.

    What seems clear from the IAP Study is that there are no objectively right or wrong answers when it comes to developing more integrated approaches. The topic addressed has a major impact on the aspects of integration that cities need to prioritise, with the strongest difference being between topics that are focused on a specific physical space (e.g. revitalisation of a city centre or former military site) and topics that address a way of working (e.g. supporting social innovation or promoting temporary use). However, a more systematic approach to addressing each aspect of integration can ensure that no dimensions are missed and that cities are able to show and justify their strategic choices.

    Focusing on the journey towards more integrated approaches

    A concluding message for cities and those that work with them is that this approach to integrated urban development is relevant and can be applied to all cities, no matter their starting point and previous experience with integrated approaches.

    When addressing any topic or challenge, every city can reflect on the six aspects of integrated urban development and ask itself where it can improve the integration of its approach and add value. For cities that are new to integrated approaches or new to a topic, this might mean choosing some limited priority areas of action rather than attempting to do everything at once.

    The IAP of Klaipeda (LT) from the Gen-Y City network shows an approach where such clear strategic choices were made. It states that “ULG Group members decided to narrow the initial version of the Integrated Action Plan and to focus on the main objective and related measures for attracting and retaining talents in Klaipeda”. The strong focus of its actions on supporting freelancers aims to fill a particular gap identified in the existing service provision. The ongoing challenge for the city will be to add additional dimensions to make the approach ever more integrated over time.

    More experienced cities can still look at their existing approaches and identify areas where the integration can be improved. Maybe they have missed one dimension in their plans so far. Maybe some aspects could be dealt with in more depth, integrating yet more stakeholders or additional sectors or improving the multi-level governance. Most action plans could improve the rigour with which they show the balance between economic, social and environmental objectives.

    There is no such thing as a perfectly integrated action plan. The important thing, wherever a city is on its own pathway, is to be constantly seeking improvement and reflecting with stakeholders on where it can still further improve the integration of its approaches, using the six aspects of integrated urban development as a guide.


    For more information on cities’ differing approaches to integrated urban development in practice, see the 7 illustrative case studies of URBACT cities’ Integrated Action Plans, along with the full IAP Study report, findings and recommendations.

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

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


    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.


    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!

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  • What now for the EU’s urban policy agenda?

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    Camelia Coporan tells us about Romania's EU presidency, the benefits of transnational city networks and territorial cooperation.

    Carbon neutrality

    As Finland step-up to lead the EU Council, Jamie Mackay spoke with Camelia Coporan, Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration in Romania, about her country’s outgoing presidency, the benefits of transnational networks for cities, and vital role of territorial cooperation in tackling the climate emergency.

    JM - Looking back on the last six months of Romania’s EU presidency, what do you see as its biggest achievements for cities?

    CC - Our biggest success was to secure the continuation of interregional programmes in the 2021-2027 period. This is a big chance for European cities to continue networking, increase cooperation and exchange experiences with the aim of improving urban development policies, using the method and governance process of the URBACT programme.

    JM - What are the biggest challenges facing Romanian cities today? How do they reflect and differ from other European contexts?


    CC - After a difficult economic transition period, small and medium cities in Romania are struggling to find an identity and keep pace with modern development. Differences, especially compared to western European cities, are not only economic but also reflected in the way that urban policies struggle to put people first. Romanian cities need ideas from across Europe or a validation of their ideas by other cities facing similar challenges. Mutual learning by common experiences and experimenting with new informal procedures and solutions using imaginative approaches is absolutely vital.

    JM - The URBACT Monitoring committee met in Alba Iulia (RO) this year. How did you decide on it as a venue?

    CC - Alba Iulia is not only a Romanian but one of Eastern Europe's most impressive success stories. URBACT and EU funds have contributed to the restoration of the Alba Carolina citadel and the transformation of the historic part of the city. This has made the city one of Romania’s most important tourist destinations, with more than 500,000 visitors a year. In the process it has created an economic environment in which local entrepreneurs can develop businesses and generate employment. Alba Iulia is also the first Romanian lead partner of the URBACT Programme, so we wanted to highlight these achievements.

