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  • AGRI-URBAN

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

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in June (Mollet des Valles). Transnational meetings in October (LAG Payd de Condruses) and December (Pyli).
    Transnational meetings in April (Sodertalye), June (Fundao), July (Jelgava) and September (Abergavenny).
    Transnational meetings in March (Mouans Sartoux) and April (Petrinja). Final event in April (Baena).

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

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

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

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

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

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

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

    CONTACT US

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

    CONTACT US

    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

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

    CONTACT US

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

    CONTACT US

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

    CONTACT US

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

    CONTACT US

    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

    CONTACT US

    Westmisnter City Council
    Phone +44 020 7641 6500

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

    City of Baena
    Plaza de la Constitución 1
    14850 Baena (Córdoba) 
    SPAIN

    CONTACT US

    Rethinking Agri-food production in small and medium-sized European cities is the aim of this Action Planning network. Agri-food production is a mature industry that continues to play an important role in terms of GDP, employment and environmental sustainability. That is why new growth potentials must be activated by means of innovation, new business models and strategies. Our vision is to place cities at the core of a growing global movement that recognizes the current complexity of food systems and the links between rural cities and nearby cities as a way to ensure regional development.

    The roots of the city
    Ref nid
    7338
  • SIBdev

    Lead Partner : Heerlen - Netherlands
    • Aarhus - Denmark
    • Baia Mare - Romania
    • Fundão - Portugal
    • Kecskemét - Hungary
    • Pordenone - Italy
    • Võru County - Estonia
    • Zaragoza - Spain

    Timeline

    • Phase I Kick-off event in Heerlen
    • Lead Partner & Lead Expert City Visits
    • Phase I Final Event in Fundao
    • Phase II Activation Meeting Online
    • Masterclasses 1-6 - Online & Physical
    • Transnational Meetings Sept 2021 - April 2022 in Voru, Pordenone, Zaragoza, Aarhus, Kecskemét, Baia Mare
    • Phase II Final Meeting in Heerlen

    Integrated Action Plan

    Võru County Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Võru County - Estonia
    Integrated Action Plan Baia Mare

    Read more here

    Baia Mare - Romania
    Kecskemét Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here

    Kecskemét - Hungary
    Pordenone Integrated Action Plan

    Rea more here

    Pordenone - Italy
    Fundão LAND OF HOSPITALITY ROOTS & WINGS
    Fundão - Portugal
    Aarhus Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Aarhus - Denmark
    Zaragoza Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Zaragoza - Spain
    Heerlen Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Heerlen - Netherlands

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

    Boosting social impact - Investing in society with Social Impact Bond development
    Ref nid
    13496
  • Small cities surviving Covid-19: “Without frequent sharing we would have felt more alone”

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    15/11/2022

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

     

    Articles
    City planning

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

     

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

     

    Covid-19 challenges for small cities

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    1. Stakeholder and community engagement

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Halmstad - KMB - 16000700003014

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

     

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

     

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

     

    2. Cooperation across sectors and levels of government

     

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

     

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

     

    Spain.Catalonia.Viladecans.Ramblas

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

     

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

     

    3. Learning from other cities – URBACT transnational exchanges

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Amarante, Portugal (6776300885)

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

     

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

     

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

     

    4. The power of integrated sustainable planning

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Gabrovo - View from the hill

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

    Future hopes 

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Further reading

     

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

     

    From urbact
    On
    Ref nid
    14879
  • 23 Action Planning Networks ready for Phase 2!

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    15/11/2022

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

    News

     

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

    NETWORK

    PARTNERS

    DESCRIPTION

    Research, technological development and innovation

    UrbSecurity

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

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

    Find your Greatness

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

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

    Access to and use of ICT

    DigiPlace
    (previously DI4C)

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

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

    IoTxChange

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

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

    Competitiveness of SMEs

    iPlace

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

    - Saldus (LV)

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

    Tourism Friendly Cities

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

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

    Low carbon economy in all sectors

    Urb-En Pact

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

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

    Zero Carbon Cities
    (previously ZCC)

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

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

    Environmental protection and resource efficiency

    RiConnect

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

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

    URGE

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

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

    Healthy Cities

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

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

    KAIRÓS

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

     

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

     

    Resourceful Cities
    (previously UrbReC)

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

     

    This network seeks to develop the next generation of urban resource centers to promote the positive economic, environmental and social impacts for the circular economy. They facilitate waste prevention, reuse, repair and recycling. The centers also work as connection points for citizens, new businesses, researchers and the public sector to co-create new ways to close resource loops at the local level.

