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  • Is the compact city model endangered?

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    Is the compact city model endangered? Article COVER

    Three Action Planning Networks (2019 - 2022) came together to gather inspiration on how people can experience and move through the city.

    From urbact

    The Walk’n’Roll initiative, 27 different towns, cities and metropolises from the RiConnect, the Thriving Streets and the Space4People networks had a common mission. Together, they reflected about how mobility can play an important role when building better public spaces and increase the quality of life for local communities.  Iván Tosics, URBACT Expert who followed their exchange and learning journey, shares with us some of the key take-aways, findings and open questions that were raised during the Walk’n’Roll many and which are compiled in a brand new Guidebook. Take a ride with us and enjoy the read!



    URBACT Walk'n'Roll


    The recent pandemic was an important episode in the history of urban development. Much can be learnt from the immediate reactions to the health crisis, especially in dense cities. There were many brilliant examples about innovative tactical interventions in public space, inclusive housing policies, new types of economic support and social protection mechanisms, from which we can take stock.

    As the peak of the pandemic has slowly come to an end, the life in cities has quickly returned to its pre-Covid pace. A negative legacy is the incessant growth of suburbanisation, a process that has exploded over the last two years not only in Europe, but also in almost all parts of the world...


    A common effect in different cities


    In Oslo (NO), internal movements in and around the city, have shown an increased outmigration in the past two years with people aged between 25-30 and 60-70 moving away from the city, towards its outskirts and beyond. The “working from home effect” can partially explain this phenomenon. People with higher wages had a tendency to move away. It’s interesting to note though that most of the outmigrants were people who were not born in Oslo, according to studies.

    Likewise, in American cities, a substantial reallocation of housing and office demand has become tangible. People chose to move to the suburbs, away from dense city centres. Some analysts have called this as the “doughnut effect”. Meaning the rise of the suburbs and the slump of the city centre, driven by a fear of crowds and the opportunity of working from home.

    In a very recent analysis on the situation of the Paris urban area (FR), the academia has tried to collect all available information about internal residential migration, using unusual data. Information from rural associations, from the post office regarding permanent re-direction of mails to new address, or even schools' registrations were used as unexpected, yet rich sources. As evidence shows, migration flows from the downtown to the urban fringe are visible. According to this analysis, such movement of people cannot be considered as an urban exodus though. So, if not an exodus, what are these new forms of migration then?


    The new intra-urban migration tendencies


    First of all, research suggests that no direct, causal links exist between the spread of the virus and urban density. According to an OECD, it’s not density alone that makes cities vulnerable to Covid-19, but rather a mix of factors. The structural economic and social conditions play a role in this regard with overcrowdness, inequality, insufficient living conditions and the spatial concentration of the urban poor.

    The consequences from this new suburbanisation, on the other hand, are very clear: growing climate and energy problems due to increasing car-use, intensification of social disparities, since those who are leaving the city centre are the ones who can afford to do so. Moreover, there are also more and more problems in places where people tend to move out from. In the Budapest area (HU), for example, there are growing complaints in the agglomerational settlements with physical and human infrastructure problems, caused by the quick, unplanned growth of new residents.

    That being said, the post-Covid city presents us with a silver lining, an opportunity to rethink the principles of the urban compact development. For instance the British professor, Greg Clark, offers us a vision with blended cities and a more spread planification process. He argues for a wider distribution of activities between urban areas to offer second and third tear cities more chances. He also makes the case for better disposition of services within functional urban areas, based on the growth of "neighbourliness" and the emerging social capital.  

    Clark argues that people living in the fringes might still travel to the larger city centers from time to time, and acknowledges that they might not always work from home. At the same time, they will also get a taste for the local life where they live. People will spend more time – and money – in their neighbourhoods and, by consequence, new opportunities might arise for towns, suburban and secondary downtowns. So, these are not simply places where people sleep and work from home, but also places of exchange and for gatherings. Where, eventually, communities might thrive.

    This idea raises challenges for future urban development, for instance, issues related to metropolitan planning. Where to build new housing and dwellings? And how to regulate transport fares? These are just a few of the questions that were discussed during the Walk’n’Roll conference in Barcelona (ES), held in July 2022. The findings are summarised below.



    How to improve existing dense areas?


    The most widely accepted definition for adequate urban density is the one that acknowledges the need for an accessibility shift: changing urban transportation and land-use planning on the basis of people's ability to reach destinations, rather than on their ability to travel fast. This vision relies on the principle of re-humanising cities.


    The proximity aspect


    In the Walk’n’Roll conference the topic of proximity was at the heart of the discussion. In order for residents to give up the frequent use of car and, in perspective, also the ownership of a car, urban areas have to be changed. They must allow people to reach the most important everyday-destinations in a short time on foot, by bicycle or using public transport rides. There are many ideas raised for this shift, like the concept of the 15-Minute city. Besides the innovative practices of superblocks, Tempo30 and parking management – which are thoroughly described in the Walk’n’Roll Guidebook, Booklet 2 – you can find below two other ideas.


    The pedestrian-priority city


    Pontevedra (ES) is a medium-sized city with 83 000 inhabitants. In 1999 it was just another car-oriented city, but things started to change with the election of a new mayor – who still holds this position until this day. Mr Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores told citizens back then that the act of buying a car didn’t magically grant people with 10 square meters from the public space for a parking spot.

    His ideas consisted of making a distinction of the need for mobility, according to social criteria. He put people in the foreground, with at least half of the surface of all original streets turned into pedestrian areas. Intersections without lights and raised promenades were created, alongside he limited of parking hours in the downtown to a maximum of 15 minutes. In addition, underground parking was built under a concession and free public parking spaces were provided within a 15-20 minute walk of the centre.

    The results of these interventions were staggering: a decrease of motorised traffic by 77% in the dense urban area and by 93% in downtown, besides a decline in traffic accidents with no fatalities at all. Pontevedra became a high quality place to live with all public spaces serving the people, instead of the cars.


    Car-free places in every neighbourhoodURBACT Walk'n'Roll


    Back in 2014, in collaboration with 24 parish councils, the municipality of Lisbon (PT) started a programme called “Uma Praca em Cada Bairro” (“A space in every neighbourhood”). Currently being implemented, the programme is helping to renovate areas in the city to get people out of cars and to create new public spaces. The squares and streets will become the meeting point of the local community and “microcentres”, concentrating activity and employment.

    Henceforth, walking, cycling and public transport will be favoured, as the car traffic will be significantly restricted. The citywide programme in 150 squares and streets, practically in all neighbourhoods of Lisbon, could only be carried out with the support of the population. The programme counted with strong public participation processes.


    Potential externalities of public space improvement policies


    It goes without saying that the improvement of living conditions, with more public spaces and fewer cars, can lead to raising rents, pushing the most vulnerable residents away from the city. This is why it’s fundamental for the public sector to control the gentrifying effects. The efficiency of the public intervention depends on the willingness and political power of the municipal leadership, as well as on the housing system of the given city. A good example is the city of Vienna (AT), where the majority of the housing stock is under direct or indirect public control, with little or no gentrifying effects as a consequence of mobility and public space improvements.

    The situation is slightly more difficult in Barcelona, where the share of rental housing represents 31% of the housing sector. Only a small portion of these houses is actually owned by the public sector, making it almost impossible for the municipality to defend tenants. To tackle this challenge and avoid a “New York Highline effect”, the municipality provides subsidies to the urban poor, regulates private rents, oversees the housing market and even negotiates with landlords.



    How to create efficient metropolitan cooperation in blended cities?


    In the post pandemic world it’s not enough to make the dense urban cores more attractive, attention has also to be paid to those peripheral locations where many families aim to move to. Planning in larger territories can bring to light different questions, as to where new housing stock should be constructed or how to regulate and tax different forms of transport. The key aspect for public intervention in wider territories is a metropolitan coordination, which can be illustrated by the examples below.


