POINT (9.185924 45.465422)
  • CollaborACTIVE Cities

    In the framework of the 15-minute city model, the main aim of this project idea is to encourage the participation and collaboration of citizens, local actors and stakeholders (enterprises, third sector, associations, universities, etc.) in shaping, revitalising and animating public spaces of the city through the creation and implementation of different methods of collaboration between the public institution and the wide "private" sector. These actions could feed the local strategy of tactical urbanism and its experimentations in the city. 

    Through the capitalization of the results of CITIES4CSR project that created a co-designed local strategy for CSR, this project proposal opens up to the co-creation, implementation and test of wider and more structured integrated systems (as Private Public Partnerships) and other models of collaborations. 

    This will develop activities in the city, in urban areas and cities that need enhancing participation and communal planning of public spaces. 

    Activation of local communities in shaping and revitalising suburban areas will be one of the main activities of the project. 

    Through the tools of Tactical Urbanism there will be new planning of city areas that will find a better purpose for local population, including local stakeholders in the shaping and caring of communal areas, and at the same time structuring a network of services and commodities within a “15 minutes city” strategy. 


    We are looking for cities with concrete experience(s) and/or strategies on urban regeneration and in creating collaborations and/or Public Private Partnerships as well as skilled/interested in the involvement of local stakeholders and citizens.


    Chiara Minotti
    City of Milan
    Are you a candidate Lead Partner looking for partners
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    UE Affairs Officer
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  • BoostInno

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

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter


    Kick-off meeting in July (Wroclaw). Transnational meeting in November (Barcelona).
    Transnational meetings in March (Baia Mare) and November (Paris).
    Transnational meeting in January (Milan). Final event in April (Gdansk).

    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. 

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    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


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


    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

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


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


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


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


    Preston City Council
    Town Hall, Preston, PR1 2RL

    City of Piacenza
    piazza Cavalli 2 - 29121 Piacenza - Italia
    tel centralino 
    Phone +39 0523 492 111 

    City of Bilbao
    Plaza Ernesto Erkoreka nº1. 48007 Bilbao. Phone +32 944 204 200 

    City of Poznan
    plac Kolegiacki 17,
    61-841 Poznań


    Westmisnter City Council
    Phone +44 020 7641 6500

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

    The work developed by the cities of this Action Planning network has proven that social innovation is not just a trend, but it could also be qualified as a fundamental change in the management of cities, in the management of impact and in the relations cities uphold and develop with their inhabitants. Some would describe this change as an equivalent of the industrial or the IT revolution: up until now, one of the basic assumptions of urban policy was that citizens were to accept what is decided, planned and built. Recent years have shown that it is often the citizens who make the city, in a collaborative perspective.

    Boosting social innovation
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  • The CSR local legacies: New Understandings, Practices and Relationships to Build From

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    12 URBACT lessons learnt on CSR

    As URBACT Action Planning Networks conclude their work after three eventful years, it is time to take stock. In this last article, Lead Expert Dr. Steffen Wetzstein assesses local impact and improvements across our ten CITIES4CSR partner cities.

    From Endings to Beginnings   


    You are reading the last article of CITIES4CSR; the first URBACT Action Planning Network (APN) that has focused on Corporate Social Responsibility(link is external) as means to solve urban problems. After three long years, severally disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent War of Russia against Ukraine, our project officially comes to an end. Time to reflect on journey, achievements and transformations. I would like to particularly reflect here on noteworthy emerging practices and new understandings across our ten project partner cities. My hope is that by demonstrating the added value URBACT-methodology and support have created locally, other cities will be inspired to join one of the new networks of the next APN round in the quest for better urban and societal outcomes across our continent. 


    Rise of Good Practices 


    Some of our project partners joined CITIES4CSR with already well-established good practices in place. Three examples shall illustrate this point. Budaörs (Hungary) had enshrined the principle of Public Social Responsibility in local governmental practice; an interesting concept that calls for local and regional governments to ensure public service delivery in the name of common good and community values. Nantes (France), empowered and supported by their existing CSR-platform, had established state-of-the-art equal gender practices such as employment negotiation training schemes that have benefited thousands of women over recent years. And Molina de Segura (Spain) had created a strong stakeholder-inclusive local engagement culture. This advantage has been instrumental for immediate and intense URBACT Local Group action during URBACT Phase 1.


    Yet, numerous new and emerging practices and activities have been added locally during three URBACT years. Those pursuing environmental and climate-saving goals have become a network favourite. In Vratsa (Bulgaria), for example, emerging ‘green’ practices in the areas of waste collection and urban transport have the potential for broader nation-wide impact.  URBACT project efforts helped to accelerate the creation, diffusion, communication and management of these practices. A demonstrable local impact can also be noted for Budaörs (Hungary) where CSR-mediated communal tree-planting has been publicly communicated via a brand-new municipal ‘green’ Facebook page. Sofia, finally, created a new ‘green’ awards model including jury assessment details that will foster more environmentally sound urban and business practice for Bulgaria’s Capital in the future.     


    Not less invigorating for public-private-community partnering has been the urgent need to confront social inequality and deprivation. Rijeka (Croatia) has introduced and practiced the CSR-tool of local participatory hospitality events – for example hands-on cooking classes.  Beneficiaries, often passive receivers of donations only, can become active, involved and learning participants in the process. Our Lead Partner Milan (Italy), attempting to improve the attractiveness of municipal primary schools in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, mobilised CSR-actions for youth job orientation, science and technology skills promotion and digital upgrading. Molina de Segura brought together three separate social intervention strands - urban planning, socio-education and health/sanitation - in form of an integrated and innovative neighbourhood-centred project that holds the promise of informing city-wide CSR strategy development.    