    FOOD CORRIDORS
    (previously Rurban Food)

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

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

    Health&Greenspace

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

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

    Sustainable transport

    Space4People

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

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

    Thriving Streets

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

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

    Employment protection and resource efficiency

    SIBdev

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

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

    Social inclusion and poverty

    ROOF

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

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

    ActiveCitizens

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

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

    Access

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

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

    Genderedlandscape

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

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

    Education, skills and lifelong learning

    Cities4CSR

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

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

     

    -

     

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

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  • Social Impact Bonds: the secret tool for effective public services?

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    15/11/2022

    In times of financial constraints, total government expenditures on public services are decreasing, while citizens expect more and more effective services. Social Impact Bonds may be the tool for providing funds and overcoming short-term focus, fragmentation of services and lack of innovation.

    Articles
    Ageing

    Total government expenditure in the EU-28 decreased from 50% of GDP to 45.8% between 2009 and 2017. Similarly, local government spending fell from 12% of GDP to 11% between 2009 and 2015. Still, demands on services have remained intense, and spending on social protection as a proportion of total expenditure increased from 38.8% to 41.2% and spending on health increased from 14.7% to 15.3% in the same period. Cities provide many of those services, -and doing so while running on tight budgets causes significant strain.

    Besides shrinking budgets, providing effective services fail because they are often split between different departments, and a holistic approach is lacking. Cities are pressured to allocate resources to solving crisis-point situations instead of spending on prevention. In such a context, decision-makers opt for the business-as-usual approach without risking relatively unknown interventions that have a severe upfront cost.

    In the meantime, the idea of ‘socially responsible’ or ‘impact investment’ is emerging amidst a low interest rate environment. The trend of investing in the social environment has become a way for investors to give back to the community. Very often, companies are trying to expand their social responsibility. As a result, a growing number of investors are looking for forms of impact investments as a way to stand up for their beliefs and also make a profit.

    The relatively new tool for bringing together the investor and the public sector is the Social Impact Bond (SIB). It is a contract whereby the public authority or governing authority pays for better social outcomes in certain areas and passes the savings achieved to investors. Unlike a bond, the repayment and the return on investment are contingent upon the achievement of desired social outcomes. If a project meets the pre-agreed results, i.e. an improved social outcome that generates a cost-saving, the government (this can be local or national) pays the investors. If a project does not achieve its contracted results, the investors lose their money, and the government pays nothing.

    1. Figure: Social Impact Bonds’ theory of change. Source: University of Oxford, Government Outcomes Lab - An Intro to SIB.

    A Social Impact Bond may have many beneficial effects for cities, as Government Outcomes Lab states in its Evidence Report titled ‘Building the tools for public services to secure better outcomes’. It encourages collaboration by building on cross-sector expertise and bringing together multiple commissioners and multiple providers. It unlocks future savings by investing more up-front, enabling cities to focus on prevention and early intervention services that might otherwise not get funded. A SIB may inspire innovation by allowing new interventions and more flexibility. It also levels the field for involving voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations. Last but not least, a SIB can improve performance management and provides a better quality of evidence.

    Many critics are contesting these benefits, saying that a SIB does not encourage genuine innovation. Investors will be looking for low-risk models that have been proven to deliver, as they want their money back. Moreover, a SIB is expensive to develop and leads to the financialization of the public sector, which is – for many - incompatible with the public service ethos.

    With evidence on both sides, Social Impact Bonds need more experimentation and evaluation. And despite these circumstances of austerity, some cities try to use the momentum to shift their approach towards this new tool. That is why 10 cities joined their forces in URBACT SIBdev Network to jointly explore how Social Impact Bonds, can improve public service delivery. The tool and the URBACT methodology, namely coproduction through multi-stakeholder local support groups and the development of local action plans fit perfectly.

    The network will examine service delivery concerning employment, ageing and immigration. Employment is an obvious choice since SIB is particularly well-suited to it, as demonstrated by the fact that it is the most common type of SIB worldwide. Ageing is the most massive pressure on social spending in Europe and affects a growing number of people, while immigration is the primary concern at the EU level (according to Eurobarometer).

    Is SIB going to be the new secret tool for providing adequate public services? Maybe it will be, maybe not. But it certainly is a promising new form of commissioning social services. If you are interested in Finance and/or Social Services, follow URBACT SIBdev Network to learn about how SIB might work for you!

    1. Photo: Harrie Lambrichts

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  • “A big city is one that makes us feel big” – how digitalisation can change our perception of smaller cities

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    15/11/2022

    The ‘IoTXchange’ URBACT ‘project that just kicked off this October in the Portuguese small city of Fundão - better known until now by its cherry trees - grouping other small cities across the theme of ‘Internet of Things for Urban Development’, has got us all thinking about what it really takes to be a ‘big’ city.

