POINT (10.327904 44.801485)

    LEAD PARTNER : Rethymno - Greece
    • Guía de Isora - Spain
    • Turku - Finland
    • Brasov Metropolitan Agency for Sustainable Development - Romania
    • Zadar - Croatia
    • Parma - Italy
    • Brno - Czech Republic
    • Skawina - Poland


    Ready for Action! Meeting 15-16 November 2023 in Rethymno, Greece.



    What: Free webinar

    When: Monday 11th of March 2024 9:00 - 12:00 CET

    Where: ZOOM LINK


    Emily Sykes from Modeshift and Maciej Zacher from the Municipality of Skawina will discuss measuring safe and sustainable school travel. You'll have a chance to familiarise yourself with Modeshift work and practical use of  S.T.A.R.S. method. 


    #URBACT #sustainablemobility #schooltravel #thecityweneed #cycling #walking #sustainablecity Measuring safe and sustainable school travel

    "From Analysis to Visions & Objectives" Meeting in Brno, 20th - 21st of March 2024


    What: Free webinar

    When: Monday 22nd of April 2024 9:00 - 12:00 CET

    Where: ZOOM LINK

    Maja Simoneti from IPoP, Slovenia will present their unique approach to measuring and promoting safe and sustainable school travel, and Loredana Modugno will talk about sustainable mobility and creative communities in beautiful Puglia, Italy. 


    #URBACT #sustainablemobility #schooltravel #thecityweneed #cycling #walking #sustainablecity #placemaking

    Understanding Safe and Sustainable School Travel


    Lead Expert


    SCHOOLHOODS puts children’s health and safety on the menu of how to get to school. The cities of this URBACT network work with pupils, parents and teachers to co-create solutions allowing pupils to actively go to school on their own. Parents can then choose sustainable modes for their trips as they no longer need to take their kids to school. The school neighbourhood should allow pupils to walk or ride alone safely. Ultimately, school neighbourhoods made for pupils moving around are the starting point for enabling short trips for daily needs for everyone.

    Safe, green and happy ways to school
  • Freight TAILS


    Kick-off meeting in June (Suceava). Transnational meeting in October (Umea).
    Transnational meetings in February (Parma), April (Gdynia), May (Maastricht) and October (La Rochelle).
    Final event in May (Split).

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


    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela


    Municipality of Udine (Italy)


    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email:

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

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin:




    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora



    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801


    City of Rome

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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



    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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



    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council


    Municipality of Piraeus


    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029



    Riga NGO House


    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510


    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

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


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


    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

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


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


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


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


    Preston City Council
    Town Hall, Preston, PR1 2RL

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

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

    City of Poznan
    plac Kolegiacki 17,
    61-841 Poznań


    Westmisnter City Council
    Phone +44 020 7641 6500

    Devoted to discovering Tailored and Innovative Logistic Solutions (TAILS) for the successful management of freight, this Action Planning network aimed on rethinking how freight can shape almost every aspect of our urban lives. The air we breathe, the noise we hear, the traffic we experience, the productiveness of our cities’ businesses, the quality of our surroundings and the liveability of our neighbourhoods. Everything can relate to a single question: how can we make freight transport more effective in cities?

    Tailored approaches for innovative logistic solutions
    Ref nid
  • Thriving Streets


    Lead Partner : Parma - Italy
    • Antwerp - Belgium
    • Igoumenitsa - Greece
    • EDC Debrecen - Hungary
    • Klaipèda - Lithuania
    • Nova Gorica - Slovenia
    • Oradea - Romania
    • Radom - Poland
    • Santo Tirso - Portugal
    • London Borough of Southwark




    • October 1: Kick-Off Meeting Phase I, Parma



    • June 9-10: Kick-off meeting Phase II
    • June 25: Online coordination meeting
    • September 11: Online coordination meeting
    • October 26, 28: Online coordination meeting
    • November 25: Thematic learning event “Active mobility vs car dependency”
    • November 26: Transnational meeting, Antwerp
    • December 15: Thematic learning event “Co-creating Thriving Streets”
    • February 26: Thematic learning event “Thriving local economy”
    • April 14-15: Transnational meeting, Nova Gorica
    • May 7: Thematic learning event “Places for people”
    • June 21-22: Transnational meeting, Santo Tirso
    • July 20: Masterclass “Placemaking for recovery”
    • July 22: Thematic learning event “Streets for all”
    • September 30-October 1: Transnational meeting, Southwark
    • December 10: IAP Peer review meeting


    • March 30: Thriving Communities, digital learning event
    • April 26-28:Transnational meeting in Santo Tirso (Portugal) and study visit in Pontevedra (Spain)
    • May 24, 25: Transnational meeting in Nova Gorica and study visit in Ljubljana (Slovenia)
    • June 14-16: URBACT City Festival, Pantin / Greater Paris (France)
    • July 5-8: Walk and Roll Cities Final Event, Barcelona (Spain)
    • July 14: Masterclasses on Urban Freight and Parking Management


    Integrated Action Plan

    Integrated Action Plan for sustainable mobility in Oltretorrente

    Read more here !

