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  • European cities driving change through URBACT Action Planning Networks

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    Illustration of several people in a city with the slogan "Read the latest updates on the Action Planning Networks" in the sky and the hashtag #URBACTacts.
    19/03/2024

    Get to know the areas of action and the latest updates of these 30 URBACT networks. 

    Articles
    Illustration of several people in a city with the slogan "Read the latest updates on the Action Planning Networks" in the sky and the hashtag #URBACTacts.
    From urbact
    On

    Networks in numbers

     

    From 1 June 2023 to 31 December 2025, 252 individual partners from 28 European countries have embarked on 30 Action Planning Networks (APN), under the URBACT IV programme. Within their URBACT journey, they aim to build their knowledge and skills to co-design and develop long-term Integrated Action Plans (IAP) to tackle their local challenges. These plans will define the actions to be implemented, covering timings, responsibilities, costings, funding sources, monitoring indicators and risk assessments. 

    Each network is composed of a Lead Partner and another 8-10 project partners. Among the 252 partners, half are newcomers to the programme while the other half already has experience with URBACT III (2014-2020).  

    Networks approved by the URBACT IV Monitoring Committee. Source: URBACT 

    Networks approved by the URBACT IV Monitoring Committee. Source: URBACT 

    All the approved URBACT Action Planning Networks (2023-2025) are aligned with the EU Cohesion Policy and will contribute to its five specific Policy Objectives (POs): PO1 A more competitive and smarter Europe; PO2 A greener Europe; PO3 A more connected Europe; PO4 A more social and inclusive Europe; and PO5 A Europe closer to citizens. 

    Beyond their geographic diversity, the 30 networks also stand out for their wide variety of topics. The URBACT method, which all networks follow, ensures that an integrated approach is applied; stated simply, regardless of the topic, the social, economic, environmental and territorial aspects are considered.  

    To help you navigate the list, we have clustered them here by their main thematic areas: Participative governance; Urban planning; Local development; Climate action; and Social cohesion. 

     

     

    Participative governance 

     

    Networks under the participative governance thematic focus on a wide variety of topics, including citizen engagement, health, localising the Sustainable Development Goals and much more. 

    Led by Genk (BE), Agents of Co-Existence fosters innovative approaches to societal challenges and strives for inclusive local policies with active community involvement by strengthening the skills and competences of civil servants and creating new organisational structures and cultures

    Developing locally-adapted governance processes is the main objective of Cities for Sustainability Governance, with Espoo (FI) as the Lead Partner, but specifically by using UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a strategic vehicle. 

    From the heart of Paris (FR), the European cities involved in CITIES@HEART work towards a balanced and inclusive city centre for all users, reversing the loss of attractiveness for cities of different sizes and backgrounds. 

    The One Health 4 Cities network, guided by Lyon (FR), aims to promote the integration of the One Health approach into urban strategies and projects, developing tools that empower decision-makers and operational teams to increase the positive impact of urban projects on the well-being and health of people, animals and the environment

     

    Urban planning 

     

    Urban planning networks address a range of hot topics such as mobility, accessibility, sustainability, public spaces, spatial linkages and territorial cohesion.  

    PUMA (Planning Urban Mobility Actions) helps cities such as Liepaja (LV), its Lead Partner, develop integrated mobility action plans in order to achieve climate-neutral and sustainable mobility in small and medium-sized cities. It is people-centric, prioritising the needs and well-being of individuals

    The S.M.ALL network is all about “Sharing urban solutions towards accessible, sustainable mobility for all.” Led by Ferrara (IT), they navigate the complexity of two URBACT mobility paradigms: inclusivity and sustainability. 

    Romagna Faentina (IT) is at the forefront of ECONNECTING - Greener & closer communities, a network that focuses on sustainable urban-rural mobility solutions within the 30-minute territory, designing and implementing proximity strategies for rural-urban functional areas. 

    SCHOOLHOODS puts children’s health and safety on the menu of a safe, green and happy way to school. Led by Rethymno (EL), the cities belonging to this URBACT network work hand-in-hand with pupils, parents and teachers to co-create solutions allowing pupils to actively go to school on their own.  

    From Balbriggan (IE) to the borders of Europe, the main goal of the EcoCore network is to accelerate the green transition especially in the work environments of the industrial areas of the partner cities, which are transitioning to low-carbon energy sources for transportation, heating and electricity. 

    In a mission to connect urban-rural communities, Creacció Agència d'Emprenedoria of Vic (ES) is currently leading the Beyond the Urban network, which promotes urban-rural mobility through the testing and implementation of sustainable, accessible and integrated mobility solutions, with a focus on intermodality, multi-level governance, inclusion, gender equality, and digital tools. 

     

    Local development 

     

    Local economy, territorial marketing and digital transformation are a few of the topics covered by the local development networks. 

    C4TALENT, whose Lead Partner is Nyíregyháza City with County Rights (HU), pursues the objective of building business & startup friendly environments in cities to lessen the effects of brain drain, attracting and retaining talented young professionals. 

    After the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transformation around how work is organised, Dubrovnik Development Agency (HR) initiated Remote-IT, a network that tackles the new challenges cities are experiencing connected to the future of work by facilitating the remote and hybrid work for thriving cities. 

    Another Croatian city is leading a local development action planning network. Sibenik (HR) is at the head of Residents of the future, which addresses the issue of urban depopulation within small and medium-sized cities.  

    With Fundão (PT) as a Lead Partner, METACITY’s main goal is to increase competitiveness of small and medium tech-aware cities, benefiting from the opportunity to enhance service efficiency and citizen satisfaction provided by the metaverse.  

