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  • RESILIENT EUROPE

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

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in September (Katowice).
    Transnational meetings in March (Ioanina) and October (Malmo).
    Final event in March (Rotterdam).

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

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

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

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

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

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    Becoming more resilient means that a city strives to enhance its ability to bounce back and grow even stronger and better in the face of the chronic stresses and acute shocks. As such, city resilience is a continuous challenge for individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and infrastructure systems to address current trends and future transitions. This Action Planning network looked at the challenges of achieving resilience in and of our cities in a comprehensive and holistic way, by applying the lessons from the innovative governance approach of Transition Management. This approach is a process-oriented and participatory steering that enables social learning through iterations between collective vision development and experimenting.

    Improving city resilience
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    7522
  • Innovato-R

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting phase 1 - Turin
    Kick-off meeting phase 2 - Paris / Transfer Period
    Transfer Period
    Final meeting

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

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

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

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

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

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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

     

    CONTACT US

    The Innovato-R Transfer network builds upon the Innova.TO project, which is a competition open to Municipality employees aimed at developing innovative projects improving the Administration performances, reducing wastes and/or valuing resources. Proposals can be focused on service quality, goods/services acquisition, costs rationalization, energetic optimization, bureaucratic impact reduction and increase in data and in digital tools management.

    Everyone's an Innovator
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    12128
  • What will happen to our jobs when cities go climate neutral? 

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    Green jobs @IStock
    26/09/2022

     

    URBACT Expert Eddy Adams explores the green shift’s potential impacts on employment.

     

    Temperatures are hitting record highs across Europe. In Western France, meteorologists talk about a ‘heat apocalypse’ as more than 25 000 people flee their homes to escape forest fires. Spain, Portugal and Italy have all been on an emergency footing with fires and recorded deaths due to heatstroke. Northern Europe has also experienced temperatures normally associated with the Middle East, and a recent German Environment Ministry report estimated that the financial impact of drought, floods and extreme heat in the country had been EUR 145bn since 2000.

     

    The Climate Emergency is a real and present danger. To combat this, the EU has committed to be climate neutral by 2050 - a central objective of the European Green Deal. Cities are in the front line of this transition, being the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide (more than 60% according to UN Habitat), consuming 78% of the world’s energy and being home to 65% of the EU’s population. Recognising this, the URBACT IV programme has Green Cities as one of its strategic priorities. But what will the transition to climate neutrality mean for jobs and skills as our economy makes this huge green shift in less than a generation?

     

     

    What are green jobs?

     

    The twin megatrends of green and digital will affect every industry sector, and every occupational skill level. The EU forecasts that a handful of carbon-intensive industries will disappear altogether by 2050. These include coal and lignite mining, together with their support services, as well as oil and gas extraction. The decline of these sectors is expected to remove 338 000 jobs, heavily clustered in specific regions. Although this pathway is now slightly less clear, as Member States stall on decommissioning these sectors in response to the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine, the overarching European Green Deal policy goal of climate neutrality remains intact.

     

    Four other industry sectors - chemical manufacturing, non-metallic-mineral manufacturing, basic metal manufacture, and the automotive sector - are expected to be totally transformed, as their use of energy and materials is revolutionised. However, every industry sector is likely to be affected by the shift that’s already taking place. A very narrow definition of the ‘Green Economy’ suggests a relatively modest workforce of 4.5 million workers in the EU. But EU data shows that low carbon sectors - the fastest growing in the economy - already employ more than 70% of workers. As the concept of circularity is embedded across key, high-energy industry sectors like construction, which currently accounts for one third of all EU energy related emissions and over 35% of waste, this trend will continue, as will the demand for properly skilled workers at all skill levels.

     

     

    What does this mean for skills in the city?

     

    Vilawatt field visit to Viladecans (ES)
    Vilawatt field visit to Viladecans (ES).

     

     

     

    As Ed Glaeser, Harvard Economics professor and expert on cities, consistently points out, skills are a valuable commodity for every city. Successful cities are those that nurture, retain and attract talent. Organisations need skilled people, while workers need to refresh their skills continually to remain in demand in a competitive job market. Linked to this, the pace of change - driven by digital innovation and the need to reduce carbon emissions - is accelerating. At the same time, the OECD estimates that the declining demand for lower level skills will continue, driven by automation and other digital developments. All of this means that frequent upskilling will be required for workers to VILAWATT URBACT Network during a site visit to Viladecans. 
    stay in touch with labour market developments.