    Articles
    Digital transitions

    What is your vision of a futuristic city? If we ask someone this question it is highly likely that they will come back to us with a ‘Blade Runner-like’ vision of a night scene of a megapolis being crossed by technology-driven flying cars and where everything is robotized. And they may be right – except maybe for the megapolis part. That the future means technology, we’re all convinced by now. But does it need to be big? Isn’t technology becoming smaller and smaller? Yes, there will surely be big cities in the future, but in the end everything comes down to how you define ‘big’. G.K. Chesterton, the Victorian writer, said it about men, but it reads irresistibly about cities too: ‘there are big cities that make us feel small, but the real big cities are the ones that make us feel big’.

    Internet of Things (IoT in short) is just the technology that can help a city become big, in this sense of helping its citizens, its companies and institutions, to feel big. It is a giant opportunity for small cities to play in a ‘bigger league’ just as Fundão has been doing in Portugal, competing (and winning) with much larger cities for the attraction of world-scale technology corporations (just as Altran and Altice) and qualified skills into its territory. In this new URBACT APN (Action Planning Network) Fundão will be teaming up with other six small cities (Ånge in Sweden, Dodoni in Greece, Jelgava in Latvia, Kežmarok in Slovakia, Nevers in France and Razlog in Bulgaria), one university (Åbo Akademy in Vaasa, Finland) and one regional development agency from Saxony-Anhalt, in order to share knowledge and experiences that help each city developing a new action plan for the development of IoT in its urban space.

    In the kickoff at Fundão, that spread trough 3 days between the 14 and 16 October, city representatives started to map their interests, areas for learning and good practices to share across two main dimensions that can influence urban competitiveness and growth: the development of a competitive IoT ecosystem that allows the capture, transmission, storage, analysis and use of urban generated data; and the development of concrete applications on the basis of such data, that can improve urban life. A competitive IoT urban ecosystem must encompass a sound technology infrastructure (sensors, actuators, 5G networks, data lakes,…), but also suitable working spaces (such as incubators for new companies, fablabs for testing), promotion activities (events, hackathons), development of skills and a funding system for investment in the best ideas. Applications can cover public/city services (e.g. waste or water management), health & quality of life (e.g. air quality monitoring), tourism (visitors’ info), education, energy or mobility (e.g. traffic management). Each of the cities in the project has something in one of this area that can inspire others – a lot to learn too! For instance, Fundão is pioneer in Europe in developing IT skills of primary school students, while Dodoni has advanced applications for the monitoring of touristic archeologic sites and Åbo Akademy has developed a state of the art IoT technological platform for the city of Vaasa. 

    The URBACT project will allow to combine these knowledge and experiences from the different cities, while maximizing the synergies that clearly exists among them, for instance in specific economic sectors. All of the partner cities share similar economic development paths, with strong agricultural roots, which make aggrotech a relevant sector for the project, building in experiences as those of Jelgava where smart farm monitoring via IoT is already a common practice. Building on the now established URBACT model, each city will share its learnings in the project with the local stakeholders and implement a participative co-production process that will lead the city into a new path of development and growth. The meeting in Fundão was such a great to opportunity to witness the start of this journey.

    It is very likely that, unless you live in the same country, you have never heard of Fundão, Razlog or Ånge, just to name a few of the IoTXchange partners. But if you’re into IoT, or if you are simply looking for the best examples of quality of life that technology can enhance, you most probably will hear about them sooner or later. Don’t leave it for too late – google ‘IoTXchange’ and discover what these cities are, and especially will be doing, for improving urban life with the use of Internet of Things!

     

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  • IoTXchange

    Summary

    Lead Partner : Fundão - Portugal
    • Ånge - Sweden
    • Dodoni - Greece
    • Jelgava - Latvia
    • Kežmarok - Slovakia
    • Nevers Agglomération - France
    • Razlog - Bulgaria
    • SALEG - Saxony-Anhalt
    • ÅBO AKADEMI UNIVERSITY - Finland

    Timeline

    • 25 June, 2019 - IoTXchange Phase 1 APPROVED!
    • 14–16 October, 2019 - Kick-Off Meeting, Fundão

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • 27-28 January, 2020 – Phase 1 Final Meeting, Vaasa and Nykarleby
    • 7 May, 2020 - IoTXchange Phase 2 APPROVED!
    • 17 June, 2020 - Activation Meeting Phase 2 @ONLINE
    • 12 October, 2020 - Transnational Meeting Nr. 1 Nevers @ONLINE
    • 3-4 December, 2020 - Project Meeting, Åbo Akademy/Nykarleby @ONLINE
    • 22-23 April, 2021 - Transnational Meeting Nr. 2 Ånge @ONLINE
    • 8 June, 2021 - Touch Base Project Meeting @ONLINE
    • 15-16 September, 2021 - Transnational Meeting Nr. 3 Jelgava Local Municipality @ONLINE
    • 2-3 December, 2021 - Transnational Meeting Nr. 4 Kezmarok @ONLINE