    NextGen YouthWork, headed by Eindhoven (NL), is also contributing to the digital transformation, by going one step further and improving online youth work through innovative digital solutions at the city level.  

    Boosting no-tech and digital local communities, facing specific challenges in terms of diversity, gender equality and inclusion, is the objective of TechDiversity, a network composed of small and medium-sized European cities and guided by Trikala (EL). 

    Led by Mollet del Vallès (ES), DIGI-INCLUSION also promotes inclusion through digital tools, tackling social exclusion and boosting digital inclusion not only by granting access to technology but by enabling people to develop the necessary skills and to become sufficiently empowered to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital world. 

    Life in cities continues even after dark. This is the main statement of the network Cities After Dark. Led by Braga (PT), this network promotes the 'Night Economy', through activities that are essential for a city to function 24 hours a day and play a significant role in the global economy.  

     

    Climate action 

     

    Climate action networks tackle several concerns; green transition, circular economy, green funding and reconversion of spaces, among other subjects. 

    The COPE (Coherent Place-based Climate Action) network, driven by Copenhagen (DK), unlocks the green potentials of citizen action through a place-based approach, recognising citizens and local action groups as fundamental stakeholders working to accelerate the green transition. 

    Led by Munich (DE), LET'S GO CIRCULAR! cities focus on the circular transition of cities. This network addresses all issues relevant to a holistic strategy of circular city ecosystems, fostering innovative solutions. 

    The BiodiverCity partners, with the support of Dunaújváros (HU) as Lead Partner, support and enable communities to plan powerful, nature-based solutions, foster pro-environmental citizen behaviours and draft Urban Greening Plans, contributing to the achievement of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. 

    In4Green is a collaborative network of industrial cities, headed by Avilés (ES), with a shared commitment: to implement the green transition in industrial areas/cities while remaining competitive and inclusive. 

    Restoring “forgotten” urban areas into valuable places for and with residents is the mission of GreenPlace. This Wroclaw-led (PL) network aims to restore urban spaces and make them friendly to both the residents and the environment, by optimising the use of existing resources in the context of ecological crisis, the financial and geopolitical situation. 

     

    Social cohesion 

     

    A variety of topics are addressed by the social cohesion thematic networks, from urban regeneration and place-making to gender, equality, diversity and inclusion. 

    Under the leadership of Clermont Auvergne Métropole (FR), the objective of FEMACT-Cities is to support the drafting of eight “Local Action Plans on Gender Equality” about the main challenges regarding women's liberty and empowerment, through protection, education, emancipation and economic autonomy

    GenProcure also addresses gender equality, focusing on Gender-Responsive Public Procurement, and it is headed by Vila Nova de Famalicão (PT). This network promotes gender equality through working purchases, supplies and services in the public sector.  

    Re-Gen is a European network of cities led by Verona (IT) that aims to support sustainable urban development and social inclusion thanks to the protagonism of secondary school students, aged between 10 and 18, from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

    The Cinisello Balsamo-led (IT) U.R. Impact prioritises social impact in urban regeneration, ensuring social inclusion and community development during urban renewal. They place citizens and their social, economic and environmental well-being at the centre of the processes. 

    The main goal of Breaking Isolation, a network driven by Agen (FR) that fights against isolation by creating social bonds and links between young and elderly and promoting social diversity. 

    In order to build more inclusive and resilient societies, WELDI empowers local authorities for a dignified integration of newly arrived migrants. In achieving this objective, cities of this network, led by Utrecht (NL), collaborate with migrants and other residents, as well as with local, national and international partners. 

    ARCHETHICS network brings together European cities that share the presence of heritage linked to a complex and controversial historical past (totalitarian regimes, contentious borders, etc), such as its Lead Partner Cesena (IT). Their goal is to transform the heritage into places for locals and visitors to share knowledge and come to multi-perspective understandings of the past and new visions for the future

     

    Follow the network journey

     

    This is just a snapshot of the URBACT Action Planning Networks, but stay tuned for more insights from the Lead Experts and partner cities, themselves! You can also follow the journey of these networks on their project pages and social media, benefit from the lessons learned and try them in your own city. 

     

     

     

     

     

  • Residents of the future

    LEAD PARTNER : Sibenik - Croatia
    • Alba Iulia - Romania
    • Mangualde - Portugal
    • Saldus - Latvia
    • Plasencia - Spain
    • Kalamata - Greece
    • Iisalmi - Finland
    • Saint-Quentin - France
    • Mantova - Italy
    • Trebinje - Bosnia-Herzegovina

    Timeline

    First transnational meeting on 26-28 September 2023 in Sibenik, Croatia.

    Library

    Lead Expert

         

    Residents of the future wants to address the issue of urban depopulation within small and medium-sized cities. By focusing on digital transformation, economic diversification and city branding, it will explore innovative approaches towards evolving trends in work, lifestyle and communication, to enhance the cities’ attractiveness for prospective investments and inhabitants. The network enables cities to redefine their advantages in comparison to larger metropolitan areas, and develop holistic, citizen-centric solutions that support demographic revitalisation and sustainable urban growth.

     

    URBACT - Residents of the future
    Finding solutions to influence the urban shrinkage
  • RetaiLink

    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 June (Igualada). Transnational meeting in October (Sibenik).
    Transnational meetings in February (Liberec), June (Pecs) and October (Romans).
    Final event in April (Hoogeven).

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

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

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

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

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

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

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

    CONTACT US

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

    CONTACT US

    This Action Planning network created strategic plans to enhance the competitiveness of small and/or independent retail businesses, considering them a key economic driver. The project’s scope of work includes areas such as regulation, employment, urban planning, managing public spaces, mobility, cultural and creative industries and citizens participation. The multi-stakeholder approach brings together public sector, private sector, retailers and major commercial operators, consumers or cultural and creative industries.

