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  • 2nd Chance

    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 (Liverpool). Transnational meeting in October (Chemnitz).
    Transnational meetings in July (Gijon) and December (Brussels).
    Final event in April (Naples)

    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 challenge of this Action Planning network is the activation of vacant buildings and building complexes for a sustainable urban development by self-organised groups. In many European cities smaller and larger derelict sites, underused premises, so called “voids” can be found in or near the city centre. These sites often have a negative impact on their surroundings, nevertheless they present a great opportunity: they can be used to complete a compact settlement structure, to provide space for needed functions in the city.

    Revitalisation of the sleeping giants
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  • Γκρινί (Grigny): παρά την πανδημία η μουσική παραμένει «ζωντανή»

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    15/11/2022

    Το 2020 δεν ήταν η καλύτερη χρονιά για το Ωδείο στη γαλλική πόλη Γκρινί (Grigny). Ωστόσο, χάρη στα κίνητρα των δασκάλων και των εθελοντών, η μουσική παραμένει όσο πιο ζωντανή γίνεται από ποτέ και συνεχίζει να κάνει εκατοντάδες παιδιά να ονειρεύονται. Στο άρθρο αυτό γίνεται  μία ενημέρωση σχετικά με την πρόοδο του δικτύου μεταφοράς OnStage, στην πόλη Γκρινί της Γαλλίας!

    Articles

    2020,  Annus Horibilis

    Το 2020 δεν ήταν η καλύτερη χρονιά για το Ωδείο Grigny. Όλα τα όργανα παρέμειναν σιωπηλά κατά τη διάρκεια του εγκλεισμού λόγω της πανδημίας COVID-19, η μουσική σεζόν ακυρώθηκε και οι μαθητές αποθαρρύνθηκαν. Παρά την εφευρετικότητα της διδακτικής ομάδας για να κρατήσει ζωντανό το ενδιαφέρον των μαθητών τους, η έλλειψη αλληλεπίδρασης μεταξύ αυτών και των εκπαιδευτικών είχε ως αποτέλεσμα την έλλειψη κοινωνικών δεσμών κατά τη διάρκεια αυτής της περιόδου. Η καλή πρακτική που προσπάθησε να εδραιώσει το δίκτυο URBACT, OnStage, και αναπτύχθηκε υπομονετικά τα προηγούμενα 6 χρόνια, είχε χαθεί - τόσο καλλιτεχνικά όσο και κοινωνικά.

     

    «Εκπαιδευτικές Διακοπές»  για τα παιδιά της γειτονιάς

    Βγαίνοντας από το lockdown, πολλοί μαθητές βρέθηκαν σε μια δύσκολη κατάσταση στις αρχές του καλοκαιριού του 2020. Χωρίς τη δυνατότητα να κάνουν διακοπές στη χώρα τους, είχαν μόνο τη γειτονιά τους ως ορίζοντα. Για να αντισταθμίσουν την απώλεια της επαφής με την εκμάθηση της μουσικής και να διατηρήσει την Καλή Πρακτική, περίπου είκοσι καθηγητές προσφέρθηκαν εθελοντικά να ηγηθούν εργαστηρίων, ως μέρος του ειδικού προγράμματος Cités Éducatives, γνωστές και ως "Εκπαιδευτικές Πόλεις".

    Έτσι, για μια εβδομάδα τον Ιούλιο του 2020, τα παιδιά μπόρεσαν να συμμετάσχουν σε εργαστήρια σε όλους τους τομείς που καλύπτονται από τα μαθήματα του Ωδείου: μουσική, χορός και επιστήμες.

    Αυτή η πολύ ειδική προσέγγιση προκάλεσε το ενδιαφέρον του Νομάρχη της κοινότητας Εσόν (Essonne) στη Γαλλία, ο οποίος ήρθε να παρακολουθήσει ορισμένα από τα προτεινόμενα εργαστήρια συνοδευόμενος από έναν Εκπρόσωπο Ίσων Ευκαιριών και τους εκλεγμένους αντιπροσώπους της γαλλικής πόλης Γκρινί.