    JM - What other urban solutions have been pioneered in Romania over the past few years?

    CC - There are many examples of quality projects in which Romanian cities are involved. Slatina has been developing a long-term strategy to clear up the city’s roads and encourage public transport use. Thanks to participation in URBACT CityMobilNet network, they formed a local group to finalise their Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan and received EU funding to build a fleet of hybrid buses.

    Another example is Baia Mare, a municipality that is restructuring its economy away from industry towards services and manufacturing. As part of the URBACT BoostInno network, the city experimented with new tools to help stimulate civic engagement, starting with a participatory budget.


    I’d also like also to mention Cluj-Napoca as the first Eastern European city to benefit from European funding through the Urban Innovative Actions program. The EUR 5.6 million project aims to analyse and test scenarios that allow the cultural, academic, business and administrative sector as well as the community more generally to prepare for the inevitable changes to the labour market which will be seen over the next 20 years.

    JM - The Finnish presidency have just published their programme. One of their priorities - along with security, promoting social inclusion and strengthening common values - is to further position the EU as a global leader in climate action. What role can cities play in that process?

    CC - 55 % of all humans live in urban areas, where they account for about 70 % of all annual carbon emissions. Cities are therefore a key contributor to climate change. At the same time, cities have the power to change the world. It’s important that decision makers at all levels acknowledge that we are facing a real environmental emergency. Our Presidency’s motto was Cohesion, a common European value. We chose this to demonstrate our belief that cohesion is as important an element as competitiveness for the European paradigm. The European territorial cooperation policy that we advocate can likewise build this trust between cities. This will be essential for taking climate action among other things. 




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  • URBACT City Festival 2018 Breakout session: Exploring the role of culture & creativity

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    Fabio Sgaragli, URBACT Lead Expert at Fondazione G. Brodolini says communities can and should play a key role in cities’ creativity and takes a look at pioneering cities like Glasgow, Bilbao and Turin.

    Culture & Heritage

    Cities can stimulate economic growth and improve the quality of life for their citizens by implementing public policies aimed at creating local ecosystems that sustain creativity and innovation. In this respect, policymakers have invested relevant resources in the so-called creative (or culture) – led policies – i.e. public policies aimed at sustaining the creation of territorialized production complexes based on creative activities. This is the case of many European cities like, for instance, Glasgow (UK), Manchester (UK), Bilbao (ES), or Turin (IT), which have implemented effective creative-led policies that contributed to renewing their image and attractiveness limiting the negative consequences of a decline in the city’s industrial activities.

    Creative-led policies could be clustered along a continuum where, on the one side, we have a ‘top-down’ approach (which comprehends projects “developed as part of a conscious top-down planning strategy”) and, on the other hand a ‘bottom-up’ plan, which comprehends projects developed by spontaneous, creative communities. According to existant practice, this latter approach seems to be more effective, since it favours the development of a ‘collaborative atmosphere’, encouraging the spontaneous development of artistic and entrepreneurial activities. Very often, “bottom up” approaches are grounded in “third spaces”, i.e. new type of urban spaces that sometimes are the result of urban regenerations and that have the potential to be transformed into hubs of entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and new lifestyles, as well as social and cultural integration. These reap the benefits offered by, for instance, emerging creative sectors, digital technologies, the sharing and 'maker' economy, artists and cultural practitioners, and social innovation.

    This breakout session has explored this topics from an open innovation angle, reflecting on the role that creatives, artists and cultural institutions and organisations can play in improving cities, and how local administrations can best engage with these creative communities and support their work. The session has presented concrete case histories and methodologies on how local administrations can perform this role.