    Creating innovative strategies to revitalise the retail sector
    Ref nid
    7503
  • VITAL CITIES

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in July (Birmingham). Transnational meeting in November (Liepaja).

    Transnational meeting in March (Rieti).

    Final event in April (Loule).

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

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

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

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

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

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

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

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

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

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

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

    CONTACT US

    Seeking answers on how to combat social exclusion through the redesign of public spaces in deprived residential areas by using the power and common language of sport, this Action Planning network found solutions through innovative urban sport actions, physical equipment and better orchestrated service delivery. Active living positively contributes to social cohesion, wellbeing and economic prosperity in cities. However, currently cities are challenged by the opposite: dramatic increase in the frequency of diseases as a result of sedentary life style and social exclusion. To tackle these challenges, European cities have invested in large scale sports facilities over the past decades. These strategies have a limited success, hence a new approach is needed: instead of ‘bringing’ the inactive citizens to the sports facilities, public space itself should be turned into a low threshold facility inviting all citizens to physical activity.

    Urban sports promotion for social inclusion, healthy and active living
    Ref nid
    7509
  • KAIRÓS

    Summary

    LEAD PARTNER : Mula - Spain
    • Belene - Bulgaria
    • Heraklion - Greece
    • Sibenik - Croatia
    • Cesena - Italy
    • Ukmergė - Lithuania
    • Malbork - Poland

    Ayuntamiento de Mula - Plaza del Ayuntamiento, 8 - 30170 Mula Tel.: 968 637 510
    CONTACT US

    Timeline

    • KAIRÓS Baseline Study
    • Thematic Warm-ups
    • Integrated Action Plan Roadmaps

     

     

    • Thematic workshop on Economy: Cultural Heritage as a Driver for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation
    • Thematic Workshop on Space: Valorisation and Adaptive Reuse in the Heritage City
    • Thematic Workshop on Attractiveness: Re-imagining the heritage city: from local identity to destination marketing
    • Thematic Workshop on Social Cohesion: Accessibility and inclusiveness in historic quarters
    • Peer-Review and study visit to Bologna
    • Re-thinking Malbork as a heritage city. On-site peer review. Malbork [PL] May 25-26 2022
    • The KAIRÓS journey on heritage-driven urban regeneration. KAIRÓS final conference. Mula [ES], 27-28 April 2022

     

     

    Outputs

    Integrated Action Plans

    Heraklion IAP From research ... TO ACTION

    Read more here

    Heraklion - Greece
    Taking Mula to new heights

    Read more here !

    Mula - Spain
    Revitalizing Ukmergė old town by giving voice to the local community

    Read more here !

    Ukmergė - Lithuania
    Converting Belene into a desirable place to live

    Read more here !

    Belene - Bulgaria
    Reinforcing a city perspective to heritage

    Read more here !

    Malbork - Poland
    IAP Šibenik Green, smart and inclusive Old Town

    Read more here !

    Šibenik - Croatia
    The City Gate

    Read more here !

    Cesena - Italy

    KAIRÓS is an URBACT Action Planning Network focused on cultural heritage as a driver for sustainable urban development and regeneration. In ancient Greek KAIRÓS means the propitious moment, and this is the moment to test an innovative policy framework, combining a sound integrated approach with a real transformation purpose. To meet this challenge, the KAIRÓS model pursues the proper assemblage of five key dimensions, namely: space, economy, social accessibility, attractiveness and governance.

    HERITAGE AS URBAN REGENERATION
    Ref nid
    13444
  • Alternative to mass tourism? Sustainable tourism and the regulation of short-term rentals

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    12/06/2023

    A study involving URBACT cities highlights the need for local solutions that ‘Prepare, Preserve, and Platformise’ holiday rentals.

    Articles
    Network
    From urbact
    On

    Airbnb and other Short-Term Rental (STR) platforms are the phoenixes of todays economies: they beautifully thrive and when they are at the risk of disappearance, they are reborn and fly up again, says URBACT Thematic Expert Laura Colini. Here, she presents the outcomes of the EU Urban Agenda for Culture and Cultural Heritage work on better regulation of short-term rental platforms and sustainable tourism, which includes a study conducted with URBACT cities.

     

    In recent years, we have seen Short-Term Rental (STR) appear on the market as a social innovation for sharing domestic spaces, turning houses, public spaces, entertainment, culture and heritage into a successful tourism machine all over the world. This produces profits for different types of stakeholders, from individuals to large enterprises, thus creating troubling issues for cities. First and foremost, STR platforms such as Airbnb thrive on a shallow mechanism that allows unlicensed properties to be listed; it encourages landlords to change long-term into short-term rentals, reducing the amount of affordable housing stock for locals; it reinforces mass- and hyper- touristisation, gentrification and Disneyfication of historical cities in Europe, and ultimately monopolising the tourism economy, overshadowing traditional and alternative ethical forms of tourism such as Fairbnb and others.

     

    Inhabitants, social movements, and city administrations have voiced these detrimental  effects, creating measures to control the STR in their cities (for example banning illegal STR leasing in Berlin by law, capping the amount of days for STR in Amsterdam, and other cities, in France and elsewhere) while demanding better regulation of Short-Term Rental at EU level (for example the Eurocities initiative).

