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  • Civic eState

    Italy
    Naples

    Community management of common goods through Civic Uses

    Nicola Masella
    Project Coordinator
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    Summary

    Since 2015 the city of Naples has adopted the "Urban Civic Use Regula-tion" as a policy instrument allowing local communities to manage public assets as common goods. Starting from the pilot project established with the Ex Asilo Filangieri in 2012, more spaces in the city have been interest-ed by this innovative governance model enhancing local communities to use free and shared spaces, resources, knowledge and skills and improv-ing the engagement of citizens in the self-management of common re-sources. Through the participation to the URBACT transfer network Civic eState the City of Naples invested in developing networking among the different experiences self-managing Urban Commons in the city, supported their communication capacity, improved know-how and guidelines for the self-recovery of the buildings and community empowerment and fund raising strategies.

    Solutions offered by the good practice

    By revisiting the outmoded institution of civic use, the good practice of Napoli aims at making spontaneous bottom-up initiatives recognisable and institutionalised, ensuring the autonomy of both parties involved, the proactive citizens and the institutions. The first asset to be recognised as a commons, and therefore proposed as a good practice, is the Ex-Asilo Filangeri, a building that by resolution n.400 (2012) was already identified by the city of Naples as a “place with a complex use in the cultural field, and whose spaces are used to experiment in participative democracy”. At that time, it had been occupied by a group of art and culture professionals protesting against abandonment of the newly restored premises. With the following decision, n.893/2015, the city of Naples recognised the “Urban Civic Use Regulation” of the good, a declaration produced in an autonomous way by the community that benefits from the good, and that puts self-management as the main principle of its administration. Thanks to the good practice's governance model, more than 250 projects came to life, breaking down the production costs by using free and shared spaces, resources, knowledge and skills. During the last decade, the City of Naples has been experimenting with this new governance model to get back in use abandoned or underused buildings subtracted from the life of the city. Conflictual actions of occupation and bottom-up rule-creation were turned into an opportunity.
    By acknowledging this regulation, the public administration assumes the burden of ensuring the usability of the place, while the right to make use of it is free and guaranteed to all citizens, accompanied by a participatory model that is founded on open assemblies and thematic roundtable talks.
    The later resolution n.446/2016, recognised seven more public properties as “relevant civic spaces to be ascribed to the category of common goods”.

    Sustainable and integrated urban approach

    The integration is first and foremost assured through an ad-hoc municipal department, the “social enhancement of municipally owned spaces and common goods”, and with a political coordination in charge of the Urban Planning councillor. This department (technical level) and the above-mentioned councillor (political level) are in charge of promoting the col-laboration with other departments and councillors of the municipality, or other institutions.
    Furthermore, the city waives completely the role of top-down manager and, with a horizontal subsidiarity mechanism, acts like a guarantor and takes its own burdens and responsibilities related to the operation of the good, while recognising the autonomy of the management system adopted by the users.
    The horizontal integration lies also in the basic principles that are stated in the Urban Civic Use Regulation, produced autonomously by the community, and recognised by the Naples city council. The Civic Use of the Common goods is based on the principles of self-management, cooperation and mutualism, and tends to strengthen individual and collective responsibility. Empowerment is established by cooperation, in which each member of the community, whether guest or so-called inhabitant, contributes to the community's activities and management. Accordingly, every community of use has established his own Civic use declaration for the different goods.

    Participatory approach

    Since March 2012 an open and inclusive management model is in place at the Ex -Asilo and has been progressively extended through an increasing number of experiences. Every week, an open meeting is convened (more than 190 since the projects' beginning), as well as several working groups for the implementation of activities (more than 830, with about 18,000 attendances). Besides ensuring transparency, this has established a strong bond between the inhabitants of the city, and narrowed the gap between artists, academics and citizens.
    Main numbers since March 2012:
    • 18,000 people took part in the direct management of the Ex-Asilo through roundtable talks and public management assemblies;
    • 150 public management assemblies for the self-government of the Ex-Asilo;
    • 830 days of public working groups ("tables"), to deepen the projects and proposals. Topics are: "armeria" (visual arts), performing arts, self-government, library, cinema, "tavolo sociale", social, and urban gardening;
    • 2,000 creatives including arts, culture and entertainment professionals, workers, artists, scholars, researchers, academics, associations, institu-tions, and citizens that have used Ex-Asilo spaces and resources, and/or organised activities.