    URBACT is centrally about local stakeholder engagement for the good of people and place. So, which promising new engagement practices have arisen under CITIES4CSR? Three examples. First, Kekava (Latvia) came up with the Hackathon model of shared brainstorming as an innovative technology-based addition to the suite of voluntary local mobilisation and prioritisation practices. Second, Milan showcased during our final Transnational Meeting a much-applauded relational engagement model in form of Networking Drinks. Simply a synthesis of traditional dinner with extensive mingling opportunities, it has convinced me and many network partners as effective means to meet and greet people without missing out on quality food. Third, Sofia (Bulgaria) utilised the power of organising in-person events for a comprehensive Stakeholder Roundtable during the Lead Expert/Lead Partner visit in URBACT phase 1. The inclusive invitation list and the open, dialogue-oriented format facilitated useful early project discussions that set the right tone for further action-and initiative planning.    


    New Mechanisms for Exchange and Collaboration


    One of the modern mechanisms for effective engagement under digital conditions are platforms. In CITIES4CSR, platform development has been an important topic right from the beginning. In fact, the local project teams of Molina de Segura and Guimarães (Portugal) got very inspired by Nantes’ platform history, and consequently developed their own versions. In Molina de Segura the platform has become an open digital tool for CSR-community building while in Guimarães it has been about creating a foundation for CSR-mediated resource exchange between economic and social actors. Meanwhile the URBACT Local Group in Nantes worked diligently to further develop their already successful model. Their concern has been with measuring firm behaviours in order to assess progress and remaining gaps towards achieving the Global Sustainable Development Goals(link is external).


    Why are platforms such hotly debated topics these days? In sum, as digitally mediated social and institutional enablers of transformations they not only create space for shared identity construction but are also promising capacity-building mechanisms for good practice development and exchange. Moreover, as problem-solving tools they help to respond efficiently to public and private needs and aspirations. Central remains the question of how to translate the technological possibilities of platform infrastructures into valuable local social collaboration!


    URBACT Cities4CSR - 12 lessons learnt


    Our network philosophy essentially builds on the notion that cities are better off if Municipalities successfully mobilise local CSR-ecosystems; in order to complement public services and good provision and/or by shifting business practice towards better social and environmental outcomes. However, this vision often crucially relies on a linking mechanism in the middle, a broker of exchange. It is therefore no surprise that Milan has thought hard about reconfiguring their municipal interface with business and non-profits. In Bratislava, intermediation has been an incentive to introduce a municipal business liaison officer position that has been coordinating the successful 10,000 trees planting campaign. Interestingly, this investment could be the first step toward an effective CSR-donation reception infrastructure for Slovakia’s Capital. In Rijeka, the pre-existing Association for the Homeless and Socially Vulnerable Persons (Oaza) has moved more centre stage as social gatekeeper and mediator under URBACT.


    On reflection, intermediaries in CSR-ecosystems are connectors, bridge builders and exchange accelerators; especially in respect to linking up Municipalities and CSR-stakeholders. For CITIES4CSR, this functional link has been imagined as taking the shape of existing or new organisations, fit-for-purpose entities such as one-stop-shops, new organisational positions or informal exchange mechanisms. Success, at the end of the day, will depend on how effectively we can overcome institutional inertia, constituency politics and cultural resistance that holds back innovation.


    Emerging Understandings and Awareness


    URBACT Action Planning Networks, in particular those that confront the ‘how’ of societal change, have traditionally performed best in the areas of thematic knowledge boosting, growing understandings and raising awareness. CITIES4CSR has been no exception. For local actors and citizens in Vratsa, for example, the theme of environmental protection has been promoted for the first time in a more systematic manner. Guimarães has learned valuable lessons about the ‘do’s’ and ‘dont’s’ of local procurement and the underlying legal constraints. Milan’s chief knowledge gain I would compare to a big mirror that reflects without distortion the current state of the interface between Municipality and CSR-community. Without doubt, awareness has grown across all cities about the capacities of municipal administrative systems to partner with business and other stakeholders to respond to local need and opportunity.


    Collectively, we have learned a great deal about Corporate Social Responsibility in an urban context. Our four CITIES4CSR Masterclasses in 2021 highlighted different aspects of CSR-led local impulses; as activator of ‘helping your neighbour’ social changes, as kick-starter of ‘saving the earth’ environmental practices, as organising frame for strategic public procurement and as ingredient of shared urban value creation. What stood out for me was the fact that CSR nowadays incorporates not just larger businesses but entrepreneurs, public providers, non-profit organisations, citizen associations and many volunteers as well. In fact, CSR may not be the best term to describe this type of contemporary voluntary local alliances for improving the status-quo. So critically revisiting CSR-definitions and concepts may be a rewarding task for academics and researchers. What is clear, nevertheless, is the central role of Municipalities in activating, guiding, supporting and nurturing this collaborating ecosystem of local actors.


    Final Outlook


    Admittedly, we all felt a bit emotional at our last network outreach event several weeks ago in Brussels about the fact that three shared URBACT years are coming to an end. It is quite unlikely that we will work together again in an international project. Moments of farewell not seldom raise the question of legacy. Examining local progress and potential I suggest that there are grounds for optimism on this matter. After successful intra-network co-learning local implementation roadmaps and longer-term governance models are relatively robust, and in some cases already linked to sustainable finance. Also, there will be plenty of new opportunities for follow-up resourcing that will surely reach all cities and regions during the next EU-investment rounds. And concerning motivation and preferred topics for another URBACT network participation the local Budaörs team already indicated strong interest for a platform-building topic. One thing is sure, the first URBACT network on Corporate Social Responsibility will surely not stop having a measurable local impact after the official project ends in August 2022. I am absolutely convinced it will continue to make a positive difference in multiple and creative ways in the future. 



    From urbact
  • Six solutions for city authorities to help us all waste less food

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    Each year, EU households throw away millions of tonnes of food. What can cities do to support the fight against food waste?