    Turning highways into urban boulevards


    The classic period of suburbanisation started in the late 1950s in the USA, with the construction of 40 thousand miles of motorways financed by enormous central state grants. Urban planners were unstoppably carving highways into the urban structure, eradicating vulnerable neighbourhoods with fewer abilities to resist and, finally, ensuring the separation of functions following the leading planning concepts of the time. A similar car-oriented “modernisation” wave also reached most of the European cities. During the Walk’n’Roll conference, city practitioners showcased examples of recent efforts to reverse this phenomenon.

    In the course of the work done by Metrex for the From Roads to Streets learning platform –with support from Eurocities and URBACT – many European cases are analysed, including the transformative strategies adopted in Helsinki (FI), Oslo (NO), Lyon (FR) and Brussels (BE). In these dynamically growing cities the leading model is the urban intensification to concentrate growth and avoid urban sprawl. One way to achieve this principle is to direct new development to areas along the highways – provided that these are transformed into urban boulevards, with more space given for non-motorised vehicles. In Utrecht (NL), for example, two alternative projections were calculated for future scenarios and, according to them, the "A Proximity Model" foresee 20% less car-use.

    The opportunities and challenges of these new urban boulevards are gathered in a project to humanise the N-150 road, which is the central element of Barcelona’s Integrated Action Plan for the RiConnect network. This project deals with the motorway-like national road at the fringe of the metropolitan area, which created a division between the settlements and was putting the speed of mobility as the top priority. In order to restore old connections between the peripheral municipalities, the concept of metropolitan roads was born: without building new roads the extinct links between areas should be revived. This shall calm down traffic on the national road and even enable people to cycle from one town to another, which was not previously possible with the highways.


    URBACT Walk'n'Roll


    Improving the rail network to ensure metropolitan cooperation


    The Krakow (PL) Integrated Action Plan for the RiConnect network shows another way how metropolitan cooperation can be created. The Skawina Mobility Hub aims to create a connection point in one of Krakow’s satellite cities, on the line of the fast speed agglomerational railway that is under construction.

    Besides exploring the future functions of the evolving mobility hub, the intermodal links, park and ride (P+R) facilities and how to connect the station with city centre of Skawina, many efforts are being made to change the mobility mindset of people. This includes co-creation workshops, which resulted in the establishment of the integrated ticket system.

    Krakow is a good example for bringing public transport to the overall reflection on the metropolitan area. Such strategies, however, have to face the financial challenge of running public transport. During Covid times the ridership of public transport decreased almost everywhere and the rebouncing is still slow.


    Bringing planning and governance together at metropolitan level


    The Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) is a great example of how planning and governance can come together, not only at city, but also at metropolitan level. The AMB, the Lead Partner of the RiConnect network, is an agency with competencies in terms of mobility and public space in the metropolitan area – which counts with the double of inhabitants in comparison to the city itself. AMB is managing a very innovative mobility plan covering different aspects, such as generating safe and comfortable spaces for pedestrians, and sustainable methods of mobility, while reducing the use of private motorised transport.

    Unfortunately, not all cities have powerful metropolitan governance systems and/or strong agencies for planning and mobility. In the lack of these, urban planning cooperation between the municipalities of the urban area can help a lot. Sometimes these are initiated in bottom-up process, in combination with the national level, in order to use efficiently the EU Cohesion Policy resources. The Kraków Metropolitan Area (KMA), for instance, is responsible for coordination of transportation investments, which are implemented in the Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI) framework for the city and and its 14 surrounding municipalities.


    How to move towards an accessibility shift?


    Action Planning Networks labelThe new Walk’n’Roll Guidebook is split in three booklets – WHY, WHAT and HOW – and brings to light solutions that any city, regardless of its size, can use as a reference to drive change towards more blended and less compact cities. In order to tackle the most recent challenge of post-Covid suburbanisation, however, the practical interventions that are presented have to be combined with territorial visions. Regulation, planning and the support of governance institutions are equally important. Although this might sound challenging, there are different resources that can be particularly useful. Take for instance the EU Cohesion Policy, where investments in urban transport have more than doubled – from 8 billion EUR in 2007 - 2013 to 17 billion EUR in the 2014 - 2020, with even more opportunities in the next programming period.

    The first URBACT IV (2021 - 2027) call for Action Planning Networks is also a great occasion for cities to find partners to exchange, pilot ideas and develop an integrated set of actions at local level. While URBACT stresses the importance of the priorities of green - gender - digital, the RiConnect, the Thriving Streets and the Space4People networks are living proof of the wealth of themes that can be tackled within the spectrum of any urban subject, as today’s mobility challenge. These projects are in the crossroad of building more inclusive cities – for women and all – while also promoting the reduction of carbon emissions.

    Cities that wish to apply to the call are welcome to choose whichever network topic they deem relevant to their context. URBACT welcomes – and always will – bottom-up approaches that look at the big picture. Walk’n’Roll is bear fruit of the past round of Action Planning Networks and, hopefully, the next batch of URBACT cities will carry on its legacy and put its knowledge into action.

    URBACT Walk'n'Roll Guidebook

  • Resourceful Cities

    LEAD PARTNER : The Hague - Netherlands
    • Mechelen - Belgium
    • Patras - Greece
    • Ciudad Real - Spain
    • Zagreb - Croatia
    • Oslo - Norway
    • Vila Nova de Famalicao - Portugal
    • Bucharest 3rd district - Romania
    • Cáceres - Spain
    • Opole - Poland


    • Phase 1: Kick-Off Meeting 1, The Hague 3-4 Oct 2019


    • Phase 1: Kick-Off Meeting 2, Mechelen 12-14 Feb 2020
    • Phase 2: Kick-Off Transnational meeting 1, online 7-8 Jul 2020
    • Phase 2: City-to-City Session *Scoping the eco system* 9 Sep 2020
    • URBACT e-University 15 Sep - 8 Oct 2020
    • Transnational meeting 2 *Stimulating Collaboration* 25-26 Nov 2020
    • City-to-City Session *Scaling up local circular economy* 14 Dec 2020
    • Transnational meeting 3 *The role of the city* 27-28 Jan 2021
    • City-to-City Session *Circular Economy and territorial food systems* 18 Feb 2021
    • Transnational meeting 4 *Education, Awareness & Engagement* 30-31 March 2021
    • Transnational meeting 5 *Funding, Monitoring & Risk Assessment * 29-30 June 2021

    RESOURCEFUL CITIES is an URBACT Action Planning Network of ten European cities. This project seeks to develop the next generation of urban resource centres, so they can serve as catalysts of the local circular economy, by adopting a participative and integrated approach. The resource centres strive to promote the positive economic, environmental and social impacts, notably for the circular economy. Thus, the network facilitates waste prevention, reuse, repair and recycling. The centres also work as connection points for citizens, new businesses, researchers and the public sector to co-create new ways to close resource loops at the local level. By bringing together interested actors to work alongside, the goal is to promote the change of values and mindset.

    Spaces for circular co-creation & action
  • sub>urban

    LEAD PARTNER : Antwerp - Belgium
    • Casoria - Italy
    • Solin - Croatia
    • Baia Mare - Romania
    • Vienna - Austria
    • Brno - Czech Republic
    • Oslo - Norway
    • Dusseldorf - Germany
    • Barcelona Metropolitan Area - Spain


    CONTACT: City of Antwarp, Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen


    All video stories are available here.


    Kick-off meeting in July (Antwerp). Transnational meeting in November (Casoria).

    Transnational meetings in February (Oslo), June (Brussels) and October (Dusseldorf).

    Transnational meeting in January (Brno). Final event in May (Barcelona).