     

    That is potentially a growing problem for urban economies. For many, the profile is one of rising vacancies with residual pools of unemployment and economic inactivity. The recently refreshed EU Skills Agenda noted that 70 million EU adults lack basic numeracy, reading and digital skills. At the same time there is a wide - and potentially growing - skills gap as employers struggle to find staff with the right skillset.

     

    However, recent research shows that higher skilled people are those most likely to participate in further training. Only one in five low skilled workers participates in upskilling, often through lack of funds, knowledge or time. So a major shift is required if we are to avoid a widening skills gap, with the risk of increased social polarisation.

     

     

    Who’s most at risk of being left behind - and what are cities doing about it?

     

    Just transition, a concept initially developed by trade unions in North America, means achieving climate neutrality without leaving any person or place behind. It is a central part of the European Green Deal. A recent report by Urban Innovative Actions (UIA), Skills for a Green Future, focused on the employment and skills dimension to the Just Transition, setting out the challenges cities face as well as the innovative approaches being developed in response. This identifies five specific groups at risk of being left behind as the economy transitions to climate neutrality:

     

    • Vulnerable people already marginalised in the labour market
    • The low-skilled
    • Women, older people and youth
    • Micro-businesses and the self-employed
    • Workers in energy intensive and high-carbon emitting industries

     

    At the recent URBACT City Festival 2022, Maarten van Kooij, Strategic Adviser to the City of Rotterdam, showed that Rotterdam (NL) workers already in precarious jobs and sectors face increasing risk as the economy transitions. The pandemic had exposed their situation, evidenced by the fact that 15 000 of the city's 43 000 self-employed workers required temporary income support during the crisis. With limited resources and minimal access to careers guidance and training, they remain poorly informed and ill-equipped for the shift that’s already happening. Rotterdam is designing new approaches to address this, including its innovative Work Learning Agreements.

     

    Anamaria Vrabie, Director of the Urban Innovation Unit, echoed these points from the perspective of Cluj Napoca (RO). Although the city’s economy has been a big success story in the past decade, their work has identified significant risks due to high levels of automation, with implications for the lower-skilled in particular. Supported by its strong higher education offer, the growth of the creative and cultural industry sector has been part of the Cluj success story. However, the pandemic underlined the vulnerability of many workers in this sector, which is characterised by micro-businesses and the self-employed. The development of their so-called culturepreneur programme, designed to enhance the resilience of cultural and creative industries, has been a key innovation. Through its UIA project ‘Cluj Future of Work’, the city is also piloting innovative approaches to preparing one of Europe’s most vulnerable communities - the Roma - to improve their employability, through potential links to the circular economy.

     

    Sonia Dominguez, Head of EU funds at  Viladecans (ES) showed how supporting micro-businesses has also been a priority, after the city identified them as being at risk. Public procurement has been a key driver in changing mindsets here, as has the city’s establishment of spaces, both digital and physical, to promote cross-sectoral collaboration. This has been particularly effective at facilitating dialogue between businesses in ‘old’ and ‘new’ sectors.

     

     

     

    'Cities in the frontline of the climate emergency' panel during the URBACT City Festival, June 2022.
    'Cities in the frontline of the climate emergency' panel during the URBACT City Festival, June 2022.

     

     

    As the UIA report notes, the energy transition will also have implications for gender balance in the workforce, creating more jobs traditionally associated with men according to the International Labour Organisation. For example, in the renewable energy sector, where the number of jobs is forecast to jump from 10.3 million in 2017 to almost 29 million in 2050, only 32% of the current workforce are women. In response, Viladecans has targeted interventions towards women to raise their awareness of the employment shift that is taking place, and the opportunities and threats it brings. 

     

    The link between the gender equality mission and the transition to climate neutrality is clear. So too is the need to combine the climate and social justice agendas effectively if cities are to achieve just transition, as Mathew Bach of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability noted in the URBACT Festival session. This means informed investment and a drive to promote cross-departmental collaboration within administrations, as well as effective partnerships across the public, private and NGO sectors.

     

     

    Where do we go from here?

     

    The challenges ahead cannot be overstated. As the slogan says, “there is no planet B”, and cities must lead in implementing the transition to a climate neutral Europe. The front-runners are already showing the way, and initiatives like the EU’s Climate Neutral Cities Mission and Scalable Cities are setting the pace. But a mass movement is required to reach the goal of climate neutrality, with small and medium sized cities fully on board. Supporting all cities to make a successful transition requires everyone to raise their game.

