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  • Is the compact city model endangered?

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    Is the compact city model endangered? Article COVER
    20/01/2023

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

    Articles
    Urban mobility
    Network
    From urbact
    On

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

     


     

    URBACT Walk'n'Roll

     

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

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

     

    A common effect in different cities

     

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

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

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

     

    The new intra-urban migration tendencies

     

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    How to improve existing dense areas?

     

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

     

    The proximity aspect

     

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

     

    The pedestrian-priority city

     

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

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

     

    Potential externalities of public space improvement policies

     

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

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

     

     

    How to create efficient metropolitan cooperation in blended cities?

     

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

     

    Turning highways into urban boulevards

     

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

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

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

     

    URBACT Walk'n'Roll

     

    Improving the rail network to ensure metropolitan cooperation

     

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

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

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

     

    Bringing planning and governance together at metropolitan level

     

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

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

     

    How to move towards an accessibility shift?

     

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

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

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

    URBACT Walk'n'Roll Guidebook

  • URBinclusion

    Timeline

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

    Arwen Dewilde
    City of Ghent

    CONTACT US

    AYUNTAMIENTO DE BAENA

    Plaza de la Constitucion 1

    Baena (Cordoba) - Spain

    CONTACT US

    Artur Katai
    City of Újbuda

    CONTACT US

    Barcelona City Council - Social Rights Area

    Lluis Torrens: ltorrens@bcn.cat

    Sebastià Riutort: sriutort@ext.bcn.cat

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

    Combating poverty in deprived urban areas
    Ref nid
    8718
  • VITAL CITIES

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in July (Birmingham). Transnational meeting in November (Liepaja).
    Transnational meeting in March (Rieti).
    Final event in April (Loule).

    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

    Seeking answers on how to combat social exclusion through the redesign of public spaces in deprived residential areas by using the power and common language of sport, this Action Planning network found solutions through innovative urban sport actions, physical equipment and better orchestrated service delivery. Active living positively contributes to social cohesion, wellbeing and economic prosperity in cities. However, currently cities are challenged by the opposite: dramatic increase in the frequency of diseases as a result of sedentary life style and social exclusion. To tackle these challenges, European cities have invested in large scale sports facilities over the past decades. These strategies have a limited success, hence a new approach is needed: instead of ‘bringing’ the inactive citizens to the sports facilities, public space itself should be turned into a low threshold facility inviting all citizens to physical activity.

    Urban sports promotion for social inclusion, healthy and active living
    Ref nid
    7509
  • RU:RBAN

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting
    Rome Transnational Meeting
    Caen Transnational Meeting
    Vilnius Transnational Meeting
    Loures Transnational Meeting
    Thessaloniki Transnational Meeting + Mid Term Reflection
    A Coruña-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Krakow Online Transnational Meeting
    Krakow-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Vilnius-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Loures-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Caen-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Thessaloniki-Rome Bilateral ONLINE MEETING
    Network Final Event - A Coruña June 28 2021
    Thessaloniki Transnational online meeting
    Krakow TNM second part (in presence)

    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

    This Transfer network builds upon the "Management model of Urban gardens in Rome" Good Practice, in order to transfer to EU cities geographically distant from each other to ensure sharing of experiences to enhance the capacities of local governance. Transfer efforts will be given to 3 distinct, interlinked, thematic components/elements that the Good Practice is divided into: Capacity building in organizing urban gardens, Inspiring and training people to manage urban gardens (Gardeners) and urban gardens governance & regulations.

    Urban agriculture for resilient cities
    Ref nid
    12133
  • Tourism Friendly Cities

    Summary

    Lead Partner : Genoa - Italy
    • Braga - Portugal
    • Cáceres - Spain
    • Druskininkai - Lithuania
    • Dubrovnik - Croatia
    • Dún Laoghaire Rathdown - Ireland
    • Krakow - Poland
    • Rovaniemi - Finland
    • Venice - Italy

    Municipality of Genoa - International Affairs Department

    CONTACT US

    Watch all the Tourism Friendly videos here.