    Parma - Italy
    Igoumenitsa Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Igoumenitsa - Greece
    Klaipèda Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Klaipèda - Lithuania
    Oradea Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Oradea - Romania
    Southwark Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    London Borough of Southwark - United Kingdom
    Toward live and attractive Solkan’s historical core

    Read more here !

    Nova Gorica - Slovenia
    Towards a dynamic center for Deurne

    Read more here

    Antwerp - Belgium
    Debrecen Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here

    Debrecen - Hungary
    Increase attractivity and decrease car-dependency in Santo Tirso

    Read more here !

    Santo Tirso - Portugal

    Transforming streets to create people-friendly places. The ambition of Thriving Streets is to improve sustainable mobility in urban areas from an economic and social perspective. The premise of the Thriving Streets network is that break-troughs in sustainable urban mobility can be established when mobility is no longer framed as just going from A to B but rather as a means for social-economic development of the city. The key question Thriving Streets network intends to answer is the following: “How can mobility become a motor for urban health, inclusivity, economy and social cohesion?”

    Thriving Streets
    Designing mobility for attractive cities
    Ref nid
  • UrbSecurity


    LEAD PARTNER : Leiria - Portugal
    • Mechelen - Belgium
    • Pella - Greece
    • Madrid - Spain
    • Szabolcs - Hungary
    • Longford - Ireland
    • Parma - Italy
    • Italy
    • Michalovce - Slovakia


    • September 10-11 : Phase 1 Kick-off Meeting in Paris (FR)
    • October 16-17 : Phase 1 Kick-off Meeting in Leiria (PT)
    • November 05 : Phase 2 Approval









    • February 04-05 : Phase 1 Transnational Meeting in Faenza, Unione della Romagna Faentina (IT), Italy
    • June 30 : Phase 2 Activation Meeting
    • September 18 : Phase 2 Symbolic Launch of Phase 2
    • November 19-20 : Transnational Meeting nº1 (online), Leiria (PT), Portugal







    • February : Partnership Meeting with Urban Agenda for UE "Security in Public Spaces" and Transnational Meeting nº2 (online), Mechelen (BE)
    • April 21-22 : Transnational Meeting nº3 (online), Madrid (ES)
    • May : Partnership Meeting with Urban Agenda for the UE (online) and Transnational Meeting nº4 (online), Longford (IE)
    • July 07-08 : Transnational Meeting nº5 (online), Szabolcs 05 Regional Development Association of Municipalities (SZRDA) - Mátészalka (HU)
    • October : Webinar - Urban Agenda for the EU "Just City Dimension" (online), Partnership Meeting with IMPETUS project, Intelligent Management of Processes, Ethics and Technology for Urban Safety (Horizon 2020) and Transnational Meeting nº6 + Mid-Term Review (online), Michalovce (SK)


    • January 20-21 : Transnational Meeeting nº7 (online), Pella (EL)
    • February 1-3 : URBACT e-University 2022 (online)
    • March 21 : Partnership Meeting with TONITE project - Urban Inovation Action (online)
    • April 20 : URBACT III National Meeting in Coimbra (PT)
    • May : Masterclass in CPTED - Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in Leiria (PT) and Transnational Meeting nº8 in Parma (IT)
    • June : UrbSecurity Final Conference in Parma (IT) and Showcase the results of IAP and closing event in Leiria (PT)
    • August 18 : Partnership Meeting with IMPETUS project & Community of Safe and Secure Cities(COSSEC) in Oslo, Normay


    Integrated Action Plans

    Leiria Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here!

    Leiria - Portugal
    Romagna Faentina Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here!

    Romagna Faentina - Italy
    Longford Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here !

    Longford - Ireland
    Parma Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here!

    Szabolcs Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here!

    Szabolcs - Hungary
    Design for security: Creating safer cities

    Read more here!

    Madrid - Spain
    Mechelen Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here!

    Mechelen - Belgium
    Michalovce Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here!

    Michalovce - Slovakia
    Municipality of Pella Integrated Action Plan

    Read more here!

    Pella - Greece

    This Action Planning Network analyses strategies and projective concepts of cities’ design that could contribute to prevent segregation and anti-social behavior, and consecutively to improve citizen’s quality of life and their perception of urban security and safety. The main objective is to implement an integrated and participatory approach to urban security by involving all relevant stakeholders in the process.