    The cities from this network searched for a solution to the following challenge: how can we make existing 20th century urban tissue attractive and qualitative again? How can we add a different urban layer? For the past two decades, urban development and planning practice in European cities and regions have focused on the renewal of metropolitan cores and historic inner cities. This has resulted in numerous success stories, but the wave of urban renewal in centres has generally coincided with strong population growth and demographic changes. Many inner cities have reached their peak in terms of density, population and mobility. At the same time most of the housing in 20th century (sub)urban areas are in need of renovation. The next logical step is a combined solution to these issues by reconverting this areas, to create a more sustainable and attractive environment.

    sub>urban APN logo
    sub>urban logo
    Reinventing the fringe
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  • 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


    From urbact
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  • Jauni priekšlikumi Rīgas attīstībai no VEFRESH hakatona

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    2020. gada 27. novembrī notika VEFRESH pilsētas ideju hakatons, kura laikā komandām bija iespēja attīstīt savas idejas modernākai, zaļākai un attīstītākai Rīgas pilsētai. Dalībai hakatonā bija pieteikušies vairāk par 75 cilvēkiem, to starpā: gan studenti, gan pilsētvides un IT jomas eksperti, gan Rīgas domes pārstāvji. Pasākumu atklāja un deva iedvesmu Rīgas mērs Mārtiņš Staķis un Startup Wise Guys pārstāve Zane Bojāre.


    VEFRESH ir inovāciju kustība, kas plāno attīstīt viedpilsētas inovācijas telpu VEF apkaimē un apkartējās teritorijās. Kustības mērķis ir veidot VEF apkaimi kā mūsdienīgu un sociāli aktīvu pilsētas daļu ar dzīvīgu kultūras, inovāciju un izglītības pasākumu programmu.



    Hakatonā atklāti pilsētu izaicinājumi un priekšlikumi:

    1. Radīt pilsētas karti gājējiem

    Kartes un maršrutēšanas lietotnes mūs, gājējus, uztver kā nelielas automašīnas, kurus principā neietekmē nekādi ārējie apstākļi. Taču mēs visi zinām, ka ne vienmēr labākais maršruts ir tas īsākais! Par iemeslu tam var būt pārāk aktīva satiksme, pārāk šaura ietve, slikts segums, nobrauktuvju, virszemes šķērsojumu vai apgaismojuma trūkums. Sietlā ar projekta Open sidewalks palīdzību un iedzīvotāju iesaisti ietvju kartēšanā tapis risinājums Vai ko līdzīgu varam izveidot arī Rīgai?

    2. Veidot velo risinājumu neaktīvajai VEF tilta daļai

    VEF pārvadam nepieciešama rekonstrukcija, bet tā netiks uzsākta ātrāk kā 2025. gadā. Ko darīt līdz tam? Šobrīd 90% velobraucēju izvēlas pārvietoties tikai pa vienu gaisa tilta pusi, bet ievērojamus atvieglojumus varētu sniegt vienmērīgāka gājēju un velo plūsmas sadalīšana pa abām tilta pusēm.

    3. Iedzīvināt tukšo skvēru pie G. Zemgala un Brīvības gatvēm

    Kā padarīt apkārtni ap G.Zemgala un Brīvības gatvju krustojumu cilvēkiem draudzīgāku? Rīgas attīstības plānā šobrīd nav scenārija šo satiksmi mierināt, un nākotnē transporta plūsmas šeit tikai pieaugs. Vai varam labiekārtot apkaimes tukšos skvērus ap krustojumu tā, lai tie mazinātu negatīvo autotransporta ietekmi un radītu gājējiem patīkamu publisko ārtelpu? Varbūt jau nākamajā pavasarī varam ko ierīkot uz pašvaldības zemes pie Biķernieku ielas pievada krustojumam?

    4. Radīt vienotu platformu pilsētas izaicinājumiem un to risinājumiem

    Platformā iespējams publicēt savu ideju pilsētas uzlabošana un meklēt domubiedrus tās tālākai virzībai, bet kur vērsties, ja ar savām zināšanām un darbaspējām esi gatavs piedalītos arī kāda risinājuma izstrādē? Šobrīd dažādi publiski uzsaukumi pilsētas izaicinājumu risināšanā noris ļoti fragmentēti un īslaicīgi, tāpēc jautājam - kādai jābūt un kā jāfunkcionē vienotai platformai, kurā pašvaldības un uzņēmumi varētu publicēt aktuālos izaicinājumus un atrast ne tikai tiem piemērotus risinājumus, bet arī šo risinājumu izstrādātājus?

    5. Radīt publiskās ārtelpas iespēju karti

    Lai iedzīvotāji varētu identificēt konkrētas vietas, kur apkaimē pašvaldība var izvietot atpūtas laukumu, zaļo zonu vai ko citu, tiem nepieciešama pārskatāma informācija par pašvaldības īpašumiem. Šobrīd nav ērta bezmaksas risinājuma, kur apskatīt vienuviet Rīgas pašvaldībai piederošās ēkas un zemes gabalus. Tāpat šādā vietnē pašvaldība varētu atspoguļot arī jau esošos pilsētas plānus konkrētām teritorijām, lai iedzīvotāji varētu ērti uzzināt par plānoto.

    6. Veicināt mikromobilitātes iespējas ap skolām

    Kādas ir skolnieku iespējas patstāvīgi un droši nokļūt skolā kājām vai ar divriteni? Populārāko skolā nokļūšanas maršrutu analīze varētu atklāt konkrētas problēmas, kuras novēršot varētu samazināt nepieciešamību vecākiem pievest bērnus pie skolas.

    7. Radīt Rīgas koku bibliotēku

    Gan pilsētai, gan aktīvajiem iedzīvotājiem trūkst pārskata par kokiem pilsētā. Tas traucē gan sekot līdzi to aprūpei, ziņot par novērotajām problēmām, un uzmanīt to neatļautu izciršanu. Piem., Ņujorkā izveidots risinājums NYC Street Trees, kur iespējams uzzināt gan koku skaitu, gan šķirnes konkrētās pilsētas vietās. Vai varam ko līdzīgu izveidot Rīgai? Iespējams apsvērt dažādus datu vākšanas modeļus, iesaistot iedzīvotājus, pašvaldības struktūrvienības un skolas. Nākotnē pilsētas vadībai ir vīzija par Pilsētas dārznieku kā galveno šādas informācijas pārvaldītāju.

    8. Veicināt apkaimju tūrisma iespējas

    Covid-19 pandēmija ir skaidri parādījusi, ka pilsētās trūkst atpūtas iespēju, kas nav lielveikali, kafejnīcas vai kino, bet ļautu cilvēkiem pavadīt brīvo laiku publiskajā ārtelpā. Kā varam palīdzēt iedzīvotājiem atklāt interesanto tepat Rīgā? Dažas apkaimes jau sākušas veidot vietējos pastaigu maršrutus vai rūpējas par konkrētiem kultūrvēsturiskā mantojuma objektiem. Kā popularizēt jau esošās iniciatīvas un veicināt jaunu pastaigu maršrutu rašanos?

    9. Sabiedriskais transports kā iekļaujošs elements pilsētas mobilitātē

    Kā veicināt mikromobilitātes mijiedarbību ar Rīgas sabiedrisko transportu kā mobilitātes mugurkaulu? Kā nodrošināt integrēta norēķina “last mile” risinājumus nokļūšanai pie sabiedriskā transporta tīkla, kas vērsti ne tikai uz ērtībām pasažieriem, bet arī uz energoefektivitāti mikromobilitātē, pasažieru pieaugumu sabiedriskajā transportā, drošību uz ceļa (samazināti gari mikromobilitātes pārbraucieni)?

    10. Atvērt ērtai lietošanai skolu sporta laukumus

    “15 minūšu pilsētas” zelta likums ir maksimāli izmantot katru jau pilsētā uzbūvēto kvadrātmetru. Vai Rīgas skolu sporta laukumi un zāles ir pilnībā noslogotas? Kā interesentiem viegli uzzināt par pieejamajām iespējām un tās norezervēt savām interesēm?

    11. Izveidot vīziju iekšpagalmu attīstībai

    Lielai daļa daudzstāvu ēku iekšpagalmu, kas varētu būt ērta atpūtas vieta iedzīvotājiem, šobrīd pilda tikai autostāvvietu funkciju. Kā jāizskatās nākotnes iekšpagalmiem? Kādām jābūt tajos iekļautajām iespējām senioriem, bērniem, jauniešiem un ģimenēm? Kā organizēt auto stāvvietas un kā sekmēt mikromobilitātes izmantošanu?