    What difference has it made

    Through the civic eState Transfer Network the City of Napoli has been able to support the improvement of the practice with three key actions:
    - The first identified objective was to improve the “Communication” of the urban commons of Naples, not only as a way to inform but also to involve actively other citizens in the network and also to help the “reproduction” of the network of the urban commons itself. The creation of the website CommonsNapoli managed by the network of Common goods in Napoli provides a web platform for the coordination of the different initiatives happening in this field that includes information about the activities developed in the seven self-managed spaces and documentation about the legal and policy tools and the observatory of urban commons goods.
    - The second objective was to recognize institutionally the practices of co-design, self-construction and self-recovery of the urban commons, with the aim to strengthen the local capacity (both administrative and of the local communities) in finding solutions to the physical deterioration of the assets compatible with collective management and civic uses that are being experimented by the commoners. An ad hoc expert of a study has been commissioned a study that looks at innovations in the legal framework and experiences of self-recovery done in Italy in order to establish legal precedents and innovative procedures to apply the self-help construction procedure to publicly owned buildings destined to social use. The preliminary study has been preliminary to drafting of a set of guidelines to introduce the practice of self-help regeneration of common goods in the regulations of the City of Napoli.
    - Ads a community empowerment action, a training on fund-raising was directed at the activists running the common goods in Napoli to support the financing of the regeneration and the activity of the seven initiatives. For this purpose, a very intense capacity building programme was offered to the activists, that included a workshop on community fundraising, whose beneficiaries were 46 activists belonging to 22 urban commons and other non-profit organizations; tutoring of the activists in the operational planning of 5 pilot fundraising campaigns for 5 urban commons, and a document elaborated by a senior fundraiser, who followed the whole training process, that contains specific guidelines for the fundraising of urban commons.

    Transferring the practice

    The participation to the Transfer network had the objective to share the urban co-governance principle in the use, management and ownership of urban commons and to discuss the use of local legal hacks such as the example of the urban civic uses successfully experimented in Naples. The mechanism proposed by the City of Naples, although routed in the Italian legal system, is characterized by a high degree of adaptability to other European urban contexts as it is based on largely shared ethic, legal and social values, already widespread in other countries. The civic eState Transfer Network included seven cities, with Napoli leading Amsterdam, Barcelona, Gdánsk, Ghent, Iaśi and Presov into the exchange of good practices. https://urbact.eu/civic-estate

    Is a transfer practice
    1
  • URBinclusion

    Timeline

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

    Arwen Dewilde
    City of Ghent

    CONTACT US

    AYUNTAMIENTO DE BAENA

    Plaza de la Constitucion 1

    Baena (Cordoba) - Spain

    CONTACT US

    Artur Katai
    City of Újbuda

    CONTACT US

    Barcelona City Council - Social Rights Area

    Lluis Torrens: ltorrens@bcn.cat

    Sebastià Riutort: sriutort@ext.bcn.cat

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

    Combating poverty in deprived urban areas
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  • 2nd Chance

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

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter

    Timeline

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

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

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

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

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

    CONTACT US

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

    CONTACT US

    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

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

    CONTACT US

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

    CONTACT US

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

    CONTACT US

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

    Revitalisation of the sleeping giants
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  • Civic eState

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting, Naples (IT)
    Mid-term meeting, Iași (RO)
    26-28 May 2021, Final Network Event (online)
    Transnational meeting, Prešov (SK) / Transnational meeting, Amsterdam (NL)

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

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

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    The Civic eState network worked on new models of urban co-governance based on the commons. Two years of EU cooperation for promoting urban co-governance and experimenting public-community partnerships to enable inhabitants and local communities constitutional rights to self-organize and collectively act for the urban commons.

    The network outputs aim at guaranteeing the collective enjoyment as well as collective management of urban essential facilities, to secure fair and open access, participatory decision-making, sustainability and preservation for the benefit of future generations.