    Timeline

    • Kick-Off Meeting - Genoa - Phase I
    • TNS Meeting - Braga - Phase I
    • Online Kick-Off Meeting - Phase II
    • e-Dubrovnik meeting - Phase II
    • Online Meeting - Phase II
    • e-Druskininkai meeting - Phase II
    • TNS Meeting - Dun Laoghaire - Phase II
    • TNS Metting - Rovaniemi - Phase II
    • TNS Meeting - Krakow - Phase II
    • Final Meeting - Venice - Phase II

    Integrated Action Plans

    Dun Laoghaire Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Dun Laoghaire - Ireland
    Druskininkai Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here

    Druskininkai - Lithuania
    Integrated Action Plan for Sustainable Tourism – Cáceres

    Read more here

    Cáceres - Spain
    Braga Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Braga - Portugal
    Krakow Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Krakow - Poland
    Integrated Action Plan for Dubrovnik as a Sustainable Tourism Destination

    Read more here !

    Dubrovnik - Croatia
    Enhancing sustainable tourism in Venice

    Read more here !

    Venice - Italy
    LOCAL COMMUNITY AND TOURISTS TOGETHER FOR URBAN SUSTAINABILITY

    Read more here !

    Rovaniemi - Finland
    Integrated Action Plan for Sustainable Tourism

    Read more here !

    Genoa - Italy

    TOURISM-FRIENDLY CITIES is an Action Planning Network aimed at exploring how tourism can be made sustainable in medium-sized cities, reducing the negative impact on neighbourhoods and areas interested by different types of tourism and its related aspects through integrated and inclusive strategies keeping 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.

    Local community & tourists together for urban sustainability
    Ref nid
    13465
  • How to make urban tourism more sustainable in post-Covid Europe

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    15/11/2022

    URBACT cities are contributing to a soon-to-be-released EU study into better regulation of short-term holiday rentals.

     

    Articles
    Tourism

    As tourism opens up again, a group of URBACT cities is supporting efforts to improve short-term holiday rental regulation in the EU. Their experience will feed into a sustainable tourism study for the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Culture and Cultural Heritage, due for release in November 2021. Laura Colini, URBACT Programme Expert, and Ugo Rossi, from the Grand Sasso Science Institute (IT), share their insights…

     

    Urban tourism is one of those phenomena that, before the outbreak of the pandemic, gave rise to heated debates regarding its sustainability. The post-pandemic transition now represents a unique opportunity for an in-depth reform of the existing pattern of economic development, especially of its most controversial manifestations.

     

    This article presents an ongoing study implementing Action 1 on sustainable tourism for the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Culture and Cultural Heritage. The aim of this study is to discuss with city officials an innovative approach to the regulation of the short-term rental sector, tentatively based on a three Ps strategy: Prepare, Preserve, Platformise. Prepare means working side-by-side with local communities to prevent the existential risk of hyper-tourism. Preserve means implementing regulations aimed at preserving urban areas and their communities particularly exposed to the risk of hyper-tourism. Platformise means experimenting with community-led short-term rental platforms.

     

    The study is being carried out in collaboration with diverse URBACT cities, in particular those involved in the TOURISM-FRIENDLY CITIES and KAIRÓS networks. Nine cities located in different parts of Europe have been consulted: five small-sized towns, Cáceres (ES), Druskininkai (LT), Dubrovnik (HR), Dún Laoghaire (IE), and Rovaniemi (FI); three medium-sized cities, Braga (PT), Florence (IT), and Kraków (PL); and one large capital city, Berlin (DE). URBACT will present the final results at an open-to-all, peer-learning webinar on 4 November 2021, with speakers from cities, research institutes and the European Commission.  

     

     

    The risk of hyper-tourism


    Over the past ten years, an unregulated hospitality industry has turned urban tourism into a potentially existential threat for a growing number of cities and urban areas. Previously, the risk of hyper-tourism regarded a limited number of small and medium-sized cities, such as those with Unesco-designated old towns (like Venice, Dubrovnik, Rhodes, Plovdiv, Granada in Southern Europe) but, with the advent of platform-mediated Short-Term Rentals (STR), this risk has become generalised, involving all types of cities.

     

    In recent years, local authorities have resorted to active regulation, stringent or mild, of short-term holiday rentals when excessive tourism demand has put pressure on local residents and the urban social fabric. Regulations have been adopted in a reactive manner once cities and other popular tourism destinations have reached their peak, and in some cases already exceeded their tourism’s environmental carrying capacity. For different reasons, regulatory initiatives have been limited in their results. Moreover, existing regulatory initiatives appear to be place-specific: they are locally fragmented and do not always have the support of the central government.