    12. Soli tuvāk iedzīvotājiem draudzīgai būvvaldei

    Patvaļīga būvniecība rada draudus gan īpašuma, gan kopējai sabiedrības drošībai. Taču kā nodrošināt, ka būvvaldes saskaņojumu procesi ir saprotami arī cilvēkiem bez arhitekta diploma? Būvvaldes mājaslapā pieejamais saturs šobrīd orientēta uz jomas profesionāļiem.

    13. Izstrādāt priekšlikumus nokrišņu ietekmes mazināšanai uz kanalizācijas sistēmu

    Rīgā ir 2 kanalizācijas sistēmas - viena ir lietus notekūdens savākšanai, otra pamatā - sadzīves un ražošanas notekūdeņiem (centralizētā kanalizācijas sistēma). Vietās, kur nav izbūvēta lietus kanalizācijas sistēma, lietus notekūdeņi no ielām, ēkām un pagalmiem tiek novadīti centralizētā kanalizācijas sistēmā. Nokrišņu laikā vietām tiek pārslogotas abas kanalizācijas sistēmas, veidojas lielas peļķes, paaugstinās piesārņojuma riski, kas kopumā rada nozīmīgus izdevumus visiem rīdziniekiem. Tāpat pilsētā eksistē teritorijas, kurās nav vēl neviena kanalizācijas sistēma. Pilsēta vēlas ne tikai efektīvi apsaimniekot lietus notekūdeņu sistēmas, bet arī attīstīt zaļo infrastruktūru.

    14. Veidot vienotu ielu būvdarbu karti

    Ik pa laikam pilsētā var novērot, ka vienu gadu ielai tiek mainīts segums, bet nākamo tā tiek atkal rakta vaļā, lai veiktu inženierkomunikāciju remontdarbus. Šobrīd plānoto darbu informācija pieejama tikai katras struktūrvienības mājaslapā. Kā veicināt sadarbību starp dažādām iestādēm būvdarbu kalendāra optimizēšanai? Vai varam izveidot vienotu rīku, kur ielu būvniecības plāni redzami vienā kartē?

    Vairāk par VEFRESH šeit.

    Jaunai iedvesmai iesakām paklausīties arī VEFRESH audio sērijas, kur notika sarunas ar vietējiem un ārvalstu ekspertiem par dažādiem pilsētu labas prakses risinājumiem:


    Rakstu sagatavoja:

    Anastasija Bizjajeva

    URBACT Nācionālais kontaktpunkts

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  • 23 Action Planning Networks ready for Phase 2!

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



    The main objective of Action Planning Networks is to bring together between 7 and 10 cities across Europe to exchange their experience in a particular thematic urban development challenge and to share their ideas about possible solutions, during a period of over 2 years. The Phase 1 (from late June 2019 to February 2020) focused on the development of baseline studies, city profiles and the production of the Application Form for Phase 2.

    Following the Monitoring Committee's approval of the networks, cities are now ready to focus on the exchange and learning activities using a range of learning tools and approaches in line with the URBACT Method. Every partner city will consolidate an URBACT Local Group, which will co-design Integrated Action Plans for future implementation. The Phase 2 also presents a novelty for the projects, from now on cities are encouraged to undertake pilot actions (Small Scale Actions), to experiment with new ideas for projects gained from other network exchanges and in line with the cities’ network topic.

    As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the URBACT Secretariat will follow up with a series of adapted activities to support these networks and their partners, including the delivery of trainings using online formats and a 3 months extension of the network life-cycle, meaning that projects will run until August 2022. Thus, networks will respect the following calendar:


    • Activation Stage (May - December 2020): putting together an Integrated Action Plan roadmap
    • Planning Actions (December 2020 - December 2021): drafting the Integrated Action Plan
    • Planning Implementation (December 2021 - June 2022): finalising the Integrated Action Plan
    • Integrated Action Plans Finale (June - August 2022): sharing knowledge


    You can find all approved networks in the table below, the Lead Partner city is indicated is bold. To find out more about each one of the projects, check the network's webpages.
    Congratulations to the 23 approved projects!





    Research, technological development and innovation


    Leiria (PT)
    - Longford (IE)
    - Madrid (ES)
    - Mechelen (BE)
    - Michalovce (SK)
    - Parma (IT)
    - Pella (EL)
    - Unione della Romagna Faentina (IT)
    - Szabolcs 05 Regional Development Association of Municipalities (HU)

    Security and safety are two common goods and fundamental components of European democracy. This network intends to analyse strategies and concepts of urban design and planning, which could contribute to prevent segregation and anti-social behaviour. Additionally, this network wishes to co-create an integrated approach towards urban security focusing on improving citizens’ quality of life and the city’s smart, sustainable and inclusive growth towards a good living environment.

    Find your Greatness

    Alba Iulia (RO)
    - Bragança (PT)
    - Candelaria (ES)
    - Perugia (IT)
    - Wroclaw (PL)
    - Võru (EE)
    - Limerick (IE)
    - Budafok-Tétény 22nd district of Budapest (HU)

    The challenge is to build on the cities' opportunities. The partners of the project need to identify locally a strength, which was built as a sustainable mechanism generating urban development. The goal of this network is to explore and enhance the potential of the city, combining strategic marketing approach with innovative smart city tools.

    Access to and use of ICT

    (previously DI4C)

    Messina (IT)
    - Botosani (RO)
    - Oulu (FI)
    - Portalegre (PT)
    - Roquetas de Mar (ES)
    - Saint- Quentin (FR)
    - Trikala (EL)
    - Ventspils Digital Centre (LV)

    This network aims to set up an acceleration mechanism to enable cities to catch up the digitalisation opportunities in hard & soft infrastructure. Remove all the obstacles encountered by mid-sized cities in their digital journey: lack of strategic & global vision lack of technical and engineering capacities difficulties in incorporating the digital innovation. Municipalities need to guaranty the uptake of digital innovation by the local stakeholders: citizen and entrepreneurs.


    Fundão (PT)
    - Dodoni (EL)
    - Jelgava (LV)
    - Nevers Agglomeration (FR)
    - Razlog (BG)
    - Ånge (SE)
    - Kežmarok (SK)
    - Åbo Akademi University (FI)

    The objective is to encourage the creation of a network of European cities committed to the design of digitalization plans based on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to increase the quality of life in small and medium sized EU cities, guiding us through a new age of digital transformation.

    Competitiveness of SMEs


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

    - Saldus (LV)

    This network aim to produce 10 different and unique robust economic development strategies, targeting their own genuine niches, and generating urban innovation ecosystems. City partners will focus on deepening the understanding of their own local economic strengths and establish strategic methods to revitalise their economy, adapt their city to the next economy and to future economic changes, establishing methodological bases for generate resilient cities.

    Tourism Friendly Cities

    Genoa (IT)
    - Braga (PT)
    - Rovaniemi (FI)
    - Venice (IT)
    - Utrecht (NL)
    - Krakow (PL)
    - Cáceres (ES)
    - Druskininkai (LT)
    - Dún Laoghaire Rathdown (IE)
    - Dubrovnik Development Agency (HR)

    This network aims to explore how tourism can be sustainable in medium-sized cities, reducing the negative impact on neighbourhoods and areas interested by different types of tourism to reach this ambitious aim, the project will create integrated and inclusive strategies which can keep a balance between the needs of the local community, in terms of quality of life and of services available, and the promotion of sustainable urban development at environmental, social and economic level.

    Low carbon economy in all sectors

    Urb-En Pact

    Clermont Auvergne Metropole (FR)
    - Bialystok Association of the Functional Area (PL)
    - CIM Alto Minho (PT)
    - Rouen Normandie Metropole (FR)
    - Elefsina (EL)
    - Galati (RO)
    - Palma di Montechiaro (IT)
    - Tampere EcoFellows (FI)

    Local authorities embrace the ambitious goal to become a zero-net energy territory within the next 30 years. Thus, the aim is to define the local action plans to become zero-net (ZNE) territory by producing and delivering local, renewable and regulated sources of energy by the implementation of an energy loop which gathers all the stakeholders of this circular economy, especially the consumers included in this fair trade business in and around the metropolitan area.