    Pooling Urban Commons
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  • Resilience and communities: URBACT at the Venice Architecture Biennale

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    15/11/2022

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

    Articles

    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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  • Governing commons, is it even possible?

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    15/11/2022
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    Articles
    Participation

    Creative communities have long been a vital element for city regeneration: groups of people helping to improve urban spaces, buildings, initiatives or services, opening them up for neighbourhood use in order to answer local needs. For city administrations seeking sustainable ways to develop their territories, one approach is to improve such community participation. Naples (IT), for example, introduced a governance model that allows communities to manage public assets as ‘common goods’ – a solution transferred to six other EU cities through the Civic eState network. This collective management of so-called ‘urban commons’ was the focus of a recent URBACT City Festival session entitled “Governing commons, is it even possible?”. URBACT Expert Liat Rogel reports.

    In the context of urban commons the city is seen as “a platform utilised and optimised by citizens from all backgrounds and social statuses”, explained Cristijan Iaione, URBACT Lead Expert for Civic eState and an expert on urban commons. To be a successful platform, the public administration first has to recognise the benefits that could come from such collaboration. Second, it should adopt new tools and governance policies that enable and empower citizens.

    Also, the involved parties, including NGOs, and formal and non-formal groups, need to recognise themselves as collaborators, part of a joint movement promoting commons. Governing commons means finding the right path to regulate something as dynamic, spontaneous and agile as a community. Can this even be possible? Can a city guarantee a good governance of commons without the risk of compromising the character of urban communities? These are some of the key questions Naples and their Civic eState partners Amsterdam (NL) and Gdansk (PL) tackled at the URBACT Festival, alongside Turin (IT) from the UIA – URBACT network CO4CITIES.

    Amsterdam: recognising the commons movement

    Very often, working on commons starts with recognition and identity, according to Nathalie van Loon, Commons coordinator for the City of Amsterdam. She said: “in Amsterdam, there is a real old tradition of commons in practice. Civic participation has been part of urban development and people are used to protest, offer different solutions or collect consensus. However, there is no recognition of the term ‘commons’ and no sense of larger identity between the different stakeholders that are actually commoners. We need to build a new narrative and adapt to a worldwide movement. People do not recognise themselves as part of the movement.”

    One of the ways to start the sense of identity and begin a collaborative conversation was the creation of a commons catalogue. “In Amsterdam, we asked artists to make a city catalogue for commons. It tells the story of Amsterdam commoners, of change in the city, and gives concrete examples from the local context. We have a network of commoners now and we look for ways to work on neighbourhoods rights, but we will work better on collaboration.” Nathalie van Loon described integrating the term ‘public-common partnership’ as a way to increase collaboration, build a set of tools to facilitate this partnership, and to ensure the movement is both recognised by all stakeholders and sustainable in the long term.

    Naples: a city forced to think outside the box

    Public-community governance has proven to be successful in Naples, which has seen a major development of tools and methods for urban commons over the past decade. Experience the city shared during the recent URBACT Transfer Network Civic eState. Nicola Massella, from the City of Naples, described how the city administration was put in the position of having to come up with new tools. Citizens and communities reclaimed public abandoned spaces, occupying them and then making them available to residents, with cultural activities and even social services.

    “Our administrative tools were developed after things already happened,” said Nicola Massella. “As public servants, we understood that we cannot programme the future of a neighbourhood without collaboration with the people living there. We were forced to take action. We were linked to the idea of the government and the people forced us to think out of the box.”

    In Naples, the recognition of formal and informal groups is based on constitutional values. The community must allow open access and be socially inclusive and non-discriminative. If those principles are in place, the administration recognises the collaboration and provides services like water, electricity and other affordable services. Eight spaces in eight neighbourhoods are now up and running in this way. Whether it’s a park, or a beach, these spaces are mainly used for cultural initiatives that preserve local traditions. As well as this ‘immaterial’ gain, social infrastructure and services are also being set up by communities. Examples include spaces for teenagers to study, social spaces for the elderly or administrative assistance for immigrants. These structures are relatively economically accessible and maintain their quality over time.  