     

     

    Pandemic as a game changer

     

    Restrictions imposed during the pandemic dramatically impacted cities, and particularly their service-oriented economies, starting with the cultural and entertainment sectors. Museums, theatres, restaurants, and bars suffered heavily from the shutdowns and are now struggling to recover after the re-opening. Moreover, the spread of telework has dealt an almost fatal blow to several business districts, and the retail sector in general, causing the closure of many independent shops, while favouring the expansion of delivery services offered by online commerce giants and multinational retail chains.

     

    In the Northern hemisphere, the summer of 2021 saw some urban tourism getting back to ‘normality’. But the sudden restart of tourism, and the entertainment economy in general, increases the risk of congestion in urban areas that are richly endowed with natural amenities such as access to the seaside, lakes, or mountains. On the other hand, persistent uncertainties about the evolution of the pandemic are still aggravating the crisis in cities whose economies developed around now-quiet office-centric areas and entertainment districts.

     

    Challenges and opportunities in the post-pandemic transition


    Despite all the ambivalence of the current moment, the post-pandemic path offers a unique opportunity to experiment with sustainability transition in the tourism sector. For this reason, it is important – and urgent – to think about an innovative approach to the regulation of short-term rentals for tourists and other temporary visitors.

     

    There are important developments in this direction. The European Commission has recently launched a Tourist services – short-term rental initiative involving and consulting with cities and citizens in order to develop a “responsible, fair and trusted growth in short-term rentals, as part of a well-balanced tourist ecosystem”.

     

    The local level is crucial to the successful regulation of urban tourism. In this sense, we believe that an innovative regulation strategy – relying on a mixed, prescriptive and proactive, approach to public policy – has to involve a wide range of co-design techniques and participatory methods, just as URBACT implements across its city networks. The URBACT methodology is adopted here in order to achieve a higher responsibilisation of local communities on urban tourism management.

     

     

    EU UA study to test community-led rental platforms


    The study, launched under the EU Urban Agenda (UA) on Action 1, draws on URBACT’s approach,  observing local practices and experiences in managing tourism flows and their impacts locally. With a survey distributed to cities in the TOURISM-FRIENDLY CITIES and KAIRÓS networks, and the cities in the EU UA partnership, the study will assess and test strategies for place-based, community-led management of the short-term accommodation sector. The selected cities represent different types of urban tourism: while some have not reached their tipping point in urban tourism, others are willing to invest more in containing risks related to an unbridled short-term holiday rental market.

     

    For example, the city of Braga (PT) is experiencing a surge of tourists and is considering strategies to connect local residents better with the temporary presence of tourists. The city of Cáceres (ES) has a selective approach to Short Term Rental, or ‘STR’, because regional legislation allows it to control the rental of touristic apartments. Working alongside Braga and Cáceres in the TOURISM-FRIENDLY CITIES network, the city of Kraków (PL) strives to preserve its community of long-term residents in the historic city centre.

     

    The EU Urban Agenda study is testing the interest and availability of the selected cities to experiment with locally managed, community-led rental platforms. The following three principles are at the heart of this experimentation:

     

    • Anticipatory planning: in tourism policy, an anticipatory approach seeks to prevent the reproduction of a systemic risk like hyper-tourism in the aftermath of a disruptive event, such as the coronavirus pandemic;
    • Community engagement: cultivating a sense of belonging to the local community means embracing an approach to tourism that places community needs at the centre of local policy strategies committed to economic diversification and sustainable urban metabolism;
    • Municipal empowerment: community-centred tourism requires a novel institutional strategy centred on municipal power. The local scale is crucial not only from the point of view of societal impact and policy implementation, but also in terms of institutional empowerment of local communities.
       

    Final remarks

     

    The abrupt halt to tourism imposed during the pandemic has allowed the public to develop a critical distance from the economic development pattern that we now tend to associate with so-called ‘normality’, including urban tourism – and particularly the platform-mediated hospitality sector.

     

    While assessing the diversity of local realities and points of view on urban tourism, the challenge of the EU Urban Agenda Action is to seize the opportunity, as the tourist sector recovers from the coronavirus crisis, to restart the municipal management of STR under a new light. The aim is to give voice to URBACT and EU UA cities in the shaping of better future regulations for the short-term rentals sector in the EU.