     

    The COVID emergency knocked Europe’s tourist economy hard and just when Airbnb seemed to lose ground, it reinvented itself, turning investment towards digital nomads, diversifying its offers towards leisure and assuming an ethical approach for humanitarian causes. Nevertheless, as we look beyond COVID-19, tourism has come back with new soaring prices catching up for hotels and flights, with $1.5 billion realised by Airbnb in the first quarter of 2022, equal to an increase of 70% compared to the previous year, and with the same detrimental issues for cities as we knew before 2020.

     

     

    URBACT cities supporting sustainable tourism

     

     

    The EU recognises the crucial role of tourism in the European economies, and a range of different actions, funding and initiatives are geared towards fostering sustainable tourism. In particular, following the pressures for better regulations at EU level from cities, the EU Urban Agenda took an opportunity to dedicate an action led by URBACT to this aspect. In collaboration with cities from the URBACT networks Tourism-Friendly Cities and KAIRÓS, and in exchange with the European Commission’s Directorate-Generals for Regional and Urban Policy and Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, the action for Sustainable Tourism and better regulation of Short-Term Rental is now in the Action Plan of the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Culture and Cultural Heritage (EU UA C&CH). The scope was to outline potential perspectives for sustainable management of tourism at city level in relation to STR, respecting the definition of sustainable tourism of the UNWTO.

     

    The main outcomes of this EU UA C&CH are:

    1. A Memorandum 2021, a legal input analysing the bottlenecks at EU level in regulation of STR by Yolanda Martinez; Marimon Avocados ES 'Regulatory enforcement difficulties in the short-term rental accommodation sector stemming from the European legal framework on digital services’
    2. The 'Sustainable tourism – Regulating phenomena of sharing economy’ Study by Prof Ugo Rossi, GSSI IT, and Dr Laura Colini, URBACT with the collaboration of URBACT cities
    3. Peer-learning and exchange among cities, the researchers, the coordinators of the EU UA C&CH and external input from prof Claire Colomb UCL UK
    4. Collaboration with the EU UA C&CH, DG GROW, DG REGIO and URBACT for the EU COM STR initiative to strengthen links between the European Commission’s work and cities.

     

     

    Sustainable tourism – regulating phenomena of sharing economy

     

     

    The Study 'Sustainable tourism – regulating phenomena of sharing economy’ focuses on a range of towns and cities that differ in terms of population size, geographical location, and tourism offers across Europe: from top tourist destinations such as Berlin, Bordeaux, Dubrovnik and Krakow to popular small towns such as Druskininkai and Rovaniemi, to emerging destinations such as Braga, Caceres, Dun Laoghaire, Šibenik. These cities have been selected from members of the EU UA Culture and Cultural Heritage, as well as two URBACT Action Planning Networks (Tourism-Friendly Cities, which explores the potential for sustainable tourism in medium-sized cities, and KAIRÓS, which looks at cultural heritage as a driver for sustainable urban development and regeneration). 

     

    As the sector saw largely unregulated growth during the second half of the 2010s and a popularisation of digital platforms in the holiday rental business, cities across the world – and especially Europe – witnessed an unprecedented acceleration in the influx of tourists and the rapid expansion of the digital platforms industry, exacerbating the housing crisis in Europe and elsewhere. This expansion poses a threat to urban societies, as fast-growing numbers of homes move from standard rentals for residents to short-term rentals for platform users. This tends to drive permanent residents and indigenous businesses out of urban districts and neighbourhoods that attract large numbers of short-term rental listings, due to a shrinking supply of affordable housing.

     

    The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted cities, and particularly their service-oriented economies. Departing from the assumption that pandemics and similar threats offer opportunities for substantive change, this unprecedented slowdown posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the global economy may represent a unique opportunity to correct the distortions of the standard pattern of economic development, including the urban tourism industry.

     

    In the Northern hemisphere, the summer of 2021 saw urban tourism getting back to pre-pandemic levels, especially in environmentally attractive destinations like coastal cities, while in other cities it is still well below those levels.

     

     

    Community-led rental platforms?

     

     

    The Sustainable Tourism study is based on exploratory research into how to pursue a stronger, socially supported regulation of short-term rentals, using the debate in 2021 about the need for recovery from the pandemic slump of 2020 as an opportunity to achieve more sustainable urban tourism. In particular, the study proposes combining a prescriptive approach to regulation with a proactive strategy that considers the role of risk management and community engagement in the pursuit of sustainable urban tourism. The study emphasises the role of municipalities and local communities, stressing the importance of the local context not only as a site for policy implementation, but also in a generative sense as a breeding ground for the development of deeper institutional capacity.

     

    The study involved a qualitative survey based on in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted with city officials of the selected cities on the regulation of short-term rentals from the perspective of sustainable urban tourism. It tested the interest and availabilities of these cities to experiment with locally managed, community-led rental platforms, following a multi-scalar approach with three main founding principles:

     

    • Prevention is better than cure: in tourism policy, an anticipatory approach seeks to avoid the reproduction of a systemic risk of over-tourism.
    • Community engagement is key to success: cultivating a sense of belonging to the local community means embracing an approach to tourism that places the needs of the local community at the centre of local policy strategies committed to economic diversification and urban sustainability.
    • Local power matters: the local scale is crucial not only from the point of view of societal impact and policy implementation, but also in terms of institutional empowerment of local communities.

    Departing from these principles, the policy approach put forth a '3Ps strategy’: Prepare, Preserve, Platformise. The goal of the study is to deal with the regulation of short-term rentals from a wider perspective, linking regulations to risk management and the experimentation with local alternatives to corporate-owned platforms. In particular, ‘Prepare’ means working side-by-side with local communities to prevent the risk of over-tourism; ‘Preserve’ means implementing regulations aimed at preserving urban areas and their communities particularly exposed to the risk of over-tourism; ‘Platformise’ means experimenting with community-led short-term rental platforms.