    Αυτή η πρωτοβουλία κατέστησε δυνατή τη διατήρηση του εκπαιδευτικού συνδέσμου κατά τη διάρκεια του καλοκαιριού και τη διεξαγωγή της επίδειξης δράσεων για τα πρωτεοειδή - πειραματίζοντας με τη χρήση μουσικής για την ανάπτυξη των φυτών - η οποία είχε αρχικά προγραμματιστεί για τον Μάιο-Ιούνιο, κατά τη διάρκεια του σχολικού έτους. Στο τέλος των οκτώ θερινών εβδομάδων, περίπου 70 παιδιά μπόρεσαν να συμμετάσχουν σε αυτό το εργαστήριο και ένας συντονιστής εκπαιδεύτηκε ειδικά για το σκοπό αυτό.

    Ανάπτυξη της καλής πρακτικής στην αρχή του σχολικού έτους

    Τον Σεπτέμβριο του 2020, πιστεύοντας σε μια επιστροφή στην κανονικότητα, η ομάδα του ωδείου εργάστηκε για να ξεκινήσει νέα μαθήματα συλλογικής διδασκαλίας τόσο κατά τη διάρκεια όσο και εκτός του σχολικού ωραρίου. Η ιδέα ήταν να ενισχυθούν και να αναπτυχθούν δράσεις που συνδέονται με την καλή πρακτική.

    Δυστυχώς, το δεύτερο απαγορευτικό (lockdown) έβαλε τέρμα σε αυτές τις ελπίδες. Από το τέλος Οκτωβρίου 2020, και λόγω υγειονομικών περιορισμών, το ωδείο δεν μπόρεσε να καλωσορίσει τους μαθητές των τάξεων CHAM και του 3ου κύκλου. Η μόνη θετική πτυχή αυτής της περιόδου ήταν η συνέχιση της διδασκαλίας κατά τη διάρκεια του σχολικού έτους, ακόμη και αν αυτή ήταν ελλιπής και μερική.

    2021: Στο ίδιο έργο θεατές; (Βis repetita?)

    Το 2021 δεν φαίνεται καλύτερο. Η επιμήκυνση της πανδημίας συνοδεύεται από την αποθάρρυνση των μαθητών. Παρόλο που συνεχίζονται τα μαθήματα, αλλά μέσω τηλεκπαίδευσης, πολλοί δεν τους ενδιαφέρουν επειδή λένε ότι δεν λαμβάνουν καμία δράση.

     

    Παρά αυτές τις «ζοφερές στιγμές», η ομάδα του ωδείου στο Γκρινί παραμένει θετική και επαναπροσδιορίζει την προσφορά της κάθε στιγμή, έτσι ώστε παρά την πανδημία, η μουσική να παραμένει ακόμα ζωντανή!

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  • The housing paradox: what can local municipalities do?

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    15/11/2022

    The negative consequences of the financialisation of housing can be felt first and foremost on a local level, in the urban housing markets. Thus the crucial questions are: what are local municipalities doing? Or to what extent can the growing problem of affordable housing be handled on a local level?

    Articles
    Housing

    The differences between European cities are even larger than between countries – depending on political colours, cities within the same country might have totally different answers to the same challenges.

    Here is a short overview of positive examples, i.e. cases where cities achieved success to mitigate or prevent the problems on the housing market – either through subtracting land out of the property market (i.e. limiting speculation) or through creating additional resources to make housing affordable. The sources of the information are international meetings and the very informative book of Patti-Polyák (2017).

    Community-led housing models

    According to Patti-Polyák a diversity of community-led housing (CLH) models have emerged across Europe including the Danish co-housing model focuses on shared spaces and environmental sustainability and the traditional cooperative housing model in Germany, Switzerland and France - which are undergoing a renewal with a focus on democratic governance and anti-speculation. Meanwhile, the Anglophone Community Land Trust model that aims to pull land out of the property market, is progressively gaining a foothold in continental Europe.