    Zero Carbon Cities
    (previously ZCC)

    Manchester (UK)
    - Bistrita (RO)
    - Zadar (HR)
    - Modena (IT)
    - Frankfurt am Main (DE)
    - Tartu (EE)
    - Vilvoorde (BE)

    The network will support capacity building of cities to establish science-based carbon reduction targets and their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) aligned to Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Working with 7cities to adopt different approaches to carbon budgeting and science-based targets, the network will undertake a programme of capacity building in order to support their local activities and integrated action plan and influence Covenant of Mayors' signatory cities.

    Environmental protection and resource efficiency


    Barcelona Metropolitan Area (ES)
    - Porto Metropolitan Area (PT)
    - Krakow Metropole Association (PL)
    - Paris Metropolitan Area (FR)
    - Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot Metropolitan Area (PL)
    - Amsterdam Region (NL)
    - Transport for Greater Manchester (UK)
    - Thessaloniki Major Development Agency (EL)

    The overall goal is to rethink, transform and integrate mobility infrastructure aiming at reconnecting people, neighbourhoods, cities and natural spaces. The project will develop planning strategies, processes, instruments and partnerships, fostering public transport and active mobility, reducing externalities and unlocking opportunities of urban regeneration with the objectives of structuring the territory, and achieving a more sustainable, equitable and attractive metropolis.


    Utrecht (NL)
    - Riga (LV)
    - Oeste CIM (PT)
    - Copenhagen (DK)
    - Granada (ES)
    - Munich (DE)
    - Kavala (EL)
    - Prato (IT)
    - Nigrad (SI)

    URGE (circUlaR buildinG citiEs) aims to design integrated urban policies on circularity in the building sector – a major consumer of raw materials – as there is a gap in knowledge on this topic. The result is an in-depth understanding of this theme and a first plan for a tailor-made methodology that allows the circular dimension to be widely integrated in the large construction tasks the URGE partnership is facing. URGE thus accelerates the transition towards a circular economy.

    Healthy Cities

    Vic (ES)
    - Anyksciai (LT)
    - Bradford (UK)
    - Alphen aan den Rijn (NL)
    - Falerna (IT)
    - Farkadona (EL)
    - Loulé (PT)
    - Pärnu (EE)
    - Malta Planning Authority (MT)

    This network aims to deepen the relationship between health and the urban environment, planning actions that focus on improving the population’s health, while developing a rigorous health impact assessment methodology around it. Urban Planning can become a health generator on many grounds, and this network of cities reflects the multiplicity of possible approaches to tackle the issue: green areas, mobility, social cohesion or promotion of sports are some examples.


    Mula (ES)
    - Belene (BG)
    - Cesena (IT)
    - Malbork (PL)
    - Roskilde (DK)
    - Heraklion (EL)
    - Šibenik (HR)
    - Ukmergè (LT)


    The ultimate goal is to represent a moment of change, improving the urban environment of cities involved, developing heritage-led urban regeneration. It will enhance the potential of heritage in small and medium cities developing strategies for economic and social cohesion, inclusion and sustainable urban development. This network fosters the transnational exchange of experiences to test an innovative policy framework, combining a sound integrated approach with a real transformation purpose.


    Resourceful Cities
    (previously UrbReC)

    The Hague (NL)
    - Bucharest 3rd district (RO)
    - Ciudad Real (ES)
    - Mechelen (BE)
    - Cáceres (ES)
    - Patras (EL)
    - Oslo (NO)
    - Opole (PL)
    - Vila Nova Famalicão (PT)
    - Zagreb (HR)


    This network seeks to develop the next generation of urban resource centers to promote the positive economic, environmental and social impacts for the circular economy. They facilitate waste prevention, reuse, repair and recycling. The centers also work as connection points for citizens, new businesses, researchers and the public sector to co-create new ways to close resource loops at the local level.

    (previously Rurban Food)

    Coimbra Region (PT)
    - Alba Iulia (RO)
    - Córdoba (ES)
    - Larissa (EL)
    - Szécsény (HU)
    - Bassa Romagna Union (IT)
    - Tartu Tartumaa Arendusselts (EE)
    - BSC Kranj and Gorenjska (SI)

    Recent experience suggests that it is necessary to promote a transition towards regional food systems. This network encourage the creation of a network of European cities committed to the design of food plans that extend from the urban and periurban areas through a corridor that facilitates urban-rural re-connection. This approach enhances production and consumption environments founded on a base of economic, social and environmental sustainability, integrated into development policies.


    Hegyvidék 12th district of Budapest (HU)
    - Espoo (FI)
    - Limerick (IE)
    - Messina (IT)
    - Breda (NL)
    - Poznań (PL)
    - Santa Pola (ES)
    - Suceava (RO)
    - Tartu (EE)

    As a response to the various health risks related to rapid urbanization and the densification of cities, this network project promotes health-responsive planning and management of urban green infrastructure with an overall aim to bring health and wellbeing benefits for citizens across Europe. The network applies a holistic approach that addresses the main functions provided by urban green infrastructure that deliver health and social benefits.

    Sustainable transport


    Bielefeld (DE)
    - Arad (RO)
    - Badalona (ES)
    - Nazaré (PT)
    - Turku (FI)
    - Guía de Isora (ES)
    - Panevèžys (LT)
    - Saint-Germain-en-Laye (FR)
    - Sérres (EL)
    - Valga (EE)

    This network improves quantity and quality of attractive public spaces in urban areas. For this, it tackles the main public space use being transportation in 3 aspects: improving user experience and adding space to pedestrian networks and (semi) pedestrianised places, upscaling intermodal hubs to urban centres of mixed use as well as reducing and optimising parking in public space. The project takes a user-centric approach by users assessing and creating future use and design of public space.

    Thriving Streets

    Parma (IT)
    - Antwerp (BE)
    - Igoumenitsa (EL)
    - Klaipèda (LT)
    - Nova Gorica (SI)
    - Oradea (RO)
    - Santo Tirso (PT)
    - Radom (PL)
    - Southwark London Borough (UK)
    - Debrecen Economic Development Centre (HU)

    This is a network that addresses the bottlenecks in sustainable urban mobility. The project will focus on the economic and social benefits of sustainable mobility, rather than on the widely demonstrated environmental effects. The network argues that working with local amenities and social networks at neighbourhood level could unlock the hidden demand for active mobility in cities, and thus act as enabler of behaviour change towards more resilient and liveable neighbourhoods.

    Employment protection and resource efficiency


    Heerlen (NL)
    - Aarhus (DK)
    - Baia Mare (RO)
    - Fundão (PT)
    - Kecskemét (HU)
    - Pordenone (IT)
    - Zaragoza (ES)
    - Võru Development Centre (EE)

    This network aims to explore how social impact bonds can be used to improve public service delivery in areas such as employment, ageing, and immigration. Often, the delivery of services is hindered by fragmented and siloed agencies and budgets, financial and political shorttermism, and an aversion to risk and difficulty creating change. The social impact bond is a promising model that ameliorates these issues by increasing collaboration, prevention, and innovation.

    Social inclusion and poverty


    Ghent (BE)
    - Braga (PT)
    - Glasgow (UK)
    - Thessaloniki (EL)
    - Liège (BE)
    - Odense (DK)
    - Poznań (PL)
    - Toulouse Metropole (FR)
    - Timisoara Department of Social Assistance (RO)

    This project aims to eradicate homelessness through innovative housing solutions at city level. It will exchange knowledge on how to gather accurate data and make the conceptual shift from the symptomatic management to the actual ending of homelessness, with Housing First and Housing Led as guidance model. This network will guide the partner cities towards integrated local action plans linked to the long-term strategic goal of Functional Zero (no structural homelessness).


