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  • SmartImpact


    Kick-off meeting in June (Dublin). Transnational meeting in October (Stockholm).
    Transnational meetings in February (Miskolc), April (Zagreb), June (Porto) and October (Guadalajara).
    Final event in March (Manchester).

    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

    The focus of this Action Planning network was less about technology solutions per se, but more about governance structures, process and business models. The partner cities are specifically worked together to: develop models of how organisations can adapt their structures to deliver smart cities; effectively finance smart solutions and creating new ways of understanding value with co-investment strategies; develop and support innovation ecosystems within cities; explore the role of regulations and incentives, e.g. the carrot and stick approach; better understand how data integration and urban data platforms can support the smart city.

    Cities, people and the promotion of smart, sustainable development
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  • URBACT goes (even) greener

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    From a carbon-neutral festival to new URBACT IV city support, URBACT is strengthening its decarbonisation commitment at all levels

    Carbon neutrality

    URBACT has had sustainability at the core of its work with European cities for over 15 years. Supporting urban areas to transform in an integrated and sustainable way, it has practically tested and built up substantial knowledge and identified valuable good practices in the field. In the run-up to URBACT IV, the programme is now going a step further: alongside European and global commitments for climate protection, the green transition will be promoted across URBACT’s actions on programme and network levels.

    The new URBACT IV programme, which launches in 2022, will mainstream the green transition as one of its cross-cutting elements. This is an opportunity to embed sustainable thinking and practice in every aspect of the programme’s work, including the future URBACT IV networks and the action plans their cities will develop.

    URBACT cities at the forefront of climate action

    Over the past few years, the conversation around climate change has accelerated from activist and scientific circles to mainstream media and society, leading to long-overdue political commitments such as the Paris Agreement or the European Green Deal. 2019 started unprecedented citizen mobilisation for climate, with young people at its forefront, taking to the streets weekly to demand climate action.

    URBACT cities have been taking the lead on the transition to climate neutrality. For example, the Action Planning Network Zero Carbon Cities led by Manchester (UK) is supporting cities to establish science-based carbon reduction targets, an initiative to align Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission cuts in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. On their carbon-neutral path, these cities are preparing local carbon budgets and zero carbon action plans for their municipalities.

    The eight partners of the Urban Energy Pact network, led by Clermont Auvergne Métropole (FR), are working to become net-zero energy territories by 2050. Each city in the network is bringing local stakeholders and citizens together to prepare action plans for local and renewable energy sources in their communities.

    Reduction and eradication of GHG emissions requires systemic change on many fronts – from the way we produce energy, food and goods, to the way we consume, travel, design and build our cities and protect nature and biodiversity. While individual commitments to climate protection, whether by citizens or single organisations, are very important, it is systemic thinking – accompanied by political will and ground-breaking policies – that is the real gamechanger. URBACT cities have long understood this.

    The RiConnect Action Planning Network is rethinking our transport infrastructures, while the BeePathNet Transfer Network promotes biodiversity and food self-sufficiency through the creation of ‘bee-friendly cities’. The FOOD CORRIDORS network connects European regions for sustainable food production, while Health&Greenspace is enhancing urban greenspaces to improve the mental and physical health of local communities. Name a sustainability-related challenge and URBACT cities are already tackling it.

    URBACT IV to provide new carbon-neutrality training for cities

    Among URBACT’s new green commitments is a Capacity-Building programme, planned for 2022, to help URBACT IV networks embed carbon-neutral perspectives into their work.

    Clémentine Gravier, URBACT Capacity-Building Officer, says: "it's very important that URBACT cities find the right tools and trainings to support them in their carbon-neutral transitions. There is so much we can already learn from some URBACT cities who have led the way to tackle climate change. We will package this learning and add it to the URBACT Toolbox to make it accessible to a wider audience."

    Meanwhile, the URBACT Secretariat has decided to evaluate its own carbon footprint to inform its future decarbonisation actions.

    The URBACT City Festival, set to take place in June 2022 under the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, is being organised as a carbon-neutral event. This is a challenge in itself – even using an eco-oriented venue powered by renewable energy, with local, seasonal and plant-based food, waste collection and composting, we cannot escape the need for carbon offsetting to compensate for participants’ travels and the remaining carbon footprint.

    This experience is not only a practical reminder of the complexity of the carbon neutrality challenge at any scale, but it is also proving to be a catalyst for human creativity and ingenuity to come up with exciting, more nature-friendly solutions. The 2022 City Festival will hopefully pave the way for further carbon-neutral events and project practices throughout URBACT.

    Climate action knowledge hub

    Last but not least, URBACT gathers and builds on all the sustainability knowledge and good practices developed by its cities, networks and initiatives. Recently, URBACT launched a climate action knowledge hub: a gateway to the good practices, ideas, articles and other resources on how cities are boosting local actions to combat climate change and improve resilience. The climate action knowledge hub is going to gain prominence in the upcoming months towards URBACT IV, so make sure you keep up-to-date!

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  • The road to COP26: climate change at the heart of URBACT cities of all sizes

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    Towns and cities must boost local actions to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Three URBACT cities show how…

    Carbon neutrality

    COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, is on its way. In November, governments from around the world will gather in Glasgow (UK) to reaffirm their commitment to tackling climate change. Meanwhile, without waiting for the next COP, many URBACT cities have already been developing their own strategies, activities, and partnerships to move towards greater integration and transversality in their local climate policies.