     

    • 17-19 February, 2021 - Transnational Meeting Nr. 5 Dodoni @ONLINE
    • 27-29 April, 2022 - Transnational Meeting Nr. 6 Razlog
    • 26-28 June, 2022 - Final Meeting, Fundão

     

     

    Final products

    • See all the testimonials from URBACT Local Groups members here.
    • Check out the IoTxChange platform here.
    IoTXchange presents its Network Result Product, an explanatory video that demonstrates the crucial role that Information Technologies and in particular Internet of Things (IoT) play in urban sustainable development of small and medium-sized cities, namely by increasing the local economy competitiveness, promoting citizens' life quality and delivering connected services to citizens and visitors.

    Integrated Action Plans

    IoTxChange Action Plan - Make Fundao an IoT city
    Make Fundão an IoT city

    The municipality of Fundão is situated in the Centro Region of Portugal, belonging to the Beiras and Serra da Estrela sub-region and to Castelo Branco district, and occupies an area of approximately 700 Km², in which 23 parishes are distributed. Read more here!

    Fundão - Portugal
    Smart municipality development plan for Jelgava

    Jelgava Local Municipality sees value in nurturing technology research, testing and implementation in order to increase life quality for citizens and optimise public service operations. Read more here!

    Jelgava -Latvia
    City of Kezmarok Integrated Action Plan

    The town is located in the Podtatranská kotlina, in the northern part of the Popradská kotlina, in the valley of the river Poprad. To the west lie the High Tatras and the Kežmarok Uplands, to the east of Kežmarok the Levočské hills rise. Read more here!

    Kezmarok - Estonia
    Integrated Action Plan for the Municipality of Razlog

    Razlog Municipality is located in southwestern Bulgaria. Its territory is defined by borders with Belitsa municipality, Rila municipality, municipality Blagoevgrad, Simitli municipality, Kresna municipality and Bansko municipality. Read more here!

    Razlog - Bulgaria
    Integrated Action Plan from Nevers Agglomeration

    A historically industrial territory, during the second part of the 20th century, Nevers Agglomeration’s economy revolved around big industrial companies (such as Philipps for example), who were then important employers. Read more here!

    Nevers Agglomeration - France
    Improving life through connectivity in Ange

    Ånge municipality is a rural area in center of Sweden. Ånge is a small municipality with about 9200 residents, despite being small, Ånge is futures oriented and holds many thriving communities. Read more here!

    Ange - Sweden
    Building the future in Dodoni

    Dodoni municipality is a Rural Area in the NorthWest of Epirus and in the western mainland of Greece. The municipality consists of 56 local communities covers a vast area of 658.880 acres, and with a population of 9.693 inhabitants thus it is sparsely populated. Read more here!

    Dodoni - Greece
    Integrated Action Plan for the city of Nykarleby

    The city of Nykarleby needs to cope with the changes that are taking place in Finnish society. Especially for cities and municipalities in rural areas the age structure is challenging as younger people move to larger cities while the state subsidies for the municipal sector have decreased. Read more here!

    Nykarleby - Finland

    Internet of Things as a policy instrument for the city change. It encourages the creation of a network of European partners committed to the design of digitalization plans based on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to increase the quality of life in small and medium sized EU cities. URBACT methodology based on transnational cooperation between cities and engagement of local groups offer to our network of 9 cities the conditions to each develop an Integrated Action Plan that will guide us through a new age of digital transformation.

    Connecting cities for better life
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  • High tech Aveiro’s new Citizen Card makes life easier

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    15/11/2022

    When a high tech town simplifies citizens’ access to public services thanks to the Card4All network.

    Articles
    Digital transitions

    While launching a wealth of new tech initiatives including an interactive urban digital platform and 5G network, after a long history of digital innovation, the Portuguese town of Aveiro realised it was time to pause and simplify citizens’ access to public services. Inspired by Gijón (ES) and other cites in the URBACT Card4All network, municipal departments are working together to create a one-stop-shop citizen card for Aveiro.

    The small port-city of Aveiro in northwest Portugal has long been known not just for its picturesque street canals and colourful Moliceiros boats – but also for pioneering telecommunication research and digital transition.