    Approximately 20% of all food produced in the EU is wasted, leading to annual emissions of 186 million CO2, writes Antonio Zafra, Lead Expert of the URBACT FOOD CORRIDORS network, in a recent article, drawing on figures from the European Environment Agency. So, with more than 50% of that food waste coming from households – on average, 47 million tonnes a year – what actions can local authorities take to help us limit and prevent this waste? And how is URBACT supporting them? URBACT Programme Expert Marcelline Bonneau investigates…


    Globally, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that a third of all food produced for human consumption each year is lost or wasted. This corresponds to 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted every year in the world, worth a total of 750 billion dollars – equivalent to the GDP of Switzerland. At the European level, this accounts for 89 million tonnes of food annually, corresponding to approximately 179 kg per capita per year (throughout the whole supply chain).

    Although getting precise data is extremely difficult, we do have some figures. In the Region of Brussels-Capital (BE), for example, it is estimated that households waste an average of 15 kg of food per person per year, the equivalent of three meals a day for 30 000 people over the course of one year.

    Why do we waste so much at home?

    The reasons for wasting food are strongly connected with all daily activities: shopping, cooking, eating, sorting out waste, but also working, having hobbies and leisure activities, or moving around in the city, as presented in the image below:

    Activities related to wasting food

    These can also be explained as follows:

    • We are dependent upon production and consumption systems:
      • Available information (e.g. expiration dates, promotions…);
      • Food culture (e.g. providing large quantities of food to guests, understanding of food safety and aesthetics, “cheap” food…);
      • Available products (e.g. types of products, packaging…);
    • Daily habits:
      • Personal meaning (e.g. culinary traditions, not eating the same thing twice);
      • Knowledge and competences (e.g. being able to cook, improvise, knowing the content of the fridge and cupboards, anticipating…);
      • Appliances (e.g. for storage, transformation...);
    • Personal influences:
      • Capacities (e.g. professional framework, frequency of shopping…);
      • Life experiences (e.g. available time, family, tiredness…);
      • Values (e.g. enjoying eating outside, feeling guilty…).

    Six tips for cities fighting food waste

    Against this background, certain URBACT cities have sought to carry out a range of activities and initiatives to support households in reducing their food waste. Drawing on their experience, here are six solutions to inspire any town or city to do the same:

    1. Know the food waste facts

    First and foremost, it is vital to measure food waste in households in order to design adequate policy actions and instruments (see solution 2, below). But it can be extremely difficult to design adequate methodologies to ensure household food waste is monitored regularly, to collect comparable data, etc. Yet, some URBACT cities have managed to develop useful frameworks. Bristol, UK partner in the URBACT network Sustainable Food in Urban Communities, developed an approach based on food-waste hierarchy principles, underpinned by Bristol City Council’s 'Towards a zero waste Bristol’ strategy in 2016, leading to measurable successes in food-waste reduction.

    Ghent (BE) also conducted a food-waste benchmarking study to track goals, and all waste diverted through the Foodsavers Ghent programme, as well as calculating GHG emissions averted. As a member of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP), Ghent is also seeking to incorporate the MUFPP Monitoring framework into its assessment strategy in order to ensure greater accuracy in measuring the impacts of its food policies. Another Belgian city, Bruges, member of Eurocities, also used a self-declaration survey for citizens to measure the impact of recipes and tips shared by the city for reducing food waste at the household level. And, still relevant eight years after its launch at national level, another very interesting study was carried out in France by ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency) to have households measure their own food waste.

    2. Design an enabling food-policy framework

    As we saw above and in the article by Antonio Zafra, Lead Expert of URBACT FOOD CORRIDORS network, food waste covers a range of topics. To ensure that it is addressed in a holistic way, some cities have designed dedicated policies, not only on sustainable food, but also, more specifically on food waste. This is the case of Milan (IT), labelled URBACT Good Practice for its Food Policy, coordinator of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and Lead Partner of the URBACT NextAgri network. Indeed, as part of its Rethinking Milan’s approach to food waste framework, the main goal is to achieve a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030. Five main focus areas have been identified:

    • Inform and educate citizens and local stakeholders on reducing food losses and waste;
    • Recover and redistribute food waste;
    • Create local partnerships, such as among charities food banks, supermarkets and municipal
    • Improve and reduce food packaging;
    • Strive for a circular economy in food system management.

    Related actions and initial measurements have already been made by the city of Milan. For example, a campaign encouraging the separation of organic from non-organic waste also achieved a source separation of 56% in three years, up from 36% in 2012. A first step to raising awareness about the quantity of food wasted in households.

    3. Raise awareness and provide concrete tips

    Before citizens can actually start reducing their food waste, they need to consider it as an issue. As such, regions such as Wallonia (BE) with “Moins de déchetsand countries such as France with “Ça suffit le gâchis”, Germany with “Too good for the bin”, and the UK with “Love Food, Hate Waste” have developed dedicated information campaigns presenting the key issues at stake. More importantly, they also share concrete tips for daily life, and activities.

    ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ platform

    In particular, since 2007, the aim of the ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ campaign in the UK, implemented by the non-profit organisation WRAP, has been to reach out to consumers and cooperate extensively with companies, including supermarkets. They run poster campaigns, radio and newspaper announcements as well as bus-back adverts, using social media, cooking workshops and London-wide events. The ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ website also provides tips and tools for proper storage, left-over recipes, understanding expiry dates, and measuring food-waste amounts, as well as promoting the benefits of home composting.

    A ‘Money-Saving App’ also includes a portion and meal planner along with many recipes, and allows customers to keep track of the items they already bought and those they plan to buy. Avoidable food waste was reduced by an estimated 14% thanks to the campaign, with some households that actively focused on food-waste prevention reducing their avoidable food waste by 43%. Importantly, resources from these campaigns are designed for one-way communication and require minimal staff time to implement.

    4. Challenge citizens

    ‘FoodWasteWatchers’ tool in action

    Cities should provide dedicated tools to support households with their daily fight against food waste, as well as support intermediary organisations such as NGOs or schools. For example, in Alameda County, California, the ‘Stop Waste’ public agency designed signage, including an ‘Eat This First’ sign for the fridge to encourage households and businesses to designate a fridge area for foods that need to be eaten soon.