     

    A just, green transition also requires smart cooperation across traditional silos, informed by smart strategic investment. The URBACT IV programme, with its pillars of green, digital and gender-equal cities, anticipates these needs in cities, and will provide space for collaboration, peer-learning and capacity building. URBACT will also offer a platform to transfer experience and techniques in effective urban interventions, both through its own good practices and its ongoing cooperation with UIA and the future European Urban Initiative.

     

     

    --

     

     

    URBACT IV official logo
    The URBACT IV Programme (2021 -2027) will retain the principle that cities will be free to select their own network themes according to their needs and priorities. Nevertheless, it will also explicitly aim to build the awareness and capacity of all programme actors “to better include cross-cutting considerations such as digital, environment and gender equality” in their work and activities both at programme and network-level.
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  • Nine solutions for more vibrant, productive cities

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    15/11/2022

    These local actions for community participation and productivity are inspiring cities across the EU. Could they work in yours too?

    Articles
    Education

    The New Leipzig Charter highlights three forms of the transformative city which can be harnessed in Europe to enhance people’s quality of life: the Just City, the Green City and the Productive City.

    URBACT’s latest publication is packed with sustainable solutions to address these three dimensions – all tried, tested and transferred between EU cities, with adaptations for each local context.

    To give a taste of the stories told in ‘Good Practice Transfer: Why not in my City?’, here are nine examples of local actions for Productive Cities. We hope towns and cities of all sizes will be inspired to ‘Understand, Adapt and Re-use’ participative solutions like this – from education and entrepreneurship to efficient governance and better use of urban spaces – improving everyday life for residents, and supporting a just transition to a green economy.

     

    1. Give citizens a card for local services

    To simplify everyday life in Aveiro (PT), the municipality got together with stakeholders to launch a card that will give citizens easy access to public services such as the library, museum, buses and shared bikes, as well as improved online and front desk support. A first step was to issue a student card to access school services across the city, from stationery and meals, to school trips. The idea is to promote a smarter, more open, resilient and inclusive society. Aveiro and four other URBACT partner cities are introducing their local versions of ‘CARD4ALL’ based on good practice from Gijón, a Spanish city that has provided citizen cards for nearly 20 years.

     

    2. Put residents’ wellbeing at the heart of urban regeneration

    In a project to bring an old playing field back into use, Birmingham (UK) gave local people the power to drive improvements themselves, thanks to a Community Economic Development Planning model, mirroring successful approaches already used in Łódź (PL). Building on this positive start, residents went on to co-produce an alternative Community-Led Master Plan for the wider area — where all council plans had previously been opposed. Council-appointed community ‘ambassadors’ now work with local residents, businesses, service providers and volunteers with a direct stake in the area’s economic health. And the approach is being rolled out across other areas of the city. Birmingham is one of six cities to learn from Łódź’ collaborative model as part of the URBAN REGENERATION MIX network.

     

    3. Create a digital business hub with a local twist 

    The Greek city of Piraeus founded a new ‘Blue Lab’ near its harbour — the first Blue Economy Innovation Centre in Greece. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, Blue Lab welcomes students and entrepreneurs, providing business mentoring, tech and entrepreneurship training. It has boosted cooperation with businesses and schools, and sparked an array of prototype technology solutions. Piraeus’ further plans now include a new larger co-working space, training facilities to upskill the workforce, and investment in more advanced technologies. Piraeus is one of six URBACT Tech Revolution network partner cities to set up their own start-up support schemes based on the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley (UK), an URBACT-listed Good Practice that has become a successful hub for local creative and digital business.

     

    4. Build local partnerships around education

    By involving parents, school staff, local clubs and council departments in ‘Educational Innovation Networks’ (EIN), the city of Halmstad (SE) is boosting local connections and sparking improvements in education. Thanks to the URBACT ON BOARD network, Halmstad learnt from Viladecans (ES) who originally formed an EIN to improve education as part of a drive to reverse rising unemployment and declining growth. Halmstad adopted new ideas, including ‘Positive Mindset and Emotions’ for better learning and methods for improving pupil participation. Communication within the municipality also improved thanks to cross-departmental clusters focusing on: Care and Support; Education and Learning; Growth and Attractiveness; and Infrastructure.

     

    5. Open a ‘living room’ for local clubs and residents

    Idrija (SI) transformed an empty shop into a ‘living room’ for the town, with free activities run by, and for, local associations and inhabitants. City administrators, social services and economic departments, local clubs and active citizens, are all involved in the project, as well as the regional development agency, library and retirement home. As a result, the site has become a meeting place open to all, with events focusing on topics as diverse as housing refurbishment, chess, and knitting. It also hosts a municipality-supported free transport service for elderly people and a book corner run by the local library. Idrija’s solution was modelled on the ‘Stellwerk’ NGO platform launched in Altena (DE) as a solution to help manage the town’s long-term decline.