    Community-Led Housing projects are costly and require investments exceeding the financial capacity of most inhabitants, particularly low-income households. To be viable and to leverage sufficient economic resources, community-driven housing initiatives need to organise a wide range of actors around their project and attract external funders. For example, the organisations Stiftung Trias and Edith Maryon Stiftung are acquiring land for non-profit purposes and providing long-term leaseholds to civic actors with the aim of enabling non-speculative housing developments. Community-Led Housing projects usually start by aggregating their economic capacities and financial means in the form of savings. Resources that were put in common are then used to leverage further public and private funding. In fact, the success and adaptability of Community-Led Housing models depend largely on the capacity of inhabitants to negotiate external funding at favourable conditions (at low interest rates, for instance) and to advocate for public support mechanisms, such as public guarantees or enabling public policies.

    Since 2015 Barcelona (ES) introduced new models for affordable housing. One form of this is based on giving public land to cooperatives. Javier Buron Cuadrado, Housing Manager of Barcelona city council described this model in the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona (November 2018), starting from the point that in Spain cities do not have power in housing policy, as this is regulated on regional level. Even so, Barcelona has set up the Right to Housing Plan 2016-2025 with the aim to create more than 18 000 affordable housing units, mainly on rental basis. New ideas are used, such as building temporary places and using rooftops. Barcelona also tries to negotiate with the settlements of the metropolitan area, where at least 75 000 affordable units are missing. All types of financial and technological ideas are discussed, especially how to build faster and cheaper. Barcelona is open to all solutions existing in other cities, coming from residents and the academia, to find answers to the affordable housing challenge.

    The Community Land Trust (Patti-Polyák) is an interesting Anglophone model. This is an organisational form in which communities come together to address housing issues. Perceiving a need, a group starts to look for land. This can be in the form of raising capital from an ethical lender for buying land, asking for municipally owned land or through private negotiations with a farmer. The next step is building new houses or redeveloping existing houses into affordable homes. When the community achieves ownership of the land, they can make housing on it affordable. They can sell homes or properties, at about half the market rate. It can be a shared ownership model, or be a socially rented model.

    In the book, the case of the Granby Four street Community Land Trust is described in details. In a poor area of Liverpool (UK), a former residents association was re-created as Community Land Trust in 2011. They met up with a few partners and began to draw plans together for an urban regeneration process with very small incremental stages. In 2012, the association won a small urban garden competition, the result of which got noticed by the Steinbeck Studio social investment organisation. They saw what was happening in the neighbourhood, liked the idea of citizens being active in the community and offered a £ 500 000 loan. From that moment, Liverpool City Council also began to take notice and started discussions with the Community Land Trust, finally deciding to transfer 10 properties over to the Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust. The Community Land Trust holds the land in trust, separating its value from the building on it, and it fixes the price the buildings can be sold for later. Any value increase is locked in by the Community Land Trust for community benefit, so the profit motive has been cut out.

    Using public land in new way

    Berlin (DE) is well known as a city of pioneering attempts to change the usual market oriented models. During a long period of experimentation with temporary use projects, and initiatives mobilising protests against large-scale development projects like the Media Spree, the idea emerged to develop economically sound and secure models of tenancy, based on long-term rental contracts or cooperative ownership arrangements. An example for that is the StadtNeuDenken initiative with a new concept for privatisation (Patti-Polyák). The basic idea is to change the privatisation mechanisms from the highest bid to fixed prices and the best concept.

    This idea was soon adopted by the municipality of Paris (FR) and shortly after the victory of Anne Hidalgo in 2014 their own top-down version of concept-based privatisation was launched in a series of competitions. Besides defining affordable housing goals, Hidalgo and deputy mayor Missika launched the urban development competition: Reinventing Paris. 23 municipally owned sites were selected in Paris – some in quite deprived and remote areas to sell public land, linking sales price to its future use. In an attempt to foster innovation in real estate and extending the scope of urban commons only multi-disciplinary teams could win, and the final users had to be included from the beginning. The competition was very successful and since then two new rounds were launched, on a similar basis.