    Since being named Portugal’s first “Digital City” back in 2003, the municipality has continued to develop as a digital territory for innovation, culminating in the current Aveiro Tech City. This includes a 5G testbed, supported by the Urban Innovative Actions STEAM city initiative (2019-21), in partnership with Altice Labs and other stakeholders to help the city “transition into a knowledge-based economy”.

    But one downside of adopting new digital solutions over the years is that Aveiro’s citizens – and the city administration – are having to juggle more and more cards, interfaces and information sources for services around the city, whether it’s to borrow a library book, catch a bus or manage school services.

    The new technological revolution with the wide adoption of a 5G infrastructure and IoT platform will transform the local innovation ecosystem,” says Miguel Sousa, Lead Expert for the URBACT Card4All network. Seeing this as an opportunity to simplify access to services and improve local governance, in 2018 Aveiro joined Card4All, an URBACT transfer network that helps small and medium sized cities learn from Gijón’s (ES) successful Citizen Card.

    In Gijón, citizens, businesses and tourists have been using a personalised card since 2002 to access multiple municipal services, reducing bureaucracy and saving time, while also promoting policies of social inclusion, sustainability, smart growth and sustainable mobility. The card acts as an electric wallet to pay for parking tickets, bus fares and access to sports facilities. Cardholders can also enter a personal code to access official documents and the status of applications. And Gijón’s municipal employees can even use their card to open certain council vehicles.

    Aveiro decided to start designing their Citizen Card by learning from three main public services that until now have their own separate cards:

    1. Schools, as currently children need two or three different cards as they move from kindergarten through to high school – for buying lunches and supplies, staying after school, or accessing certain buildings;
    2. Public libraries;
    3. An upgraded bike sharing system, due to launch in 2020.

    The card could also enable quick access to the museum, wi-fi, and sports bookings. And the system should allow more services to be added later, whether they are run by public or private entities.

    The aim is to have a first version of the one-stop-shop Citizen Card ready to test by mid 2020, and reach at least 35,000 of the region’s 40,0000 inhabitants in the first year.

    We need to make things more efficient, simple and clear for people,” says Aveiro’s Card4All project manager Maria Angela Cunho, responsible for the Economic development and innovation sub-unit. “The initial phase is connecting what already exists. Having one interface will simplify people’s lives.”

    Relevant municipal department chiefs met early on and agreed a structured plan for the two-year URBACT project. “It’s a huge thing to get them to work together on one card!” says Cunha.

    With the goal to “improve city performance, fostering technological development and innovation as a contribution for better policies and services”, this URBACT Local Group (ULG) meets every few months – sometimes with their Card4All European partners and URBACT expert. It includes people working on the following:

    - Mobility (for bikes, buses and parking);
    - Education;
    - Sports;
    - Culture (for libraries, museums, the theatre, youth and elderly, and tourism);
    - IT (for public wi-fi);
    - the Front Office that deals directly with citizens.

    Each department acts as an intermediary with their own stakeholders, often operators of external services such as transport, energy or food supply companies who may join the card later.

    Next transnational steps

    Armed with questions defined by the ULG, interviewers recently set off around the city to meet citizens face-to-face and understand their priorities for local public services. This insight will help Aveiro start working with external developers to prepare a public tender for the Citizen Card’s development. Then, early in 2020, members of the ULG – including the city’s tech department and external developers – will travel to URBACT Good Practice city Gijon for an intensive meeting with their peers there. That will help Aveiro finalise the public tender.

    I think it’s important to see Gijon’s experience because it shows that it’s possible. They’ve added lots of services, even external services. It helps to have a goal, something to look at,” says Cunha.

    The Municipality of Aveiro has a large experience in transnational collaborative projects where the city acquired knowledge and gained relevant experience in the design and implementation of strategic plans to support economic development and RD&I activities,” says Sousa, Card4All Lead Expert. “I believe that the transnational cooperation experience speed up the digital transition in Aveiro.”

    Avoiding digital pitfalls in local governance

    Providing access to essential services and listening to all voices in decision-making, including those of the less privileged and most vulnerable - these are just two fundamental elements of good local governance for cities to have in mind when developing digital tools. Others are to ensure the city has necessary IT skills in-house, and the resources to answer new messages from citizens.

    Christophe Gouache, Lead Expert for the URBACT ActiveCitizen network recently launched in Agen (FR) to promote better local governance, warns that for cities, “the biggest danger facing citizen participation and local democracy is to rush into the ‘digital promise’… and to suppress other, low tech, modes of participation”. By this he means collaborative events like neighbourhood meetings, or workshops with inhabitants. “Digital is only a tool, a complementary channel of connection with inhabitants,” he adds.