     

    6. Turn unused buildings into homes

    Chemnitz’s (DE) ‘Housing Agency for Shrinking Cities’ helps transform empty buildings into valuable housing while reducing speculation, channeling grant money, and cutting future costs for both the owners of decaying buildings and the municipality. Initiated and funded by the city authorities, the project is carried out in the public interest by a long-standing private partner. This model inspired Vilafranca del Penedès (ES), partner in the URBACT ALT/BAU network, to review its housing policies and look for private partners with the technical capacity and financial solvency to help the city recover abandoned housing units. As a result, Vilafranca has signed an agreement with a social foundation whose main objective is to identify, obtain and rehabilitate low-priced rental housing in collaboration with job agencies.

     

    7. Launch a blue entrepreneurship competition (for cities near water!) 

    The port city of Mataró (ES) is boosting local entrepreneurship and jobs in the maritime economy – inspired by a BlueGrowth initiative in Piraeus (EL). Mataró encouraged diverse public and private stakeholders to get involved, including the City Promotion team, regional ‘Barcelona Nautic Cluster’, local port authority, and a technology park that hosts the University and a business incubator. The resulting Mataró Blue Growth Entrepreneurship competition provides cash prizes, mentoring and access to a business accelerator programme. So far winning projects include a boat repair franchise, a boat propulsion system, and an app linking up superyachts with relevant services.

     

    8. Help city employees become innovators

    When Turin (IT) teamed up with private sponsors to launch a competition inviting 10 000 municipal staff to submit innovative ideas for improving the administration's performance, winning proposals included solutions for improving community participation, smart procurement, and lighting in public buildings. This inspired Rotterdam (NL) and five other cities in the URBACT Innovato-R network to draw on Turin’s experience to boost innovation and process improvement in their own cities. As a result, Rotterdam took a fresh approach with its existing innovation network of over 1 800 civil servants and 500 external stakeholders, strengthening links with businesses and academics, introducing new online ‘inspiration sessions’, and co-designing a new innovation platform.

     

    9. Harness the power of public spending 

    Koszalin (PL) analysed the city’s procurement spending and is using the resulting evidence to shape public procurement practices in order to benefit the local economy, while taking into account social and environmental factors. To do so, they used a spend analysis tool that was originally developed by Preston (UK) and transferred to six EU cities via the URBACT Making Spend Matter network. Koszalin also started working more closely with key ‘anchor institutions’ in the city, such as the hospital and university, exploring how much they spend, and where that money goes geographically. Meanwhile, they improved support for local SME participation in public procurement.

     

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

    Visit the Good Practice database for more inspiration.

     

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  • USE-IT

    Timeline

    Launch of pilot network

    Larger capital projects in poor neighbourhoods often do not lead to an improvement in the socio-economic situation of the local population. The USE-IT UIA - URBACT Transfer Mechanism pilot network shares a tested approach that directly links the realisation of larger capital projects - here construction of a new hospital - with the improvement of the socio-economic situation of the population based on the existing local community skills, talents and ideas.

    Unlocking social and economic innovation together
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    15638
  • UIA Transfer Mechanism: five pilot projects ready to take off!

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    15/11/2022

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

    News

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

     

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

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

     

     

    PILOT PROJECT

    DESCRIPTION

    PARTNER CITIES

     

    AS TRANSFER

    Smart specialisation in advanced services towards the digital transformation of industry

    Bilbao (ES)

    Bielsko Biala (PL)

    Tartu (EE)

    Timisoara (RO)

     

    CO4CITIES

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

    Torino (IT)

    Budapest (HU)

    Gdansk (PL)

    Cluj-Napoca (RO)

     

    USE-IT

    Unlocking social and economic innovation together

    Birmingham (UK)

    Rotterdam (NL)

    Trapani (IT)

    Poznan (PL)

     

    VILAWATT

    Innovative local public-private-citizen partnership for energy governance

    Viladecans (ES)

    Eriges Seraing (BE)

    Nagykanizsa (HU)

    Trikala (EL)

     

    NEXT AGRI

    New skills for new jobs in peri-urban agriculture

    Milan (IT)

    Almere (NL)

    Stara Zagora (BG)

    Vila Nova de Gaia (PT)

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

    -

     

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

     

     

     

     

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  • Volunteerism Bringing Different Generations Together

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    15/11/2022

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    Story by Kyriakos Kareklas, Mayor of Athienou

    As said at the Storytelling Workshop

    URBACT Mid Term Reflection LP-LE Meeting, Paris 14.11.2019

    Articles

    The old people of the Kleantheios Elder House of Athienou are very happy today. The children from the elementary school of Athienou are coming to the Elder House to plant cucumbers and tomatoes at the yard of the House.