    Engaging households in activities directly has been key to ensure they are empowered to reduce their own food waste. As part of its ‘Good Food Strategy’, a direct outcome of the URBACT Sustainable Food in Urban Communities network that it led, the Region of Brussels-Capital supported the design of ‘FoodWasteWatchers’. This is an individual and targeted programme for households to identify what, how much they waste and why, as well as to design their own strategy in order to reduce it.

    Also, in 2019, the city of Oslo (NO) organised a challenge and training programme to help families halve food waste. During this four-week project, 30 families weighed their food waste, participating in a short workshop, with tools (e.g. kitchen diary and labelling) and information on how to reduce their food waste. The ‘winning’ family cut its food waste by 95%!

    5. Train citizens as relays

    Fridge Masters in action

    Who is better placed to talk to citizens and households than citizens themselves? Following the success of its experience on the topics of gardening and composting, the Region of Brussels-Capital supported the training and set-up of a network of ‘Fridge Masters’: over the course of nine modules, citizens exchanged experiences and were trained on various tips and tricks to reduce food waste, from improved organisation, cooking habits, and food preservation methods to shopping in different types of shops. They were also trained in facilitating events for the general public – which they did successfully with a series of tools they designed themselves. These included social media challenges and interaction, tasters on the site, and images representing ‘fake fridges’.

    6. Support solidarity

    Last but not least, combating food waste by sharing what would otherwise be thrown away can be a way of connecting with other people, creating new relationships and opportunities, as well as providing food to those in need. Solidarity fridges are an implementation of such a concept.

    Tartu’s ‘Food Share Cabinet’

    One example is the ‘Food Share Cabinet’ in Estonia’s second largest city Tartu. As a way to raise awareness, make food available for people who need it, and redistribute what would have been wasted, a temporary ‘food share’ cabinet was installed on Tartu’s ‘Car Freedom Avenue’ event as a Small Scale Action, with the support of the URBACT Zero Carbon Cities network. Shelves and a refrigerator enabled caterers from the event and neighbouring cafes to share their leftovers. This action is now part of the Tartu City Government reflexion with the food-share community to reduce food waste in the city, working with local food businesses.

    What will your city do next to reduce food waste?

    This listicle has shown a range of frameworks, instruments and activities used by cities to reduce food waste in households. But this is only one part of the equation. Food waste needs to be tackled along the whole supply chain.

    Check our Food Knowledge Hub page for further insights, as well as the Glasgow Food Declaration resources.
    Last but not least, look out for the upcoming activities of five current Horizon 2020 projects which will test further actions:

    What can you do to cut waste in your town? Let us know – we’ll be curious to read about your experiences – reach out to us via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn!

    Facts and figures


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  • OpenAGRI


    New Skills for new Jobs in Peri-urban Agriculture

    Rossana Torri
    Comune di Milano
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    The City of Milan decided to set up an urban coalition with a series of partners (Universities, companies, associations) in order to apply for the first call of UIA Initiative, with the desire to scale up this positioning in the peri-urban agricultural industry, setting up a stable growth and creating new jobs and skills.
    OpenAgri is mainly an urban policy experimentation that follows the place-based approach, focusing on new skills for new jobs in peri-urban agriculture. The project area can be defined as an “urban fringe”, representing the transition zone between the consolidated part of the City and the agricultural lands. The challenge was to locate an innovative urban service aimed at creating new jobs, skills, start- ups and innovation in agri-food sector while increasing the level of resilience and sustainability of the City.
    OpenAgri (1) improved entrepreneurship by fostering the creation of new innovative firms and social enterprises focusing on sustainability in periurban agriculture and the agri-food sector; (2) Contributed to the overall regeneration of a fringe area promoting a strong focus on social inclusion; and (3) Exploited the potential of several food policy experiments within a single integrated.

    The innovative solution

    OpenAgri is a step forward in the capacity to deliver an innovative integrated strategy. It represents experimental initiatives in the field of labour and innovation policy. The following solutions can be offered:

    • Solution 1: Educational and training environment: competencies validation and certification, educational services delivery, business planning, linkages with educational institutions;
    • Solution 2: Experimentation Lab: explores innovative techniques in urban agriculture and engage a series of partners on making the best use of public owned 33 hectares plot of land surrounding the south Milan Parco Sud boundaries.
    • Solution 3: Entrepreneurship: The process to find innovative projects, agriculture entrepreneurs, companies and/or startups and other organized parties.
    • Solution 4: Resilient territorial development: The peri-urban transformation of Milano changed due to OpenAgri capacity to create strong, mutually supportive linkages between rural and urban areas and to engage stakeholders, like MMA spa, with the capacity to promote further investment.

    A collaborative and participative work

    OpenAgri partnership is a good example of a participative approach, since it brings local stakeholders from education and training, agricultural, cultural, social and policymakers. It is a very complex and integrated project because it keeps together many different dimensions and makes them work in a specific place, but also in a city systematically. It was an opportunity to relate areas of competence of the administration that are very different from one another and that are used to look at problems from their single point of view. This project necessarily had to confront with the people responsible for environment, urban planning, agriculture, labour. Such an integrated project forced to create new relationships and we learned something from this collaboration.

    The impact and results

    The agro-ecological and landscape design developed by the 30-hectare Masterplan created a new locality for the city. This means designing for shared access to systems and services, planning functional infrastructures, and activating networks between people, places and products.
    The focus was on business development and innovation. The best example is the incubation and startups support that developed innovative projects in agriculture and circular economy, with particular focus on the water resource and its use within the food supply chains, along a cycle that goes from production, to transformation, to consumption, to waste and reuse of waste.
    Acting smart in the context of OpenAgri was not only about technology, but more about the smart use of local resources and amenities and finding the right balance of business diversity, to create an economy that is specialised but still resilient.