    Planning safer cities
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  • Re-humanising cities: new approaches to urban mobility and public space

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    How are towns and cities rebuilding streets for people, not cars? Answers in the latest URBACT Walk and Roll Cities webinar…


    It is a well-known fact that car-oriented urban development in the second half of the 20th century led to pollution, congestion and other serious problems, with quality of life deteriorating dramatically in many areas. These unfortunate developments did not occur by themselves, they were brought about by systematic political and planning interventions favouring car use.

    In the United States, for example, 44 000 miles of publicly funded motorways were built in the 1950s, interlinking large cities and cross-cutting their city centres. Moreover, the price of oil was kept at an artificially low level and large mortgage subsidies were given to single-family house builders and infrastructure subsidies to suburban settlements.

    The outcome of these policies in the US was widespread suburbanisation and urban sprawl. Similar tendencies were also seen in European cities, although in most European countries, the control over land use was stricter and public subsidies for car-oriented development were more limited. Even so, there were lasting visible changes, for example wide streets replaced demolished historic areas in central Stockholm, in northern Brussels, and in a number of British inner cities.

    In the 21st century, cities across the EU started rethinking mobility and public space, attempting to correct earlier mistakes and promoting car alternatives. Their new visions and tools were the focus of URBACT’s latest #WalkAndRollCities webinar. Held on 5 April 2022, the online talks brought leading urban mobility and public space experts together with more than 80 participants from URBACT cities and beyond.

    ‘Re-humanising’ cities

    Reversing the dominance of cars in our cities is not impossible: again, systematic political and planning interventions are needed, this time in the opposite direction from the 1950s. New, parallel and interlinked changes in mobility and public space development must aim to limit car use and support active travel modes, while transforming public spaces in order to benefit residents.

    For such a re-humanising agenda, the overarching concept of Levine-Grengs-Merlin (2019) can be taken as one of the starting points. Their book ‘From Mobility to Accessibility: Transforming Urban Transportation and Land-Use Planning’ describes the idea that transportation planning and the transportation dimensions of land-use planning should be strongly connected and based on people's ability to reach destinations, rather than on their ability to travel fast. The primacy of mobility – how far you can go in a given amount of time – should be replaced by a priority given to access – how much you can get in a given amount of time. The new approach should be based on connectivity (being connected to online tools and networks, enabling some activities without physical relocation), proximity (bringing city services closer to one another in space) and innovated mobility (taking an integrated approach to promote public transport as a backbone for the remaining mobility needs).

    As described in one of my earlier articles, the #WalkAndRollCities cooperation was launched by three URBACT networks: RiConnect, Space4People and Thriving Streets. Their most recent webinar explored the best ways for cities to plan and implement new public space visions and innovative mobility tools. Here are some highlights…

    1. New public space visions

    The 15-minute city vision

    Figure 1. The 15-minute city, Source: Paris en Commun

    Carlos Moreno, Scientific Director of the ETI Chair, Sorbonne University IAE Paris, is the best-known inspiring person behind the idea. He showed how this vision aims to humanise cities through creating a new urban lifestyle in ‘15-minute neighbourhoods’. As Jane Jacobs suggested: the real capability of a city is to offer multiplicity of choice under all circumstances. Places must be viable, liveable, equitable and most of the necessary functions should be reached within 15 minutes in dense urban areas – or within 30 minutes in the case of less dense territories.

    Proximity solutions are based on six basic factors: work, supply, caring, learning, enjoying, living. And in all of these, monofunctional solutions have to be broken up into interrelated wellbeing, sociability, and sustainability factors. There are three rules for mixing uses within proximity: chrono-urbanism (a new rhythm of the city), chronotopia (multipurpose functions of given places), and topophilia (love of the place).

    Carlos Moreno is also set to speak at the URBACT City Festival on 14 June 2022. More detailed information about the 15-minute city vision is available here.


    The superblock vision

    Ariadna Miquel, Director of Urban Strategy at the Chief Architect Office, Barcelona City Council, put the spotlight on Barcelona’s ‘superblock’ programme, a well-known, brave attempt to innovate the city. Actions include the recovery of high-quality public spaces, CO2 reduction, greening, pedestrianisation, and sustainable mobility. Superblocks, or ‘Superillas’, constitute one of the key ideas in the regeneration of the city. The idea emerged in the 1990s by Salvador Rueda, but it was not until 2016 that it became widely known due to the Superilla implemented in the Poblenou area of Barcelona.

    Figure 2. The superblock model, Source: Ajuntament de Barcelona

    The basic idea of a superblock is to exclude through-traffic of non-resident cars from a designated area of three-by-three blocks, assigning the inner streets and squares as shared-use space, with priority to walking. This means that everyone in the superblock has access to green and public spaces – and cyclists and pedestrians take over the space previously used by cars. After initial debates, the Publenou superblock became accepted and beloved by residents, particularly when picnic tables were installed in the inner streets (see more details in this article).