     

    Further reading:

     

     

    Authors: Laura Colini, URBACT Programme Expert, and Ugo Rossi, Grand Sasso Science Institute (IT)

    Cover photo by Eugene Kuznetsov on Unsplash

     

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  • Food for thought in URBACT cities: the broad effects of eating local

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    15/11/2022

    How can improving local food kick-start the systemic transition of a city and its surrounding territory?

    Articles
    Food

    Food is a hot topic for cities and stimulates a lot of citizen initiatives in urban contexts: street vegetable boxes, community orchards, public garden-planting, window gardening, etc. But despite the growing enthusiasm among residents of saturated cities to grow their own food, the quantity of food produced by these initiatives remains limited... The core interest lies in their symbolic value and potential to spark change: (re-)engaging populations disengaged from food, building cities’ food sovereignty, strengthening local resilience and, in return, fostering improvements in city governance.

    Food has been a core topic of multiple URBACT networks over the years. Recent examples among URBACT III Transfer Networks include: BeePathNet, disseminating Ljubljana’s (SI) urban bee system; BioCanteens, building on Mouans-Sartoux’s (FR) 100% local and organic school canteens; and RU:RBAN, sharing Rome’s (IT) methods for supporting community gardens. All shared their experiences in a ‘Food storytelling battle’ at the June 2021 URBACT Festival.

    What are the important transfer outcomes for partner cities engaged in these food-related URBACT networks? How can food issues kick-start the systemic transition of a city and its surrounding territory? How is this consensual and appealing topic of food in the city fostering the transformation of city governance? URBACT Expert François Jégou investigates.

    Engaging whole cities with food

    Modern cities developed around cars, and disconnected from food, as Carolyn Steel’s famous book Hungry City, How Food Shapes Our Lives, made clear in 2008. She and others, including AESOP, the Association of European Schools of Planning, make the case for sustainable food planning, involving diverse people, from planners, policy-makers, politicians and health professionals, to local farmers, food businesses and associations. The first outcome of these URBACT Transfer Networks is certainly to raise city residents’ awareness of local food production and consumption.

    © City of Krakow

    “One of the steps that can be taken is implementing school gardens in each school.”
    Katarzyna Przyjemska, Krakow (PL)

    BeePathNet’s coordinator Maruška Markovčič explains: “The most important thing that Ljubljana did was to put the bees and other pollinators at the beginning of the food chain and created the whole system of preservation, education and awareness raising. We introduced the late mowing to the public green areas to upgrade biodiversity in living spaces for pollinators. We encourage people to plant ‘melliferous’ plants and create green roofs all over the city.” The city’s services and residents feel more closely linked with nature and food cycles – and are proud to play an active role.

    Katarzyna Przyjemska from Krakow (PL) states how the urban gardening focus of the RU:RBAN Transfer Network is key for inhabitants of cities to reclaim food issues. “The future of the earth is in our children’s hands. I guess nowadays no one doubts the truth of that statement, but how can we do that, since children are becoming more and more distant from nature? One of the steps that can be taken is implementing school gardens in each school. Having that kind of green classroom, we can enable them to observe nature every day and moreover take part in it. This personal commitment will pay off in a real intense connection with nature.”

    Healthy and sustainable food is a popular topic in cities. Enjoyed by all and affecting everyone, food constitutes an easy, tangible entry point to engage citizens in broader local transition. City partners in the BioCanteens network took a food-systems approach. They saw how improving primary school canteens not only highlights the benefits of providing healthy, high-quality food to young children – influencing families’ food habits  – but also leads to knock-on effects in a broad range of connected areas. BioCanteens questioned ‘who feeds Mouans-Sartoux?’, investigating agricultural resources with organic certification in the surrounding area. They looked at land preservation in urban planning and opportunities for developing a local farming economy.

    This was a step towards the recent signature of the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration, “A commitment by subnational governments to tackle the climate emergency through integrated food policies and a call on national governments to act”.

    Building food sovereignty

    The recent challenges of globalisation seem to be confirming cities more and more clearly as the right level to act and initiate change, as for instance stressed in 2016 by the European Commission and UN-Habitat report ‘The State of European Cities, Cities leading the way to a better future’. In food, as in other areas, cities are taking measures to boost their sovereignty.