    Why this good practices should be transferred to other cities?

    OpenAgri is an experimental project that challenge existing practices and regulations in cities, regions, policy fields and local contexts. The project proved to be an excellent opportunity to experiment a hypothesis of work that is inherent to UIA program. This is very interesting because it means to start not from a regeneration of the container, but from the activation of new economic dynamics.
    It was an opportunity to relate areas of competence of the administration that are very different from one another and that are used to look at problems from their single point of view. This project necessarily had to confront with the people responsible for environment, urban planning, agriculture, labour.
    OpenAgri is now a hub for the agri-food sector but the city wants it to be a more complex hub that will work not only on the themes of peri-urban agriculture, but also on circular economy, trying to put them in relation. They have understood that there are interesting connections between peri-urban agriculture and for example the water cycle, thanks to the nearby water purifier. There is clear evidence that the core principles and components will now apply at a larger scale within Milan but also in other European cities.

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  • Resilience and communities: URBACT at the Venice Architecture Biennale

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    “How will we live together?” asks the 17th International Architecture Exhibition. URBACT has some answers.


    Resilient communities can be defined as those where the effort of reacting to rapid changes is a collaborative exercise: in a few words, where collaboration among people contributes to finding solutions to the challenges of the cities we live in.

    ‘Resilient Communities’ is also the title of the Italian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The pavilion proposes an interesting reflection on the role of cities, and architecture in general, to respond to the ambitious question featured in the title of this year’s Exhibition: “How will we live together?”.

    The main elements of the URBACT programme – the active engagement of residents and stakeholders, definition of integrated action plans to be implemented in the medium and long term, and collaborative governance of challenges connected to the different dimensions of urban sustainability – can all be considered part of the answer to this question posed by the Exhibition’s curator, internationally renowned architect Hashim Sarkis.

    The relevance of the URBACT methodology as part of a wider reflection on future models of inhabiting urban spaces is particularly tangible in Italy. Not only considering the high number of cities involved in URBACT networks, but also due to the role that the programme is playing in the national urban debate and in fostering connections among local decision-makers, stakeholders, architects and practitioners.

    These aspects pushed the curator of the Italian Pavilion, Alessandro Melis, to invite the representative of the National URBACT Point for Italy to be part of the Pavilion’s Advisor Board. The objective was to include the experiences of the Italian and European cities of URBACT in the wider picture composed by different visions on the contemporary city.


    URBACT and the collaborative mapping of community resilience

    The Italian Pavillon, a true cultural laboratory for rethinking the role of architects and cities on how we live together, is showcasing the complexity of relations among urban spaces, nature and people, with a dense programme of activities and events from 22 May to 21 November 2021.

    The National URBACT Point for Italy was involved in mapping stories of community resilience, together with City Space Architecture and Unipolis Foundation. The main focus of this mapping, set to continue after the end of the Biennale Exhibition, was on stories carried out at different urban levels, from small municipalities to metropolitan areas. This highlighted the role of active residents’ participation in improving the capacity of cities to respond to rapid changes and hardships.

    The action of collaborative mapping, available online or accessible through a QR code at the Italian Pavilion, was based on a selection of some of the most interesting solutions developed in diverse URBACT networks. These include a participatory scheme for the creation of new green spaces in Potenza, shared in the Resilient Europe Action Planning Network, and the opening of new public parks and infrastructure in Casoria, co-designed with support from the Sub>Urban network.

    The mapping also explores practices adapted and transferred in URBACT Transfer Networks, such as the tools to tackle urban poverty implemented by Bari in the framework of Com.Unity.Lab or the models of urban co-governance transferred by Naples to other EU cities in the Civic eState network.

    Activities developed under the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme and then transferred with the UIA-URBACT Transfer Mechanism are also featured. Examples include Turin’s re-use of public spaces and underused structures developed with Co-City, and transferred to other cities in the CO4CITIES network, as well as Milan’s model promoting the agri-urban economy, which is being transferred to NEXT AGRI network partners.

    All these stories emerging from URBACT networks, narrated by the civic officials and elected representatives who implemented them at local level, have been making an important contribution to reflexions on the future of cities promoted by the Italian Pavillon. These practical experiences are presented alongside the principles of community resilience that were being studied by academics and experts well before Covid-19 raised the urgency of consolidating innovative urban solutions.


    Events at the Italian Pavillon

    These resilient city solutions were presented to national and international audiences in two seminars organised by the National URBACT Point for Italy in the arena of the Italian Pavillon on 21 and 22 September 2021. Representatives of Italian and European cities highlighted examples of community resilience, and showed how methodologies such as those promoted by URBACT are helping improve the governance of urban challenges.

    While the first meeting was mostly focused on an Italian perspective, the second enlarged the reflection to include the curators of the Slovenian Pavilion, National URBACT Points (Spain and Slovenia) and the cities of Madrid (ES) and Cluj Napoca (RO), which are testing similar methodologies of civic imagination and active involvement of residents and stakeholders on topics such as urban security or the future of work.

    The diversity of the experiences presented in Venice makes clear how different models of community resilience are shaping the future of public spaces, city services and urban infrastructures to respond to hardships and unexpected events.


    The Peccioli Charter and the legacy of the debate on community resilience

    The active contribution of cities and communities to reach the global goals on climate, a theme that re-emerged strongly from COP26, is one of the most relevant possible evolutions of the concept of community resilience in the years ahead.

    This approach was also shared by the Peccioli Charter, the document signed by all the members of the Italian Pavilion’s Steering Committee, which aims to be “a Constitution of the nation of the Italian resilient communities”. The document was officially launched in November 2019 in Peccioli, an Italian village which turned a wasteland site into a cultural and artwork space for all the community, a tangible example of resilient community. Meant as a legacy of the Pavilion, it defines the commitments that resilient communities need to put in practice in the medium and long terms. Among these, promoting knowledge and innovation, re-imagining cities and sharing urban spaces, being smart and anti-fragile.