    Cities are the level at which most emissions are recorded. The world’s cities consume 60–80% of natural resources, producing 50% of global waste and 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. And this is set to increase: 75% of EU citizens live in urban areas; 66% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050; and cities’ global carbon footprint is predicted to triple by 2030. As a result, an estimated 93% of cities face threats such as floods, storms and heatwaves, and although many are taking action to improve resilience, up to 400 million people could be living in cities with no plan to tackle climate by 2030.

    As partners in URBACT networks, Manchester (UK), Mantua (IT) and Clermont-Auvergne Metropole (FR) all recognise the vital role of the local level in defining policies to actively reduce CO2 emissions.

    In light of COP26, these three URBACT cites of very different sizes have committed to going further in their strategies and actions against climate change. The City of Manchester will be represented and aligned with the global movement C40 Cities. Mantua is leading a group of Italian cities to move towards fewer climate emissions, with URBACT support. And Clermont-Auvergne Metropole is promoting the voice of local territories in Glasgow, leading a delegation of 45 representatives of the URBACT Urb-En Pact network, including elected officials from seven cities, all of whom are taking local actions to become net zero energy territories by 2050. They  have, in particular, identified the following responsibilities for cities:

    • Cities can act as brokers of knowledge and ideas and stakeholders by implementing the URBACT methodology and ensuring co-creation of the city of today and of tomorrow.
    • Cities are the place to carry out Living Labs, prototyping and testing new methodologies for policy action. Local territory has to be the architect of the future, the place where a pact for and by society towards a new society can take place.
    • Cities have a high level of independence and should act as local guarantors of leadership and actions, as well as influencers to other governance levels.

    Cities can lead paradigmatic transformation in the way public administration works and the ways to co-design integrated local polices.

    So how are these three URBACT cities tackling climate change locally?

    West Gorton Community Park ©City of Manchester

    Manchester, which led the recent URBACT C-Change network, has a long experience of seeking to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It developed its first strategy in 2009 and declared a climate emergency in 2019. Its latest plan, the Manchester Climate Change Framework, introduced the goal of carbon neutrality by 2038. The UK government also granted the city with a budget for decarbonisation. Yet, says Adrian Slatcher from Manchester City Council: “making climate an important policy statement is key. But even more crucial is to turn ambitions and strategies into a set of actions.”

    As such, Manchester aligned with the Paris Agreement and has sought to develop its own understanding of what science explains about climate change. It has, in particular, developed the notion of carbon budgeting, which it is using through the Manchester Climate Change Agency, while further developing it within the URBACT Zero Carbon Cities network. As a carbon budget aims to articulate the extent of challenges and related actions, Manchester set its own target as a maximum of 15 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from homes, workplaces and ground transport between 2018 and 2100; and a reduction of direct CO2 emissions by at least 50% between 2020 and 2025. Projects include a new ‘sponge park’ in West Gorton, developed during the Horizon 2020-funded Grow Green project. The park features nature-based solutions, such as ‘rain gardens’ and trenches to re-use rainwater and reduce flooding.

    Manchester also works actively with its arts and culture sector on making its practices more environmentally friendly, as well as raising broader awareness of the climate emergency. This has been the scope of the URBACT C-Change network in which Mantua (IT) also participated.

    As a UNESCO World heritage site, Mantua has long been a city with a strong focus on culture, a sector that shapes local strategies and serves as a key economic driver. At the same time, the city acknowledges its role in the reduction of CO2 emissions and energy consumption, for example with the implementation of its Sustainable Energy Action Plan, and various adaptation and mitigation resiliency plans and policies, including a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, and policies to tackle water pollution and improve energy efficiency in built heritage.

    The success of combining arts and culture with climate action has brought Mantua extra national funding of EUR 300 000 to continue its activities. The city is also coordinating a new URBACT National Practice Transfer Initiative cascading the learnings and methodology from C-Change to seven other Italian cities – Rovereto, Cuneo, Ferrara, Siena, Avellino, Corigliano-Rossano, Sestri Levante.

    As for the newly emerging Clermont-Auvergne Métropole, created in 2018, the focus has been to become a net zero energy territory, focusing on two aspects combined in the URBACT Urb-En Pact network: reducing energy consumption, while increasing the production of green and sustainable energy in and around the city. As the economic hub of the Centre region of France, the metropolis’ industry is largely related to transport, housing, and heating. It can therefore work on changing habits, and adapting the needs of companies, inhabitants, and public services while acquiring new knowledge and research and development (R&D) towards smarter and greener growth.


    Fighting climate change needs to be done together

    More than for any other policy area, working with relevant stakeholders has been a challenge, but also an extremely useful new opportunity for these three cities, in their fight against climate change. Manchester City Council is collaborating with Manchester University on science-based policy-making. While City Council emissions account for only 2% of the city’s overall emissions, the municipality has partnered with other stakeholders responsible for 25% of local emissions – housing associations, hospitals, large businesses, media and communities – as part of the Manchester Climate Change Partnership. All these are working together on setting up carbon budgets and on paving the way to reach agreed targets. Within the scope of the C-Change network, the municipality in particular worked with small community players and the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team, known as MAST, made up of diverse cultural organisations. Last but not least, it also managed to get onboard both elected representatives and civil servants – key in ensuring the success of these actions.