     

    The study proposes to re-think urban tourism as a process of sustainable transition where new regulations call for a socio-ecological approach that incorporates the needs of local communities, as well as their institutional capacities and that relies on three main aspects.

     

    First, the issue of risk awareness and preparation of communities: when not effectively regulated, tourism is no longer a resource for local communities, but becomes a threat that requires general awareness of the consequences of an unbridled tourist sector. Second, the socialisation of regulation is essential for making regulations implemented successfully to contextual constraints and demands. Third, municipal experimentation should be encouraged to further innovate on municipal-led platforms and peer learning as in the philosophy of URBACT.

     

    In conclusion, short-term rental platforms can be re-thought to bring inhabitants, businesses, and tourists closer, re-considering platforms as a positive potential for a more sustainable tourism.

     

     

    Visit the Cities engaging in the Right to Housing platform.

     

  • Small steps, step change

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    15/11/2022

    How adapting Manchester’s model of cultural collaboration on climate action and engagement has driven change for the better in Šibenik.

     

    Articles

    By Nikolina Gracin, Department of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Development, City of Šibenik

     

     

    “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi became Šibenik’s mantra in January 2019, when we met with five other cities in Mantova, all part of a new network called C-Change.

     

    Climate change is real, happening and now. Global temperature rise may seem an abstract term, but we can see and feel the consequences all around us: from drought and forest fires - something we sadly are no stranger to in Šibenik – to damaged homes and increased health risks. We can expect these consequences to make themselves increasingly felt in the future and we all need to do something about it.

     

    C-Change: Arts and Culture Leading Climate Action in Cities is an URBACT-funded network of cities aiming to build on and learn from Manchester’s model of cultural collaboration on climate action and engagement. Šibenik saw its participation in C-Change as an opportunity to engage on climate change with its citizens through the arts and culture.

     

    Šibenik is a historic city of 46,000 people, positioned in a deep bay which is one of the most naturally protected harbours on the Adriatic coast. The decline of our industrial base meant people could swim in the sea, a skyline no longer dominated by black smoke and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Now tourism is the basis of our economy, rich as we are in natural and cultural resources and heritage, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and surrounded by two national parks. We want to avoid the negative environmental impacts which larger Croatian tourist destinations have suffered and base our tourism on the protection of this heritage and these resources. We want to preserve this for future generations.

     

     

     

     

    And yet now we are feeling the consequences of climate change - rising sea levels, flooding and forest fires. But the people of our city, especially the older generations who had seen our air and water get so much cleaner, had not really understood the link between what was happening in our city and global temperature rise. And this is why Šibenik joined C-Change. Because, when we first learnt about what the arts and culture in Manchester was doing when they came to visit us in 2018, we thought this could be the way to connect with our citizens and drive change for the better on climate.

     

    Through a series of international meetings with Manchester and four other cities - Gelsenkirchen (Germany), Wrocław (Poland), Mantova (Italy) and Águeda (Portugal) we learnt more about the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team. How did the group work together? What kind of support did they have? What part did they play in city climate change strategy? And, last but not least, what were they doing to reduce their impacts and engage with audiences and communities on climate?

     

    Working to the URBACT methodology, and guided by Claire Buckley, our C-Change Lead Expert, we worked out what we thought we could realistically put in place in Šibenik over two years. We came up with a plan for how we might do this and created a local C-Change group to shape and make this a reality. And along the way we also were able to exchange our progress and challenges with the other C-Change cities, providing us with further inspiration.

     

    Our plan focused on sector collaboration on climate action and engagement and support for the sector to help them do this, with the Department of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Development (DEED) as project lead. While in the other C-Change cities, it was usually a combination of culture and environmental department representatives who took on this role, DEED’s involvement brought some unexpected benefits. But we will come to that later.

     

    At the start, following Mantova’s example, DEED did a survey to find out what the people of our city thought about climate change. We also did a series of one-to-one meetings with representatives of city cultural organisations to explain what Manchester had done – it was a unique concept and took some explaining! – and encourage them to be part of our local group. And it worked.

     

     

    The local C-Change group started out in early 2019 with about 10 members, mainly city-run organisations such as the city library and city museum, with DEED as group co-ordinator. Once we had agreed our plan of action, together with local high-school students, we took our first collective action, participating in a day of tree-planting. After a few months Ana Šimić from the city library became group co-ordinator. As time went on, and particularly when we started connecting with people as we organised the city’s C-Change Festival, new members joined and the group became more of a mix of city-run and

    independent cultural and creative organisations.

     

    In summer 2019, with a modest sum, we launched our C-Change pilot action programme. Eight project ideas were submitted and three selected: ŠI Plastic Free a collaboration between Šibenik’s Library Association and Polytechnic; Zeleno Volim/I Love Green workshop series led by the Juraj Šižgorić City Library, and; Take a Break from Plastic, a collaboration between a families’ association from Zlarin island (just off the coast), the For Zlarin Without Plastic initiative, a cinema club and Zlarin Tourist Board, to raise children’s awareness about sea pollution through theatre. Despite Covid restrictions, over 600 people had participated in a total of twelve different activities, and two new initiatives Schools Without Plastic and Archipelago Without Plastic were created.

     

     

    The Juraj Šižgorić City Library which led the I Love Green pilot action, is much more than a place to borrow books. It is a modern venue which runs a range of talks and workshops for different age groups, in the library and beyond. I Love Green involved three workshops on composting and natural cosmetics, three environmental talks for about 160 high-school students and an environmental art competition for primary school students. The librarians’ engagement in I Love Green was exceptional and they showed how they could act as drivers for change in the city.