    Recently, the city has been scaling up the idea: six superblocks are under development in Barcelona, and in the longer run the municipality intends to create over 500 such areas. Also, the ‘Superblock Barcelona’ idea has emerged, with green streets connecting local projects to one another. So far, 21 of these streets have been planned, fully redesigning the streetscape, and changing crossings into liveable squares. The first of these green streets will be developed in summer 2022.

    2. New mobility innovations

    The Tempo 30 idea

    The Brussels region consists of 19 municipalities, where more and more 30 km/hour speed limitations have been introduced since 2010. Presenting the Tempo 30 idea, Kristof De Mesmaeker, Directeur Mobiliteit en Verkeersveiligheid @ Brussel Mobiliteit, said the breakthrough came in 2019, when a new government was elected with the following political programme: “The government will create one big zone of 30 km/h from 1 January 2021, with exceptions on the biggest roads.” This political programme has been implemented in recent years. Of course, initially many actors resisted the idea, however, rather than reacting to everyone, the city focused mainly on the programme’s supporters.

    Figure 3. The map of the Brussels Tempo 30 area, Source: Brussels Mobility

    Tempo 30 became the new normal, thus the 4 000 ‘zone 30’ signs were removed and new ‘Tempo 50’ signs were put up in specific areas with a higher speed limit. Communication was very important: all public services advertised the idea and information was mailed to 600 000 addresses. The press and social media were full of news about the change. The implementation was carefully steered and speed controlling was strengthened, thanks to 80 invisible new cameras.

    As a result, recent monitoring shows that the average speed of cars decreased, even on roads that already had 30 km/hour speed limits earlier. Total car journey times increased, but not much, while the number of accidents dwindled. Noise levels decreased: people even started to complain about the noise of the tram, previously hidden by louder road users. Further materials on the Tempo 30 programme in Brussels are available here.


    Parking management

    Robert Pressl, mobility expert and consultant, Graz (AT), described powerful tools to free public space from being occupied by cars. Figures from Graz prove the very unjust use of space: parked cars occupy 92% of public space while their share in modal split (traffic) is 47%. The UVAR – Urban Vehicle Access Regulations – method includes onstreet parking space management, using tools such as time limits, restricting access to certain groups, charging fees, or marking areas where parking is prohibited.

    One of the innovative tools is multiple parking facilities, in the form of shared parking, for example using theatre parking for offices during the day, or downtown parking for local residents during the night. Copenhagen (DK) is making parking in front of schools available for bike parking between 8:00 and 17:00. In Vienna (AT), the average time to find a parking space, responsible for 30% of traffic flow, was reduced from 9 to 3 minutes in districts 6-9 after implementation of parking space management, and Munich (DE) has achieved similar success. It is important to make complementary improvements, such as improving the pavement when introducing paying parking, as seen in Sofia (BG), or establishing Parking Benefit Districts for the use of extra revenues.

    In Amsterdam (NL), parking fees amount to 160 million eur/year, of which 38% funds management of the system, while the rest is spent on improving public spaces in the city. In Lisbon (PT), a programme named ‘Uma Praca em Cada Bairro’ (A square in every neighbourhood) is fostering the car-free rehabilitation of key public squares in the city with the aim of getting people out of cars and turning roads into public space, making the city more people friendly. Further materials on SUMP and parking management are available here.


    Figure 4. The effect of parking management in Zürich, Source: CIVITAS, PARK4SUMP


    Watch the video recordings of the Walk’n’Roll webinar presentations


    URBACT cities share their experiences

    The URBACT Walk’n’Roll Cities webinar was a chance for representatives of similarly sized cities to exchange experiences. Representatives of larger cities like Graz (AT), Porto (PT), Thessaloniki (EL) and Krakow (PL) raised the importance of political leadership. If a new city leadership is committed to stepping up against car use, many things can be done, like pedestrian zone extension, increasing parking fees, including cycle highways in new public development projects, or creating a bike network for the whole area. There are, however, also examples of reverse trends, where a period of successful pedestrianisation might be followed by more car-oriented development, reflecting a new leader’s priorities.

    Metropolitan cooperation, across administrative borders, is of key importance in communicating new actions widely and getting them accepted. However, if there is no metropolitan political commitment, and no metropolitan authority exists with sufficient responsibilities, each municipality is likely to carry out its own innovative interventions in its own central area, perhaps only coordinating aspects such as the trains and ticketing system with other municipalities. On the other hand, substantial amounts of EU money can help to create cooperation between the city, the metropolitan organisation and the region – as the case of Polish cities shows.

    The group of medium-sized cities highlighted the cases of Edinburgh (UK), Debrecen (HU) and Parma (IT). These cities play with many innovative ideas, such as the 30 km speed limit, shared street use, and incentives for biking to work. There are, however, many barriers to making the cities more sustainable. Critical remarks were raised for example about certain national financial subsidies, for example subsidising travel to work by car.