    Meanwhile, the Aveiro Tech City scheme includes the development of a single urban platform with multi-source data-collection to support decision-making by the mayor and elected representatives, civil servants, and citizens. André Costa, Head of Economic development and entrepreneurship, says the platform will be similar to those of larger cities like Dublin, Barcelona, Milan – and could take up to a decade to develop. “At any moment,” says Costa, “our mayor will be able to know the city’s level of revenue. He will be able to know the number of processes requested for the requalification of urban buildings. He will know the level of CO2 emissions that we are able to reduce once we’ve implemented electrical buses, electric engines in our municipal boats, and electrical ferry boats. And we’ll be able to inform our citizens so they know the results and the outcomes of the investments being made.”

    Aveiro’s Card4All will be designed to link in with this new urban platform. It would be technically possible to produce a mobile app to access public services virtually instead of printing individual cards for everyone. That would save costs, not just on producing the cards, but also acquiring, installing and maintaining card readers. But Cunha says a physical card is still necessary for children, the elderly, and other people excluded from technology: “I guess for now we have to have both solutions”.

    Summing up the project, José Ribau Esteves, Mayor of Aveiro, said, “The Card4All project is a part of our global initiative – Aveiro Tech City – that intends to support the City of Aveiro transition into a knowledge-based economy, while providing better services to our citizens and visitors. Economically, we aim at competing with the stronger national economic centres, being able to attract and retain the necessary talents for our economy to grow and produce more added-value, making Aveiro a more competitive city globally. Socially, we intend to provide better services to our citizens using digital tools, and Citizen Card will play a very important role in this regard.

    Further reading on urban governance
    A chapter from the Future of cities report by the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies.

    Many more URBACT cities are using digital tools to improve quality of life
    They include, Helsinki (FI), in the URBACT REFILL network; and cities in the new URBACT IoTxChange network, led by Fundao (PT).

    URBACT and Digital Transition: https://urbact.eu/digital-transition

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  • Improving children’s education for a sustainable urban future

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    15/11/2022

    URBACT is helping European cities find – and share – new ways to support children’s education for a better future. 

    Articles
    Education

    From organic school gardens and innovative teaching methods, to community courses and better links with families, health specialists or local businesses, URBACT is improving kids’ chances with innovative approaches to education.

    Education is central to sustainable urban futures. Whether it’s to fight inequality and social exclusion, boost a town’s attractiveness, or help young people protect the environment, its vital role in building better cities is reflected in many URBACT networks past and present.

    Let’s take a look at what some of these cities are doing…

    The city as an orchestrator

    Why are city authorities well placed to improve education policy? “Because the municipality has proximity to the citizens,” says Mireia Sanabria, Lead Expert for the URBACT transfer network ON BOARD – Connecting cities through education. “They can directly understand, visit, dialogue with communities to know their specific needs. And they have a brokerage role.”

    As well as providing technical or financial support, space and equipment, cities can coordinate groups of local education stakeholders – schools, families, companies, associations, researchers, municipal departments and higher government. One example is Viladecans (ES), whose Education Innovation Network (EIN) approach is being adopted by five ON BOARD partner cities. This partnership inspired Nantes (FR) and Albergaria-a-Velha (PT) to develop new student wellbeing initiatives to improve academic results through happy, engaged learning. “We can provide schools with help, resources, and protection so they can dare to do things differently,” adds Sanabria.

    Social inclusion and children’s rights

    Laura Colini, Programme Expert for URBACT, points out that while the European Pillar of Social Rights states that everyone has the right to affordable early childhood education and good quality care, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union recognises education as a right, opportunities for children vary enormously across the EU – and from one city neighbourhood to another.

    Recent estimates show under 17s to be the most vulnerable to risks of poverty, particularly children from ethnic minorities or with migrant backgrounds. In 2018, 20 000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Europe in 2018, 40% of them in Germany and Italy,” says Colini. “This is why, the way the education system handles inequalities in family backgrounds can have an enormous impact, due to the crucial years pupils spend in schools.”

    The question of children and education should be treated with a holistic perspective, involving families and schools,” Fintan Farrel, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network, said in an interview for the EU Urban Agenda poverty partnership (Colini & Tosics 2017).

    This is just the sort of integrated approach that URBACT champions. During the URBACT StayTuned network, for example, the Ampelokipi - Menemeni municipality in Thessaloniki (EL) formed a strong team that works closely with school directors and local Roma people, deepening the administration’s understanding of Early Leaving from Education and Training. This led the municipality to adapt its courses, information and support to the needs of Roma children and parents, both in schools and in a new easily-accessible Community Centre. “Through the collaboration and exchange of experience with partners, the way the municipality understands its problem and role, as well as the methodology for managing challenges in the field of education and training, has changed,” says Magdalini Rousseti, Ampelokipi – Menemeni’s Director of Social Policy, Education, Sports & Culture.

