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  • Youth work starts where young people are - but how can youth workers get there?

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    NextGen YouthWork - group of youth outdoor
    06/12/2023

    Young people spend more and more time online. But do youth workers know where? And more importantly, how can they get there to provide them with the help they need? 

    Ongoing
    News
    Network
    From urbact
    Off

    European youth spend much of their time online

    With the rise of digitalisation, youth spend much of their time online, mostly in communities on social media like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok or gaming platforms such as PlayStation, Discord and Twitch. Therefore, young people spend less time outside and in physical places like youth centres. According to the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway data (2021), the percentage of teenagers spending more than 2 hours on screens at the age of 11 is between 43-67% for males and 30-66% for females. At 15, these numbers are even higher: 53-71% for males and 50-75 for females. According to estimates, young adults spend, on average, 6-7 hours per day on screens. This phenomenon was amplified during the Covid-19 outbreak when researchers saw screen time almost double during lockdowns. They suggested that screen time may decline post-covid, but not to the level we saw before. In short, the trend of spending more time online is here to stay.
    The fact that youth spend an increasing part of their time online and, therefore, less in physical public spaces also means that they need to be reached in the digital sphere and need digital counselling and information. The demand for digital youth work is exceptionally high among youth who experience social isolation, loneliness, anxiety, stress, depression, and digital or gaming addiction. Because of their social anxiety or less-developed social skills, they may experience many mental and physical obstacles when reaching out to youth workers or other professionals in the physical world, such as youth centres and schools.

    Youth workers need to reach youth online and support to do so

    Youth workers are aware of behavioural change among youth and look for ways to better adapt to this phenomenon, thus using digital youth work. They want to be able to reach their target groups online and offline. However, this is challenging as it requires changes to how they work. Youth workers can use the key social media and gaming platforms to be accessible to 'their' young people, interact with them online, or promote their offline activities. In reality, most youth workers are reactive on these platforms; only a minority offer online services and create content more effectively. 
    Most youth workers need more insight into the online living environment of young people. They need to know the roles social media offers young people and what growing up in a digital environment requires regarding guidance. Nevertheless, there are many reasons for not tapping into the potential of digital youth work yet. These reasons range from a lack of funding from public authorities to a lack of education for youth workers. This leaves a gap between young people's needs and youth workers' professional development that requires to be bridged.
    Plenty of tools in digital youth work need to be taken advantage of, such as providing platforms for peer-to-peer discussion on a diversity of themes, using gaming for training and learning, and reaching out to youth who are more challenging to reach offline. Moreover, digital youth work can address many areas relevant to youth, not only mental health issues. Digital tools provide an excellent opportunity for non-formal and informal learning about various specific skills and general topics, such as training, employment, mobility, gender equality and diversity, financial literacy and sexual education. Digital environments support community engagement and social and political participation. There are tools to improve low-threshold access to care or help and have an accessible way to contact professionals.

    Youth and the digital transition are at the forefront of European policies

    Youth work has developed differently across Europe for historical, social, cultural and economic reasons. These differences are further nuanced by digital divergences within the EU. However, both youth work and the digital transition are at the forefront of European policies and represent a vital backstop for the development of the field. The European Commission formulated the European Youth Strategy to engage, connect and empower young people in 2018. and published the agenda of Shaping Europe's digital future in 2020, focusing on digital transformation for the benefit of people and an open, democratic and sustainable society. And finally, 2022 was the European Year of Youth, putting youth at the forefront and shining a light on its importance in building a better – greener, more inclusive and digital – future.

    NextGen YouthWork helps cities address digital youth work at a strategic policy level

    These policy developments provide significant support to European cities to address digital youth work challenges. In addition, the URBACT programme, through the NextGen YouthWork network, will provide tangible, concrete support to 10 European cities to address this challenge and develop a hybrid and sustainable future for youth work at a strategic policy level. Eindhoven, Aarhus, Cartagena, Iași, Klaipėda, Oulu, Perugia, Tetovo, Veszprém and Viladecans will share their best practices and experiences and engage, connect and empower young people. And there are plenty of inspiring practices! Some cities succeeded by transitioning offline youth work tools to the online environment. Others excel at using gaming to engage with youth or even developing new tools for the digital environment. There are good examples of implementing digital shifts at the local level, as well as of pooling resources and knowledge at the regional or national level to ease the financial burden of going digital. Cities often initiate new tools, but grassroots initiatives by youth are also notable examples.

