POINT (-8.020216 37.137919)


    Phase 1 kick-off

    Phase 2 kick-off

    Phase 2 development

    Final event

    Arwen Dewilde
    City of Ghent



    Plaza de la Constitucion 1

    Baena (Cordoba) - Spain


    Artur Katai
    City of Újbuda


    The partner cities from this Implementation network have a common need to improve the implementation of their existing integrated urban strategies and action plans by including new approaches linked to creative and cultural industries (CCI) – creative places, people, and businesses. The joint policy challenge for the network is to better facilitate the above 'creative ecosystem' to be able to attract (more) creative entrepreneurs and boost creative entrepreneurship in dedicated urban areas, this comprises activities that create economic value through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. A city is able to mobilise ideas, talents and creative organisations when it knows how to foster a creative milieu by identifying, nurturing, attracting and sustaining talent. Local governments all over the world are increasingly becoming aware of the CCI’s potential to generate jobs, wealth, and cultural engagement.

    Boosting creative entrepreneurship through creative-based urban strategies
    Ref nid


    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


    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela


    Municipality of Udine (Italy)


    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email:

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

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin:




    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora



    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801


    City of Rome

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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



    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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



    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council


    Municipality of Piraeus


    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029



    Riga NGO House


    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510


    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

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


    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
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  • 23 Action Planning Networks ready for Phase 2!

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



    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!





    Research, technological development and innovation


    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

    (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.


    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


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

    - 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


    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.


    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.


    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.

    (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.


    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


    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


    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


    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).


    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.


    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.


    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


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

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




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

    From urbact
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  • HEALTHY CITIES for embedding health in urban planning policies

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    The climate crisis, as well as unhealthy lifestyles in urban environments, are closely interlinked with urban planning.


    Studies show that approximately 75% of our health depends on the environment in which we develop our lives; that is, the combination of lifestyles, built environment, natural surroundings and social relationships. The built environment can encourage or discourage active lifestyles, car dependency, social cohesion, and much more, which affects our health. Public spaces, buildings, neighbourhoods and cities themselves have an impact on physical, mental and environmental health. This means that collective health is largely determined by policies outside the health sector.

    Urban planning is key to all of those determinants and can provide multiple positive benefits to improve overall health. However, there is a lack of policies promoting health explicitly through urban planning, or from other policy domains outside the health sector. Also, it is not well-understood how health is impacted by different sectors and projects. We are still missing quantifiable evidence of the benefits.

    The URBACT Healthy Cities Network, launched in September 2019, brings together 9 partners facing different challenges with different policy needs to develop a common framework that will generate methodologies and approaches to improve health through urban planning. The project proposes to create a network of cities to deepen the relationship between health and the urban environment, develop policies that focus on improving the health status of the population; as well as collating and enriching approaches for health impact assessment of these policies. Partners will consider actions from different points of view and through different policies, but the global health perspective will provide a common framework, allowing for the sharing of methodologies.

    The ambitious partners that have embarked on this journey to become Healthy Cities are: the city of Vic (ES), the lead partner, the municipality of Farkadona (EL), the city of Pärnu (EE), the town of Falerna (IT), the city of Anyksciai (LT), the municipality of Loulé (PT), the city of Alphen aan den Rijn (NL), the city of Bradford (UK) and the planning authority of Malta.


    How does a city become a healthy city?

    Firstly, it is important to clarify what we mean by the term “Healthy City”. As defined back in 1991 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) “a Healthy City is not one that has achieved a particular health status. Rather, a Healthy City is conscious of health and striving to improve it. It continually creates and improves its physical and social environments and expands community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential”.

    Under this definition, the 9 partners will create working groups focused on various topics that consider the urban determinants that affect health. They will give emphasis to embedding health in policies that are not traditionally related to health and healthcare (such as land use, urban planning, mobility, transportation). They will advocate for the increase of green spaces and encourage their use, so not only the environment will improve (cleaner air) but also people will live healthier lives.

    Specifically, Healthy Cities aims to tackle specific sub-challenges within the overall framework:

    • Integration of urban green spaces (restoration of existing spaces, create new) for health and well-being in the overall city strategy and policies.
    • Involvement of stakeholders and citizens in the planning, development and use of public spaces to create awareness and improve their overall physical and mental health.
    • Obesogenic environments: tackling sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles, with a particular focus on young people.
    • Specific urban problems: air and noise pollution, heat, water management.
    • Health inequalities and improve social cohesion.

    What is the key to success?