    As for Groningen (NL), with an aging population and jobs to fill, the city teamed up with its universities, academic hospital, citizens, employers and cultural institutions, to help international students and professionals “come, stay and be active”. Six medium-sized cities are now learning from this experience in the URBACT Welcoming International Talent network, including Bielsko-Biala (PL) who were recently inspired to open their own “Centre for Integration of Foreigners” MyBB.

    Macerata (IT), won an URBACT Good Practice label in 2017 for its co-regeneration of urban green spaces around inclusion and children’s education. The Pace neighborhood green space has since become a place for meeting, education and social inclusion for the whole community – grandparents, parents, teenagers and children. The Les Friches NGO behind the scheme says, “Our participatory action has given positive effects. There’s now a new and integrated community that lives in the common space.

    Of URBACT’s many networks set up to help cities fight exclusion, here are just three more examples linked with education: Prevent – “Involving parents in the prevention of early school leaving”; ONSTAGE – “Music schools for social change”; and Rumorless cities – “Prevent discrimination, strengthen cohesion”, led Amadora (PT), where cities work with art and theatre to prevent discrimination and rumours against children with migrant backgrounds.

    Methodology and tools for better learning

    URBACT not only helps cities solve urban problems by strengthening cross-sector participation locally while learning from peers across the EU – it also brings municipalities new skills and methodologies. For some networks this is the main focus. The URBACT Playful Paradigm network for example, seeks new ways to engage stakeholders better in urban development. The eight partner cities use games to promote “social inclusion, healthy lifestyles and energy awareness, intergenerational and cultural mediation, place-making and economic prosperity”. Klaipėda City Public Health Bureau (LT), wants to work with more schools to introduce more playful, physical activities for schoolchildren, adapting techniques from their EU partners. “The network is a good framework to generate new ideas, spread the good practice,” says Laura Kubiliutė, Head of Klaipėda’s public health monitoring and projects department. One such idea is a playful Wednesday afternoon for young and elderly people at the county library, with quizzes and board games, helping strengthen links between generations, tackle loneliness, and foster social inclusion.

    Small-but-powerful responsible citizens

    From helping children enjoy nature to rewarding schools that lower their carbon footprint and support local organic farmers, cities of all sizes are helping shape the next generation of healthier, environmentally-conscious citizens.

    Working with schools is fundamental to collectively learn about rights and values in social, environmental and economic terms, because through schools one can reach out not only children but parents, families, the wider community, also those that are not active in civil society,” says Laura Colini.

    Torres Vedras (PT), is a good example here. They have a rapidly expanding sustainable food school programme with 11 school organic gardens growing tomatoes, beans, peppers and other fruit and veg. Children already learn about food production, seasonality – and identifying the organic food label in shops. Still, the URBACT BioCanteens network has brought new ideas, including “freshness” criteria to improve public procurement for suppliers, and Mouans-Sartoux’s (FR) food-waste reduction scheme that covers extra costs of healthy, organic school meals. “For us it was: ‘wow!’, a very great idea, because we’d never thought about this before!” says Paula Rodrigues, Responsible for managing biocanteens and school gardens for the municipality.

    Torres Vedras launched a pilot project in a school whose vegetable patch is the size of 10 parking spaces, and World Food Day celebrations last a whole month. Here, having followed the food from planting to harvesting and delivery to the school kitchens, 150 six-to-ten year-olds are now learning to reduce food waste and weigh their leftovers so menus can be adapted. For Rodrigues, their new understanding of food waste is the “golden key to close the cycle”. The city will expand the scheme to nine more schools this year to reach a total of 1200 children.

    Why are children good ambassadors for a sustainable future? “Because they are the future!” says Rodrigues.

    There are many more stories of cities that have developed innovative, sustainable solutions involving education and children:

    Read more on URBACT and Education : https://urbact.eu/education

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  • How a small Spanish town is revolutionising its local food system

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    15/11/2022

    Baena (ES) supports sustainable agriculture for a resilient city developement model close to its citizens’ needs, beyond mass production.

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    Food

    Antonio Zafra and Raquel Moreno Vicente were part of the coordination team of the AGRI-URBAN project which was led by the Town Council of Baena. They work in ADEGUA, an association which brings together town councils, civic associations, entrepreneurs and others who want to promote sustainable development in the surrounding region. They talked to the political journalist Jamie Mackay about the organic movement, the unique features of small cities and their experience working with URBACT.

    How did you get interested in agriculture?