    Turin: experimenting with and testing tools in different contexts

    Change of mindset is a main topic when talking about commons in Turin. “Through experimenting with new tools, it became clear that this change is needed not only inside the municipality, but also in the local, not-for-profit organisations that usually are involved in offering spaces or services to the community,” said Giovanni Ferrero, city of Turin. “With Co-City, we tested local regulation with the aim of governing commons. In our testing period, the city developed the pact of collaboration. It is oriented towards a collaborative governance model. It implies a change of mindset, change of approach both from the public and the third sector. On one side, the public has an authoritative role that needs to change; on the other hand, non-for-profit organisations – and the citizens they support – are used to making requests from the public. Both need to change their roles here.”

    Turin developed two experimental spaces during their UIA Co-City project, and now, as a way to continue and develop the collaborative governance tools, they are working with three other cities in the UIA-URBACT network CO4CITIES. “We will continue working on local regulation with the aim of governing commons and will benefit from this European exchange.” One of the cities involved in the project is Gdansk, where the issue of trust and roles is also very relevant.

    Gdansk: building trust and letting go

    Magdalena Skiba, from the municipality of Gdansk, explained how encouraging work on urban commons “demands even more from the administrations than the communities. Communities of active citizens are ready for taking responsibility, but the municipality is not necessarily ready to ‘lose control’. The administration must learn how to become an enabler and not a ruler.” This topic was carried ahead first with a previous URBACT project BoostInno, where the city was defined as a ‘broker’. Magdalena Skiba added: “we have worked with local communities for about 15 years in Gdansk. We were happy to be pushed by the opportunity of working on a specific building, towards a related work on our Neighbourhood houses.”

    Neighbourhood houses are given to local NGOs by the municipality in exchange for the support they provide through activities for local residents. The city also covers some maintenance and management costs. Working on those, it was clear, said Magdalena, that “also local NGOs need a change of mindset: they usually act as if they were the owners and lack collaboration with the neighbourhood. We would like to move towards community ownership.” In a country with low levels of public trust in government, the last point from Gdansk is crucial: “we trust only our close families. In my opinion, the most important thing is to build trust between communities and the administration. The broker role, not to force solutions, but to enable them.”

    The answer to the question in the title is indeed tricky. One way to frame it may be a change of paradigm and approach. We do not have to see commons as something to govern, but rather something to enable. Perhaps the main question is not how to govern, but how we can support commons and guarantee their long-term sustainability.

    Further reading

    While local stakeholder participation is at the heart of URBACT’s approach, the recent URBACT networks Civic eState and Co4Cities focused specifically on the co-management of urban commons. URBACT experts in this field include: Christian Iaione, Director of LabGov; Levente Polyak, Lead Expert of CO4CITIES; and Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse, who recently published a book on the topic.  

    URBACT articles include:

     

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

     

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  • Nine ways cities can become more just and inclusive

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    15/11/2022

    These local actions for a fairer society are inspiring cities across the EU. Could they work in your city too?

    Articles
    Disadvantaged neighbourhoods

    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 nine examples of local actions for Just Cities. We hope towns and cities of all sizes will be inspired to ‘Understand, Adapt and Re-use’ these ideas for working with communities to fight exclusion and help drive a just transition to a green economy.

    1. Boost social inclusion through music

    One way Brno (CZ) is tackling social exclusion in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and encouraging children to stay in school, is a music programme inspired by the innovative Municipal Music School and Arts Centre in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat (ES). Brno is one of six EU cities in the ONSTAGE network, which have adopted l’Hospitalet’s inclusive approach – with groups including a symphonic orchestra, big bands, pop-rock, and jazz groups. Working with teachers and parents, Brno launched its own group music activities in deprived areas, bringing people together, facilitating cultural exchanges, and even improving school results in maths and other subjects.

    2. Encourage volunteering

    Pregrada (HR) has found a way to awaken its volunteering potential and encourage more young people to get involved in helping others. Forming a diverse local group to connect relevant associations, council staff, and citizens of all ages, they introduced a new governance structure around volunteering, part of a participatory model for solving local social problems. The town, which already had many active volunteers, and close links between relevant boards and the council, based its new framework on the well-established Municipal Council of Volunteering in Athienou (CY) while also exchanging with six other EU cities in the Volunteering Cities network.