    Are you passionate about empowering the next generation and creating a better future? Stay up to date with NextGen YouthWork cities to learn about truly inspiring practices in youth work!

  • NextGen YouthWork

    LEAD PARTNER : Eindhoven - Netherlands
    • Aarhus - Denmark
    • Cartagena - Spain
    • Iași - Romania
    • Klaipèda - Lithuania
    • Oulu - Finland
    • Perugia - Italy
    • Tetovo - North Macedonia
    • Veszprém - Hungary
    • Viladecans - Spain

    Timeline

    Next NGYW transnational meeting on 20-21 February 2024 in Oulu.

    Also planned: NGYW transnational meeting in Viladecans on 24-25 October 2023.

    Library

    Lead Expert

     

     

    • NextGen YouthWork - group of youth outdoor

      Youth work starts where young people are - but how can youth workers get there?

      Young people spend more and more time online. But do youth workers know where? And more importantly, how can they get there to provide them with the help they need? 

      Zsolt Séra

      See more

    NextGen YouthWork aims to develop further and improve online youth work through innovative digital solutions at the city level. By this, the network works towards better aligning youth work with the opportunities and challenges posed by the online world in which young people spend a lot of time nowadays.

    Developing a Hybrid and Sustainable Future for Youth Work
  • Find your Greatness

    Summary

    Lead Partner : Alba Iulia - Romania
    • Bragança - Portugal
    • Candelaria - Spain
    • Limerick - Ireland
    • 22nd district of Budapest (Budafok-Tétény) - Hungary
    • Perugia - Italy
    • Võru County - Estonia
    • Wroclaw - Poland

    Alba Iulia Municipality, Calea Motilor 5A, 510134, Romania

    CONTACT US

    Timeline

    Kick-Off Meeting

    2nd Transnational Meeting

    3rd Transnational Meeting in Alba Iulia

    4th Transnational Meeting in Wroclaw

    5th Transnational Meeting in Voru

    6th Transnational Meeting in Braganca

    7th Transnational Meeting in Alba Iulia

    8th Transational Meeting in Budafok

    9th Final Project Conference in Perugia

    Find your Greatness is a concept that reflects the most challenges addressed by AIM together with other EU local communities. Why Find your Greatness? Because the challenge is to build on the cities' potential. In the case of the partners of the project the need identified locally and which was built as a sustainable mechanism generating urban development, the need to explore and enhance the potential of the city, combining strategic marketing approach with innovative smart city tools.

    Europe's first strategic brand building program for smart cities
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  • 23 Action Planning Networks ready for Phase 2!

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    15/11/2022

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

    News

     

    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!

     

    NETWORK

    PARTNERS

    DESCRIPTION

    Research, technological development and innovation

    UrbSecurity

    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

    DigiPlace
    (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.

    IoTxChange

    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

    iPlace

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

    - 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

    RiConnect

    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.

    URGE

    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.

    KAIRÓS

    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.

    FOOD CORRIDORS
    (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.

    Health&Greenspace

    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

    Space4People

    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

    SIBdev

    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

    ROOF

    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).

    ActiveCitizens

    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.

    Access

    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.

    Genderedlandscape

    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

    Cities4CSR

    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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  • It's time to Find your Greatness

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    15/11/2022

    Eight cities have joined the URBACT Action Planning Network (APN) 'Find Your Greatness' aiming to boost their sustainable urban development by defining their strategic brand position and increasing their attractiveness and competitiveness.

    Articles

    The need for city branding

     

    Cities are competing for people, resources and business, therefore a demand for a unified city strategy has been constantly increasing. Since the 1990s, city branding has been a key factor in urban development policies. Cities all over the world take specific actions to manipulate their image and perceptions, both in the eyes of the inhabitants and those of potential tourists, investors, users and consumers.

    While capitals and other large cities typically enjoy the advantages of a strong metropolitan vibe, population diversity and higher financial resources, mid-sized and smaller towns and cities often struggle to attract attention. Without making themselves recognisable on the broader regional or global map, they can face decreasing recognition, relevance and competitiveness on the global market.

    City branding is a complementary tool to strategic urban planning. It defines what the place is (brand essence), what the place would like to become (brand vision), what differentiates the place (positioning), the voice of the place (personality) and key messages and experiences (emotional benefits). A strong integrated city brand provides strategic guidelines for city growth, sets priorities for capital investment and services, and is a vehicle for long-term sustainable urban development.