    Excursion carried out by Alkemica during the L.E.N.T.O project, in collaboration with Pantacon @Municipality of Mantua

    Mantua has been able to achieve its results only by working with a group of local stakeholders set up during the URBACT network: one key learning from the URBACT method. Giulia Longhini explains: “CO2 emission reduction and Carbon Neutrality could be reached only with all stakeholders involved! This is also inspiring us for other local policies!” It is already foreseen that this new approach of creating local groups will the biggest challenge for cities in Italy’s new URBACT national transfer network!

    For the first time through the Urb-En Pact network Clermont-Auvergne Métropole gathered energy producers and consumer associations. This brought varied, sometimes conflicting, viewpoints together to contribute to the design of local policies and implementation strategies. “We expected the collaboration to be difficult and it actually appeared to be extremely constructive! We are very proud and happy about the results,” says Virginie Squizzato, project coordinator at Clermont-Auvergne Metropole. “It is only altogether that we can sign a pact at city level for actual change,” she adds.


    Cities are key players in the fight against climate change

    While climate change is an emergency, local and national governments take time to decide and act. Public policies take time to change. However, Virginie Squizatto concludes: “the recent and ongoing pandemic has shown that governments can act fast. If we decide to act fast for climate, we can also decide to do so. It is a question of deciding and prioritising”.


    Further reading

    See the diverse ways URBACT is helping cities tackle climate change.

    This article is part of a series drawing on key sessions at the 2021 URBACT City Festival. Revisit the session ‘The road to COP26: climate change at the heart of URBACT cities, from the smallest to the largest’, with recordings of ‘Clermont Ferrand Metropole on the road to COP26!’ and ‘Manchester on the road to COP26!

    Other articles in the series include:

    Find out more about COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021


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  • Five great ideas for greener cities

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    These local green solutions are inspiring cities across the EU. Could they work in your city too?


    The New Leipzig Charter highlights three forms of the transformative city which can be harnessed in Europe to enhance people’s quality of life: the Just City, the Green City and the Productive City.

    URBACT’s latest publication is packed with sustainable solutions to address these three dimensions – all tried, tested and transferred between EU cities, with adaptations for each local context.

    To give a taste of the full stories in ‘Good practice transfer: Why not in my City?’, here are five examples of local actions for Green Cities. We hope towns and cities of all sizes will be inspired to ‘Understand, Adapt and Re-use’ these participative, joined-up solutions, helping to drive a just transition to a green economy.

    1. Reward re-use and recycling

    The Zugló district of Budapest, Hungary, launched a reward scheme with the city’s waste company to encourage recycling – and slow growth in household waste. After an initial survey of local needs and attitudes, they built an online platform linking citizens with various ‘green points’ where they can drop off recyclable and reusable items, earning coupons for goods and services provided by local sponsors. Schools and other organisations – including Budapest zoo – are joining in with activities to promote the circular economy. This approach originates in the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela (ES), which motivated people from its so-called TropaVerde ‘rewarding recycling!’ initiative – including web developers – to transfer the good practice to their peers in other EU cities with support from URBACT.

    2. Bring in the bees

    A new ‘Bee Path’ guides visitors round local sites linked to bees and honey in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz. The sweet solution was developed by a group of beekeepers, teachers, entrepreneurs, researchers, tour guides and interested locals. Together, they identified 16 places in their city with apiaries and melliferous potential, from a university roof to the botanical garden. Bydgoszcz is one of six EU cities to enrich its urban jungle with bees, adopting Ljubljana’s (Slovenia) tried-and-tested ‘Bee Path’ as part of an URBACT Transfer Network. With education, tourism, biodiversity and business all benefiting, visible changes already include new bee-friendly flower gardens, city-wide World Bee Day celebrations, and the promotion of local honey.

    3. Link up art and culture with climate activism

    A movement of green cultural events and a commitment to reducing carbon emissions, is growing in the UNESCO-listed town of Mantua, Italy, thanks to new synergies between the cultural sector and climate activism. As partners in the URBACT C-Change network, Mantua picked up its approach from the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (UK), which was formed in 2011 to explore how the arts and culture sector could contribute to the city's first climate change strategy. Mantua’s cross-sectoral scheme has sparked improvements ranging from re-usable cups to bio-gas buses, contributing to a new ‘plastic-free’ city strategy, environmental criteria in the city’s UNESCO management plan, and green public procurement for cultural events.

    4. Create a municipal farm to supply local canteens 

    With an ambitious sustainable food policy, the Bulgarian town of Troyan decided to build a municipal farm from scratch, and use the produce in school meals. After two years learning from Mouans-Sartoux’s (FR) pioneering ‘Collective school catering’ work as partners in the URBACT BioCanteens network, Troyan’s farm has already started supplying organic fruit and vegetables. To achieve this, the town learnt new public procurement techniques and took a step-by-step approach, initially aiming to provide half of the vegetables required in local canteens, then expand production later. And the process was supported by an URBACT Local Group, involving heads of schools and kindergartens, civil servants and parents.