    On the topic of implementing innovative ideas, obstacles in governance, institutions, and financing were discussed. Examples ranged from the discontinuation of a biking lane due to complaints from elderly people, to regional level blocking of strict parking regulations in a city, as surrounding municipalities opposed restrictions against car use.

    Webinar participants agreed that the public sector should oppose the view that people have unlimited right to use cars. But there was a debate about how far regulatory restrictions can go, if many people do not agree or cannot go along with the changes? For example, progress towards biking solutions is complex in our ageing society.

    Tips for a successful shift towards ‘soft’ mobility

    It was a common view that the best approach is first to discuss the vision at city or metropolitan level, before introducing any measures affecting residents. Barcelona was identified as a positive example for such systematic policy development efforts, correcting some initial mistakes. The objection bias (the usual fact that citizen groups opposing restrictions are louder than those who would support the changes) can be handled with systematic co-creation efforts from the beginning. It is very important to educate decision-makers, not only about the innovative visions and tools, but also about how to implement such progressive changes.

    How to link visions and tools on different territorial levels

    The next task for the URBACT Walk’n’Roll Cities partnership is to explore potential links between the visions and tools for developing people-centred urban areas, raising new ideas on the basis of innovative city approaches. Investigations will focus on different territorial levels: metropolitan-wide (integrated system with Park+Ride, metropolitan boulevards); city wide (15-minute city neighbourhoods and superblocks with Tempo 30 and parking management solutions); neighbourhood-based (car-free neighbourhood with circular roads, pedestrianisation, shopping streets, green squares).

    All these issues will be discussed at the URBACT Walk’n’Roll Cities final event, a face-to-face seminar in Barcelona, on 6-8 July, hosted by Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona.

    Read more on the #WalkandRollCities cooperation and our final event in a LinkedIn discussion group, where you can discover the products of the three URBACT networks dedicated to improving urban mobility and shared space – and join the conversation on #WalkandRollCities!


    From urbact
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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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  • UrbSecurity - An Action-Plan Network for planning safer cities

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    UrbSecurity is a network of 9 cities which proposes an innovative approach to urban security and safety by integrating it with urban planning, social cohesion and other urban policies, following the recommendations of the Urban Agenda on Security in Public Spaces expected to be published still in 2019.


    UrbSecurity proposes to widen the security and safety application in public spaces and city planning and management of the 9 cities in its network. It aims to address public security policies from different perspectives by exploring their relation to other urban policies, thereby promoting socio-economic development. The idea is to bring safety and security to all levels of governance, preventing social exclusion and anti-social behaviour and, ultimately improve citizens’ quality of life.

    The development of synergies among several policies is a key aspect in the project as security has so many variables and stakeholders that have a direct or indirect influence. For example shop owners can highly benefit from a secured environment but in fact they become also agents in the process as shops are themselves a major contributor to the perception of a safe environment. The aim of the project is therefore to work with all stakeholders, test small scale solutions, promote citizens participation and, therefore promote changes in the city.

    Urban planning is considered a key element to define the cities’ spatial design which has a direct influence in the spatial segregation of society and in citizen’s perception of urban security and safety. Urban security and safety integrates urban crime prevention principles into safety-conscious urban development interventions which aim to reducing urban vulnerability, promote the integration of cross-cutting safety issues and create a transformative approach into urban intervention by city authorities.

    In this context, this network intends to provide a series of innovative tools (practical actions, strategies and methodologies) to the involved cities that can be used by local authorities and stakeholders and provide answers to the following concerns:

    1. How can urban planning help reduce urban crime and violence?

    2. How can urban planners create safe and healthy places?

    3. What tools can be used to monitor and evaluate these actions?

    4. How should local stakeholders participate in urban planning regarding city’s security and safety?

    The main goal of UrbSecurity is therefore to co-create Integrated Action Plans (IAP’s) on safety and security that promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Good practices such as the mix-use of spaces, promotion of activity generators, reliable infrastructures (as proper lightning) or crowdsourcing will be investigated and analysed to assess its transferability into the future IAP of the participating cities.

    The partnership

    The partnership is led by the Municipality of Leiria and includes eight other cities/regions, namely: Madrid (ES), Parma (IT), Longford (IR), Mechelen (BE), Pella (GR), Michalovce (SK) and the regions of Szabolcs 05 Association of Municipalities (HU) (HR) and Romagna Faentina (IT).

    Three of the members of the partnership, Unione della Romagna Faentina, Mechelen and Madrid are also involved in the Urban Agenda on Security in Public Spaces proving a bridge between the Urban Agenda and UrbSecurity.   

    The UrbSecurity partnership will look for solutions to tackle the following challenges:

    - Improvement of spatial design, urban planning and development of security by design concepts, including better protection of public spaces.