    Creative cities

    Milan (IT) is a very good example on how a city can facilitate the emergence of creative communities of actors through social innovation processes, designing urban regeneration strategies that take into account the role of locally-based, spontaneous coalitions of “unusual” actors. The city can already count on many existing cultural mainstream assets (like for instance Fashion Week or Design Week), but has managed in the last few years to engage a variety of new, actors, encouraging bottom up innovations through a mix of policy tools: financial support, regeneration of unused public buildings, stakeholders’ consultations, contamination labs, etc. The city’s administration has been particularly good at attracting private investments in the regeneration of unused public buildings, converting them into hubs for collaboration and innovation, in many different areas of work (from social entrepreneurship to urban food, passing through culture and creativity). This approach has proven successful, as those new types of hubs aggregate creative communities and accelerate their work. Two good examples for social innovation hubs include MareMilano  and Fabriq.

    Lisbon (PT) is enacting the concept of creative bureaucracy by supporting the creation of new enterprises in the cultural and creative industries through a mix of intermediary and support actions. As a support set of actions, the city administration has managed over the years to build an entire supply chain, creating its own incubators and accelerators, labs with a variety of machineries all available for use by young creatives (artists, craftsmen). As a set of support actions, the city enacts the role of intermediary by assisting young creatives in going to market through both online and offline marketplaces and by facilitating the matches between young talents from Lisbon with international opportunities in other innovative contexts.

    Cluj – Napoca (RO) has invested heavily in the development of cultural and creative industries. Indeed, the municipal budget for cultural, youth & social projects rose tenfold over the past years. Funding from the municipality has been oriented to subsidise the independent cultural & youth sector (local NGOs) and sometimes to finance specific projects of major cultural institutions in the city. Besides the direct investment allocated to the cultural operators and institutions, in the past 5 years the City Hall invested almost EUR 40 million into developing the cultural and touristic capacity of Cluj-Napoca. Other creative industries (besides IT), like film, design, media and music have had a few rising star projects in recent years. These are potential key advantages and assets for the city that need solid and long-term support to flourish. Beside this, the City also provides a good example of how to leverage culture and creativity for social inclusion and citizens’ empowerment and wellbeing, through the involvement of stakeholders in neighbourhood- based experiments, where arts and creativity are used as tools to involve citizens of all ages in the improvement of public spaces.

    Below are some conclusions from the breakout session.

    Culture should be understood in its diversity
    There are many forms and layers of “culture” in a city: from the values belonging to the mainstream community of citizens, to the new emerging clusters of creative initiatives driven by informal groups working at the periphery of mainstream culture (from the variety of artistic expressions taking life in different places around a city to the work performed by new type of intermediaries bridging the gap between art and craftsmanship). Cities cannot apply a “one size fits all” approach, but need to take into account this diversity in the design of their policies. In this sense, URBACT Local Support groups can help bring together different stakeholders representing the diversity of cultures in the city to co-design urban policies that favour differentiation and integration, rather than homologation and monopolies.

    Culture boosts innovation
    Culture represents an intangible asset for the city, and can be leveraged to create drivers for innovation and new entrepreneurship. For instance, cities can use their cultural assets (such as historical centres) to foster the connection between culture, creativity and tourism, therefore creating a positive cycle of economic development by attracting external resources.

    Culture engages citizens
    Lastly, culture and arts are very good tools to engage citizens and should therefore be made more accessible. It’s very important to create new types of spaces for collaboration, such as social innovation centres focussed on cultural and creative industries, that can be placed in former abandoned landmark buildings in historical centres. Those new type of spaces, usually governed by public-private partnerships, can be seen as platforms for the match between demand and supply of innovations in the cultural and creative sectors. By creating opportunities for bringing together talent, technologies and creatives, hubs can spark and support the emergence of new projects and ventures, and attract investment to sustain them, resulting in job creation, economic growth, urban regeneration, and new forms of cultural heritage preservation as well as improve citizens’ wellbeing, which means local sustainable urban development.

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