    5. Grow urban gardens together with communities

    Vilnius, (LT) is promoting urban gardening as a way to fight social exclusion and gather neighbours, even in high-rise ‘sleeping districts’. Working with local stakeholders and the Ministry of Environment, Vilnius developed a clear set of regulations for communities to know how – and where – to start an urban garden. The municipality also released an urban gardening guide as part of a broader environmental awareness drive – and has formally included the shared gardens model in the city’s urban development policies. Their inspiration? Rome (IT), whose resilient urban gardening project targets more than 50 hectares, involving NGOs, citizens, disadvantaged people and minorities. Thanks to the URBACT RU:RBAN network, shared gardens in Vilnius have already started to grow – and dialogue continues with private and state owners to free up access to land for more community gardens in the future.

    Read about these and many more sustainable solutions for cities, in URBACT’s latest publication ‘Good practice transfer: Why not in my City?’, with positive opening words from Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.

    Tagged with the three city dimensions of the New Leipzig Charter, our easy-to-search Good Practice database also provides more inspiration for greener cities.

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  • Small steps, step change

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    How adapting Manchester’s model of cultural collaboration on climate action and engagement has driven change for the better in Šibenik.



    By Nikolina Gracin, Department of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Development, City of Šibenik


    “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi became Šibenik’s mantra in January 2019, when we met with five other cities in Mantova, all part of a new network called C-Change.


    Climate change is real, happening and now. Global temperature rise may seem an abstract term, but we can see and feel the consequences all around us: from drought and forest fires - something we sadly are no stranger to in Šibenik – to damaged homes and increased health risks. We can expect these consequences to make themselves increasingly felt in the future and we all need to do something about it.


    C-Change: Arts and Culture Leading Climate Action in Cities is an URBACT-funded network of cities aiming to build on and learn from Manchester’s model of cultural collaboration on climate action and engagement. Šibenik saw its participation in C-Change as an opportunity to engage on climate change with its citizens through the arts and culture.


    Šibenik is a historic city of 46,000 people, positioned in a deep bay which is one of the most naturally protected harbours on the Adriatic coast. The decline of our industrial base meant people could swim in the sea, a skyline no longer dominated by black smoke and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Now tourism is the basis of our economy, rich as we are in natural and cultural resources and heritage, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and surrounded by two national parks. We want to avoid the negative environmental impacts which larger Croatian tourist destinations have suffered and base our tourism on the protection of this heritage and these resources. We want to preserve this for future generations.



    And yet now we are feeling the consequences of climate change - rising sea levels, flooding and forest fires. But the people of our city, especially the older generations who had seen our air and water get so much cleaner, had not really understood the link between what was happening in our city and global temperature rise. And this is why Šibenik joined C-Change. Because, when we first learnt about what the arts and culture in Manchester was doing when they came to visit us in 2018, we thought this could be the way to connect with our citizens and drive change for the better on climate.


    Through a series of international meetings with Manchester and four other cities - Gelsenkirchen (Germany), Wrocław (Poland), Mantova (Italy) and Águeda (Portugal) we learnt more about the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team. How did the group work together? What kind of support did they have? What part did they play in city climate change strategy? And, last but not least, what were they doing to reduce their impacts and engage with audiences and communities on climate?


    Working to the URBACT methodology, and guided by Claire Buckley, our C-Change Lead Expert, we worked out what we thought we could realistically put in place in Šibenik over two years. We came up with a plan for how we might do this and created a local C-Change group to shape and make this a reality. And along the way we also were able to exchange our progress and challenges with the other C-Change cities, providing us with further inspiration.


    Our plan focused on sector collaboration on climate action and engagement and support for the sector to help them do this, with the Department of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Development (DEED) as project lead. While in the other C-Change cities, it was usually a combination of culture and environmental department representatives who took on this role, DEED’s involvement brought some unexpected benefits. But we will come to that later.


    At the start, following Mantova’s example, DEED did a survey to find out what the people of our city thought about climate change. We also did a series of one-to-one meetings with representatives of city cultural organisations to explain what Manchester had done – it was a unique concept and took some explaining! – and encourage them to be part of our local group. And it worked.


    The local C-Change group started out in early 2019 with about 10 members, mainly city-run organisations such as the city library and city museum, with DEED as group co-ordinator. Once we had agreed our plan of action, together with local high-school students, we took our first collective action, participating in a day of tree-planting. After a few months Ana Šimić from the city library became group co-ordinator. As time went on, and particularly when we started connecting with people as we organised the city’s C-Change Festival, new members joined and the group became more of a mix of city-run and
    independent cultural and creative organisations.


    In summer 2019, with a modest sum, we launched our C-Change pilot action programme. Eight project ideas were submitted and three selected: ŠI Plastic Free a collaboration between Šibenik’s Library Association and Polytechnic; Zeleno Volim/I Love Green workshop series led by the Juraj Šižgorić City Library, and; Take a Break from Plastic, a collaboration between a families’ association from Zlarin island (just off the coast), the For Zlarin Without Plastic initiative, a cinema club and Zlarin Tourist Board, to raise children’s awareness about sea pollution through theatre. Despite Covid restrictions, over 600 people had participated in a total of twelve different activities, and two new initiatives Schools Without Plastic and Archipelago Without Plastic were created.


    The Juraj Šižgorić City Library which led the I Love Green pilot action, is much more than a place to borrow books. It is a modern venue which runs a range of talks and workshops for different age groups, in the library and beyond. I Love Green involved three workshops on composting and natural cosmetics, three environmental talks for about 160 high-school students and an environmental art competition for primary school students. The librarians’ engagement in I Love Green was exceptional and they showed how they could act as drivers for change in the city.