    Municipal regulation against housing speculation

    Vienna (AT) is known worldwide for sustainable and inclusive urban development, of which housing policy is one of the corner-stones. The city is probably the biggest public landlord in the world with 220 000 public rental units. A particular challenge recently was the quick growth of the city, having in the last years 12-20 000 people moving yearly to Vienna. This means a need for building at least an additional 6 000 housing units yearly. There is, thus, a growing interest for land, suitable for new housing.

    Vienna recognised quickly, that in the case of open competition the interest of international investors would lead to the increase of prices of the scarce land reserves for housing. One of the leading principles of urban development in Vienna is the inclusivity of the city, avoiding changes in the housing market that would push certain strata out. In order to avoid price increases as consequence of speculative capital investments, making housing in the longer term unaffordable, Vienna reacted quickly. A new regulation is about to be introduced, limiting access of investors to real estate that is potentially suitable for affordable housing. The regulation aims to maximize the purchase price for the land, introducing a rule so flats cannot be sold for 40 years to maximise the rent of new units. Moreover, another new decision requires that half (later 2/3) of any new housing projects should qualify for the affordable housing model, determined by the city. These are important initiatives by the public sector to regulate the market, to avoid price increases - as a consequence of financialisation of housing.

    Need for cross-country agreement on the social understanding of housing

    For the moment, the efforts to handle the negative consequences of the financialisation of housing lead only to limited results on a national level and the local attempts face even more challenges.
    For example, Sorcha Edwards from Housing Europe reported on a Dublin (IE) case, where a local group was bidding for an empty standing building to turn it into social housing, but their position was hopeless as their competitor was the largest US pension fund.

    It is clear that international cooperation and joint efforts are needed to strengthen the social aspect of housing, as opposed to the market commodity understanding of it.

    In the Vienna Housing for All conference a range of ideas were raised on how such an international effort could be initiated.

    EU or national government intervention

    Barbara Steenbergen, International Union of Tenants, emphasized that mergers between real estate funds are going on in order to avoid national taxation. The EU and national governments should find out ways to keep housing affordable: real estate investors should be limited or stopped at all to buy up the existing affordable housing stock.

    A European housing forum

    Kieran McCarthy, Member of the EU Committee of the Regions, Councillor of the City of Cork (IE), suggested organizing a European Housing Forum. In the Committee of the Regions housing, it should be taken more seriously, it cannot remain one of the last priorities.

    A set rate of income share, a basic right and the end of VAT

    Evelyn Regner, Member of the European Parliament (S&D), pointed to the European Semester as one of the possibilities, where housing could be included without making huge changes in the basic documents of the EU. She suggested including the principle that people should not spend more than a given share of their incomes for housing costs. Housing should be acknowledged as a basic right. The EU should take steps to achieve housing-related expenses without or with little VAT, which would bring a real decrease of housing costs to normal people.

    The European Semester

    Jörg Wojahn, Representative of the European Commission in Austria, also mentioned the importance of the European Semester, turning soft law into a harder tool. Already today large sums of EU money, some EUR 1,5 billion is invested into housing. Also, loans from EIB and some parts of the Juncker fund (for the energy efficiency in buildings), should be taken into account. However it is clear, that e.g. energy efficiency investments make housing more expensive, thus such investments have to be acknowledged as long term financial commitments, and should be made exempt from the deficit rules. The European elections are a good moment to vote for candidates who agree in the importance of urban and housing issues against the dominance of agriculture and other investment goals.

    EU and municipal responsibility

    Lea Ortiz, deputy mayor Barcelona complained about dozens of evictions weekly in the city (against all efforts of the municipality), and about the fact that investors are buying up growing parts of the city. She also suggested turning to Europe, influencing the upcoming EP elections. The view that “housing is not responsibility of the EU” should be changed. Sustainable and just cities cannot be achieved without a growing public influence on the housing markets and the EU has a large responsibility to achieve that. The movement of cities - the emerging municipal cooperation - should push housing to become part of the discussions in Europe.

    Banning private equity fund investments and airtime at the G20   

    Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing suggested putting the financialisation of housing on the agenda of G20, as the finance ministers of this group are of crucial importance. After food security, housing should be on their agenda. Private equity funds should be banned from investing into residential housing just as investments into harmful environmental investments is already prohibited.