    The children come and with the old people that are capable, they start digging and planting, working altogether. The teacher, who is a musician, has everybody to start singing while working.

    Athienou is a city that has institutionalised volunteerism, bringing young and old people together.

    At the end of the day, the teacher asked the old people if they had a good day and some of them answered that it was their best day ever in their life!

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  • Bringing (more) sustainability to cities: 5 golden rules

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    15/11/2022

    How are cities putting sustainable urban development into practice?


    Here are 5 golden rules from URBACT's City Lab.

    Articles
    Leipzig Charter

    The second URBACT City Lab took place in Brussels (BE) on 2nd and 3rd July 2019: “How are cities putting sustainable urban development into practice?” wa

    s the core question that drove us through general and specific considerations in the fields of Air Quality and Mobility, Energy Transition and Climate Adaptation and Sustainable Food Systems. When seeking to feed into the work of the updated Leipzig Charter, it appeared that on the one hand sustainability is still a complex paradigm to get into and embed for a city, but on the other hand, cities are leading the way in what can be done.

    Here are 5 golden rules for cities to become sustainable.

    1. Sustainability is polysemic

    Angeliki Stogia, Councilor at the City of Manchester (UK) asked us: “what do you, what do we, actually mean by sustainability?”. Although its official definition from the 1992 Brundtland Report is unambiguous, but, what does it mean and how should cities approach it? The realm of participants showed a variety of understandings. For example, for Filipa Pimentel from the Transition network it is for society to become more resilient, which in turn would make our ecosystems more resilient. From a people-based approach, to a planning-based one, focusing on regeneration (or the inclusion of environment in local policies) can only bring in consensus and a chance for all stakeholders to adjust their visions and priorities.

    2. Sustainability should be tackled at all levels

    Our discussions started with Thomas Béthune from DG REGIO, European Commission, stating his needs to be in touch with cities themselves to feed sustainability into European policies. They were wrapped up by Filipa Pimental who expressed the leadership of citizens who become actors of change. In between the two, the Leipzig Charter is focusing on neighbourhoods and Alicja Pawlowska, Head of EU projects and mobility management at the City of Gdynia (PL) stressed the importance of this in their daily work. Cities are where changes take place and these considerations stress the need for territorial and contextual approaches. This would be impossible without the collaboration and inputs from member states, as Olli Maijala, Adviser at Finnish Ministry of the Environment suggested.

    3. Sustainability requires a new mindset

    Experimenting in cities is not new, yet they need to keep on being innovative, combining social and technological innovation (e.g. Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) Vilawatt project in Viladecans (ES), developing market-based instruments (e.g. Stockholm’s successful congestion charges), in addition to nature-based solutions (e.g. Chinese sponge cities, which mainstream urban water management into the urban planning policies and designs), and consumption-based approaches (e.g. URBACT BioCanteens network) and to focus on processes.

    Increasingly, cities need to change their vision, and to think out of the box and take risks. The inner change needs to look beyond traditional city-makers, including other profiles such as psychologists (as strongly supported by the Transition network and already tested in Gdansk (PL).

    4. Sustainability applies to all

    Sustainability applies to jobs and skills creation such as a Food Innovation Hub in Milan (IT) within the UIA OpenAgri project, as well as to the city of Gdynia seeking to make freight transport more effective in cities within URBACT FreightTails. Not to mention the H2020 Ruggedised where Rotterdam (NL) experiments smart city developments.

    Mobility. Energy. Food. Air quality. Digitalisation. Health and well-being. Urban planning. Sustainability should be a transversal approach, and “business as usual” as Angeliki Stogia phrased it. In order to support this process, city governance should be rethought to be bold and to be participatory, with citizen scrutiny.

    New forms of involvement and partnerships should be promoted as with the engagement of citizens in air quality control within Helsinki’s (FI) UIA Hope project; the public-private-citizen partnership for energy production in Viladecans’ UIA Vilawatt project; or the use of culture and arts to mobilise citizens to address climate change in the URBACT C-Change network.