     

    Building on an URBACT success story

     

    Alba Iulia in Romania was a partner in the URBACT CityLOGO network (2013-2015). Through this, it improved its promotion locally and abroad, and witnessed a significant increase in interest from national and international tourists, business developers and investors.

    These results inspired Alba Iulia Municipality to want to develop their thinking even further. It launched the idea of a network of small and medium-sized cities in Europe to exchange and learn on city branding, marketing and communication. The ‘Find Your Greatness’ APN was the successful result, a partnership of eight cities launched in late 2019: Limerick (IE), Perugia (IT), Braganca (PT), Candelaria (ES), Wroclaw (PL), Budafok (HU) and Voru (EE), led by Alba Iulia (RO).

    All the partner towns and cities are aware that they need to become visible, to communicate their brand vision and to increase their competitive position. At the same time, each city has its own profile, challenges, objectives, and expectations.

    Alba Iulia wants an updated branding and marketing strategy that would include smart city developments. Limerick has just launched its city brand and would like to

    achieve improved ownership of the brand by Limerick’s inhabitants and to use this to build community spirit.

    Perugia wants to enhance its strategic brand positioning, building on its cultural heritage - including its great Etruscan walls - and other cultural assets. Braganca looks for an update of its marketing and communication strategy that would position it as the first choice for digital and smart industry development, tourism and gastronomy, attractive natural environment and high quality of life in Portugal.

    Candelaria, on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, attracts mass pilgrimage to venerate the ‘Virgin of Candelaria’ in its famous Basilica di Candelaria. The municipality would like to diversify and enrich its touristic and gastronomic offer in order to achieve a more economically efficient and sustainable tourism.

    The main focus of thematic brand development of Wroclaw is its important industrial heritage of trams, tram lines and tram depots. Meanwhile, the basis for the thematic branding of Budafok, the 22nd district of Budapest, is its long and rich wine tradition, including a unique heritage of 130 km of wine cellars. It seeks to further exploit its sparkling wine production and thematic wine tours combined with gastronomic and cultural events.

    Voru, the smallest partner city in the network is aiming to define its identity as a safe, relaxing and family-friendly town that is also a smart town, making it an attractive location to develop a business, to live and to visit.

     

    City branding: a challenging topic

     

    Already, my visits to the network’s partner cities, site visits and meetings with politicians, municipality administrations, business entities, academics, NGOs and media representatives have highlighted the complexity of the project theme.

    Generalising across the individual situations of each city, we have been able to identify the following groups of themes/policy challenges that will be addressed by international learning and exchange in the 2nd phase of the project:

    • Branding, brand strategy and logo development
    • Marketing and communication strategy development
    • Use of smart e-solutions in marketing and communication fitting in the smart city programme
    • Building community spirit
    • Innovative, creative, digital (smart) business development
    • Cultural and industrial heritage protection, promotion and exploitation
    • Tourism, excursions and experience-based activities
    • Green and sustainable development

    Half of the towns and cities have already developed either overarching or thematic brands, with a visual identity, and marketing and communication plans. Each has good practices, knowledge and experiences to share; and each has also a need to enrich their understanding, learn new skills and knowledge, and develop new ideas to be introduced into their local actions.

     

    Some busy years ahead

     

    Despite the complexity of the challenges, in each partner city I have found a strong commitment from all stakeholders and project teams to work intensively and professionally in the project and to achieve its objectives. ULGs – URBACT Local Groups have been formed in all partner towns and cities. In most, participation and co-creation are already applied methods in city governance and decision-making.

    Integrated Action Plans (IAPs) for each project partner city will be the main output of the network, setting out the objectives, policy challenges, actions and expected results of improved branding for each city. Each IAP will be complementary to the broader urban and strategic development plans of the cities. In other words, the strategic development vision of cities will be supported by their strategic brand vision.

    This will need to be communicated to citizens, visitors, business developers and investors. The final effect should be increased satisfaction and quality of life of citizens.

    Cities gathered in the Find your Greatness network are aware of the importance of brands, branding and marketing and are also aware that this will require their full engagement during the project duration and afterwards. They recognise and highlight that there is no shortcut in the definition of a strategic brand vision or its practical implementation to build the image of the city.

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