    3. Commit to inclusion and tolerance

    Hamburg’s Altona district (DE) has launched an anti-discrimination strategy, with a set of principles known as the ‘Altona Declaration’, co-developed by political leaders and residents: “We in Altona,… stand for a free and democratic society; like to encounter new people; represent diversity and engage against discrimination; encounter every person with respect and tolerance; believe in the equality of all people; recognise the chances that come with diversity and encounter every person openly and without prejudices.”

    Inspired by Amadora’s (PT) ‘Don’t feed the rumour’ initiative, through the RUMOURLESS CITIES network, Altona appointed local campaign ambassadors, and asked residents about community, democracy and equality – confirming a common desire to live in a society where people take care of each other.

    4. Celebrate local heritage through storytelling

    A movement to celebrate the built environment, promote active citizenship and fight urban isolation is growing up around a former radio station in a 1950s suburb of Pori (FI). Working with the city’s cultural department, an arts collective based on the site formed a local group and asked neighbours and radio enthusiasts to share their stories, in person and online, sparking new events, interest in local heritage, and the re-use of abandoned space in the old radio station. Pori based the initiative on good practice from Budapest’s annual ‘Weekend of Open Houses’, thanks to the Come in! network.

    5. Co-manage city assets

    The Belgian city of Ghent has a long history of policy participation, with council-appointed ‘neighbourhood managers’ supporting a variety of citizens’ initiatives. The Civic eState network helped Ghent learn from urban commons legislation in cities like Naples, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Gdansk, further boosting cooperation with residents – and bringing the city’s policy participation, real estate, and legal services to work together. Ghent applied these learnings in the re-use of the decommissioned Saint Jozef Church. Commoners, citizens, and nearby organisations formed a local group to jointly assign a local coordinator to ensure the building’s management and activities take into account the needs of its diverse neighbourhood.

    6. Empower neighbourhood partnerships

    A new initiative in the French metropole of Lille identifies local associations and their potential synergies in deprived neighbourhoods, in order to empower communities to propose and build their own joint social projects – such as linking up a retirement home with a neighbouring school. The idea is to support these projects on the road to self-sufficiency. Lille based their initiative on learnings from Lisbon’s (PT) Local Development Strategy for Priority Intervention areas, thanks to the Com.Unity.Lab network. Lisbon’s scheme tackles urban poverty and empowers communities by providing micro-grants to thousands of local projects, many of which become autonomous and create permanent jobs.

    7. Engage with citizens through play and games

    Cork (IE), is taking a ‘playful’ approach to improving the city for all, steered by a local group ‘Let’s Play Cork’ which includes the City Council, public bodies and associations across health, education, culture and sports. Applying good practice from Udine (IT) and other cities in the Playful Paradigm network, Cork’s actions so far include: pop-up play areas in the city centre, parks and libraries; play-based resources for festivals; toy-lending in libraries; and providing ‘street-play packs’ for neighbourhood events. This approach has been a catalyst for local groups and residents to start tackling societal challenges together, such as co-developing playful ideas for public spaces, including the permanent pedestrianisation of certain roads.

    8. Build municipality-NGO cooperation

    The ‘NGO House’ in Riga (LV) is a place for civil society organisations to hold events, develop sustainable cooperation with the municipality; and receive educational, technical and administrative support. The model inspired cities across the EU to boost their own synergies between NGOs, citizens and institutions – with support from the ACTive NGOs network. The Sicilian town of Siracusa, for example, has developed three new public spaces with local associations: Citizen's House on an abandoned floor of a school in a disadvantaged neighbourhood; Officine Giovani in a historic centre; and the Urban Centre, a recovered space, bringing the administration and community together in planning local policies.

    9. Welcome international talent

    Home to several multinational companies and a university, Debrecen (HU) is expanding support for professionals and students arriving from other countries to feel welcome and stay on as valuable members of the community. Debrecen is one of six cities in the Welcoming International Talent network, inspired by Groningen (NL) where a multidisciplinary team provides international residents with active support in housing, work, city living and communication. With improved stakeholder relations convincing local leaders to see social aspects of economic development, next steps include support for affordable accommodation, and encouraging local companies to recruit international talent.