    © City of Mouans-Sartoux

    “Focusing primary school canteens reaches out to the children’s families, influencing their food habits.”
    Thibaud Lalanne, Mouans-Sartoux, (FR)

    As Thibaud Lalanne, BioCanteens network coordinator, illustrates, relatively small cities such as Mouans-Sartoux (population 9 500) and its network partners acknowledge they can innovate and solve many of their own problems by themselves. “In 2008, when the elected representative of Mouans-Sartoux decided to switch to the 100% of organic local school canteens they faced a major issue: there were actually no local organic producers. We were able to put out a call for tender because we had a production gap in our province. In 2010, the elected representatives of the city, almost as a joke said, ‘well if no one applies, well actually we will produce food by ourselves’. Which led to the creation of this municipal farm. This is how the story begun and we actually celebrated the 10th year of this municipal farm.”

    Tiago Ferreira from Amarante (PT), one of the transfer cities in BeePathNet, listed seven reasons why beekeeping has been a key topic for his city’s empowerment: “Promoting beekeeping is at the same time promoting the economy and promoting sustainability […]. It is an economic activity where workers feel fulfilled and contribute to make happier cities […]. Good beekeepers could be people with or without remarkable academic backgrounds […]. It could be an extra earning source for people that have other jobs […]. Honey and other beehive products can be transformed into added value products […]. They generate touristic routes and experiences that can attract new customers […] and a friendly territory for bees will make you gain benefits on some agricultural productions.”

    “Beekeeping is extra earning source for beekeepers, economic activity and touristic development for the city.”
    Tiago Ferreira, Amarante (PT)
    © City of Amarante

    BioCanteens cities made the most of their URBACT connections to raise their Final Event to the European level, stating that for some advanced cities the “COP26 is already happening” and inviting other cities to “Join the Movement of European Cities Engaged for Food Democracy and Sovereignty”. The cooperation continues with a session on “Integrated local food systems to tackle climate change: URBACT’s lessons and actions” organised by URBACT on 19 October 2021 at the Barcelona 7th global forum of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

    Strengthening city resilience

    Based on their experiences, cities in BioCanteens, BeePathNet and RU:RBAN, say that strengthening local food systems results in a direct increase in local food resilience.

    © City of Troyan

    “The municipal farm, the first of its kind in Bulgaria, is a tool to supply canteens, to create jobs and to educate the children.”
    Teresa Georgey, Troyan (BG)

    From Troyan (BG), a city partner in BioCanteens that created its own municipal farm during the project, Teresa Georgey explains: “Although Troyan is situated in a rural and mountainous area with much less pressure on land than Mouans-Sartoux, we decided to do the same because we were also facing a lack of organic producers to supply our school canteens. The municipal farm, the first of its kind in Bulgaria, is a tool to supply canteens, to create jobs and to educate the children who can visit the municipal farm, as well as to educate the elected representatives, because they can see what a city can do to feed its own population and can start thinking in broader terms.”

    The Covid crisis has revealed marked differences in the ability of cities to maintain high-quality food supplies for their most deprived residents by supporting local food production.

    © City of Rome

    “The strong sense of belonging each gardener had and the strong sense of community in community gardens.”
    Silvia Cioli, Ad’hoc expert RU:RBAN network

    Silvia Cioli, ad hoc Expert for the RU:RBAN network, stressed how urban gardens played a key role in supporting inhabitants during the pandemic, both reducing food poverty and strengthening mental health. After meeting a photographer observing Ortonorte gardeners in the north of Rome, she recalls: He was impressed by the community in the urban garden on how differences disappeared among all the people that were going there (social, gender, generation, etc.) and also the strong sense of belonging of each gardener, and the strong sense of the community in times characterised by isolation […].”

    This is a story that tells us about urban gardens as not only a place where people grow food but […] they really bring people back to nature, reconnecting them through food.”


    To find out more about URBACT capitalisation activities, visit the URBACT Food Knowledge Hub. Listen to the Interreg ‘This is Europe’ podcast on ‘Feeding Our Future Generations’, featuring URBACT and Mouans-Sartoux. And sign the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration!

     

    This article is part of URBACT’s series exploring latest challenges in sustainable urban development, based on discussions with cities and experts at the 2021 URBACT City Festival. Topics range from community participation in urban renewal and gender in public procurement, to cities tackling climate change. View highlights of the 2021 URBACT City Festival.