    The Juraj Šižgorić City Library was also host to carbon literacy training for 15 people in October 2019. We had learnt about this approach and seen how it was delivered in Manchester. We knew we had to make our version both instructive and engaging. This task fell to our trainer, Ivana Kordić, an activist involved in the Zlarin Plastic Free Island initiative. Ivana incorporated Climate Collage, an educational game, into the training which proved very effective. Our training will be officially certified by Manchester’s Carbon Literacy Project and we are also hoping to run further training for cultural organisations and other sectors.


    After many Covid-related ‘back-to-the drawing-board’ moments, our month-long C-Change Festival finally kicked off on the 28th of September 2020, the eve of the day of St. Michael, our city's patron saint. We knew this could be something special and we were right. Over thirty days, ten events - from environmental art and photography exhibitions to pop-up environmental book stands and a new installation on sea-level rise - engaged our citizens on a range of environmental and climate-related themes. We also distributed our new C-Change materials during the festival: bookmarks, canvas bags featuring a primary school child’s entry to the ŠI Plastic Free art competition, and packets of pencils made from the burnt remains of a forest fire. For each packet, a tree was planted - 500 in total. We now have two permanent art installations as reminders in our city and are committed to making the festival an annual event.


    DEED was used to dealing with infrastructure projects with much bigger budgets than C-Change. We were more funding and project-driven and not well-versed on culture and climate. Being involved in C-Change increased our own awareness of climate change and why it was so important to act. We started to make small changes in our personal lives. We saw what could be achieved by combining our project management skills with the creativity and reach of the arts and culture. Indeed C-Change brought out our own creativity. In the end, we have achieved more than we thought possible. DEED more actively seeks out funding for environmental and climate projects. As the department responsible for the biggest part of the city budget, in a city starting to develop a new integrated strategy, we will be able to advocate for climate action and for culture as a key player in this process.


    In the very early days of C-Change we were unsure as to what the arts and culture really had to do with climate change. Now we know. We have seen how it can connect people with the issues, making the global, local, and how effective this can be. Ultimately, we understand better that each one of us has to do something and how even small changes can make a big difference.


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  • Carbon Literacy training – an inspirational approach for cities

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    How to build understanding as a launch pad for local action on climate change.

    Carbon neutrality

    Many of us have been watching the elections in the United States and maybe thinking about its potential implications for the future of the global Paris climate accord (amongst other issues!). Meanwhile, Europe’s cities have continued to develop practical solutions over recent years for improving their climate performance at local level.

    Such enhanced environmental sustainability is a key part of the sustainable urban development that URBACT seeks to promote. The programme supports a number of networks working directly on key and innovative environmental topics such as net zero energy territories and zero carbon cities. It is also committed to improving environmental performance across all its cities and networks.

    In that context, we present here the concept of Carbon Literacy training – a practical and flexible framework for building understanding and informing local action on climate change – that has come to our attention through the work and exchanges of the URBACT C-Change network.

    So what exactly is Carbon Literacy?

    The UK-founded charity The Carbon Literacy Project – which originated the concept, defines Carbon Literacy as: “An awareness of the carbon costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis.” In other words, it is about understanding our carbon footprint and our ability and level of agency in reducing it, individually and collectively.

    The project offers a process for developing the Carbon Literacy knowledge of any individual or group through five broad levels of understanding:

    1. What global warming is and how we know – building understanding of the ‘big picture’ of climate change.
    2. What climate change is and what effects it is having – building understanding of why climate change is important.
    3. What people are doing about it – building understanding that action to reduce carbon emissions is possible.
    4. What people just like you could do about it – building understanding that action to reduce carbon emissions in possible in any specific sector.
    5. Exploration of what you could do – building understanding of how to measure your own carbon footprint and realistic, practical steps to reduce it.

    This approach is based on a firm belief that local-level action can and does make a difference and that increased knowledge and understanding of carbon emissions can change cultures within organisations. This in turn, building on principles of equity and fairness, will contribute to a better world and a better way of life.

    The concept of Carbon Literacy has gained increasing international attention in recent years, particularly when the work of the Carbon Literacy Project was showcased as part of ICLEI’s Transformative Actions Program (TAP) at the COP21 UN Climate Change summit in Paris in 2015, with delivery having already taken place across Europe and even further afield.

    Stakeholders in various sectors have seen the value of working with others on carbon awareness initiatives and that improved Carbon Literacy can make you a leader in your sector.

    How can cities deliver Carbon Literacy training?

    The key to understanding Carbon Literacy training is that it is not a one-size-fits-all course, but instead an approach (defined by a publicly-available standard) that can be adapted and applied consistently in very different contexts. The approach therefore has flexibility at its heart. The training is adapted to make it relevant to the specific sector that trainees come from and work in.

    Practical tools – including those for measuring your carbon footprint – and inspiring examples that can truly drive change need to be rooted in and applicable to the practical everyday experience of the trainees. Otherwise, people might be motivated to improve their environmental performance, but demotivated by their lack of agency – lacking the knowledge and understanding of how they can do so in practice.