    A basic human right

    In her passionate speech at the Housing for All conference Leilani Farha emphasized that gold is a commodity, but housing not – it is a human right. Seizmic, paradigmatic shift is needed, as the present problems are not only market failures, but so is the lack of viewing housing as a human right. All levels of government have to show up and adopt comprehensive, human rights based housing policies. Housing must be based on laws protecting basic rights, and strategies must be based on the rights of people. She announced the establishment of a new movement: SHIFT, which already has 25 signatory cities, including Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam (NL), Seoul (KR).

    Housing is a human right which should not be sold to the highest bidder.

    Progress in the EU on housing

    Compared to the situation a decade ago, there is some progress in the handling of housing in the European Union. Within the EU Governance (European Semester, Macroeconomic conditionality, Reform Support Instrument, Rule of Law) housing is not considered exclusively from a competition policy perspective, but also as a matter of the Rule of Law in which basic human rights are slowly gaining some importance. There is a chance that fundamental rights will become one of the horizontal enabling conditions in the post-2020 Cohesion Policy regulation.

    On the other hand, according to reports of the Corporate Europe Observatory, there are discussions going on between the lobby groups of the sharing economy sectors (including Airbnb, Uber, etc.) and the Commission departments responsible for competition and free market regulation. The outcome of these negotiations is not yet known, but the EU approach may unilaterally support the forms of collaborative economy against the will of national and local governments to constrain the platforms in order to protect affordable housing. In practice, the regulations on Airbnb introduced in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris, Lisbon (PT), etc. might be annulled by the Commission as hurting the competition law.

    Housing is one of the sectors where the fight between the competition and solidarity aspects is the sharpest. There seems to be a long way to go to achieve socially justified limitations on international capital investors, i.e. regulating the financialisation of housing – without limiting private actors in their will to invest along non-speculative principles into social/affordable housing.

    ***

    "The housing paradox: more financing - less affordability?" - previous part of this article by Ivan Tosics can be read here.

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  • Health in Public Spaces: The challenge of inactive citizens for cities

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    15/11/2022

    One of the main challenges for cities in the coming decade is how to make their citizens become physically active again.

    Physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles have become a leading risk factor for health. Cities are affected by the dramatic increase in the frequency of chronic diseases related to physical inactivity amongst their citizens. These chronicle diseases like coronary heart and respiratory diseases, colon cancer and obesity are resulting in high and early morbidity, loneliness and social exclusion. Collectively physical inactivity has substantial consequences for direct health-care costs but also causes high indirect costs due to increased periods of sick leave, work disabilities and daily care. With decentralising tendencies of tasks like (un)employment, social care and basic health care from national levels to local levels, cities have become a key player in keeping their citizens active.
     
    This article offers an overview of this challenge  advocating this theme as an integrated part of sustainable urban planning in Europe. 
    Articles
    Health

    What cities do to make their citizens active? 

    Many cities all over the world have recognised the urgency of action related to physical activity as well as the competitive advantage that stems from making it into a priority of action. Several municipalities, private companies and research institutions have adopted specific planning and design strategies in recent years in order to promote physical activity in urban settings. 
     
    After the intense wave of criticism and scandals for child labour, the Corporate Social Responsibility of the multinational corporation Nike Inc.US changed towards more socially minded undertakings: in 2012 Nike published a report entitled Designed to Move, a global initiative created with the aim to reverse the trends and re-engineer physical activity back into everyday life. The report has ringed the alarm bell saying that “ if no action is taken, half of the Chinese and American populations will be physically inactive by 2030 along with a third of British and Brazilian populations, totalling 1 billion people”. This inspired many cities worldwide to take the first steps.
     