    Find out more about these, and many more, sustainable city solutions – in the new URBACT publication ‘Good practice transfer: Why not in my City?’.

    Visit the Good Practice database for more inspiration.

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

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    15/11/2022

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

    Articles
    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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  • 9 European cities acting together to end homelessness. Ambitious? Hell, yes!

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    15/11/2022
    What do we talk about during a 2,5 day summit on transforming planning? Catch a glimpse on our Day 2 Recap.
    Articles
    Housing

    Homeless people are increasing in all European countries except one: Finland. The most extreme form of poverty is becoming ever more urgent to tackle. Cities are struggling with understanding the numbers they deal with, define their specific problem and finally find innovative solutions to work with. A time of crisis calls for radical answers and a shift in mind-set. Can the collaboration between 9 European cities lead towards the end of an era? 

    “I see this lady, just outside the centre where they distribute methadone. Every morning she stands there. She is old and not in a good shape. I have been walking past her every day for the last year; -a whole year, every day. Now we wave hello to each other. She reminds me of why I do my job”. Says Steven as we walk away from the MSOC in Ghent, a medical centre where people can get methadone and support. Steven Vanden Broucke has been working for the Belgian city of Ghent since 2018 and is working on a local action plan to end chronic homelessness. 200 people arrive at the MSOC every day suffering from drug dependency and often mental disease. About half of them are homeless. “Not all of them are without a roof,” tells us one of the project medical doctors “but many live in insecure, inappropriate housing or couch surf.” 

    The city of Ghent (BE) has the challenging role of leading the new Action Planning Network ROOF in the URBACT program. ROOF is focusing on ending homelessness through innovative housing solutions. The project is a partnership between 9 cities: Ghent (Lead partner), Braga (PT), Glasgow (UK), Gothenburg (SE), Liège (BE), Naples (IT), Timisoara (RO), Thessaloniki (EL) and Toulouse (FR). The cities will compare best and worst practices, learn from one another and grow together with two main objectives: 1. gather accurate data about homelessness in their own city 2. make the shift from managing to the actual ending of homelessness, with Housing First and Housing Led as guidance model.

    Room in a homeless shelter in Naples (Italy)


    To measure is to know

    Homelessness does not have one single definition, and this lack of definition is also part of the problem. While the common image of a homeless person is a person living in the streets, many homeless people are sleeping with friends or relatives, in their cars or in unsuitable conditions. Homeless people often do not want to be seen. When visiting one of the day shelters for the homeless in Liège, the director explained: “The people coming to our service to get a meal and a bed, may remain anonymous. We only ask them to maintain the same identity for the whole season.” Patricia Vanderbauwhede who works for the Housing Department of the city of Ghent and ROOF project leader, is certain that an accurate data collection on homelessness is a crucial step towards solving the problem. “It is very convenient for a city to think the numbers are smaller than they really are. We have to work together in order to make this problem visible and reveal the real numbers”.

    Even though the numbers are difficult to collect and compare, studies show that more than 4 million people are affected by homelessness each year in Europe. "Only crisis -actual or perceived- produces real change" said Milton Friedman. And for homelessness, the multiple crisis level is evident: the Global Financial Crisis brought higher levels of poverty; the Housing Crisis today makes the housing market become highly inaccessible for most vulnerable people and the European migrant crisis causes difficulty for migrants in finding affordable housing and a homelessness risk, due to their complex situation (such as lack of finances, language barriers, cultural differences, (mental) health issues.

     

    Street art in Sanità neighbourhood in Naples (Italy)

     

    The house as a human right, not a reward.

    The ROOF project will not stop at understanding the problem but will explore innovative housing solutions, and especially “Housing First”. The reasons for that come from the observation of, -the only European country showing positive trends on homelessness. It is the only country with a long and successful experience with “Housing First”. The traditional model is a staircase model, where people have to go through several steps before they can get a house, for example by curing their addiction first. In “Housing First”, to be given a home is a first step. Once one has a home, other problems are taken care of, with freedom of choice and flexibility. This puts the house as a human right and not as a reward. Temporary solutions in housing are often unsuccessful for people with complex needs. I met three young adults in Queens Cross housing association in Glasgow during my city visit. “I am very easily influenced,” one of them shared, “going back to an institution or a temporary housing solution, and living with other people that have similar problems would have meant going back to drugs, losing my job… I needed my own space, I needed to put my life together, on my own.” The three young adults now live in small and independent apartments, and have 24/7 support from the housing association if needed.