    Multi-stakeholder involvement

    The Healthy Cities partners will establish expert local groups to create a multidisciplinary working team that will address challenges and policy needs. Successful design and implementation of integrated action plans rely heavily on the active involvement and engagement of stakeholders, citizens and multiple city departments in the decision-making process. Urban planning can be instrumental for this inclusive and open collaboration and communication, but it has not yet been integrated sufficiently when planning for healthier cities and citizens.

    Evidence-based approach

    Healthy Cities intends to develop, exchange and test knowledge on methodologies for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and the definition of monitoring indicators are called upon to become a key element in the planning of our cities. HIA is a tool which will be used to evaluate the public health consequences of proposed decisions in non-health sectors (e.g. urban planning). It will bring positive and negative public health impacts and considerations to the decision-making process.

    Promote health in all policies

    The Healthy Cities partners will benefit from the knowledge exchange and are committed to promoting health transversely. Promoting health in all policies as proposed by WHO, setting common goals and priorities, and developing a strategy or plan for health, equity and well-being in the city are essential to become a Healthy City.

    The partners will work on all of these elements and further develop their knowledge on the ideal city approach, tools, methodologies and policy recommendations. Follow the network to learn more!



    From urbact
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  • Healthy Cities


    Lead Partner : Vic - Spain
    • Pärnu - Estonia
    • Falerna - Italy
    • Anykščiai - Lithuania
    • South East Region of Malta - Malta
    • Alphen aan den Rijn - Netherlands
    • Loulé - Portugal
    • Farkadona - Greece
    • Bradford
    Discover the Healthy Cities Generator!


    • SEP 23-25 > Kick-Off Meeting | PHASE 1
    • FEB 03-04 > Final Meeting | PHASE 1
    • JUN 16 > Activation Meeting | PHASE 2
    • OCT 14 > Reorganisation meeting | PHASE 2
    • FEB 17 > Transnational Meeting | Lifestyle
    • MAR-MAY > Deep Dives meetings
    • JUN 30 > Transnational Meeting | Greening
    • NOV 24 > Transnational Meeting | Mobility (Mid-Term reflection)
    • GEN-MAY > City 2 City meetings
    • JUN 01 > Final Meeting | Phase 2

    Integrated Action Plans

    Loulé Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Loulé - Portugal
    Vic Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Vic - Spain
    Pärnu Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Pärnu - Estonia
    Bradford Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Bradford - United Kingdom
    Anykščiai Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Anykščiai - Lithuania
    Integrated Action Plan South East Region of Malta

    Read more here !

    South East Region of Malta - Malta
    Farkadona Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Farkadona - Greece
    Alphen aan den Rijn Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Alphen aan den Rijn - Netherlands

    This Action Planning 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 around it. Urban Planning can become a health generator on many grounds. This partnership reflects the multiplicity of possible approaches to tackle the issue: green areas, mobility, social cohesion or promotion of sports are some examples.

    From planning to action
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  • Vital Cities under microscope!

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    As more and more people have adopted sedentary lifestyles, and as the associated health and social problems have worsened, governments have become increasingly aware of their role in promoting physical activity. Half a year after the close of the VITAL CITIES URBACT Action Planning Network project, the participating cities are ready to look back and assess the progress they have made and identify further gains that can be made.


    Ten cities came together in VITAL CITIES with the objective of promoting active lifestyles and social inclusion in urban environments. The network was established as part of URBACT, a European exchange and learning programme. During their time in the network, the cities took part in an intensive learning process focused on the issue of turning public spaces into low-threshold sports facilities. This involved, inter alia, redesigning public spaces, promoting these spaces, initiating ICT innovation, introducing non-ICT hardware, and optimising services.

    The result of this process is a set of innovative tools and methods that can be used in urban design and planning to reshape public spaces linked to sports and physical activity. Cities also worked with local stakeholders to each produce an integrated action plan (IAP). In what follows below, we place several concrete examples under the microscope to assess their impact six months beyond the project’s end.

    Progress on implementation so far – challenges faced

    Most of the cities have begun to implement their IAPs using their own means or by calling upon stakeholders. Some have started by picking low-hanging fruit to show commitment, e.g. implementing ICT tools, while others have completed physical interventions.

    Horten Municipality/Vestfold Region: how to involve young people? How to overcome criticism?

    Horten highlighted five key issues:

    1. A lack of knowledge concerning the needs of the inactive
    2. Poor articulation of the needs of the inactive
    3. High organised sports drop-out rates at the age of 14
    4. Lack of financial support for bottom-up activities
    5. Low levels of physical activity among target groups in Horten’s main park

    Horten’s ambition is to use the park to increase physical activity.