     

     

    The Juraj Šižgorić City Library was also host to carbon literacy training for 15 people in October 2019. We had learnt about this approach and seen how it was delivered in Manchester. We knew we had to make our version both instructive and engaging. This task fell to our trainer, Ivana Kordić, an activist involved in the Zlarin Plastic Free Island initiative. Ivana incorporated Climate Collage, an educational game, into the training which proved very effective. Our training will be officially certified by Manchester’s Carbon Literacy Project and we are also hoping to run further training for cultural organisations and other sectors.

     

     

    After many Covid-related ‘back-to-the drawing-board’ moments, our month-long C-Change Festival finally kicked off on the 28th of September 2020, the eve of the day of St. Michael, our city's patron saint. We knew this could be something special and we were right. Over thirty days, ten events - from environmental art and photography exhibitions to pop-up environmental book stands and a new installation on sea-level rise - engaged our citizens on a range of environmental and climate-related themes. We also distributed our new C-Change materials during the festival: bookmarks, canvas bags featuring a primary school child’s entry to the ŠI Plastic Free art competition, and packets of pencils made from the burnt remains of a forest fire. For each packet, a tree was planted - 500 in total. We now have two permanent art installations as reminders in our city and are committed to making the festival an annual event.

     

    DEED was used to dealing with infrastructure projects with much bigger budgets than C-Change. We were more funding and project-driven and not well-versed on culture and climate. Being involved in C-Change increased our own awareness of climate change and why it was so important to act. We started to make small changes in our personal lives. We saw what could be achieved by combining our project management skills with the creativity and reach of the arts and culture. Indeed C-Change brought out our own creativity. In the end, we have achieved more than we thought possible. DEED more actively seeks out funding for environmental and climate projects. As the department responsible for the biggest part of the city budget, in a city starting to develop a new integrated strategy, we will be able to advocate for climate action and for culture as a key player in this process.

     

    In the very early days of C-Change we were unsure as to what the arts and culture really had to do with climate change. Now we know. We have seen how it can connect people with the issues, making the global, local, and how effective this can be. Ultimately, we understand better that each one of us has to do something and how even small changes can make a big difference.

     

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  • Carbon Literacy training – an inspirational approach for cities

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    15/11/2022

    How to build understanding as a launch pad for local action on climate change.

    News

    Many of us have been watching the elections in the United States and maybe thinking about its potential implications for the future of the global Paris climate accord (amongst other issues!). Meanwhile, Europe’s cities have continued to develop practical solutions over recent years for improving their climate performance at local level.

    Such enhanced environmental sustainability is a key part of the sustainable urban development that URBACT seeks to promote. The programme supports a number of networks working directly on key and innovative environmental topics such as net zero energy territories and zero carbon cities. It is also committed to improving environmental performance across all its cities and networks.

    In that context, we present here the concept of Carbon Literacy training – a practical and flexible framework for building understanding and informing local action on climate change – that has come to our attention through the work and exchanges of the URBACT C-Change network.

    So what exactly is Carbon Literacy?

    The UK-founded charity The Carbon Literacy Project – which originated the concept, defines Carbon Literacy as: “An awareness of the carbon costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions, on an individual, community and organisational basis.” In other words, it is about understanding our carbon footprint and our ability and level of agency in reducing it, individually and collectively.

    The project offers a process for developing the Carbon Literacy knowledge of any individual or group through five broad levels of understanding:

    1. What global warming is and how we know – building understanding of the ‘big picture’ of climate change.
    2. What climate change is and what effects it is having – building understanding of why climate change is important.
    3. What people are doing about it – building understanding that action to reduce carbon emissions is possible.
    4. What people just like you could do about it – building understanding that action to reduce carbon emissions in possible in any specific sector.
    5. Exploration of what you could do – building understanding of how to measure your own carbon footprint and realistic, practical steps to reduce it.

    This approach is based on a firm belief that local-level action can and does make a difference and that increased knowledge and understanding of carbon emissions can change cultures within organisations. This in turn, building on principles of equity and fairness, will contribute to a better world and a better way of life.

    The concept of Carbon Literacy has gained increasing international attention in recent years, particularly when the work of the Carbon Literacy Project was showcased as part of ICLEI’s Transformative Actions Program (TAP) at the COP21 UN Climate Change summit in Paris in 2015, with delivery having already taken place across Europe and even further afield.

    Stakeholders in various sectors have seen the value of working with others on carbon awareness initiatives and that improved Carbon Literacy can make you a leader in your sector.

    How can cities deliver Carbon Literacy training?

    The key to understanding Carbon Literacy training is that it is not a one-size-fits-all course, but instead an approach (defined by a publicly-available standard) that can be adapted and applied consistently in very different contexts. The approach therefore has flexibility at its heart. The training is adapted to make it relevant to the specific sector that trainees come from and work in.

    Practical tools – including those for measuring your carbon footprint – and inspiring examples that can truly drive change need to be rooted in and applicable to the practical everyday experience of the trainees. Otherwise, people might be motivated to improve their environmental performance, but demotivated by their lack of agency – lacking the knowledge and understanding of how they can do so in practice.

    For this reason, peer learning is a key aspect of successful Carbon Literacy training. Hearing about what someone in a similar role has been able to do can lead to more meaningful change than high-level or abstract examples that are hard to relate to. Other key aspects of the learning method required by Carbon Literacy are ‘local’ learning, group enquiry and positivity! It is designed to work in community, workplace and education settings.

    Lastly, participants must formulate or take an action within their own area of control, and an action that involves a wider group of people – so Carbon Literacy can never be passively received. On the basis of evidence submitted on behalf of each learner, successful participants receive Carbon Literacy certification, whatever their sector of activity.