    For this reason, peer learning is a key aspect of successful Carbon Literacy training. Hearing about what someone in a similar role has been able to do can lead to more meaningful change than high-level or abstract examples that are hard to relate to. Other key aspects of the learning method required by Carbon Literacy are ‘local’ learning, group enquiry and positivity! It is designed to work in community, workplace and education settings.

    Lastly, participants must formulate or take an action within their own area of control, and an action that involves a wider group of people – so Carbon Literacy can never be passively received. On the basis of evidence submitted on behalf of each learner, successful participants receive Carbon Literacy certification, whatever their sector of activity.

    In practice, cities can develop their own carbon awareness training, find service providers to support them or collaborate with others to share toolkits, materials or resources. If a city wants to formally adopt Carbon Literacy as an approach, the Carbon Literacy Project checks and accredits the training programme and materials of any organisation in order to maintain quality and offers resources, support and connection to other cities and organisations to accelerate action and reduce cost.

    An URBACT good practice story: Manchester

    The Carbon Literacy Project in Manchester (UK) was founded as a direct response to Manchester’s first climate change strategy in 2009. Since then, the concept has become increasingly recognised and is now listed by the Manchester Climate Change Agency as an action for “every resident and organisation in Manchester to help meet our climate change targets”, supporting the new Manchester Climate Change Framework, which includes the aim to reduce the city’s direct CO2 emissions by at least 50%, 2020-2025.

    One of the various sectors to engage with the Carbon Literacy Project is the arts and culture sector,  from museums and galleries to opera houses and arts centres. Here, a big catalyst has been MAST, the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team, a network of over 40 cultural organisations that was first established in 2011 in order to explore how the sector could contribute towards implementing the city’s first climate change strategy.

    In 2016, a number of MAST members carried out a Carbon Literacy training pilot in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, and together, they developed a version of the training specifically for the arts and culture sector.

    Some MAST members have gone on to deliver organisation or department-wide training. For example, HOME – a multi-arts venue – now has two accredited trainers who deliver training for all of HOME’s team, as well as to corporate and private sector organisations in their neighbourhood, who in turn have gone on to adopt Carbon Literacy, and then develop and roll out Carbon Literacy materials for others.

    “Climate change sometimes feels incredibly disempowering, and our role is to empower people to play their part. That’s the strongest thing we can do because it will take all of us together to make the difference,” says MAST Chair Simon Curtis. “Carbon Literacy training been an amazing tool for us to help build action in organisations. It speaks to our sector in our own language, using recognisable examples.”

    MAST achieved an average CO2 reduction of 6% every year starting in 2011-2012, whilst a core group of 13 members achieved a 16% reduction in energy use emissions over three years. In 2017, the MAST model won an URBACT Good Practice award.

    An adaptable tool applied in different European contexts

    Thanks to a successful project application to URBACT, the MAST good practice model is now inspiring five other cities to set up similar actions through the C-Change Transfer Network. We look forward to sharing in early 2021 more details on the full range of exciting initiatives developed by this and other URBACT Transfer Networks.

    Here in this article, what is interesting is to note the adaptability of the Carbon Literacy training approach to different national and local urban contexts. As C-Change Lead Expert Claire Buckley (of ‘Julie’s Bicycle, a charity which supports climate and environmental action in the creative sector) explains: “The partner cities have very much taken on the principles of the Carbon Literacy approach from Manchester, and a good bit of the content. Each city has shaped the training to their needs and local context, but none of the cities have gone for the exact same model.”

    In Wroclaw (PL), trainers from four arts and culture organisations delivered two separate sessions for cultural administration and maintenance staff, and two more in-depth sessions for programming and production people. Participants designed a creative, sector-relevant solution to a specific challenge, such as: a green production rider for an event; or a local cultural project idea on climate change. In total, 48 employees representing all 27 city-run cultural organisations have been trained so far.

    In Mantua (IT), a workshop for about 30 local authority and cultural sector participants, was run by the municipality together with cultural associations, and hosted by an environmental NGO. It looked at how the climate crisis is being felt in Italy, highlighting the Venice floods, and showed a video of a leading Italian climate scientist. Participants mapped ‘spheres of influence’, and discussed the impact of climate change on people’s lives now and in 5-10 years, revealing a huge range of perspectives.

    In Sibenik (HR), the city library ran a half-day training event in October 2020, starting by making a range of environmentally themed books and magazines available. The trainer, a local activist, introduced a ‘climate collage’ exercise as a key interactive element. This has sparked strong interest in further training – for example in the city’s Department of Enterprise and Economic Development – and the library is looking into offering this kind of training as a service for schools and the general public.

    In Agueda (PT), a first training in February 2020 included a site visit to a local cultural organisation to see their good practice. A second training in July 2020 included a visit to the city’s SmartLab neighbourhood where participants investigated scalable solutions such as a solar bench for charging phones. In October 2020, climate change training was part of an open day at Agueda’s Smart City Lab on practical decarbonisation solutions.

    More info

    Interested in Carbon Literacy certification and support? See or email

    In addition to the normal capacity building and thematic support provided to networks, URBACT provides the specific additional possibility for any network to access 2 000 € of support to carry out carbon compensation actions. The use of this budget should be agreed with all partners and can include activities such as: community awareness raising and educational activities; tree planting initiatives; Carbon Literacy training; and community projects.