    - Improvement of the resilience and efficiency of the public infrastructure;

    -  Improvement of public-private cooperation in urban security (public control and private areas), for instance by promoting a wider use of ICT in video surveillance, data exchange, etc.

    - Assessment of urban security: building a framework of indicators to assess the evolution of citizens’ perceptions towards safety and security, identifying new and potential vulnerable areas and monitoring changes in their security.

    - Creation of effective and easy to use monitoring tools for public safety as a means to establish more information led actions and measurement of their impact;

    - Increase citizen participation in security and safety issues – by involving local associations in security policies,  for instance, implementation of crowdsourcing  schemes as the Volunteer Geographic Information (VGI) where users collect and share information voluntarily with the city authorities on safety and security issues using digital platforms.

    - Creation of a model for citizen participation and co-creation in the field of crime prevention and building resilience for vulnerable people against criminal involvement;

    - Creation of a joint training curriculum for crime prevention officers for setting up the implementation of prevention projects;

    - Design and test small-scale interventions on urban design and activity generator to determine their effectiveness;

    UrbSecurity and the EU Urban Agenda

    Safety is currently seen as one of the aspects that influences the quality of living in the EU. The framework developed by Eurostat proposes different methods of measuring safety, namely income, living conditions, education or health, and, equally important, subjective measures such as an individual’s appreciation of their living environment, whether they can rely on friends/family and how safe citizen’s feel.

    Safety is currently seen as one of the aspects that influences the quality of life in the EU. As set in the framework developed by Eurostat, that includes objective measures like income, living conditions, education or health, and subjective measures such as an individual’s appreciation of their living environment, whether they can rely on friends/family, how safe citizens feel is one of the measurements taken into consideration.

    The notion of urban security has just recently been introduced in the international political debate and it is now each government’s obligation to integrate this concept within its policies. Protecting public spaces poses particular challenges for the EU due to the “the broad variety of public places that have been or could be targeted, their different characteristics ranging from fully open spaces to areas with some form of protection, the variety of actors involved in the protection of such sites, the risk of mass casualties and, importantly, the imperative to strike a balance between improving security and preserving the open nature of public spaces, ensuring that citizens can continue their daily lives”, as stated in the Communication of the Commission to the EU parliament “Action Plan to improve protection of public spaces” (Brussels, 18.10.2017 COM(2017) 612 final). This Communication highlights the importance of increasing awareness of local urban authorities to the vulnerability of public spaces, enhancing knowledge and the spread of good practices in promoting security by design.


    The design of urban public spaces and urban planning are constantly challenged by how cities are used and how citizens occupy and make use of its spaces. The introduction of new trends and necessities and the increase in problems and conflicts among users brings rapid changes on the local urban authorities’ procedures regarding the design and the management of a city. It is therefore essential that the “user’s experience” is considered as a main input on the analysis of how the spaces are used and what conflicts or are taking place.

    Urban safety and security are fundamental components of the modern democracies of the EU. It is therefore urgent that European local urban authorities begin to accept their role in designing and implementing security policies. UrbSecurity intends to make sound contributions to these policies and provide guidelines for other EU cities to pursue their strategies in safety and security in an integrated and participative way.

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  • Thriving Streets: Designing mobility for attractive cities

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    Ten European cities join forces in the new ‘Thriving Streets’ network. Their approach: transform streets to create people-friendly places, encourage walking and cycling, and reduce car-dependency. In this way they work on a more healthy, attractive, accessible, inclusive and thriving future of their cities.


    Bringing streets to life

    On September 14th, a remarkable transformation takes place in the Via della Salute in Parma, Italy. For one day, citizens clear the street from the cars that usually dominate the space. Their place is taken instead by huge tables, set for a dinner to host about 200 people from the neighbourhood. As the neighbours start to prepare the event, kids come out of their houses, and started using the street as their playground. Like birds that feel as if spring is coming, the kids just feel it is their time to claim the space.

    Two weeks later, Patrizia Marani introduces an international delegation to the street and the wider neighbourhood. The visit is part of the kick-off meeting of the Thriving Streets network, of which Patrizia (working for the Municipality of Parma) is the coordinator. To her, the dinner event is a clear example how the use of streets can encourage social cohesion, create a positive dynamic and increase attractiveness. The next two years, Parma will commit to work together with citizens, shop owners and local organizations to spark a similar dynamic in the whole neighbourhood of Oltretorrente.

    PHOTO 1: Neighbourhood Dinner in Via della Salute, Parma. Photo by Annarita Melegari

    Thriving streets: Thriving Local Economy and Thriving Communities

    Each of the partners in the Thriving Streets is exploring how sustainable mobility can lead to local economic and social benefits, by putting people central in the design and use of streets. All these 10 European cities have their own, yet related, challenge as focus. For Parma, the issue can be illustrated with a picture of a street with many empty shops. A depressing sight, but a reality in many cities across Europe. The local shops are challenged by the development of shopping malls and more recently online shopping. By making the streets attractive for people, the (economic) activity can prosper again.