     

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  • Reinforcing local food ecosystems: a recipe for success?

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    15/11/2022

    Discover how URBACT cities are using sustainable food and urban agriculture to address an array of local challenges.

    Articles
    Food

    In this article, URBACT Programme Expert Marcelline Bonneau shines a light on several URBACT partner cities making the transition towards more sustainable local food ecosystems – and some of the practices they have developed in the process. She concludes with a reminder of the importance of integrated food policies at city level.

    A multitude of local food solutions in URBACT cities

    Since 2013, the URBACT programme has supported seven networks working on topics linked to sustainable food and urban agriculture engaging around 50 European cities in transnational learning and exchange. These are:  Food Corridors, BioCanteens, RU:rban, BeePathNet, Sustainable Food in Urban Communities, Agri-Urban and Diet for a Green Planet.

    The diverse topics covered by these URBACT cities reflect the complexity of our food systems and the interlinkages between sectors and policy priorities, as presented in the overview below.

    Themes covered by URBACT networks © Marcelline Bonneau

    From food to health, supporting social justice and fairness

    The Covid-19 pandemic has made increasingly obvious the need to ensure that nobody is left behind when considering one of our core primary needs, food. Amongst others, Atheniou (CY) Mollet del Vallès (ES), Milan (IT) and Mouans-Sartoux (FR) have been particularly active in readjusting their food systems during the pandemic, embedding solidarity in the further integration of their local food systems.

    In Mollet del Vallès, food justice has been on the agenda for quite a few years, as shown in the city’s involvement in the URBACT networks Diet for a Green Planet and Agri-Urban. The “Eat Well in Mollet” strategy promotes healthy dietary habits by giving citizens access to nutritious, local, organic and sustainable food, while educating them to make healthy food choices. Support under the strategy for vulnerable populations includes social allotments in an agro-ecological park.

    Workshop with families © City of Mollet dèl Vallès

    Food sovereignty as a cement for local production ecosystem

    Food sovereignty, as defined by Via Campesina, asserts that the people who produce, distribute, and consume food should control the mechanisms and policies of food production and distribution.

    To achieve food sovereignty and ensure local access to food, many cities have realised the importance of more locally based production, while supporting organic cultivation (including in urban gardens), as well as more sustainable distribution chains (supermarkets, markets, cooperatives…) and processing and preparation of food  (catering, canteens).

    The LAG Pays de Condruses (BE), part of the URBACT Agri-Urban and BioCanteens networks, has implemented an agricultural incubator model, combining food production, training and sale – the first such project in Wallonia (Belgium). Called ‘Point Vert’ (Green Point), the project offers access to organic land and streamlining of infrastructure and tools over six ha (including six greenhouses of 700 m2). Trainees can experiment with different crops and cultivation techniques and receive technical, entrepreneurial and selling support. It also provides a meeting and networking space for farmers.

    Point Vert © Strategic Design Scenarios (SDS)

    In addition, ensuring adequate urban planning and land use have also become key concerns. While still in its infancy, the URBACT Food Corridors network is seeking to reinforce rural-urban linkages, at the level of cities and (micro) regions.

    Food tourism as a key driver for cities

    Other cities focus on the attractiveness of their territory by increasing and improving local production, the processing and preparation of food, and the branding and promotion of their local products. This is the focus of Amarante (ES), part of the BeePathNet network, which focuses on urban beekeeping in relation to local environment, biodiversity and food self-sufficiency challenges. The city is developing a ‘Bee Path’ platform to promote its bee and honey-related products and attract tourists. The city works with beekeepers as well as schools, and, obviously, everybody takes part in World Bee Day!

    Bee products in Amarente © City of Amarante

    What about us people?

    Many cities have a focus on the need to change consumer behaviour: inviting their citizens to consume more organic, seasonal, local and plant-based diets, while strengthening local community engagement.

    In Krakow (PL), member of the URBACT RU:RBAN network, this is done via the ‘Gardens with Class’ programme for Community-building and schools. This programme supports the set-up of gardens in primary schools, a method that is educational both in terms of form and content, with a direct experience of nature. The ultimate goal is to open these gardens to the community and to reward school teachers with prizes for their engagement and achievements. Around 50 teachers are involved in 18 schools (one per district), with benefits expected for local communities, health, teachers’ careers, and new ways of learning.