    Listen also to the C-Change Transfer Network story as presented at the European Week of Regions and Cities 2020.

    Thanks to UK government support, all UK local authorities and educational establishments now have access to free-to-use Carbon Literacy toolkits. Already piloted, toolkits for the UK National Health Service (NHS), Police, Fire and Ambulance services, and even the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are on their way. COP26 host city Glasgow is rolling out Carbon Literacy to its Council staff and members specifically in preparation for this.

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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!

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  • Seven cities on a Zero Carbon Journey

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    URBACT City Festival on vuoden 2022 eurooppalaisen kaupunkikehittämisen huipputapahtuma. Se järjestetään Pariisissa 14.–16.6.2022.

    The stage is set for more accountability from decision-makers

    Public pressure is on with movements such as Fridays for Future or demonstrations by movements such as Extinction Rebellion, leading to many national governments and cities having declared climate emergencies. So, how can we get excited about the obvious? How to avoid that these remain just statements? Indeed, these declarations as well as preparing plans without immediate action could be seen as mere greenwashing.

    In the framework of the URBACT Zero Carbon Cities project, seven cities will set up a local carbon budget and a Zero Carbon strategy and action plan by 2022. These action plans will be accompanied by key local pilot projects. As decision makers are held accountable for having declared a climate emergency and for their commitments to initiatives such as the Paris Agreement or the Covenant of Mayors, the current project aims to adopt carbon budgets as a strategic decision-making tool for all local choices.

    What is a carbon budget?

    A carbon budget is the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted over a specific period of time in order to be compliant with the 2015 Paris Agreement. By signing this Agreement, the states committed to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C and if possible below 1.5°C. Thereafter, some states have adopted overall national carbon budgets, but also broken down per sectors such as transport, buildings etc.

    At local level, pioneer cities such as Oslo, Vienna or Manchester started using carbon budgets as local policy tools and are developing local strategies to reach climate neutrality. They set up action plans consisting of specific measures to implement the strategy by 2050 or even 2038 for the most striving ones.

    Ambitious Manchester

    In 2019 Manchester decided to become a zero carbon city by 2038. At city level, this means capping total emissions at 15 million tonnes of CO2 between 2018-2100 based on a science-based ‘carbon budget’ in line with the Paris Agreement. Therefore, Manchester needs to halve its emissions between 2018 and 2022 – a 13% reduction every year. Manchester is not only looking at its direct emissions, but also at consumption-based emissions as well as aviation emissions. An annual report is prepared to show whether the city is on track or not.

    Reaching these ambitious targets requires the necessary governance structures. Internally, Manchester City Council set up the Manchester City Council Zero Carbon Coordination Group chaired by the deputy chief executive. This group involves different municipal departments via the directors/heads of the respective departments: Planning, Strategic development, Neighbourhoods team (community focused), Legal, Finance, Communications, Housing, Human Resources, Policy, Building estates (municipal buildings).

    A climate Change Partnership

    However, in Manchester responsibility is allocated to different stakeholders for up to 20% of Manchester’s total CO2 emissions. The City Council has a facilitation and leadership role where they can gather key stakeholders to take joint action. These stakeholders are part of the Manchester Climate Change Partnership composed of public, private, community and academic partners from the faith sector, local property companies, the Manchester City football club, the two local universities, the social housing sector, the climate change youth board, the culture sector etc.

    The Climate Change Partnership is part of the Our Manchester Forum, a local governance structure that goes beyond climate change and covers all sectors.

    The Zero Carbon Cities project

    Manchester is working closely with Frankfurt (Germany), Vilvoorde (Belgium), Zadar (Croatia), Bistrita (Romania), Modena (Italy) and Tartu (Estonia) in the framework of the URBACT Zero Carbon Cities project. They are all Covenant of Mayors Signatories. Bistrita, Zadar, Modena, Vilvoorde and Tartu are currently preparing their sustainable energy and climate action plans with the target of 40% greenhouse gas-reduction by 2030. In Frankfurt, the City Council Assembly adopted in 2012 the goal to supply Frankfurt with 100% renewables by 2050 supported by the “100 % Climate Protection Masterplan” approved by the City Council Assembly in 2015.

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  • Zero Carbon Cities

    LEAD PARTNER Manchester
    • Frankfurt - Germany
    • Tartu - Estonia
    • Zadar - Croatia
    • Bistrița - Romania
    • Modena - Italy
    • Vilvoorde - Belgium

    The Zero Carbon Cities Action Planning Network will support partner cities to establish science-based carbon reduction targets, policies and action plans, including governance and capacity building to enable them to contribute to the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement and the EU’s strategic vision for carbon neutrality by 2050.

    Zero Carbon Cities
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  • 2020, what we’ll be looking out for

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    The URBACT Programme Experts share their thoughts and expectations.

    Carbon neutrality

    The New Year is an opportunity to reflect on what URBACT will be working on in 2020. As the Transfer Networks start to share what they have learned and the latest generation of Action Planning Networks move into full operation, we asked the URBACT Programme Experts what they will be looking out for most closely over the year ahead.

    Sally Kneeshaw

    Starting in 2020, I am excited about the potential for us to truly enhance our understanding of gender equal cities across a wide range of urban challenges through the new Action Planning Networks. We did a lot of work already in 2019 with the launch of our Gender Equal Cities report. And now we are building on this by asking all the new networks to address gender-equality issues right from the beginning, including in their local stakeholder groups.