    Agen (FR)
    - Bistrita (RO)
    - Cento (IT)
    - Dinslaken (DE)
    - Hradec Králové (CZ)
    - Santa Maria da Feira (PT)
    - Saint-Quentin (FR)
    - Tartu (EE)

    The aim of this network is to rethink the place of the citizens in the local governance by finding a balance between representative democracy and participatory democracy. This network of European small and medium-sized cities, with the same expectations and similar challenges, will notably take into account, to do this, new digital tools while integrating the issue of citizens away or not comfortable with digital tools.


    Amsterdam (NL)
    - Dublin (IE)
    - Lisbon (PT)
    - Riga (LV)
    - Sofia (BG)
    - Tallinn (EE)
    - Vilnius (LT)
    - London Greater Authority (UK)

    This network addresses the importance of inclusive cultural policies. A challenge all cities in this project face is that culture does not enrich or empower all people equally. We need to gain a better understanding of our communities in order to engage all citizens in our cities. We have identified four topics to work on that will enable us to gain that understanding and support us in reaching all population groups in the participating cities from the west, east and south of Europe.


    Umeå (SE)
    - Frankfurt am Main (DE)
    - Panevèžys (LT)
    - Trikala (EL)
    - La Rochelle (FR)
    - Barcelona Activa SA (ES)
    - Celje JZ Socio (SI)

    Creating conditions for gender equality through a holistic understanding of how gender inequality is created in the specific place. This network creates an exchange on challenges faced by cities with an understanding of gender inequality that is globally understood but locally contextualised.

    Education, skills and lifelong learning


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

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




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

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  • Introducing the Resourceful Cities Action Planning Network: Driving citizen centred, resource-based transition in cities across Europe

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    A citizen centred circular economy project with a difference, the Resourceful Cities concept was conceived by The Hague and Oslo, arising from their membership in the Urban Agenda Partnership on Circular Economy. The project was developed to implement one of the twelve actions addressed by the Urban Agenda partnership - namely the action to "Promote Urban Resource Centres for waste prevention, re-use and recycling".  

    Circular economy

    Led by The Hague, the Resourceful Cities consortium consists of ten partners, representing a wide geographical spread and diversity of contexts from across Europe. The partner cities are Oslo (NO), Zagreb (HR), Vila Nova de Famalicão (PT), Cáceres (ES), Opole (PL), Patras (EL), Ciudad Real (ES), Bucharest 3rd District (RO) and Mechelen (BE).

    Partners came together for the first time at their kick off meeting in The Hague on the 3rd & 4th of October. Together, they will undergo an extensive programme of facilitated transnational exchange and learning as well as participative co-creation at local level, between now and April 2022, in order to develop tailor made comprehensive integrated action plans (IAPs) for each partner city. The IAPs will focus on making the transition to the circular economy within the framework of the Urban Resource Centre. 

    PHOTO 1: Partners gathered together for the first time at the network kick off meeting in The Hague on 3rd & 4th October.

    So what exactly is an Urban Resource Centre?

    An Urban Resource Centre can be defined as a physical space used to promote repairing, reusing and recycling (a circular economy) at a local level. These centres can be multi-functional places, where the waste hierarchy is correctly implemented, and the social, environmental and economic functions of the circular economy are emphasized.


    can vary from community spaces where citizens can come to avail of second-hand clothing, second hand products and repair services(Lindeberg mini-recycling station, Oslo) to spaces with a focus on training (Made in Moerwijk , The Hague) or new circular business development, incubation & innovation (Vollebekk Factories, Oslo).  Whatever the precise local focus, Urban Resource Centres bring together a wide community of stakeholders, promoting circular consumption, waste prevention, re-use and circular resource management.

    By using the Urban Resource Centre concept as a common framework, partner cities will work together and learn from each other to develop tailor made solutions to common challenges relating to the acceleration of the circular economy and resource efficiency at local neighbourhood, city and transnational level.

    PHOTO 2: The entrance to the De Potterij, an old laundry building in Mechelen which is about to be transformed into a hub for creative circular economy start-ups


    Why is this important?

    While the growth in availability and affordability of a wide variety of products has contributed to a rise in living standards and quality of life across Europe, it has simultaneously resulted in excessive resource extraction and growing pressure on natural resources and climate. The direct link between these intense and unsustainable pressures and our insatiable appetite for new products is vastly under appreciated. This lack of awareness of the true cost of our consumer habits will be one of the key challenges addressed by the network. 

    Existing local approaches to waste prevention, re-use, and recycling initiatives are highly varied across European countries. Some cities are actively working to promote waste prevention, re-use, and repair. In many other cities however, waste prevention and re-use have traditionally been considered, to be beyond the obligations of the local waste management actors, and demand-led waste collection services are still the norm. Many local waste authorities therefore, lack the required knowledge and expertise in the field to move towards a more proactive waste management system. Partners will work together through network activities to fill these knowledge and capacity gaps.

    Traditionally, cities work with large recycling stations located in the outskirts of the urban areas. Often they are only accessible by car and many do not offer alternatives to directing the waste to recycling, incineration and landfill, even when resource quality is so good that this is a very viable option. This trend is turning. Cities are growing, land is becoming scarce and citizens are demanding services which are easily accessible. The question of how cities can develop services which fit with the priority of the waste hierarchy, promote the circular economy and also invite in citizens, new businesses and start-ups to co-create new ways of closing the resource loops at local level will be explored through a facilitated discovery process during the network’s activities. 

    PHOTO 4: Artist’s impression of network goals as defined in the Kick off meeting. Credit: Hugo Seriese, ‘Buro Brand’.

    While the network has only just kicked off, some key opportunities have already become clear. Firstly, partner cities are full of diverse resources which remain untapped. These may be lost if cities do not act quickly, and with them the chance to drive systemic change within these cities towards a new resourceful economic model. These resources are both tangible and intangible and highly valuable in their unique territorial origin. They can include unused physical spaces, products, untapped human skills, enthusiasm and knowledge. Moreover, cities are full of neighbourhoods with diverse unmet social needs. These can be powerful transition drivers.  Cities and their constituent neighbourhoods have their own unique history, language and story to tell. The Urban Resource Centre can provide a valuable framework for harnessing these resources through the provision of tailor-made local spaces for citizen co-creation, participation, integration and values-based development.  

    Who will be involved?

    The transition to a new sustainable & circular socio-economic system will require collaborative efforts at many levels. Cities will need to develop services which can both facilitate and stimulate sustainable lifestyles. Many exciting local initiatives supporting sustainable consumption and production already exist across Europe. These however, need to be scaled-up and new green enterprise development supported. Cities, with their critical mass of population, must work to promote greater eco-design and eco-innovation.  Strong market demand for these new production processes and consumer systems initiated at the city scale are essential if we are to facilitate greater resource efficiency and mainstream sustainable consumer behaviour. This will require cooperation between partners across public, private, academic and citizen-based organisations.

    Resourceful cities partners recognise the widespread societal value which can be gained from tapping into their local resources and fast tracking this transition. From increasing equality and resilience in socio-economic systems to driving job production and competitiveness, these cities are excited about the variety of benefits which can be accrued from their actions within this network. While the focus is on waste reduction reuse and recycling, obvious benefits include a consequent reduction on carbon emissions, waste and other forms of pollution. This network however, knows it can deliver other far reaching social, economic and environmental benefits for its citizens, that go beyond its original waste reduction, reuse & recycling intention.  

    Interested? Why not join us on this exciting transition journey! Resourceful cities thrive on collaboration and idea sharing!  Follow us on twitter @ResourcefulCit1 to keep up to date on project activities.


    Twitter Accounts:  @eclane08 @MadeInMoerwijk @CityOfTheHague @Oslokommune @StadMechelen @MiastoOpole @CMVNFamalicao @Ayto_Caceres @City Patras @City_Of_Zagreb @cityofbucharest @AYTO_CIUDADREAL @EUUrbanAgenda @jaynavarroovie1 @jhpost

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  • How cities can accompany consumer change practices

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    Marcelline Bonneau makes a case for changing habits, innovative incentives and the benefits of a circular economy.