    Soon after the release of the report, New York City followed suit by publishing its Active Design Guidelines for New York City (PDF) coordinated by the Centre for Active Design, a not-for-profit organisation committed to making health and physical activity a central priority in the design and development of buildings, streets, and neighbourhoods.
    In the UK, inspired by the Design to Move initiative an All-Party Commission on Physical Activity was created in 2014 that advocates for a new approach to tackling the inactivity problem on a national level. It emphasises a cross-sectional working method and managed to create a nationwide coalition with leading third sector organisations such as the British Heart Foundation or Young Foundation.  For the same reasons, the Design Council launched its initiative Active by Design in 2014. It aims to help national and local governments, developers, designers and communities to encourage active living by providing leadership, training and project support for newly designed places and redesigning existing infrastructure. 
     
    Besides these coalitions and initiatives, other city governments are also taking the first steps in the UK. For example, Liverpool has developed a cross-sectorial strategy to combat lower-than-average life expectancy and inactivity. Edinburgh is progressively investing in cycling schemes year by year, while London Boroughs are advocating for the default 20 miles per hour (about 30 kilometers per hour) limits to encourage active transportation. 
     
    In Europe, Copenhagen is a benchmark city for championing active living strategies. It is characterised by experimental, out of the box thinking. The city is working close together with the academia, and the third sector like the Foundation Culture and Sport and the Centre for Sport and Architecture based at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Copenhagen. The latter was among the first to develop guidelines for better integrating sport into the built environment. Their Activating Architecture report (2012) showcases several best practices along with useful measures and everyday ideas on improving the built environment. The results of cities investing in physical activities in public spaces are already visible. For instance, in Copenhagen, the increased investment in public space since the 1970s has been linked directly to a 65% rise in the number of cyclists and a significant drop in both the quantity and speed of automotive traffic. Copenhagen has also pursued pioneering work on developing schemes to reach out the most vulnerable groups including ethnic minorities. 
    Beside the stellar examples, there are many cities who invent, practice and creatively open up spaces for enjoying physical activities collectively, often with no large amount of funds, but with the power of new ideas.  
     
    Health, sport and urban planning in URBACT Vital cities network 
     
    The Vital Cities network works on how to (re)design public spaces using the power and common language of sport for the promotion of healthy lifestyle with a special focus on deprived residential areas. Vital Cities partners believe that instead of bringing inactive citizens to sports facilities, public spaces should be turned into a low threshold facility inviting all citizens to engage in physical activities. Opportunities for this need to be created close to where people live while also creating cleaner, safer, greener and more activity-friendly local environments. 
     
    Vital Cities network has identified five key themes to be investigated during the learning process: (1) identifying community-based initiatives  (2) IT-based actions to redesign public spaces linked to leisure sport activities, (3) better orchestrating the services of the city to promote healthy lifestyle, (4) designing innovative physical activities to promote sport in public spaces and the organisation of innovative events to promote healthy lifestyle. Cities partnering in Vital Cities have already experiences in planning physical activity in public space: a look into their stories serves the purpose of showcasing what cities do and could do.  
     
    Change makers' ideas in Usti-nad-Labem (CZ) 
     
    The city of Usti-nad-Labem has two interesting practices promoted by individuals deeply rooted in their community. Their ideas created simple and efficient examples easy to adopt and adapt in different contexts. 
     

    The first is the Predlice primary school serving the Roma community. 
    The Headmaster of this school, Martin Kosnar is an iconic sports figure being a champion in weightlifting, which becomes obvious while visiting his room full of trophies. Sure his physical appearance in such a rough environment can be of advantage however through his gentle way of operating he managed to get extra investment in sports facilities and additional guarding capacity through an employment scheme. This means that the outdoor sports facilities can be kept open after school hours, inviting over the parents to become physically active together with their children. This idea has been a success and it has been largely appreciated by the community.
     
    The second one is the "6 minutes for health" path. A local cardiologist found out that over time people came often too late to hospital as to check their physical status related to heart, lungs and arteries. She took the initiative to install the "6minutes for health" path in the free accessible Metsky park, through which citizens can check their condition. It consists of a route with milestones as distance markers and a clock (stopwatch) with the purpose of monitoring one’s performance on the track. One simply starts walking or running the route in this public accessible space while using the clock as a stop watch set for 6 minutes. Through the milestones one can monitor the travelled distance while reading the information shields one gets an indication of his/her own health status. Telephone numbers and a website address refer people to doctors. The funding for this project comes from health insurance companies and the initiators budget while the city provided the facilities and space.
     