    In practice, cities can develop their own carbon awareness training, find service providers to support them or collaborate with others to share toolkits, materials or resources. If a city wants to formally adopt Carbon Literacy as an approach, the Carbon Literacy Project checks and accredits the training programme and materials of any organisation in order to maintain quality and offers resources, support and connection to other cities and organisations to accelerate action and reduce cost.

    An URBACT good practice story: Manchester

    The Carbon Literacy Project in Manchester (UK) was founded as a direct response to Manchester’s first climate change strategy in 2009. Since then, the concept has become increasingly recognised and is now listed by the Manchester Climate Change Agency as an action for “every resident and organisation in Manchester to help meet our climate change targets”, supporting the new Manchester Climate Change Framework, which includes the aim to reduce the city’s direct CO2 emissions by at least 50%, 2020-2025.

    One of the various sectors to engage with the Carbon Literacy Project is the arts and culture sector,  from museums and galleries to opera houses and arts centres. Here, a big catalyst has been MAST, the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team, a network of over 40 cultural organisations that was first established in 2011 in order to explore how the sector could contribute towards implementing the city’s first climate change strategy.

    In 2016, a number of MAST members carried out a Carbon Literacy training pilot in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, and together, they developed a version of the training specifically for the arts and culture sector.

    Some MAST members have gone on to deliver organisation or department-wide training. For example, HOME – a multi-arts venue – now has two accredited trainers who deliver training for all of HOME’s team, as well as to corporate and private sector organisations in their neighbourhood, who in turn have gone on to adopt Carbon Literacy, and then develop and roll out Carbon Literacy materials for others.

    “Climate change sometimes feels incredibly disempowering, and our role is to empower people to play their part. That’s the strongest thing we can do because it will take all of us together to make the difference,” says MAST Chair Simon Curtis. “Carbon Literacy training been an amazing tool for us to help build action in organisations. It speaks to our sector in our own language, using recognisable examples.”

    MAST achieved an average CO2 reduction of 6% every year starting in 2011-2012, whilst a core group of 13 members achieved a 16% reduction in energy use emissions over three years. In 2017, the MAST model won an URBACT Good Practice award.

    An adaptable tool applied in different European contexts

    Thanks to a successful project application to URBACT, the MAST good practice model is now inspiring five other cities to set up similar actions through the C-Change Transfer Network. We look forward to sharing in early 2021 more details on the full range of exciting initiatives developed by this and other URBACT Transfer Networks.

    Here in this article, what is interesting is to note the adaptability of the Carbon Literacy training approach to different national and local urban contexts. As C-Change Lead Expert Claire Buckley (of ‘Julie’s Bicycle, a charity which supports climate and environmental action in the creative sector) explains: “The partner cities have very much taken on the principles of the Carbon Literacy approach from Manchester, and a good bit of the content. Each city has shaped the training to their needs and local context, but none of the cities have gone for the exact same model.”

    In Wroclaw (PL), trainers from four arts and culture organisations delivered two separate sessions for cultural administration and maintenance staff, and two more in-depth sessions for programming and production people. Participants designed a creative, sector-relevant solution to a specific challenge, such as: a green production rider for an event; or a local cultural project idea on climate change. In total, 48 employees representing all 27 city-run cultural organisations have been trained so far.

    In Mantua (IT), a workshop for about 30 local authority and cultural sector participants, was run by the municipality together with cultural associations, and hosted by an environmental NGO. It looked at how the climate crisis is being felt in Italy, highlighting the Venice floods, and showed a video of a leading Italian climate scientist. Participants mapped ‘spheres of influence’, and discussed the impact of climate change on people’s lives now and in 5-10 years, revealing a huge range of perspectives.

    In Sibenik (HR), the city library ran a half-day training event in October 2020, starting by making a range of environmentally themed books and magazines available. The trainer, a local activist, introduced a ‘climate collage’ exercise as a key interactive element. This has sparked strong interest in further training – for example in the city’s Department of Enterprise and Economic Development – and the library is looking into offering this kind of training as a service for schools and the general public.

    In Agueda (PT), a first training in February 2020 included a site visit to a local cultural organisation to see their good practice. A second training in July 2020 included a visit to the city’s SmartLab neighbourhood where participants investigated scalable solutions such as a solar bench for charging phones. In October 2020, climate change training was part of an open day at Agueda’s Smart City Lab on practical decarbonisation solutions.

    More info

    Interested in Carbon Literacy certification and support? See www.carbonliteracy.com or email info@carbonliteracy.com.

    In addition to the normal capacity building and thematic support provided to networks, URBACT provides the specific additional possibility for any network to access 2 000 € of support to carry out carbon compensation actions. The use of this budget should be agreed with all partners and can include activities such as: community awareness raising and educational activities; tree planting initiatives; Carbon Literacy training; and community projects.

    Listen also to the C-Change Transfer Network story as presented at the European Week of Regions and Cities 2020.

    Thanks to UK government support, all UK local authorities and educational establishments now have access to free-to-use Carbon Literacy toolkits. Already piloted, toolkits for the UK National Health Service (NHS), Police, Fire and Ambulance services, and even the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are on their way. COP26 host city Glasgow is rolling out Carbon Literacy to its Council staff and members specifically in preparation for this.

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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.

     

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    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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  • Memories can't wait, heritage as urban regeneration by Lead Expert Miguel Rivas

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    15/11/2022

    Can heritage be an engine for urban development?

    by Miguel Rivas, KAIRÓS Lead Expert

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    Articles

    Memories can't wait. This is the title of a song by Talking Heads, which relates to Kairós, the name of the new URBACT Action Planning Network on cultural heritage. In ancient Greek, Kairós means the ‘propitious moment’. It is indeed a call to action. And the way this network is addressing heritage has much to do with people and the (collective) memory. 