    Horten’s main challenge is how to encourage youth participation in the planning of facilities. The city provides guidelines, support, and capacity building for a motivated group of young people. It reached out directly through schools and online tools.

    Instead of buying equipment off the shelf, the city has purchased custom equipment that matches local needs and aesthetics (a key means of reducing vandalism).

    Additionally, the city faced a challenge in that many locals complained about the possibility of increased noise pollution. City officials turned this into a positive by pointing out that increased activity would dissuade vandalism and drug use.

    Gender also became an issue. Boys like to play with balls, etc. but girls like to climb and hide. Thus, during the design process, options for separate and mixed-use were incorporated.

    In the run up to winter, Horten decided to ban cars from parts of the market square and instead use it as an ice ring. A local NGO then arranged for a group of refugee children to have their first ice skating experience. For the summer, the city painted lines and patterns on the ground to inculcate a sense of play.

    Liepaja, the city where wind was born: how to reduce red tape for volunteers and their initiatives?

    While developing their plans Liepaja bumped into one main issue: citizen involvement. The city has a good track record with, e.g., volunteering related to disabled people for which the city pays special attention to in city planning. Everywhere in the city on the pedestrian sidewalks

    there are special white ribbed guiding tiles for the visually impaired. Additionally, special locally developed hearing buoys have been installed in a designated area on the Baltic Sea facilitating independent swimming for this target group. They also provide special wheelchairs for driving into the sea and an NGO run by volunteers provides the services. To tackle the city’s hesitation in reaching out to youths in the deprived Karosta quarters, a special session during the international exchange was planned with the Karosta kids. A rapid co-creating session led to many ideas for reconstruction. These contacts are still thriving today.

    The main complaint expressed by citizens was about the length of time it took to get things done. This prohibits stakeholders from taking the initiative to build or organise things. Therefore, the city has cut red tape by developing a new workflow involving all departments. An app will reduce the wait from 12 to 3 weeks.

    Burgas – European City of Sports 2015 – How to inform better citizens

    Through the Vitalcities project Burgas became aware of its unique character: wedged between the Black Sea and salt lakes, it is a dense city with mixed districts, green public spaces, and good public transport. Urban sprawl is mostly absent and this provides ample opportunities for active transport, an important ’built in’ daily physical activity.

    During the transnational peer reviews, the city was advised against interfering too much with the ’retro’ style of the Rosenetz area. The city became aware of the value of existing public spaces, facilities and initiatives and decided upon stakeholders’ wishes to ’disclose’ information as a first action within the integrated action plan. An online map of the facilities for sports and physical activity on the territory of the municipality has been made available at

    Short-term actions and results are necessary to prevent Burgas from falling back into ‘democratic participation fatigue’.

    Birmingham – How to deliver services differently given a diverse & deprived population

    Birmingham’s overall challenge is to overcome the inactivity of over 80% of its diverse citizenship, given the fact that 408.000 Birmingham citizens live in the top 10% most deprived in England.

    This situation, combined with tight budgets, results in a need for creative solutions to tackling inactivity in a different way: by taking it to the streets and people instead of attracting people to large centralised and expensive facilities.

    In its local action plan the city mainly targets cooperation with citizens and volunteering is at the heart of its approach. Active streets, active parks, and active citizens are the adagio.

    The city looks at those groups that will result in the biggest impact. The strategy is to focus around ‘activity’ bringing forth social cohesion. Therefore, the city strengthens existing approaches like street closure for play, activities in the park like yoga, tai chi etc.

    The VITAL CITIES project helped to bring The Active Wellbeing Society into existence. It is a concept that was thought about before the Vital Cities Programme, however, the programme allowed greater interaction with experts from the programme and colleagues from other cities to emphasise the wider whole system thinking about open spaces, physically active for all and not just the keen sports athletes.

    Loulé – How to activate and involve all citizens and especially those in deprived areas?

    The municipality of Loulé puts four central ambitions in its IAP: promoting an active and healthy lifestyle amongst the general population, doing the same for the older population, fighting sedentary lifestyles, and fostering social cohesion. It does this by using public spaces as active and dynamic areas and by organising activities.

    The city has chosen three small public target areas: the Stuttgart/Hanover streets have been completed even within the Vitalcities project lifespan! A deserted public space between larger blocks has been converted into an ambient public space with play equipment for children and fitness equipment for the elderly while offering room for ball games as well. The green has been balanced with the harder structures and car parking is foreseen at the edge of the quarters.

    The city provides several different programs that have become a big success. Lots of activities are also organized in deprived areas. Tennis club de Loulé is one of the main promoters.