    How to strengthen the local economy in city centres and neighbourhoods, and increase their attractivity? This question is key also for other partners. The cities of Klaipeda (Lithuania) and Radom (Poland) are focussing for this question on the historic city centres. The cities of Nova Gorica (Slovenia) and Antwerp (Belgium) instead focus on off-centre neighbourhoods.

    Questions of inclusivity also arise when creating thriving streets, for example about how the public space could lessen gender-inequality or how to overcome transport poverty. The cities of Igoumenitsa (Greece) and Santo Tirso (Portugal) identified youth as a vulnerable and underrepresented group. Together with schools, they will work on child-friendly school environments and safe commuting. This means overcoming cultural barriers for the acceptance of walking and cycling by both children and their parents, as well as playing into the health benefits of active mobility.

    For the district of Southwark, London (UK), the target is also inclusivity, but focussed on local businesses. Planned developments in the area will bring about 27,000 new homes and 26,000 new jobs. The traffic flowing through a strategic route, Lower Road, competes with the needs of the local neighbourhood. Communities are left disjointed with poor active travel access to local shops. How to make sure the ‘old’ local businesses and communities will not be left out?

    Starting point in all cities is a specific street or neighbourhood. The impact of the interventions developed at such place goes beyond its limited spatial scale. The local changes give rise to changing mobility flows in the city, can shake up engrained behaviour patterns, and go hand in hand with improvement of public transport on city level. Two partners in the Thriving Streets network focus on the relation between pedestrianization of the city centre and the related changes in mobility patterns. Not surprisingly, these are both metropolitan authorities, from Debrecen and Oradea.

    PHOTO 2: Cycling classes in Santo Tirso – photo by Municipality of Santo Tirso

    Working together to make Thriving Streets happen

    How attractive the ambition of turning streets into thriving streets might seem, the process is not an easy matter, of course. So… how?

    First of all, it is about getting different perspectives and domains on board in the development.
    Creating thriving streets is not just about mobility or spatial planning, but also very much about health, local economy, social cohesion, equal opportunities, etc. It can help to make benefits of such transformation explicit, by empowering the people who will benefit to raise their voice. It can also be worth trying to translate benefits into ‘hard’ indicators, such as growth in customers or increase in social contacts in a street.

    Equally, to get many people to contribute to and support the transformation, a lot of effort will go to co-creation. This helps overcome resistance. Too often, politicians and other decision makers drop their support to ambitious transformations as soon as they are confronted with angry and vocative local business-owners or car-users, who feel passed over. Most importantly, co-creative methods help to create better solutions by tapping into local knowledge and linking to the ambitions and energy of different stakeholders. The example of the dinner-activity in Parma is just one of many.

    Join our learning journey

    In the coming years, the ten cities involved will work together with local stakeholders on their respective ambitions, sharing a common base: creating thriving streets for a thriving city. The cities will go on a learning journey together, exchanging experiences and inspiration. We don’t start from scratch, but build on the existing experiences of cities around Europe, and take inspiration from other projects such as Living Streets and Happy Streets.

    If you want to stay up to date or share your own experiences, please join our learning journey. You can express your interest and subscribe for updates by sending an e-mail to

    PHOTO 3: The city teams involved in Thriving Streets – photo by Municipality of Parma

    This URBACT III project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
    Thanks to Nena Bode (DRIFT) for contributing to this article, and the partner cities for their inputs.

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  • URBACT’s City Labs: Refreshing Europe’s urban policy principles

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    The 2007 Leipzig Charter established the EU’s urban policy principles. Ahead of its 2020 EU Presidency, Germany is refreshing this key document. URBACT’s City Labs, linked to the Charter’s principles, are supporting this process. The Labs will identify what works, where cities are struggling, and how we can build their capacity to build a bright sustainable future.

    The Leipzig Charter


    What comes to mind when we think about effective urban policy? We’d probably say that it should be sustainable, focusing o

    n the best use of our resources and the wellbeing of the planet. We might add that it should involve different levels of government – including cities themselves – in decision-making. As levels of trust in politicians are historically low, we might also underline the need for participation – particularly the involvement of citizens – in our processes.


    Back in 2007, the principles behind this approach to urban policy were captured in a single EU document for the first time. Under the German EU Presidency, the Leipzig Charter proposed a model of effective urban policy – sustainable, integrated, participative, multi-level – which anticipated much of what we take for granted today. For example, we can see these principles reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Urban Agenda for the EU, which continue to shape much of our work in cities.


    URBACT City Labs


    In the second half of 2020 Germany will assume the EU Presidency again. In anticipation of that, work is under way to refresh the Leipzig Charter’s relevance for Europe of the 2020s and beyond.