    In modern heritage management, the concepts of valorisation and adaptive re-use to contemporary issues are as relevant as the notion of preservation. The scope can range from just the building or monumental artifact to the idea of the broader urban cultural landscape. These trends are paving the way for heritage to play an important role as a driver for urban development.

    Other concepts and lines of work are accelerating the relevance of this approach, ranging from sustainable urban development as the prominent framework for today´s urban policies to increasing community empowerment. In this context, the purpose of Kairós is to build up and test an integrated approach for heritage-led urban development and regeneration that can serve a variety of specific challenges and circumstances. We set out a sample here below.

    Facing dereliction and decline of historic neighbourhoods

    What Mula, a mid-sized town in Southeast Spain, and Heraklion (180,000 inhabitants), the administrative capital of the isle of Crete (Greece) have in common is that both feel the urgent need to stop and revert the vicious circle of degradation and decline. In both cases, this is affecting some of their historic neighbourhoods, in particular  Mula´s ‘upper historic quarters’, dating from medieval times, and, in Heraklion, the ‘Aghia Triada’ (Holy Trinity), one of the last city fragments that still retains much of its historical character dating back to the late medieval and early Ottoman cities.

    A shrinking and ageing population seriously impacts both districts, meaning that the once traditional social fabric has greatly disappeared. Massive degradation of the housing stock and lots of abandoned properties, alongside a process of social decay and conflict have caused a subsequent poor image of the area and, thus, economic decline. Rehabilitation and regeneration schemes, with a poorly integrated approach, have been tried in both cases, with scarce results so far. 

    If we move to Lithuania we find Ukmergé,  a shirinking medium-sized city, halfway between the capital, Vilnius, and Kaunas. Its cultural memory is so closely linked to Jewish urban culture and heritage that the old town has never really been brought back to normal life since the tragedy of the Holocaust,during which about 10,000 members of the town's Jewish community were massacred.

    The historic district of Aghia Triada, Heraklion (EL)

    The current local government has promoted a number of physical rehabilitation projects over the past few years, but they still need to be framed into a comprehensive and more ambitious strategy for Ukmergé´s old town regeneration. This would raise the confidence and interest of dwellers, investors, shop owners and entrepreneurs.

    Conditions in Sibenik, on the Croatian coast, are quite different to Ukmergé. The city has rapidly become a renowned tourist destination. However, a priority of the local government is to achieve a more sustainable urban development model for its unique, Venetian-style old town. Currently, it is being negatively affected by depopulation, tourism-driven gentrification and a lack of urban vitality during the low season.

    Looking at the future through the lens of memory

    Other cities in the Kairós network do not face degradation and decline specifically, but rather want to take advantage of the potential of a number of heritage assets for new urban developments and opportunities. After years investing in their historic downtowns, Cesena in Northern Italy and Roskilde in Denmark are now interested in how best to connect those city cores with new heritage-driven district developments or re-developments.

    In the city of Cesena - 97,200 inhabitants - intends to re-use its urban industrial legacy (in this case, the former Arrigoni factory) as the spatial foundation for a multi-functional urban regeneration of the area surrounding the railway station. This will include a campus development, new workplaces, housing, new public spaces and a sustainable mobility scheme. Whereas in Roskilde - a commuter town 30 km west of Copenhagen with 97,200 inhabitants - the next flagship project in the town will be the transformation of a former 19th century psychiatric hospital complex of 58 ha into a new liveable and vibrant neighbourhood.

    Belene is a small Bulgarian town located in the central part of the Danubian plain, one of the least developed regions in the European Union. At present, the Municipality has the firm determination to make their cultural and natural heritage - notably the spectacular Persina Nature Park - work for the city strategy. In particular, it plans to regenerate and develop the city´s Danube riverfront as a new hotspot for residents and the visitor economy, which is almost inexistent so far.

    Conversely, the Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, Poland, is likely the most visited tourist attraction in the country. It is the largest castle in the world measured by land area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The main challenge of Malbork City Council is to expand the benefits associated with the high inflow of visitors to the castle  (over 800,000 people in 2019) to the whole historic city, which remains underappreciated. This will call for a wider approach to the urban heritage, beyond the monuments and landmarks and much closer to the concept of ‘historic urban landscape’.


    Malbork´s Teutonic Castle (PL)

    The Kairós five-pillar model

    To meet these challenges, the eight cities mentioned above agreed to share a common action-research work plan within the Kairós network. The integration of the following five key dimensions aims to provide a new policy framework enabling real transformation on the ground:

    • Governance - in particular participatory approaches and enabling regulatory frameworks for heritage valorisation in mid-sized towns and cities.
    • Space - valorisation and adaptive re-use of urban heritage, including multi-functionality and specific urban planning solutions for historic quarters.
    • Economy - entrepreneurial itineraries, business models and technologies related to heritage valorisation and heritage-led urban development and regeneration.
    • Attractiveness - re-imagining the ‘heritage city’: from local identity to sustainable destination management.
    • Social Cohesion – addressing accessibility and inclusiveness of historic quarters.

    We think this is the right time, at the beginning of the EU´s new programming period 2021-2027, to put into practice this Kairós five-pillar model. Whilst impressive cultural heritage has long been part of the European urban culture and the European ‘brand’,  there is now greater awareness of the multifaceted nature of heritage-driven urban development and regeneration, and the benefits associated with these strategies. So, let´s move on to action. Memories can´t wait.

    The KAIRÓS Model

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