    All in all the city offers activities on all different levels from dancing for elderly to boxing for youngsters. By involving 20 Local Partners more than 200 events/activities are organised reaching over 20.000 participants.

    The five cities portrayed here have embarked on the journey of actually delivering on what they listed in their IAPs. During their journey, they have chosen to start with easy-to-organize actions involving local stakeholders. By aiming for the so-called ‘low-hanging fruit’ they have built trust. Yet they had to rethink things like information functions, the organisation of internal processes, and providing services tailored to local needs. There they had to think of aspects such as gender, social inclusion, demographic spread, diversity, and more down-to-earth things such as vandalism, security or air pollution. The cities seemed to have succeeded by staying close to their local DNA and their citizens.

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  • Specific approaches needed to implement policies for the creative sector

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    CREATIVE SPIRITS is a network of nine European cities, funded by the European Union in the frame of the URBACT III Programme. The nine CREATIVE SPIRITS partner cities have a common need to improve the implementation of their existing integrated urban strategies/action plans by including novel approaches linked to creative and cultural industries (CCI) – creative places, people and businesses. The joint policy challenge for the network is to better facilitate the “creative ecosystem” to be able to attract (more) creative entrepreneurs and boost creative entrepreneurship in dedicated urban areas.

    City Branding

    The objectives of CREATIVE SPIRITS partners are focused on exchanging practices and ideas on how they could implement their “creative” strategies more successfully. The general implementation challenges defined by the URBACT programme will serve as a perfect basis for joint learning and knowledge transfer.

    In the Baseline Study and during the discussions held in the framework of the City Visits, these general challenges are connected to more specific challenges which are typical of the creative sector. These specific challenges have also been intensively discussed during the kick-off meeting of the project. They are strongly inspired by the findings in some relevant case studies from creative projects implemented in several European cities.

    Defining, updating and fine-tuning actions

    Though, each CREATIVE SPIRITS partner city has an integrated strategy or action plans, almost all of them face the challenge to turn these rather general strategies into operational action plans. Many partners are faced with the fact that as the environment of the urban development is constantly and quickly changing, the strategies can hardly follow them since policy making is generally a rather slow process. Therefore, this challenge can be translated into two main questions. The first one is how a creative development strategy can be translated into an effective action plan using fully integrated working methods and participatory approaches, and the second one is linked to how an already existing (approved) action plan can be updated in order to meet new requirements without losing commitment. It has also been considered as crucial that in order to create an early and firm committment from all stakeholders that they should include smaller (sometimes symbolic) projects which can have an effect in creating points of energy and initiating a snowball effect in the target area. For instance, municipalities can formulate a policy to tackle interim use in vacant places and pay attention to make empty shops or flats in creative locations available below-market prices (see picture of a co-working place for creative in Athens below). Another idea which can easily be implemented is the use of street-art on blank walls to create an outdoor gallery reflecting on the place. It is also in most cases very effective to build in a support model for creatives to build up their own platform which could serve as an inspirational engine for innovative ideas.  

    Learn more about Kerameikos Metaxourgeio which is a deprived area lying close to the frequented inner-city areas of Athens (Greece) having beautiful but dilapidated old housing stock. Currently the district is under regeneration: a young real estate developer (a change-maker) who wants to redevelop the area into a cultural district created an association of people for planning and invited the public to submit their ideas for the future of the district.


    Tackling policy spill-overs through integration

    Another advantage of an integrated style of working is that their will be a sound basis for boosting so called creative spill-overs. This could be very well organised and orchestrated by the establishment of an intermediate agency like it is the case in Rotterdam. They have set up a Creative Commission  which has the mission to focus on the added value of CCIs in the Rotterdam economy rather than the sector’s internal growth in terms of revenues or turnover (Creative SpIN Final Report, URBACT, 2015). Also, the development of De Ceuvel in Amsterdam is a very good example of  integrating environmental aspects in the implementation of their action plan for giving space to creative sector developments (see the pictures of DeCeuvel below).

    De Ceuvel (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) is a city playground for innovation and creativity, an experiment in which co-creators achieved sustainability in a tangible and integrated way.