    Sustainability also requires cross-departmental collaboration such as in the City of Schaerbeek (BE) cross-cutting solutions which tackle social environmental and neighborhood issues within an action-research project on organic waste transformation, Phosphore.

    5. Sustainability requires strong leadership

    Leadership for sustainability can happen at all levels of cities. Angeliki Stogia from Manchester, Gilles Perole from Mouans-Sartoux (FR) (lead partner of BioCanteens) and Laura Rodrigues from Torres Verdas (PT) (2015 Green Leaf Capital City) are the elected representatives who took part in this second URBACT City Lab, confirming their city’s commitment to this challenge. This is just the beginning of a global movement of awareness and action towards more sustainability in cities.

    ***

    Read on the first City Lab: URBACT’s City Labs on Participation: Refreshing Europe’s urban policy principles

    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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  • New URBACT book: ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’

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    15/11/2022
    The Creative SpIN Local Action Plan in Rotterdam
    News

    Paris, 24 January 2019 – A new publication by the European programme URBACT shares positive stories from 40 cities that took a more integrated approach to local policy-making while learning from EU peers in their ‘Action Planning Network’.

    Reviving a town centre, welcoming migrants, re-using abandoned buildings, boosting entrepreneurship, engaging citizens… ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’ shows cities finding new ways to tackle diverse urban challenges, bringing long-term improvements.

    It is about cities that have dared to experiment, that have succeeded in achieving results in the fields of social inclusion, economic development, urban planning, or greener ways of living,” writes Corina Creţu, EU Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy, in the introduction. “City-to-city cooperation is the best way to facilitate exchange, adaptation, implementation and up-scaling of good practices all over the world.”

    Read the publication ‘Cities in Action - Stories of Change’

    These stories will be really inspiring for any urban practitioner looking for simple ways to bring people together and make their cities safer, cleaner and more prosperous. URBACT has sparked community-led improvements like these in more than a thousand cities since 2002.” says URBACT’s Adele Bucella

    The 40 cities range from Aarhus (DK) and its plan for collaborative citizenship, to Zagreb (HR) and its 11 new smart city initiatives. With URBACT’s support, each city formed a local group including officials, local stakeholders and urban experts, to co-create an Integrated Action Plan – many of whom contributed lively accounts to the publication. Meanwhile, cities also worked with up to 10 other partner cities in their URBACT network, including site visits and peer reviews.

    Today, more than 66% of these URBACT cities have had their Integrated Action Plan approved, nearly 50% secured funding for it, and more than 80% of them have already started implementing it.

    Locally-driven solutions

    The new publication includes:

    • A message from Corina Creţu, EU Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy;
    • A clear summary of the URBACT method and its principles of horizontal and vertical policy integration;
    • Stories of locallydriven improvements in 40 EU cities, with solutions in nine key areas: urban mobility, jobs and skills in the local economy, reuse of abandoned spaces, climate adaptation, innovative public procurement, digital transition, inclusion of migrants and refugees, urban poverty, sustainable use of land;
    • Key information on the 20 Action Planning networks, including full partner lists.

    Lasting impact

    If we hadn’t joined MAPS I think we’d still be searching for one big aim, one big new reuse of the whole territory. And instead, the area must be split up, and different uses must appear. I think we’re now sure in the municipality that we’ve had the wrong approach over the past more than 20 years.
    Ágnes Győrffy, Project Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Szombathely (HU)

    As a result of URBACT, a network of associations and civic committees has been formed and consolidated in Casoria. Today even without a strong coordination of the municipal administration, they are carrying forward the ideas and methodologies shared during the sub>urban experience. This wasn’t just about a park; it helped us rebuild our local identity.
    Enrico Formato, University of Naples external expert for Casoria (IT).

    Visiting delegates had very powerful thoughts, and gave us the confidence to be strong in our desire to shape wider policy to tackle our city’s disadvantaged and neglected communities. We hope to have the support of this network to challenge politicians and decision-makers in Birmingham to ensure that a wider systems-thinking approach is continued, rather than reverting back to silo working.
    Ravinder Bains, Birmingham City Council (UK)

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  • Can nature make your city climate-resilient?