    ‘Gardens with Class’ in Krakow © City of Krakow

    Public procurement as a leverage for supporting local organic consumption

    Cities can also work to turn legislative and market frameworks from obstacles to enablers in encouraging a shift towards more sustainability. Public procurement is one such tool which has proven to be extremely useful for European cities.

    For example, Mouans-Sartoux (FR) – lead partner of the URBACT BioCanteens network – has opened the debate for elected representatives and civil servants to adapt legislation so that public procurement can effectively improve food provisioning for school canteens. The key principles applied by Mouans-Sartoux are:

    • Separating out previously large food ‘lots’ to enable local mono producers to submit proposals;
    • Systematic and organised inclusion of organic produce;
    • An increase of organic food lots;
    • Introducing questionnaires to increase understanding of local suppliers and their produce; and,
    • Defining selection criteria to better take into account quality and environmental issues.

    As such, collaboration with local suppliers has become more realistic and efficient than ever.

    A sustainable school canteen in Mouans-Sartoux © Strategic Design Scenarios (SDS)

    The importance of local urban food policies

    These are just some of the many stories we could share from URBACT cities across Europe. Overarching all these specific and individual examples is the importance of cities developing  an adequate policy framework to ensure a coherent and structured, but also transversal and integrated way of supporting food and urban agriculture-related projects. This is especially challenging as food policy is still addressed by multiple ministries and departments across local, regional and national levels. We don’t have Food Ministries in Europe yet!

    A great example of such a policy approach and one of the flagship outcomes of the URBACT Sustainable Food in Urban Communities network is the Brussels Good Food Strategy. Working within the network, the region developed a local participatory process, gathered knowledge, co-created a vision, and planned measurable actions.

    The co-creation of the Good Food strategy in Brussels © Bruxelles environnement

    The resulting strategy was launched in 2016 along the principles of inclusion, local authorities leading by example, partnerships, behavioural change and increasing stakeholder ability to initiate their own projects. The strategy includes 15 actions structured under seven thematic headings:

    1. Increase local sustainable food production;
    2. Support the transition to a re-localised and sustainable supply for all;
    3. Support the transition of  demand [towards more sustainable food products] for all;
    4. Develop a sustainable and desirable "good food" culture;
    5. Reduce food waste;
    6. Design and promote the food systems of the future; and
    7. Ensure strategic implementation.

    After the success of this strategy, a new, more ambitious strategy is on its way for 2022, co-created once again by all the stakeholders of the Brussels’ food ecosystem.

    We look forward to the outcomes of the ongoing URBACT networks related to food and to seeing their partner cities’ journeys towards better access to local high quality products for their citizens.

    Interested in more sustainable urban food policies and approaches? We invite you to dig into the information already shared by our cities and networks and check out future URBACT articles on the theme of food.

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  • 23 Action Planning Networks ready for Phase 2!

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    15/11/2022

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

    News

     

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

    NETWORK

    PARTNERS

    DESCRIPTION

    Research, technological development and innovation

    UrbSecurity

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

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

    Find your Greatness

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

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

    Access to and use of ICT

    DigiPlace
    (previously DI4C)

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

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

    IoTxChange

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

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

    Competitiveness of SMEs

    iPlace

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

    - Saldus (LV)

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

    Tourism Friendly Cities

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

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

    Low carbon economy in all sectors

    Urb-En Pact

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

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

    Zero Carbon Cities
    (previously ZCC)

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

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

    Environmental protection and resource efficiency

    RiConnect

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

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

    URGE

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

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

    Healthy Cities

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

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

    KAIRÓS

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

     

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

     

    Resourceful Cities
    (previously UrbReC)

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

     

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

    FOOD CORRIDORS
    (previously Rurban Food)

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

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

    Health&Greenspace

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

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

    Sustainable transport

    Space4People

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

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

    Thriving Streets

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

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

    Employment protection and resource efficiency

    SIBdev

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

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

    Social inclusion and poverty

    ROOF

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

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

    ActiveCitizens

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

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

    Access

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

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

    Genderedlandscape

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

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

    Education, skills and lifelong learning

    Cities4CSR

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

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

     

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    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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  • “Be a voyager, not a tourist:” Introducing the Action Planning Network Tourism-Friendly Cities

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    15/11/2022

    “I welcome in my restaurant voyagers, not tourists. People who are curious and respectful of the local lifestyle, who appreciate that the daily menu depends of the fresh and locally available products and who do some research before visiting”.