    Refreshing our evidences

    For a successful and effective implementation process of the creative strategies, the setting up of an indicators & monitoring system is a crucial aspect. Although  the strategies and action plans of the CREATIVE SPIRITS partner cities were mostly prepared within EU programming processes (meaning that they include indicator and monitoring systems) measuring performance and success of the creative sector development policies is a rather complicated exercise also due to the lack of an internationally agreed definition of outputs and results . It is a real challenge for CREATIVE SPIRITS partners to deal with this aspect and to jointly define indictors which are well connected to the specific character of the creative sector. The key question in this regard mainly refers to the measurement of soft factors. Creative districts have often been developed as a slower step-by-step process, based on local resources and local demand. In this process, experimentation is a key factor, but how to measure experiments? How to measure CCIs on district or city level as targeted statistics are mainly available on national level. A particularly useful approach to the audit of local cultural-creative assets is the technique known as cultural asset mapping which will certainly be an element to be used while discussing this challenge in the future project meetings.

    Do it with people under a “letting them go responsibly” attitude

    The involvement of local creatives is of course crucial in implementing strategies for the creative sector. All partner cities have a great interest in further developing knowledge and specific skills to develop long-standing, reciprocal partnerships with stakeholders and to mobilise local people. Furthermore, cities need further knowledge on how to identify and make the most of local “catalysts” (the most innovative people) enabling them to act as change-makers on the long-term. Finally, deeper understanding of the importance of co-creation in connection with CCIs is necessary to create entrepreneurial friendly strategies. The main stakeholders in creative-based urban strategies must be the creative people (artists, craftsman, designers, makers, architects, culturpreneurs, start-upers, officers from public organisations), but inhabitants, youth, university students, real estate owners/agencies are also important actors.
    The stakeholder engagement challenge is very particular for the creative sector. Creative people are mostly rather “independent” and they must be approached in a rather individual way. The golden rule is that “invitation is stronger than intervention”. It also means that the municipality should be familiar with the unique interest of the different groups and should “speak their language” (see picture of Macao initiative below).

    Learn more about how Municipality of Milan engaged creative people in Macao!
    Instead of project-specific stakeholder grouping, the municipality of Milan created a platform for related co-creating urban policies. The negotiation board - which is not only an attempt to negotiate formally with squatters - is a way to include grassroot organizations directly in urban policymaking. Macao was able to have the negotiation board adopt the legislative tool of “istruttoria pubblica”: through this tool, citizens can directly contribute to policies: they can formulate draft regulations and the city council must discuss and vote on them.

    Diversifying the funding portfolio

    CREATIVE SPIRITS partners would like to learn more about innovative funding solutions which are especially applicable for supporting cultural-creative industries.  Crowdfunding can be a rather good tool for creative start ups. The public sector could play a role here in support to set up business plans and for “last mile” financial contributions to the crowdfunding campaigns.  A good example in this regard is the Creative City Berlin platform which is used as a marketing tool for collecting crowdfunding for specific creative-cultural goals . Also the method of a Social Marketplace  can provide an environment in which creative entrepreneurs can find funding solutions. Although this method is used for NGOs, it can be used also for smaller creative entrepreneurs as well (as Creative Marketplace). Similarly, the Social for Impact Bond method can be modified in order to promote local creative-cultural activities creating a Creative-Cultural Impact Bond.

    Designing smart public procurement frameworks

    Regarding the challenge related to public procurement, the most important issue is that while procurement regulations are mostly intended to ensure accountability and minimize risk, the process leaves little room for experimentation or creative engagement with entrepreneurs. Innovations are needed in procurement to correctly value creative services.

    Setting up Public Private Partnerships for delivery

    Based on the discussion of partner cities, classic Public Private Partnership (PPP) schemes are less relevant with regards to the network’s policy challenge. However a strong cooperation between the real estate sector and the public sector is very important. It would be a task for the city to find and discuss smart solutions on how the real estate  sector could be engaged in the process of creating opportunities for creatives to settle themselves in existing (sometimes unused and empty) shops and buildings in the target areas. Public/private cooperation can provide networking facilities, like the one in Rotterdam. Rotterdam’s Creative Factory, established in 2008 in an abandoned grain silo, has created a raft of new full-time jobs in one of the most deprived areas of the city and has provided a working space for over 180 small companies over the last five years.


    The objective of the CREATIVE SPIRITS network is focused on creating an environment in which entrepreneurship in the sector can get a boost by tackling the above described challenges. These are what the partners have in common. The sub-objectives and sub-challenges however will vary, which creates a more precise basis for future knowledge transfer and learning in the implementation phase of the Creative Spirits network. This is the case with the question on which extent the support to creative entrepreneurs should be based and should contribute to the rehabilitation of deprived areas and to social cohesion in these areas. Discussing common CREATIVE SPIRITS goals to be implemented in different cultural and governmental settings and by including local people strongly contributes to a better understanding of the value of EU cooperation.





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