    Study visit to Glasgow (Scotland)

    The URBACT framework is perfect for this network, it facilitates exchange and learning on transnational and local level, it offers capacity building, it provides cities with guidance to make a local action plan together with their stakeholders and puts focus on communication and dissemination. These four aspects make a great opportunity for the cities to act. “URBACT allows each city to have a spotlight on a desired topic, to bring it to the political agenda and to the citizens’ attention,” says Ariana Tabaku, from the coordination team of the City of Ghent. “All cities should use this opportunity strategically.”

    Professor Eoin O'Sullivan (Trinity College, Dublin) speaks at ROOF kick-off meeting

    The ROOF network is determined to influence the European strategies on the topic. Europe does not have a specific policy for homelessness. During the network Kick-off Meeting in Naples this October, Professor Eoin O’Sullivan spoke about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with one of its aims to reduce homelessness to functional zero (meaning homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurrent) in all member states by 2030. Action plans of 9 cities and small scale solutions in the next two years, may well serve the ambitious aim to end homelessness.

     

     

     

     


     

     

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  • Urban Heritage within URBACT projects

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    15/11/2022

    Culture and Heritage are key topics for URBACT cities: from renovations of historic buildings to new management methods.

    Articles

    This article gives an overview of the rich history of URBACT networks dealing with Urban Heritage.

    Historic buildings and urban landscapes

    Urban Heritage related work in the first years of URBACT covered many different angles, concentrating on historic buildings and urban landscapes - for example: the HerO (2008-2011) project. Another sub-topic of heritage dealt with specific areas of cities, such as abandoned military assets (REPAIR, 2008-2011) or ports (CTUR, 2008-2011). Finally, Heritage areas were discussed according to their current functions, how centrally located buildings with heritage values can be used to fulfil important functions such as offering well-located sustainable and affordable housing for the city’s population (LINKS, 2009-2012).

    A detailed account of all these projects was given in the first URBACT Project Results publication.

    At the time, the Heritage topic was managed by one of the Thematic Pole Managers: Philip Stein. The following summarises his thougts, remembering back to this period:"It is difficult to assess exactly what cities involved in the HerO, REPAIR and subsequently LINKS projects achieved in an ongoing perspective at local level. However, we can be fairly sure that while cities like Regensburg (DE), Utrecht (NL), Firenze (IT) and Bayonne (FR) would drive their experience and learning forward. The other partners made major gains in capacity building and opening their governance context to alternative methods and solutions."

    Cultural Heritage as an essential component of the integrated approach to urban development

    It was very important that URBACT was able to provide a new and effective platform for cities to explore how cultural heritage constitutes an essential component of the integrated approach to sustainable and participative urban (and rural) development.

    The HerO project was particularly important in pushing this message forward. It included strategic implications and designed integrated cultural heritage management plans as a valuable blueprint for historic towns and urban landscapes to follow.

    LINKS demonstrated that heritage and citizen engagement needed to be included in discussions about housing and energy conservation, as well as affordable renewal.

    REPAIR provided iconic examples of regeneration and reuse targeting former "military" sites and facilities, making real contributions to economic and employment opportunities, innovative SMEs and amenity.

    Steering the debate away from simply conservation of monuments and sites, or designation of protected areas, even World Heritage designation, allowed sights to be focused on emerging issues like the interaction between tangible and intangible heritage - and its importance for our cities, as well as the fight against exclusion. It also flagged up the potential of bottom up heritage approaches, now generally accepted (Horizon 2020, Faro Convention etc) but then embryonic.

    Beyond physical aspects of Heritage

    A few years later other aspects of dealing with physical heritage came to the forefront.

    The CASH project (2010-2013) dealt with the energy efficiency of affordable housing stock – some in heritage areas.