     
    Reclaiming (unusual) sports areas: the idea of Horten (municipality in Vestfold county, is partner of Vital Cities)
     
    In winter the parking lot of the city of Horten went unused by cars because of the freezing cold and a large amount of snow. The municipality came up with the idea of turning this space into an unusual spot for ice-skating. The trick has been simple and almost at zero cost. The surface of the parking lot has been cleared out of the snow and the parking lot covered with water soon turned into thick ice. This created an amazing ice-skating park in the middle of the city. Locals initially surprised, then started to enjoy it during day and night. The city offered special lightening for evening ice skating, and a group of volunteers distributed ice-skates to those who did not have it. “It was amazing to see how people welcomed the renewed spot for sport. This parking lot became the new meeting place for a lot of kids at different ages, and for their parents as well. It is free and open to everybody open during the day until 10 in the evening. [...] It is a place for integration as well: new comers as refugees newly arrived in Norway never experienced such cold winters, and had here their first ice-skating training with locals.” ( Helge Etnestadt, Municipality of Horten)
     
    Active Parks initiative in Birmingham
     
    The city of Birmingham, with one of the poorest census track in the UK and with a large migrant community has to deal with severe challenges in terms of considerable differences in lifetime expectation and health amongst its citizens, depending on the neighbourhood they live in. To overcome this, Birmingham decided to deliver its sports services in a different way namely by no longer building and constructing new capital intensive facilities, but rather using ‘what is already there’. This is also a consequence of the budget cuts in a period of financial austerity. As result, Birmingham decided to roll out the Active Park programme with free activities in over 80 parks and green spaces across the city
     
    The Birmingham Active Parks programme offers free sessions e.g. Zumba and Thai Chi at various parks across the city with the aim of encouraging people to enjoy being active in a sociable and inclusive atmosphere. It aims to tackle health, financial, ethnic minorities inequalities and social inclusion. It helps to bring some previously underused parks into use. Liz has been a volunteer for Cotteridge park for over 25 years now. She, as many citizens, values the parks as a ‘community asset’, and act as custodians of the local environment. 
    “Active Parks”  - a strong brand now - is managed and administered by the Wellbeing Service and Birmingham Open Spaces Forum, through its staff and dedicated trained session leaders. The programme successfully involves the cooperation of various stakeholders from public sector organisations, NGOs and private companies. The Parks and Ranger service, various volunteers and Friends of Parks groups support the programme as I could experience ‘with the traditional English tea after’, provided by a charming over 80 years lady! Since 2014, there have been 114,000 participants in the 80 parks. Over half of these live in the most deprived areas of Birmingham. It is financed by the Birmingham City Council, Sports England and Coca-Cola Zero Parklives programme. 
     
     
    Health in cities and the Urban Agenda for Europe
     
    The challenge of fighting inactivity relates to several strategies like compact and mixed urban planning, active and public transport, ICT and social services. For this, it can be considered a complex and integrated challenge, that calls for a multi stakeholder and a multi-level governance approach, with strong partnerships at the local level. If we add the financial/affordability implications and personal consequences, it is rather surprising that ‘health and physical activity’ is not yet explicitly covered by  the Urban Agenda (UA). Clearly many of the topics covered by the UA affects health e.g. air quality in considering respiratory diseases and environmentally friendly forms of transport; or housing determinant for a healthy & active lifestyle. In addition, vulnerable groups living in urban poverty tend to be less healthy than average for a number of different reasons, amongst others quality of food and less physical activity. Appropriate health provision is also a growing issue for cities welcoming refugees and sport and physical activity in public space are to be considered important in facilitating short and long term integration. The experience of Vital Cities demonstrates that it is crucial to advocate health and physical activity in cities, upscaling the theme to a wider EU debate as an integral part of the challenges to be addressed in the near future.
     
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