    No-one has all the answers. But now we have 203 cities in our 23 networks developing new thinking and ideas that will give us invaluable knowledge on how to tackle issues through a gender lens. We will also get particular guidance from the new Gendered Landscape network led by Umea (SE), which will specifically explore how gender inequality is manifested at local level and what cities can do to tackle it.

    I am also very much looking forward to the next edition of the URBACT Summer University for the new Action Planning Networks in Dubrovnik in July. It is always a great event, with loads of energy and really useful for building capacity. Together with the team we are busy updating the curriculum to create an interactive and stimulating introduction to integrated and participative action planning the URBACT way.

    Ivan Tosics

    One of my main topics of interest is metropolitan areas, so I am very much looking forward to seeing the work of RiConnect, an Action Planning Network led by Barcelona (ES) in 2020. Th

    is is a network of metropoles exploring how to rethink mobility infrastructure to better connect neighbourhoods and unlock opportunities for urban regeneration. I am particularly interested in how you can extend the territory of the local housing market if you make local transport systems more integrated and make the price less dependent on distance.

    I am also interested to see the findings of URBACT networks working on participatory governance and the use of participatory platforms. For example, Active Citizen, led by Agen (FR), is exploring important issues around the balance between representative and participatory democracy. Too many participatory initiatives still only give lip service to real participatory governance, so hopefully the network can show that participation means something more.

    I am also intrigued about the findings of the Transfer Networks and the possible relationship between the complexity of a good practice and the ability of cities to transfer it successfully.

    Eddy Adams

    2020 is an important year for the URBACT Programme, when we will hopefully get some more clarity on what the post-2020 European urban policy framework is going to look like. URBACT has been working through a series of City Labs to feed into the updated Leipzig Charter and we are pushing for more clarity from the European Commission on how we’re going to engage cities directly in the decision-making.

    2020 is also the big year for the Transfer Networks to share their results. We will have a series of events where we’ll hear about the content of the good practices and also what cities have learned about how you can transfer them effectively in practice. I am particularly excited to hear more about some of the small-scale innovation that I know has been going on to make ideas work in different contexts.

    For the new generation of Action Planning Networks, I also think it is really exciting that they have explicit scope in 2020 for small-scale experimental actions as part of their work. I think this can create some real lessons and inspiration from URBACT on what can be achieved by local-level action in cities.

    Laura Colini

    I am delighted that URBACT now has for the first time a network on homelessness (ROOF), that I hope to follow really closely in 2020. The ROOF Action Planning Network, led by Ghent (BE), emerged as a result of our work with the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Urban Poverty and the City Lab we organised in Paris at the end of 2018.

    We are also currently working on a joint activity on housing with ‘Urban Innovative Actions’ that aims to share knowledge about municipal schemes for implementing the right to housing. It will be looking at: community-based models (such as cooperatives and community land trusts); ‘no one left behind’ models supporting the most vulnerable members of society; and fair financing schemes.

    I am also really keen to see what messages and lessons we can draw out in 2020 on topics of education, migration, anti-discrimination and integration of ethnic minorities, which are present to different degrees in several URBACT Transfer Networks, such as Rumourless Cities, OnStage, ON BOARD and Volunteering Cities.

    Marcelline Bonneau

    I am particularly excited that the circular economy is going to be such a strong focus for URBACT in 2020. We have two new Action Planning Networks focusing on issues that will support a real reflection on how cities can move further away from a linear economy to more circularity: Resourceful Cities and URGE.

    Resourceful Cities led by The Hague (NL) will be promoting ‘next generation’ urban resource centres that recover unwanted materials to create resource loops at local level. We need to see what can be learnt about integrating such resource centres into city strategies covering all aspects, including waste management, citizen involvement and behaviour change. Meanwhile, URGE led by Utrecht (NL) will be focusing specifically on the re-use of materials in the construction industry.

    I will also be interested in the ongoing progress of URBACT networks working to transfer good practices that incorporate important aspects of circularity. Tropa Verde aims to transfer a good practice from Santiago de Compostela (ES) on encouraging citizens to re-use and recycle. BioCanteens is working to transfer Mouans-Sartoux’s (FR) good practice on sustainable local food and reducing food waste.

    Ania Rok

    I am really pleased that the new Action Planning Networks will be making the environment a much stronger topic for URBACT in 2020. Networks focused specifically on the circular economy and climate are exciting new topics for URBACT. We can play a key role in sharing examples and lessons not just from the bigger cities with the most experience, but also from smaller cities and those working in a different context, including where the national level is not so favourable to climate action.

    Marcelline has already talked above about some circular-economy-related networks. I will also be interested to see the progress of the Zero Carbon Cities, Action Planning Network led by Manchester (UK) which is focused on climate action and specifically establishing science-based carbon reduction targets contributing to the EU’s strategic vision for carbon neutrality by 2050.

    I also want to mention Tourism Friendly Cities, Action Planning Networkled by Genova (IT), which is a great example of how URBACT can address crucial urban issues that can fall through the cracks between other programmes. It’s about so many social, economic and environmental aspects, including affordability of housing, safety and security, jobs, the local economy and environmental sustainability – with crucial impacts on the sustainable use of local resources and waste management.


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