    These are the sorts of actions being implemented by the cities and communities that are using the URBACT methodology to increase resilience, in the sense of “being brave communities, able to put in practice a permanent revolution, to adapt to rapid changes and to offer endless opportunities for reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” as stated in the conclusions of the Peccioli Charter.


    Find out more

    Photos by Simone d’Antonio

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  • Cities nurturing local food systems to fight climate change

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    The way we produce, distribute, transform, consume food has a huge impact on GHG emissions. How can local governments intervene?

    Climate adaptation

    To tackle the climate emergency, we must urgently transform the conventional ways we produce, transport, eat and dispose of food worldwide. Cities are crucial drivers for this cultural, social and economic change: their residents consume 70% of the world’s food, and the policies they design and implement impact millions of people. URBACT cities and networks have understood this and are seeking to make their own contribution to the global challenge.

    At the recent 7th Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) Global Forum in Barcelona, a team from URBACT, including the Spanish National URBACT Point, showcased examples of EU cities already making real, positive change.

    Focusing on the topic of ‘Growing Resilience: Sustainable Food to Tackle the Climate Emergency,’ this event was an opportunity to (re)connect, exchange experiences, challenges, knowledge, and best practices, to inspire and get inspired with the shared goal of fixing urban food systems, while addressing the climate emergency.

    In the URBACT-led session on ‘Integrated local food ecosystems to tackle climate change: URBACT’s lessons and actions’, diverse towns and cities presented their achievements in designing local food: Mollet Del Vallès (ES), partner in the URBACT networks Diet for a Green Planet and Agri-Urban; Mouans-Sartoux (FR) partner in Agri-Urban, BioCanteens #1 and #2; Milan (IT), labelled URBACT Good Practice and lead city in NEXT AGRI; and Nourish Scotland, co-coordinator of the Glasgow Food Declaration, together with IPES-Food.


    The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

    The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, launched at the initiative of the City of Milan, at the Milan Expo 2015, has now been signed by more than 200 cities. It is an international protocol aimed at tackling food-related issues at the urban level, to be adopted by as many world cities as possible. By signing this agreement, cities not only declare their commitment, but also benefit from practical guidance including 37 recommended actions – in the areas of Governance, Sustainable Diets and Nutrition, Social and economic Equity, Food Production, Food Supply and Distribution, and Food waste. Each recommended action has specific indicators to monitor progress in implementing the Pact. The Milan Pact Awards promote examples of successful food policies that cities are implementing in all six Pact categories.

    Each year now (except for 2020 because of the pandemic), a global forum organised in a signatory city is a chance for cities to exchange knowledge, build partnerships and celebrate progress in implementing improved food policies through the Milan Pact Awards. Dialogue and technical exchange among signatories are enriched by the participation of relevant international organisations and institutions.


    Food on the menu

    Soil erosion © Europan seed

    Current food systems have strong negative impacts on climate. Production, distribution, loss and waste of food account for around 30% of global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. This in turn leads to biodiversity loss, extinction of species, deforestation, soil erosion, freshwater scarcity… At the same time, climate impacts all affect food systems: for producers affected by the lack of predictability of yields and food prices, incomes are increasingly volatile.

    The distribution chain is becoming less and less reliable with strong concerns about city autonomy. All these affect rural areas’ survival. And problems have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Socio-economic and health inequalities are booming, with threats to food quality and food safety, with malnutrition as a key risk factor for hunger and disease.


    An integrated food ecosystems approach

    An ecosystem approach is key to ensuring that food provides access to healthy diets and nutrition for all, agroecology and regenerative agriculture, circular economy and the provisioning of just livelihoods. Such an approach involves understanding the range of stakeholders and complexity of their interactions; it is a crucial framework to identify, analyse and address synergies and trade-offs between various climate change responses.

    Food systems © IPES-FOOD

    Integration is another key competent of any transformation toward a sustainable local food system, and is vital in tackling multiple challenges such as technical gaps, behavioural changes and market failures. Integration is also embedded in the URBACT method, as follows:

    • Transversality: food is linked to agriculture, trade and industry, health, labour, environment, international cooperation… All these should be taken into consideration simultaneously when improving food systems.
    • Multi-actor: relevant departments from cities, regions and states covering the above-mentioned policies need to work together, as well as with stakeholders from the private, civil society and academic sectors.
    • Multi-level governance mechanisms: innovations take place at the local and regional levels. They should be supported and incentivised by international and national governments.
    • Territoriality: food ecosystems should be linked to each other with a strong focus on urban and peri-urban linkages. Rural areas should be further interconnected with cities of different sizes.
    • Infrastructure and social innovation: combining investments in tools, products, building with experimentation and people involvement and interaction is crucial to ensure a smooth transition of all to a sustainable food system.


    Several entry points for a local integrated ecosystem

    Many URBACT cities are frontrunners, inspiring others to act locally for more sustainable food systems. Their actions also provide insights into various possible entry points for cities to start developing their own sustainable local food ecosystem. For example:

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    • Kick off meeting online
    • Next Agri Bilateral meeting Almere - online
    • Next Agri Bilateral Meeting Vila Nova de Gaia - online
    • Next Agri Bilateral meeting Stara Zagora - online
    • First transnational meeting in Almere - online
    • Second transnational meeting in Stara Zagora - online
    • Third Transnational Meeting in Vila Nova de Gaia
    • Field visit to Milan
    • Transnational meeting and field visit in Almere

    • NEXT AGRI site visit

      Why the Transfer Mechanism does not work without sites visits

    • UTM capacity building meeting in Paris

      Capacity building and URBACT Method: updates from the Paris meeting

      The first meeting in person after 2 years of pandemic has been a very powerful tool to empower URBACT Transfer Mechanism pilots. Next Agri partners met in Paris at the URBACT capacity building meeting with the aim of exchanging experiences and estate of the art of the project

    • URBACT City Festival 2022 sign

      Let's talk about food: the conference at the URBACT City Festival 2022

      From 14 to 16 June 2022 at La Cité Fertile in Pantin, Greater Paris, the URBACT City Festival returned in live format. This edition was inspired by European cities’ actions for climate and sustainable integrated urban development. This year’s edition was the first carbon-neutral URBACT programme-level event.