    Fausto Cavanna, owner, La Taverna di Colombo, Genoa (Italy)

    Articles
    Culture & Heritage

    Ten cities have embarked on a new journey to work together on promoting a sustainable impact of tourism into integrated urban development in the URBACT Tourism-friendly cities Action Planning Network. Championing one of the world’s most hot topics, the city of Genoa (IT) has the challenging role of leading this new URBACT network that seeks to harmonize the realities experienced by residents, local authorities, tourism industry and tourists. The ten partners – Genoa (lead partner), Braga (PT), Caceres (ES), Druskininkai (LT), Dubrovnik Development Agency (HR), Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (IE), Krakow (PL), Rovaniemi (FI), Utrecht (NL) and Venice (IT) – will explore innovative governance and action models to capture the social, environmental and economic dimensions of tourism.

    Fausto Cavanna, the owner of the restaurant La Taverna di Colombo in Genoa (Italy) explaining to the Tourism-friendly cities network his aspirations for sustainable tourism. 

    Why tourism?

    Tourism industry is one of the most important of our era. Tourism, travels and related sectors account for 10,3% of GDP in EU and 11,7% of total employment: at global level, Europe has been hit by the second biggest increase, with 671.1 million international arrivals last year (51% the number of international tourist arrivals at global level), an eight per cent increase year-on-year. A long-term study by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts a growth in European tourism, to an estimated 744 million tourists (+1.8%), or 41.1% of the global market, over the period to 2030.

    However, this economic outlook does not capture the complexity of the effects that the tourism production system imposes to city life. Rising housing prices, congestion, little regulation power over tech-enabled companies and platforms active at global level on sectors as hospitality and transport, are just some of the consequences that are currently changing neighbourhood life (and city finances) in urban areas all around Europe.

    And while the devil is in the details, so is also the solution. Balancing the importance of tourism for local economies with temporary and permanent residents wellbeing, harmonizing present needs with future environmental concerns, adjusting the outdated instruments of local administrations with fast changing business models, requires collective answers and actions.

    To do this, the network will employ the URBACT method, taking an integrated and participative approach to urban challenges with a focus on transnational exchange and learning. Peer exchange and co-learning on the network level will be translated into integrated action plans on the local level and contribute to capacity building of key local stakeholders.

    The URBACT Tourism-friendly cities Network kick off meeting on 26 & 27 September 2019 in Genoa, Italy.

    What exactly is a tourism-friendly city?

    Was the question the lead partner Genoa debated with the prospective network partners when they were preparing the application for the last open call of URBACT’s Action Planning Networks. The answer is in the line that local community and tourists should work together for urban sustainability. The city is not something to be taken for granted, a service that somebody is entitled to for paying taxes or a visiting fee. It is a fragile ecosystem, where each stakeholder needs to become aware to the effects’ of each other actions. This is why, while the network is recognizing the key economic importance of tourism, but it is also exploring key questions of the kind of growth that each city aspires to. Rather than pointing a finger on the negative consequences of tourism, the network wants to make the industry and tourists part of the co-design of solutions, alongside residents and local authorities.

    Meeting Fairbnb representatives on September 30th 2019 in Venice, as part of mapping effort of new stakeholders that propose alternative models supporting sustainable tourism.

    A sense of urgency to act

    One key takeaway from the network’s kick-off meeting in Genoa on 26 & 27 September 2019 was the urgency experienced by each city partner to find a way forward to steward sustainable tourism development at local level. There was also a common aspiration that this current URBACT project could serve as the beginning of a new way of working together at local level, perhaps with the URBACT Local Groups (ULG) becoming a local observatory for monitoring progress on the future actions plans and global practices.

    The first step in this process was to analyse what each partner city defined as its most pressing challenge related to sustainable tourism. During the kick-off meeting, the partners used a pitching arena designed for the event to start reflecting on existing implementations plans, lessons learned, aspirations, political commitment and available local resources related to their local realities.  All these elements will be explored in more detail during the partner visits over the coming five months.

    We are looking forward to our journey ahead! You can keep up with our network’s and URBACT’s work on sustainable tourism by following the hashtags #sustainabletourism and #tfcities and by subscribing to URBACT’s newsletter.

     

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