    Who hasn't tried to get rid of old habits, whether in relation to the way we eat, sleep, interact with each other, work, travel, or do sports? Who hasn't ever faced the difficulty of moving away from anchored routines to newly adopted ones? Who has ever struggled to unravel the complexity of the psychological but also social, technological and infrastructure-related mechanisms that make it difficult to transition?

    Changing is, indeed, difficult. Adopting new consumption practices in order to support transition towards a low-carbon society is even more difficult in this “Consumer Society”. As Zygmunt Baumann detailed in the 2007 “Consuming Life”, our space is an entangled web where social life politics and democracy, social divisions and stratification, communities and partnerships, identity building, the production and use of knowledge, and value preferences are entangled. Yet, it is crucial that we now, as citizens, change the way we consume according to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 and as recently emphasised in the IPCC Special report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC.

    Supporting citizens in their consumption transition has been at the core of public policies for decades and is a constant challenge - as well as a realm for experimentation. 3 European initiatives: URBACT, UIA and the Urban Agenda Partnership on Circular Economy give an insight into key approaches in the way European cities are frontrunners, supporting citizens in their transition towards more sustainable consumption practices.

    Identifying a key topical entry: a food story

    Mouans-Sartoux (FR) is the lead partner of the BioCanteens URBACT network, transferring its practice of a 100% organic canteen. One key element for this shift is behavioural change and the education of children, as well as of their parents. This is done thanks to food education which includes making choices between portion sizes at the canteen (to empower them in identifying the right amount of food they require), tasting and cooking classes, gardening activities and visits to the municipal farm, as well as a special food and health program aimed at shifting families’ habits to eating local and organic food. With the support of a survey of consumers’ habits, it is part of a more integrated method.

    By focusing on school canteens, we are trying to develop a comprehensive approach to support new food habits of the children of Mouans-Sartoux, as well as for their parents: combining fighting foodwaste, training of kitchen staff, reducing costs, developing local economy, supporting sustainable urban planning and agricultural land use, and with a complete governance system composed of a food territorial management - as well as the creation of the Centre for Sustainable Food and Education (MEAD)”, says Gilles Pérole, elected representative of Mouans-Sartoux.

    Let’s play! Using gamification as an incentive for new ways of consuming

    Making recycling and re-use fun but also rewarding is the approach Santiago de Compostela (ES) is developing in its Tropa Verde URBACT transfer network. Citizens recycle and receive tokens (green points, civic and social centres, recovery points, etc.), they can exchange for sustainable – non production intensive – gifts, such as public transport tickets, haircuts, or meals. Partner shops are integrated in the daily lives of citizens, making participation easy, interactive and fun. A multimedia platform enables them to identify local shops in which the exchange can take place: it is the central point for interaction, easily accessible, but also transferrable to other cities to adapt to their local circumstances. Finally, this practice is making citizens responsible in their recycling habits, but also in a move towards more circular attitudes in other areas of their lives.

    Combining online and offline activities

    In Antwerp (BE), the City Administration took the opportunity of the development of a newly created district, the New South district, to position circularity as a community challenge. The plan? To engage its new residents in co-creating both online and offline initiatives to change their behaviours, in relation to energy and water consumption as well as to waste management. The UIA Antwerp Circular South project has enabled developing technical solutions such as photovoltaics, storage batteries, smart grids, smart meters and individual dashboards too. Local inhabitants experiment behavioural nudging, while receiving cues to adapt their consumption behaviour of energy, water and waste in the most ideal circular way. Circular behaviours will be automatically rewarded by an alternative online currency, the “circular coin”, through a blockchain - based reward and exchange system. Some of the most engaged Circular South participants will form a local energy community co-owning an innovative collective energy system. In addition, a Circular South community centre – the so-called CIRCUIT, has been set up to host a number of initiatives related to sharing, repairing and reusing activities. As Gabriëlle Van Zoeren, former project coordinator, said “nothing of what we do is new: our innovation is to bring it together and especially to combine the online and offline activities!”.

    Developing new ecosystems

    The city of Oslo (NO) has led the work on the Urban Agenda Partnership on Circular Economy including a series of meetings and projects within the frame of the multi-level governance, as well as a catalogue mapping existing Urban Resource Centres: the “local approaches to waste prevention, re-use, repair and recycling in a circular economy” (to be published and shared before the Summer 2019).

    The catalogue presents and reviews critical success factors and transferrable qualities, of the resource centres. Their functions can be social (job creation, engaging the community in responsible consumption and disposal, or improved quality of life), economic (transformation of industrial sectors, entrepreneurship and new business models or co-creation in a circular economy) or environmental (waste prevention, waste management or boosting the market for secondary raw materials). They can be public, private or public-private. Creating such resource centres entails developing new ecosystems that can be useful for citizens. Yet, they are facing barriers such as access to space, legislation, waste quality, communication, reporting or funding. At the same time, they benefit from technology, stakeholder engagement, co-location, political support and strong links to the social economy. The city of Oslo is currently seeking to take this work forward with a follow-up network of peer-learning and exchange.

    Is a circular economy approach the way forward?

    Grassroots initiatives, market-based solutions and research are the bases for the above-mentioned cases. Yet, public authorities are steering these processes by experimenting new approaches, bringing them together, and supporting learning across the EU. As such, local public authorities have a key role to play in ensuring that an increasing number of projects are developed and evaluated for the concrete and operational change of consumer practices.

    All 3 cases also show the need to adopt integrated approaches: in terms of topics, methodology, governance, stakeholders and territories. Circular economy is more than a buzzword. It is an overall encompassing approach. It could help cities develop projects, which support citizens to adopt new consumption habits and which encourage transition towards a new economic ecosystem, with the potential to offer long-lasting economic, environmental and social benefits.

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  • Densification beyond the city centre: urban transformation against sprawl

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    Densification of urban areas beyond the core of the cities is not an easy task but it is a challenge worth taking to fight against urban sprawl.. City centres, which are usually already dense and mostly regenerated, are surronded by transitional belts (sometimes called fringe areas) which have diverse urban functions with lower density, offering in principle good opportunities for densifying interventions towards the aim of compact city development. However, the task is not easy at all: physical interventions to achieve environmental benefits have high risks of negative social externalities; moreover they require substantial financial means in a period when the public sector suffers from the consequences of the financial crisis. 

    The challenges of densification are first discussed from a theoretical point of view and illustrated by city examples. Then the approach of the URBACT Action Plannig Network sub>urban is highlighted, showing innovative approaches in four of the project partner cities. Finally a snapshot is given about the dynamic way in which sub>urban is dealing with this challenging topic in transnational meetings. 

    Urban sprawl

    The challenge of urban sprawl

    Density is one of the central issues in the recent debates about the urban future. The reason for that lies in the contradiction between the private and public interests in relation to the density of urban living: most actors (households, developers, businesses, etc.) strive to increase their individual, private benefits which, however, can only be satisfied at the expense of public interests. For example, most families prefer less dense urban forms, and their dreams result in sprawling suburbs which are very harmful from the perspective of sustainable urban development.