    The NEXT AGRI UIA - URBACT Transfer Mechanism pilot network builds from the experience of Milan. The city decided to set up an urban coalition with a series of partners to scale up this positioning in the peri-urban agricultural industry, setting up a stable growth and creating new jobs and skills. The project is mainly an urban policy experimentation that follows the place-based approach, focusing on new skills for new jobs in peri-urban agriculture. The project area can be defined as an “urban fringe”, representing the transition zone between the consolidated part of the city and the agricultural lands.This project aims at transfer to other 3 cities the processes and strategies implemented to create a favorable environment to develop new opportunities in the food system transformation in the urban and per urban agriculture sector.

    Innovative approaches in periurban agriculture territories
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  • UIA Transfer Mechanism: five pilot projects ready to take off!

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    Urban Innovative Actions and URBACT come together to put into practices the lessons learnt from the Transfer Networks. 


    Last week, on the 9 March, URBACT's Monitoring Committee have approved five pilot networks to transfer innovative solutions. In 2020, the UIA first call projects came to a close and a proposal was made to test a new URBACT tool which aimed to support the transfer of innovation. The UIA Transfer Mechanism experiment will support a group of EU cities to understand, adapt and prepare to re-use the UIA practice through the co-creation of an investment plan. The 18-month journey of these networks builds on the success of the URBACT Transfer Networks model.


    Following a competitive call, 7 pilot projects were submitted for approval. When considering all the 28 potential city partners, 6 candidates were URBACT newcomer cities from 5 different countries, while 16 cities were also newcomers to UIA. This shows what a unique opportunity this networks represented for cities discovering the universe of EU cooperation! As foreseen by the Terms of Reference, eligible proposals have been assessed by a two assesors from URBACT and UIA. Scroll down to find out more about the five newly approved networks.  

    The URBACT Programme acknowledges and thanks every city that has submitted proposals and used the URBACT Marketplace for this call. URBACT also warmly welcomes the new UIA Transfer Mechanism partners, who will take their first steps in the kick-off meeting on 23 March.








    Smart specialisation in advanced services towards the digital transformation of industry

    Bilbao (ES)

    Bielsko Biala (PL)

    Tartu (EE)

    Timisoara (RO)



    The collaborative management of urban commons to counteract poverty and socio-spatial polarisation

    Torino (IT)

    Budapest (HU)

    Gdansk (PL)

    Cluj-Napoca (RO)



    Unlocking social and economic innovation together

    Birmingham (UK)

    Rotterdam (NL)

    Trapani (IT)

    Poznan (PL)



    Innovative local public-private-citizen partnership for energy governance

    Viladecans (ES)

    Eriges Seraing (BE)

    Nagykanizsa (HU)

    Trikala (EL)



    New skills for new jobs in peri-urban agriculture

    Milan (IT)

    Almere (NL)

    Stara Zagora (BG)

    Vila Nova de Gaia (PT)

    *Bold letters used for UIA cities who will act as Lead Partner



    Interested in the findings of the URBACT Transfer Networks?
    Check all related activities here!





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  • Covid-19: a springboard for more food solidarity?

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    How cities can sustain and transfer good practice in improving access to (healthy) food.


    Cities have shown how agile they can be in addressing increased needs of their local population in terms of access to (healthy) food. As the economic crisis unfolds and hits the most vulnerable first, it is important to think about what cities can do to sustain and transfer such good practices and what support they need at national and European levels.

    The idea behind all initiatives is not to leave anybody behind during the Covid-19 crisis.”
    Josep Monras i Galindo, Mayor,
    Mollet de Vallès (Spain)

    Assessing the Covid impact

    For many of the most vulnerable people, Covid-19 has not only meant immediate health risks and threats to their income, but a significant worsening of their access to good-quality food. This has put them at increased risk of hunger and malnutrition.

    At the same time, we have heard some positive impacts of the crisis on other aspects of the mainstream food system, for example with the development of healthier eating habits, more cooking at home and shorter food supply chains. Citizen solidarity has also been visible in many local areas to meet food needs of the most vulnerable.

    In this article, I therefore ask: how have cities supported emerging citizen-led initiatives for food provision to those in need during the lockdown? How have they re-organised food aid systems, such as subsidised meals in canteens or charity-run food distribution schemes?

    And as the lockdown measures are lifted across Europe, what lessons can be learnt from the responses to the crisis for building resilient food systems and local food policies for everyone? How can such learning continue to ‘feed us’ and provide us with a roadmap for action post Covid?

    New types of food aid distribution

    Associations and charities have faced a number of challenges during the lockdown. On the one hand, they lost the critical support of their senior volunteer workforce at risk of catching the virus. On the other hand, they faced increased demand with more people than ever in need of assistance, beyond their usual list of ‘beneficiaries’.

    This required significant outreach efforts. Some structures re-adjusted their model by recruiting new volunteers, adapting to new health and safety measures, or even changing their food provision and distribution patterns, whilst others simply had to temporarily close down.

    In some cases, the government assumed more responsibilities for distributing food aid, often leading to positive effects – for example, more cross-departmental cooperation and social innovation within city administration, more promotion of short food supply chains and organic food.

    The Italian large city of Milan (1.3 million), which is an URBACT Good Practice for its Food Policy, set up a new food distribution system (“Dispositivo aiuto alimentare”) to offset the impact of the closures of several associations and charities and therefore centralised the entire supply chain until the end of the crisis. Food hubs were created at 10 locations across the city to prepare food aid packages for vulnerable families and fragile persons identified as being in need by Milan’s Social Services and non-profit operators.