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    15/11/2022

    Among the headlines of summer 2017: disastrous floods in the South of England, Istanbul and Berlin, extreme water scarcity in Rome, wild fires damaging homes on the Croatian coast, the Côte d'Azur and elsewhere… The magnitude and frequency of these and other events indicate that climate change is already a reality, and the impacts will be even bigger in the future. Yes, we need to reduce greenhouse gases to limit climate change, but equally urgent: we need to adapt to the remaining impacts. All cities, depending on their geographical position, are likely to experience prolonged and more intensive heatwaves or droughts, more frequent wild fires, coastal flooding, or an increase in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall with the associated threat of urban flooding, river flooding or landslides. How can cities cope with these huge predicted impacts of climate change in the future, even when they are faced with tight budgets? Can nature be a solution?

    Malmö enjoys its green infrastructure solutions

    Articles
    Climate adaptation

    Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, has a long tradition of coping with excessive rainwater, going back long before climate change adaptation came on the agenda. The solutions have become even more important now with the projected increase in the number and intensity of extreme rainfall events. Just across the Øresund, Copenhagen was heavily flooded by an immense cloudburst in 2011. Damage costs mounted up to 800 million EUR. Such an extreme event could also hit Malmö. On a smaller scale, the neighbourhood of Augustenborg in Malmö already experienced frequent flooding from an overflowing drainage system in the 1980s and 1990s. Instead of extending the sewage system, the city experimented with green and blue infrastructure: vegetation and water. This solution comprises several kilometres of water channels and retention ponds, green roofs on new and retrofitted buildings, and green areas redesigned to better store and drain rain water or delay its discharge. Only excess water is led into the sewage system. As a result, problems with flooding have ceased. At the same time, the area has become much more attractive to its residents.

    The city has used this approach again in Western Harbour, a new residential area built on a former brownfield. It copes with rainwater mostly with the support of the many green roofs, green areas, water channels and retention basins. Water has become a playful feature in the urban design of the area, which was co-created with the future residents right from the planning phase. The design also helps mitigate climate change thanks to low-energy housing and the integrated generation of renewable energy. All of this has made the area extremely popular not just to its residents, but also to lots of other citizens and tourists who enjoy the nice seaside area. This long-term valuable experience and knowledge is an asset that Malmö shares with other cities as a member of the URBACT network Resilient Europe.

    Indeed, nature-based solutions can be a key tool for climate change adaptation. They comprise green infrastructure of all kinds but also solutions that allow natural processes, like floods, to happen without harm, e.g. by building floating or elevated houses. While Malmö is already enjoying the many benefits of green infrastructures in boosting quality of life, Hamburg and Copenhagen have recently calculated that they urgently need nature-based solutions to cope with climate change. They simply cannot extend the technical infrastructure – their sewage system – to the extent that it can cope with the amount of water expected under heavy cloudbursts. Costs for such a solution would be astronomically high, if feasible at all. Instead, green areas, green roofs, storage areas or streets as temporary waterways will take their share of water, storing, draining or delaying the discharge, thus relieving the sewage system. Calculations show that today’s solutions as we know them won’t do the job in Europe’s climate of the future, but a combination with nature-based solutions can work.

    Rotterdam opts for multi-functionality in its dense urban setting

    Rotterdam also has to cope increasingly with water – from a rising sea level, more torrential rain, and river flooding. There are not many places the water can go, as much of the area is low-lying and water needs to be pumped away. That makes the city very vulnerable and dependent on a functioning technical infrastructure. The city needs storing capacity to delay the discharge of water during heavy rainfall, but space is scarce in the Netherlands, where almost every square meter is used either for houses or for agri- and horticulture. In addition, as a dense city, Rotterdam aims to be both energy and transport efficient, and liveable and attractive. In its search for innovative solutions, Rotterdam came up with a range of ideas that are being explored further in the context of the Resilient Europe network. Some are swimming structures like the solar-powered floating pavilion in the Rijnhaven that copes with different water levels, others are roof-top farms or the famous water squares. Their special design offers multiple uses and benefits: Normally, these squares are dry and include playgrounds, sports facilities, nice places to meet or take a break, but under heavy rainfall they fill up with water and protect the surrounding from flooding, and are attractive in a different way.

    Nevertheless, such innovative ways to deal with climate challenges are not always easy to establish. While planners were enthusiastic, citizens were concerned: For example, would the area still be safe for their children? The planners had to find ways to overcome these barriers, build trust and convince. Meanwhile, the first water squares have been established, and they are highly appreciated.

    Combinations of green, grey and soft measures to make Vejle climate-resilient

    Water forms part of the identity of Vejle in Denmark too. It comes from all sides: the rising level of the Baltic Sea, combined with storm surges, elevates the risk of coastal flooding. And the rising number and intensity of heavy rainfall events brings more water from the sky and the streams. Important assets of the city, like the harbour, the city centre and some infrastructure are vulnerable, and the sewage system is not prepared for extremely high water loads. Current measures alone, like the soft measure of today’s well-functioning emergency responses, won’t suffice in the future.