    This contradiction between individual interests and their disastrous collective consequences is described as the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ (Hardin, 1968). The problem lies in the fact that the gains (returns) and the costs are neither accrued to nor born by the same actors. Moreover, the gains are often abstract and lie in the future while the costs are concrete and fall due in the present. This is a big challenge of the future: how can the – in the long run – more sustainable forms of (compact) urban development get more accepted by households, against their own immediate preferences.
    This challenge is further complicated by the fact that density is not the only aspect of sustainable urban development. Sustainability in a broader sense should mean a dynamic balance between economic, environmental and social considerations. Therefore, in the end it is not density in itself that is interesting, but the relationship between the economic, environmental and social outcomes produced by different density levels. However, the environmental and social aspects of densification get often in contradiction with each other. Transitional areas are usually dominated by lower income residents, who are endangered by densification, at the risk of being pushed much further away from the central areas, and therefore with lower chances (and higher costs) to access inner city jobs. In that way the environmentally positive densification usually leads to negative social externalities, combined with the often occurring gentrification effects which decrease social mix.
    Pictures 1-2. Suburb in the making close to Madrid in 2009; A typical transitional area in Rotterdam in 2016 
    The challenges of urban development – and among them densification, as one of the tools – are present in all growing cities. In a recent seminar (Amsterdam, 2016) the case of the dynamically expanding Amsterdam was presented, which has to build 300 thousand new units by 2040. All traditional reserve areas (hospitals, military, etc) have already been used. Some reserve still exists in empty office and factory buildings and through densification, which would allow for 40 thousand additional housing units. For the other 260 thousand units only quite inconvenient options exist: super densification, demolishing 19th century areas in good shape; constructing on the green wedges (fingers), protected since many decades; or densifying Almere and the other new towns, outside the administrative borders of the city. Thus in the (extreme) case of Amsterdam the ‘normal’ practices of densification would not even be sufficient to answer the challenge of dynamic growth. Even so, densification (and keeping the already existing dense areas liveable) is unavoidable. 
    The sub>urban approach
    The URBACT Sub>urban network, led by the city of Antwerp, followed by the Lead Expert Maarten van Tuijl, concentrates on the urban fringe. This is defined as the often non glorious post war area surrounding the historic city, encompassing a mix of large modernist housing estates, low-density private housing, malls, logistical companies, recreational areas, businesses and industrial zones (van Tuilj, 2016). The aim of the network is to explore and compare the options to densify the urban fringe in an integrated way, taking both the physical and social characteristics into account. Densification through the „Regeneration in the urban fringe should be aimed toward mixed cultural and ethnic backgrounds and people of different incomes, education levels and ages. Therefore, the challenge also lies in spreading the benefits of growth and of regeneration equally and in providing affordable housing, jobs and facilities for all.” (ibid)
    The conditions for densification of the fringe areas in the partner cities of sub>urban are not optimal, to say the least: the financial position of the municipalities is bad, the once dynamic public actors (e.g. housing associations) are in financial troubles, the banks are very cautious to invest in anything. On the top of all these in most cities properties in the fringe area are privately owned, both by big corporations and private households, thus the planning influence of the municipalities can only be indirect and limited. 
    Under such circumstances cities have to find new, innovative approaches to achieve their strategic aim, the densification of the urban fringe in an integrated way, i.e. avoiding negative social and environmental externalities. The general approach of sub>urban is described here.
    Below, I describe how 4 of the sub>urban cities try to engage all potential stakeholders, such as owners of land and buildings, investors, developers, residents, workers and potential newcomers in their strategies.
    Antwerp experiences a strong population growth outside the inner city. It has selected 7 action planning areas from the large territory of the urban fringe, with very different challenges and identities. Lageweg, a formal industrial site, is one of them. The area is characterised by a high number of owners with small plot sizes. There, the municipality applies specific pilot measures to speed up the development process (van Tuilj, 2016). It organises activities such as mind opening dialogues and kick-off discussions to explore collective ambitions for the area, co-creative design tables involving an interactive scale model of different scenarios in order to build collective trust, guided walks with all stakeholders with a brochure showing possible future scenarios, adaptable spatial and financial calculation models to test the feasibility of several options. Thanks to these tools most of the land owners were gradually convinced and decided to sign a declaration of engagement to work and invest together in the project. The success of the initiative was that it allows to work across property borders and to make an effective plan for the whole area, for a step-by-step development.
    Oslo wants to solve the conflict of dynamic growth versus spatially limited urban area (the city is surrounded by highly valued green belt which can not be touched) by densifying former monofunctional industrial areas, within the city border but outside the city core. 5 pilot project areas are selected to test a new process, with the objective to make transformation more flexible. The city focuses on the essentials and leaves room for private parties to come up with their own ideas. A Planning Program defines general guidelines, urban development principles and rough parameters for land use, height and utilization (van Tuilj, 2016). This is extended by a Principle Plan for the Public Space, which defines the boundary, size and desired qualities of public spaces, identifies and describes public projects and builds in a certain flexiblity, so that market parties can fill in the rest.
    Brno has been characterized by heavy suburbanization in the last two decades. To mitigate that, the city is looking for opportunities of densification within the city border. Two action areas have been selected. They are relatively close to the city centre (10 minutes by tram). A dynamic university campus has been built in the area, which is still surrounded by little gardens. Some of the gardens are already abandoned as the owners know that the area will change: the future use will be housing – although no infrastructure and transport links exist yet. Brno municipality decided for an experimental approach instead of the usual top-down decision-making. As a first step links have been created between the relevant municipal departments, the mayor and the 3 affected district mayors. Nearby residents were waiting for the municipality’s ideas (e.g. immediate re-zoning) and were prepared to oppose these. To their greatest surprise they were approached by the municipality and asked about their ideas. This new type of planning process is unusual in post-socialist cities, it has to be explained not only to the different units of the city and district administrations but also to the politicians. The URBACT project and the need to create Local Support Group was a good occasion to start this journey towards an uncharted territory in policy-making.
    Casoria is the largest municipality in the northern Naples area, only 10 km away from Naples. The population (around 78 000) has been decreasing in the last two decades. From the late 1970s on, Casoria has lost its role as major industrial centre: production activities stopped, factories and industrial sites were abandoned. The city developed a strong services sector but today even the services sector finds itself in crisis. Local residents are leaving the area due to traffic congestion, unemployment, low quality settlements, poor quality housing, inadequate infrastructures (roads, facilities) and lack of public green space (see Sub-urban Baseline Study, 2016:95). In Casoria, the need for densification comes not from urban growth or suburbanization but from the high number of underused areas and buildings from the industrial and services sectors and from the plans of the municipality to create large suburban public parks. The city promotes flexible planning in transparent arenas, testing tactical urbanism. Instead of top-down decisions, the public administration wants to work with private owners and city users (associations). Cooperation with other municipalities is planned towards a strategic plan beyond the municipal borders.
    The four cases show the different circumstances and reasons under which densification of the urban fringe might become an important aim towards more sustainable urban development: not only in dynamically growing cities (Antwerp, Oslo) but also in stagnating (Brno) or even shrinking (Casoria) cities. These cases also illustrate that cities have to start dealing with their transition areas even before having completed the regeneration of their inner cities. Even if inner city renewal is unfinished, to continue it might be very costly and cities may decide to change priorities towards cheaper interventions in the transitional belt, where more flexible approaches are possible. 
    Sub>urban in action: Messages for the Future of Casoria 
    The Casoria transnational meeting of the sub>urban network included discovery walks of the city in small groups and provided the opportunity for partners of the network from other cities to leave their messages for the future of Casoria. Have a look!
    Pictures 3-4. The urban walk in Casoria: the map and the group underway. 
    Pictures 5-6. The sub>urban group in Casoria’s largest brownfield area. 
    The walk was followed next day by an urban gardening action in the course of which all partner cities got the opportunity to plant a tree and leave in this way their message for the future development of Casoria. 
    Pictures 7-8. Urban gardening and peer review discussion about the Local Action Plans in the Contemporary Art Museum 
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    Project completed

    Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe (EVUE) focuses on the development of integrated, sustainable strategies and dynamic leadership techniques for cities to promote the use of electric vehicles. Urban initiatives to encourage the public and business to use EV's will contribute to EU clean air and car fleets targets, making cities more attractive and competitive.  Between 2009 and 2013, nine citiesacross Europe: Beja, Katowice, Frankfurt, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Oslo, Stockholm, Suceava and Zografou, supported by the URBACT programme, worked together to share knowledge and experience of how EVs can be implemented in the urban environment under the EVUE project. 

    Further activity has been undertaken through Pilot Delivery Network funding to look at the outcomes from the Local Action Plan process. EVUE II concludes in March 2015.

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