    Milan’s Dispositivo aiuto alimentare (@Milan Food Policy)

    Around 180 people and many stakeholders have been involved, including retailers, volunteers, municipality employees, drivers and others active in the food donation system. In the first two weeks, since 16 March, the Dispositivo Aiuto alimentare reached almost 1 900 families and after 15 weeks, the food aid system reached more than 6 000 families, a total of 20 744 people. The municipality opened within the municipal grocery market – ‘Foody’ – a specific food hub where fresh fruits and vegetables were collected and distributed to the food hubs and ultimately added to the food aid packages. Therefore, this action has not only improved access, but also quality of the food aid.










    Milan’s Municipal grocery market (@Milan Food Policy)

    Municipalities supporting citizen-led initiatives

    Whilst the senior volunteer workforce has been impacted, many other groups have found themselves with more time on their hands and more reasons to engage in mutual aid. The result has been that many URBACT cities have seen a surge of volunteerism during Covid-19.

    The small town of Athienou in Cyprus (6 500 inhabitants) has a long history of supporting volunteering. Recognised as an URBACT good practice, Athienou is now leading the URBACT network Volunteering Cities. As Kyriacos Kareklas, Mayor of Athienou, likes saying, “The spirit of help and volunteerism is something that gives extra power to people in charge, who want to help people in need.”

    The municipality reacted quickly to the crisis by calling upon volunteers to help the elderly and people with disabilities with their grocery shopping. They also supported the engagement of various actors in the food supply chain through the Social Welfare Program and Volunteering Council.

    The urgency and logistical challenges of providing access to food led in many cases to federated efforts at the neighbourdhood level. For some cities, this represented a unique opportunity to strengthen territorial cooperation. Authorities played a crucial role as facilitators, for example, by making connections, setting up platforms, making spaces and resources available, or helping with communication.

    This was the case, for instance, in the bigger and more densely populated city of Naples, the Lead Partner of the CivicEstate Network, which is exploring new forms of collective governance of shared urban spaces (unused building, parks, squares etc.) through an ‘urban common’ approach. This approach helped a wide network of associations, cooperatives, soup kitchens, community centres and other urban commons in Naples to rapidly organise food solidarity.

    As Gregorio Turolla wrote in this article,The extraordinary situation faced by cities like Naples during the pandemic has highlighted the essential role of self-managed or co-managed spaces of aggregation and mutualism. This confirms the important role of urban commons as social infrastructures, producing public services of social impact through solidarity, creative, collaborative, digital and circular economy initiatives.”  

    Meeting the needs of vulnerable children

    Lola Gallego, manager of health and social services at Mollet de Vallès, stressed that “the health issue is a priority, but now the social crisis is beginning, and the basic social services provided by the municipalities must be the cornerstone of the forthcoming policies, plans and actions. To provide money is not enough. What is crucial is to accompany people in need.”

    As one important example of this potential social crisis, a major risk factor for many vulnerable children, up to 320 million children worldwide, has been the disappearance of their only daily meal from school.

    As part of a wider regional programme between the Catalan Government and La Caixa Bank, the Spanish medium-size city of Mollet de Vallès (52 000), partner of the URBACT Agri-Urban network, has contributed to a scheme providing credit cards for each child eligible for publicly funded school lunches (1 087 cards in Mollet). This scheme is supported jointly by the government and the city. Families were asked only to use the cards to buy food in the city where they live.

    Mollet de Vallès’s Benefit card (©Mollet de Vallès)

    Food policies and food sovereignty for all

    Andrea Magarini, Milan Food Policy Coordinator, is adamant that having “an effective local food policy has helped overcoming situations of crisis like the one we all are facing since the end of February.” In the case of Milan, their existing work “on issues such as food waste and school canteens has helped in the identification of successful actions to ensure access to food for many vulnerable groups during the lockdown,” points out Andrea Magarini.

    In the small French city of Mouans-Sartoux (10 000), partner of Agri-Urban and Lead Partner of the BioCanteens network, their URBACT-awarded ‘good practice’ is rooted into a territorial eco-system with strong food sovereignty. In that context, the crisis has only further entrenched their long-lasting efforts to guarantee food sovereignty on their territory.


    Mollet de Vallès’s Food sovereignty project by 2045 (©BioCanteens)

    Mouans-Sartoux plans to continue the activities initiated during the lockdown, such as the a newly set-up NGO helping homeless people. They will also launch new initiatives to support self-production and redistribution to those most in need, education on sustainable food for everyone, improvement of the quality of the food being delivered at home, and strengthening citizen participation in the food policy.

    Mouans-Sartoux’s municipal farm (©Mouans-Sartoux)

    The ‘food lever’ – how to scale up action from the bottom up?

    So, what cities can do to sustain such good practices and what support do they need at national and European levels?

    As Gilles Pérole, Vice Mayor for education in Mouans-Sartoux said, “it is at local level that we need to act now. State centralism does not provide us with the quick and efficient answers we need. Within these first two months of crisis, the administrative burden has disappeared as we had to quickly react and adjust ourselves. The Covid-19 crisis has showed us what could happen as a result of the climate crisis and there won’t be any vaccines to save us from it…”

    As part of the Farm to fork strategy which was published in the midst of the crisis, the European Commission is focusing, amongst others, on “Mak[ing] sure Europeans get healthy, affordable and sustainable food”. Yet, it puts little emphasis on the role of cities except in the conclusion stating that “the transition to sustainable food systems (also) requires a collective approach involving public authorities at all levels of governance (including cities, rural and coastal communities), private-sector actors across the food value chain, non-governmental organisations, social partners, academics and citizens.”  

    As such, URBACT (and its partners) have a strong role to play in providing grounded evidence and cases from cities, offering additional and counterbalanced views to those of mainstream lobbies, further continuing to facilitate exchange of learning and accelerating change towards more food solidarity at local, national and European levels.

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