    The city already uses green infrastructure in several areas. However, as great and effective as it is, green infrastructure alone cannot deal completely with future impacts in Vejle, in particular in the event of storm surges. Hence, the city is actively searching for new and innovative solutions combining green, grey and soft measures. Its district project ‘Fjordbyen’ will serve as a laboratory for climate change adaptation and flood control and explore how water can also be an asset for the quality of the area, not just a risk. Innovative solutions where water can be embraced can improve knowledge, economic growth and welfare for local people.

    A common factor for these, and similar examples of climate-resilient solutions in cities across the EU, is that they see climate change adaptation as part of a bigger concept. As well as collaborating in the Resilient Europe URBACT network, Rotterdam, Vejle, Glasgow, Bristol and Thessaloniki are also part of the global 100 Resilient Cities initiative. The concept comprises social cohesion, environment, health and wellbeing, economic prosperity, heritage and participation, and will enhance quality of life.

    Thessaloniki builds resilience on broad participation and collaboration

    In Thessaloniki, more than 40 organisations and 2,000 citizens from across the city have participated in the resilience strategy development. This ongoing co-creation process unleashes the potential for bottom up innovative solutions by residents and communities. Like Rotterdam, urban density is an issue for Thessaloniki with just 2.6m2 of green space per resident compared to the European average of 8-10m2. Nevertheless, the city sees green infrastructure as an important part of the solution. Hence, the city aims to increase the quality, effectiveness and number of benefits by redesigning the limited open space. This creates spaces for social interaction at the same time. It plans solutions such as permeable surfaces, rain gardens, green walls, but also supports urban agriculture in inner courtyards and pocket community gardens that, on top, come at low costs which is very important in times of austerity. These solutions not only involve residents in the design of their area, but encourage them to learn about agriculture and nutrition and may also help to integrate migrants and refugees with diverse agricultural traditions.

    For its valuable pieces of green infrastructure, the city developed the Adopt your Green Spot programme. It facilitates the active engagement of citizens in the maintenance of urban green by taking co-ownership of public green space while keeping public expenditures low. At the same time, this activity educates people, contributes to the local economy, and creates or fosters local communities and social cohesion. Participation, education, community, connectedness, integration and more; these are the important soft factors for building up long-term and effective resilience that technical measures alone cannot do. They are relevant for resilience towards any type of shock and change.

    Transforming cities with nature and innovation into thriving places – Bilbao inspires

    Bilbao, which recently became an URBACT Good Practice city, takes the holistic approach to adaptation a step further. Some decades ago, the city learned painfully that the business-as-usual way wouldn’t lead them out of their deep economic crisis. The city started the process towards a broadly integrated urban development strategy to cope with the complexity of its urban challenges. That continuous process is still ongoing. Over the last 30 years, Bilbao has undertaken a massive transformation. Interventions like the iconic Guggenheim museum, the clean-up of the river, new infrastructures, internationalisation, a focus on excellent design, nice parks and other urban greens, as well as the restoration of the historic centre, reinvented the city that is thriving very well now. In this tradition, the city has recently started adaptation activities that shall contribute to creating a flourishing, climate-resilient city that offers a high quality of life. One example is the regeneration of the Zorrotzaure district, a currently degraded, flood-prone industrial peninsula. A combination of grey and green measures of building and urban design will make it flood-proof and highly attractive as well, thus adding to Bilbao’s overall appearance of a modern, liveable and strong city.

    The cities here present feasible approaches that turned the need for making their city climate-resilient into an opportunity to boost quality of life and transform them into enjoyable and thriving places. The process to get there includes many of the ingredients already used in other urban regeneration and development processes, among them broad participation, good governance, and collaboration across sectors and stakeholders. The examples show that having a great, broadly accepted vision of the future, dedication and commitment to the task, as well as plenty of stamina, are important for a successful transformation process. Nature-based solutions have proved to be a key tool: attractive and multi-functional at reasonable costs, they are a valuable asset that every city can use.

    Birgit Georgi

    ***

    Photo 2: Rotterdam ©Rick Ligthelm
            
    Photo 3: Vejle Fjorbyen ©Finn Byrum
              
    Photo 4: Thessaloniki ©Municipality of Thessaloniki
             
    Photo 5: Bilbao ©Municipality of Bilbao

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