    The aforementioned LINKS project dealt with the creation of a better functional mix and improvement of heritage areas, with particular attention to keeping the original population of these areas, i.e. avoiding gentrification.

    These ideas were transferred to medium and smaller cities by the SURE project, developing tools like placemaking, social enterprise, community development.

    In the next round of URBACT the heritage-related physical aspects have lost momentum. On the other hand, this was when knowledge hub projects started, some of them addressing Heritage at least indirectly – such as the Building energy efficiency in European cities (2013) project or the Sustainable regeneration in urban areas (2015) project.

    These projects have demonstrated the difficulties of balancing different aspects, making it clear that too strong economic or environmental focus could compromise the achievement of social or heritage protection goals.

    In the last round of APN projects (finished during 2018) the SECOND CHANCE network dealt with the potential re-use of large historic buildings.

    Temporary use and participation

    The REFILL network explored the different forms of temporary use of underused buildings, while the MAPS network concentrated on the potential of military heritage areas. One of the cities of MAPS was Cartagena (ES), with a strong community acting in the targeted neighbourhood.

    In the current group of Transfer Networks the ongoing COME IN project offers a good opportunity to show a new approach to heritage areas: the organisation of special events, e.g. festival-type actions, carefully prepared with the help of volunteers to raise the interest of residents of old buildings which can in the longer term develop into bottom-up organizations and push for heritage renewal.

    The URBAN REGENERATION MIX project deals with historical areas from the point of view of collaboration, increasing the participation of residents, fostering their equal involvement into the urban regeneration processes. The good practice is the regeneration of a heritage area in Lodz.

    A collaborative online tool: Remaking the city

    In order to show good practices regarding place-based challenges in European cities, URBACT has developed a new online tool: Remaking the city. The aim of this tool is to help cities get ideas on how to make the most of their underused and/or problematic spaces. The empty/underused buildings challenge is one of the five space-related challenges, and good practices on heritage re-use can be found here too.

    The "Guardian Houses, Leipzig” practice shows how is it possible to get new tenants for vacant buildings.

    The "Regulation of civic use of urban commons/common goods, Naples (IT)” practice shows what type of public regulation can be introduced for the reuse of public vacant buildings through bottom up initiatives.

    The Tool-kit project of Brussels (BE) describes the innovative practice of deploying a regional fine for neglected heritage on top of the municipal tax and the possibility that the city can go to court to force the owners of heritage to carry out renovations.

    URBACT’s work in the European Urban Policy Framework

    Looking a bit outside of URBACT, the H2020 project OPEN HERITAGE is based on the statement that heritage should not be considered as a top-down defined term but much more as an open issue which should be co-developed with the affected population, creating ’heritage communities’.

    URBACT-related endevaours may have contributed to the fact that the Urban Agenda for the EU has launched a new round of partnerships including one dealing with Urban Heritage. Laura Colini, who is involved in this partnership from the side of URBACT summarises the work in the following way: "In this partnership, cultural heritage is seen as 'a powerful tool for achieving social, ecological and economic goals'."

    The partnership looks at actions which concern integration of environmental, tourism, and recreational activities.

    It looks at the following topics:

    • management of tourist flows and its impact on historic cities;
    • cultural industries as savoir faire, arts & craft but also innovation in arts and culture;
    • adaptive reuse, transformation, revitalisation and the reconversion of urban space focussing on community-based solutions for it;
    • financial sustainability and funding;
    • resilience of cultural and natural heritage, considering as patrimony the agricultural productions in cities, nature in urban environments;
    • integrated & disciplinary approach for governance, community-based approach through the mobilisation of citizens to work on the creation and enhancement of cultural heritage;
    • cultural services and culture for inclusive cities rethinking the use of pubic libraries, schools and museums to be accessible and usable for all parts of society, whether they are part of the city for generations or newly arrived migrants, women or men, young and old natives.

    Culture is a cross-cutting topic

    Thinking of heritage in terms of public policies is a challenging task due to its cross-cutting topic: culture – one that affects all our society, overarching all aspects of urban life. As in the past, the topic of heritage will give good opportunities to future networks to collaborate for more sustainable urban development.

    ***

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