    Antonio Zafra (AZ): I could say I am a rural man but at the same time I love cities. I don’t live in Baena but in a small village of 500 inhabitants with all the demographic problems you can imagine. Most of my family abandoned rural work to go to university, but my roots are in the rural way of life. I love living in small villages. I run a small olive oil production and am involved in organic consumer and producer groups, so I’m a bit of an activist too.

    Raquel Moreno Vicente (RMV): I was raised in Baena so I’ve always been surrounded by olive trees and the countryside that produced our food for generations. It wasn’t really until I became a mother, though, that I realised we were buying so many things from far away rather than eating what we were producing. This was a personal revelation. From that moment on I became more aware of food in society, in health, in art, and I saw the potential for change.

    How has the food industry around Baena evolved over the past decades?

    AZ

    : Today Baena is a monoculture area, but it wasn’t always like that. In twenty years we’ve lost around 200 hectares that used to be cultivated with fruit and vegetables. The agri-industrial system has won the battle of food production. Most of our olive oil is sold in big containers to other countries, or taken to other cities to be put in bottles. The result is a terrible paradox. This high production rural area is now dependent on food from all over the world to feed its people. Maybe it’s a successful industry, but it’s not a successful system for the population’s health.

    RMV: Another big problem is unemployment. Because of automation, fewer agricultural workers are needed, and when they are, it’s only for a few months a year. This trend demands a reaction. If we want to keep people in the territory and halt depopulation - not only in agriculture - some changes are needed to better balance globalisation and local initiatives.

    What has Baena done to promote alternatives?

    AZ: One of the earliest steps was an analysis of the composition of the oil which we did with Cordoba university, to map and analyse the territory. Then we created some spaces – including a museum– so visitors and the local population could engage with the culture of olive trees. With the 2008 crisis our priority shifted to the social dimension of the problem. We supported the creation of small social gardens which were really successful at reconnecting people and food at the local level.

    How did URBACT help your efforts?

    AZ: There are lots of problems when trying to innovate in small cities. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a department or even a single professional working on a topic in a small town or village. Occasionally you don’t even have a councillor in the area. Through AGRI-URBAN we wanted to share expertise. We had 11 cities in our network, but all coming from different starting points. Over time, though, we managed to find a common interest in the food system. We also wanted to promote the importance of the rural urban connection. Lots of small cities are connected with big cities around them so we wanted to discuss how they might interact more effectively.

    RMV: The URBACT methodology was an inspiration for us too. If you don’t connect networks with local realities you can’t promote grassroots change. In AGRI-URBAN our local stakeholders had direct access to the experience in other cities, to understand how they might be applied here in Baena. Seeing that connection, coming from European to local and back to European level has been really important in allowing us to make changes.

    What were the most inspiring practices shared in the network?

    AZ: 40 years ago the municipality of Mollet Del Vallès (ES), in the suburbs of Barcelona challenged the industrial expansion of the city by creating an agrarian area. Today they have a protected natural park of around 500 hectares where they promote organic food and food start-ups. They’re even developing social governance and researching with Barcelona University how to protect biodiversity and collect seeds.

    RMV: Fundão (PT) have been really successful in uniting the food sector and promoting change. Their producers have support from a central unit where they can try new things in the way they pack and present their food. We need something like that here. We’re actually working with them now on another project, promoting the use of new technologies in relation to food.

    Your plans include social orchards, a food hub and a farming incubator to support young businesses. Which look the most promising at this stage?

    AZ: At the moment only 5-10% are being implemented, though some of the proposals just need a small commitment to get going. Making organic canteens in high schools, for example, only needs the school staff and the municipality to be a little more proactive.

    RMV: All the political parties in the town council support our plan. There’s no majority at the moment, but some of the manifestos in the elections last month actually included AGRI-URBAN initiatives. What happens next depends on political willpower but also on individuals. If someone has the interest and engagement they can really make things happen.

    AZ: We’ve developed a pilot action to remind the politicians of what they approved. It’s a kind of social garden, not for just families but on a bigger scale involving NGOs, ecologist groups and other organisations. There’s a plot in the very middle of the city so nobody can forget about us!

    Have you got a message for other small cities working to tackle big issues like these?

    AZ: Some intellectuals say the spirit of Europe was created in cities. From a historical point of view maybe it’s true. But many important values in Europe - freedom, sociability, care for the environment – are rooted in rural areas. Personally, I like the idea of a Europe in which we are able to ruralise urban areas and urbanise some rural areas, to exchange the good things we have in both directions. Small and medium sized cities have a unique capacity to connect the two worlds and food is one of the best interconnectors we have. In this age of new communication, I think we can redefine both areas together.

    Find out more at https://urbact.eu/agri-urban

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