    URBACT will support this through a series of City Labs related to the Leipzig Charter principles. The first, exploring the principle of Participation took place in Lisbon (PT) in September 2018. The second, in Brussels (BE) on 2nd and 3rd July, examined the principle of Sustainable Development. The final City Lab in Berlin (DE) will combine our key messages in the spring of 2020.


    Each Lab will explore how these principles are understood now. There will be space to examine what works well – how cities are embedding these principles in their approaches – as well investigating where the barriers are. A key question relates to the obstacles preventing more cities from adopting these principles – and what needs to be done to support them.


    Participative Cities


    From our City Lab on Participation it was clear that 2019 looks very different to 2007. Linked to diminishing levels of trust in established institutions, we see declining levels of political participation, particularly at the local level. There are also rising incidences of civil unrest, combined with the growth of populism in many parts of Europe.


    These are fast changing developments to which many city authorities are struggling to respond. However, our City Lab activity shows that many cities are adopting a proactive approach, with a willingness to experiment and to redefine the working relationship with citizens. The driver for this is recognition that our established governance tools no longer meet our needs – particularly in the digital age.


    Our first City Lab report captures some of the headline activities. Amongst these is Decide Madrid, a leading digital platform for engaging citizens in urban decision-making. It has grown from a modest process to redesign a city square to one with almost half a million registered members.


    Citizens have submitted more than 20 000 proposals via the portal, which commits the city to implementing those receiving enough backing from citizens. Voting is a mix of postal and digital platforms, with over 200 projects funded to date through a budget of EUR 100 million.


    The importance of mixing digital and face-to-face mechanisms is also a clear message from other cities. Influenced by their monumental and greatly missed former Mayor, Pawel Adamowicz, Gdansk (PL) has also pioneered new ways to engage citizens in decision-making, not least through the design and implementation of Citizens Assemblies, a methodology which is attracting a growing volume of interest amongst decision makers. At the City Lab, officials from Gdansk spoke about the influence of URBACT in shaping their approach to citizen engagement.


    Devolving financial decisions also emerges as an important way to increase levels of citizen engagement. Participative budgets are another effective tool to enable this, as two URBACT good practices demonstrate. Paris (FR) has a large sophisticated model operating at city and neighbourhood level as well as involving young people through schools. However, the city of Cascais,

    in Portugal, shows that these approaches work in cities of all sizes. Its model now accounts for 18% of the total investment budget and has directly involved 115 000 citizens, more than half the population.


    Nearby, the Portuguese capital, Lisbon (PT), has also experimented successfully with the Community Led Local Development (CLLD) model. The subject of an earlier URBACT article, this approach has focused on the city’s most deprived 67 neighbourhoods, enabling investment of over €9 million channeled through over 250 projects. Two interesting dimensions of the approach are its strong focus on neighbourhood capacity building and the requirement placed on grassroots organisations to collaborate. This URBACT Good Practice is at the heart of a Transfer network called Com.Unity Lab.


    The City Lab also underlined ways to involve specific sections of our communities that may be under-represented. Braga (PT) explained their approach to youth engagement, building on their URBACT experience, whilst Parma (IT) shared their work to encourage women to be more actively involved, a key dimension of URBACT’s Gender Equal Cities campaign.


    What's ahead?


    The URBACT City Labs are shining a light on effective city solutions. They are also underlining where we are getting stuck, and what must be done to implement more effective urban policy. In this way, they are feeding directly into the future version of the Leipzig Charter, and a better future for Europe’s cities.


    You can join us, by following our City Lab news (@URBACT #CityLab), and by participating in future events.




    The key principles of the original Leipzig Charter provided the focus for each URBACT City Lab.

    Explore the related outputs on Participation, Sustainability, Integration and Balanced Territorial Development.



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  • Welcoming International Talent

    Lead Partner : Groningen - Netherlands
    • Bielsko-Biala - Poland
    • Debrecen - Hungary
    • Leuven - Belgium
    • Magdeburg - Germany
    • Parma - Italy
    • Zlín - Czech Republic



    Kick-off Meeting - Groningen, the Netherlands

    Transnational Meetings 2019 - Debrecen, Hungary - Zlin, Czech Republic - Parma, Italy - Magdeburg, Germany - Bielsko-Biala, Poland

    Transnational Meeting 2020 - Leuven, Belgium, Final Meeting - Groningen, the Netherlands

    Final Conference Welcoming International Talent

    This Transfer network focus on Higher education and knowledge economy, both have become a global competition for talent. Whereas the main European cities attract both students and skilled-workers by their scale and fame, medium-sized cities, like Groningen, will need a policy to attract talent, and to keep them economically active. In this project the best practice of Groningen, a welcoming policy for International Students and skilled workers, is transferred to other cities.

    Welcoming International Talent TN logo
    Cities looking for global talents
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