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  • Sipping coffee in Sligo: How a commitment to community and attention to detail turned things around for downtown—one cup at a time

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    Members of the Cities@Heart network

    The year is 2013 and few residents of Sligo, Ireland have heard of a BID, or Business Improvement District. Stakeholders in the local commerce sector operated independently and seldomly in cooperation with the County Council. Fast forward to December 6, 2023 when a group of 26 individuals from ten different countries all over Europe touched down in Sligo to glean best practices for city centre management. Sligo’s remarkable success story provided a fitting backdrop for the first transnational meeting of the Cities@Heart URBACT Action Planning Network.


    Members of the Cities@Heart network and meeting attendees

    From urbact

    Formed in 2023 and piloted by the Greater Paris Metropolis as Lead Partner, the network Cities@Heart brings together 10 different local governments working to create tools for the improvement of city centres. The first network-wide gathering since the URBACT IV launch in 2023, this transnational meeting was a new step in the network journey, an opportunity to exchange and to observe the policies of host partner Sligo County Council and Sligo Business Improvement District. Following 10 different Baseline Study Visits conducted by Lead Expert Mar Santamaria Varas, this meeting also represents the network’s shift from the preparatory to activation phase.

    Network Map

    Meeting in the Land of Heart's Desire

    The first transnational meeting provided project partners the opportunity to obtain feedback on their baseline study visit in the form of the presentation of an overarching methodology to ground the study and set the course for the following two years of inter-european collaboration.

    To kick off the first morning of workshops, participants shared their experiences in the realm of public-private partnership. In Portugal, the budgetary risks taken to build one of the most ambitious road networks in Europe, both per capita and in area, led to some citizens being distrustful of the public-private paradigm. In Krakow (PL), the city approached the Wesoła District’s revitalization with workshops on prototyping solutions for shared spaces to build a sense of community and responsibility for its development among citizens. In Celje (SI), a vacant storefront was left to the use of local stakeholders, providing a successful brick-and-mortar testing ground for new ideas or projects. Back in Sligo, the public-private partnership has proved to be fruitful: the business perspective encourages an objective data-driven approach and the public sector can intervene to implement holistic policy improvements.

    Project partners participating in a morning workshop

    If we can make it in the city centre, we can make it anywhere

    A city centre is a microcosm of social functions and represents the most intricate iteration of urban complexity. While each project partner experiences their city centre in a different way, the network Baseline Study represents the structure of all city centers using a matrix contrasting 7 challenges with 5 indicators.

    From metropolises like Greater Paris (FR) or Krakow (PL)  to smaller cities like Fleurus (BE), for each partner, the diverse challenges may be more or less acute depending on the local context and the means available. Indeed, an imbalance in one of these topics or challenges can greatly aggravate the local context in the city centre, as evinced by the diagrams below.

    Network tool

    To showcase Sligo’s strengths and best practices, the meeting focused on the management of data and local commerce in the city centre. Sligo is a lovely town nestled in a blustery corner of northwest Ireland, minutes from the Atlantic Coast and known for being a literary “land of heart’s desire” with poet W.B. Yeats as a native son. Yet, none of these attributes bring to mind words like “innovation” or “world renowned”. Public policy in Ireland is centralised in Dublin and towns “west of the Shannon” are considered out of the purview of the national stage. In fact, Sligo had historically been “left behind” by urban development schemes deployed elsewhere in the Republic of Ireland.

    Urban solutions with a human approach

    This brings us back to the coffee anecdote… After living and working abroad in the U.S.A. and Australia, Sligo native Gail McGibbon decided to return home. In order to start what would become Ireland’s fourth BID, Gail McGibbon went to work in a seemingly slow way: meeting for a cup of coffee with likely every single business owner in the town, having no other overt objective than sharing a chat. In her seminal work, The Death and LIfe of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs posits, “there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street." While this declaration has taken on a “big brother” connotation since the book’s publication in 1961, the principle rings just as true today. In every city centre, there is a need to be aware of what is happening in the street and with our neighbors or shopkeepers to make sure all are safe and provided for. Indeed, neighborliness proved to be the perfect ingredient to kick-starting the town’s transformation.

    As Chief Executive Officer Martin Lydon explained, in a post-pandemic society, Sligo is leveraging cultural shifts to become a destination for young professionals, students and families seeking proximity to nature and a high level of services. Looking to attract a pool of potential inhabitants keen on finding property in the more affordable western coast of the country, Sligo has invested in a place branding campaign, infrastructure to increase connectivity and the tourism sector, inaugurating their National Surf Centre and a network of cycle paths.

    Turning the local economy around

    Now in 2023, the Sligo BID is healthy and counts 758 members. The BID and Sligo County have worked together tirelessly to introduce innovative measures for data collection, property management, tourism policy and event nightlife. Sligo has developed a Welcome Ambassador Programme, won the Purple Flag Award for night time economy, the label of Coach Friendly Destination and continues to attract international visitors curious about the town’s policies. In the end, Sligo’s shortcomings would eventually become strengths. The lack of urban sprawl meant that the town and county could promote closeness to nature and life at a human scale. The local counter-culture turned out to be a good thing for the health of the town’s high street district.

    Project partners visit the city centre

    The human-ness at the origins of Sligo’s strategy is well reflected in the national Irish Town Centre First strategy which is based at the LGMA and places pragmatism and open dialogue at the forefront. One of the measuring tools of the programme, the Town Centre Health Check Programme, is a public document that serves as an objective evaluation of the town’s progress in implementing best practices. National Coordinator Mairead Hunt presented the country’s policy at the transnational meeting in Sligo and highlighted three core principles: understanding the place, defining the place and enabling the place. The national meeting of Town Regeneration Officers shies away from speeches by elected officials and focuses on peer-to-peer learning.

    Soft approach, hard data

    And yet, Sligo’s strategy didn’t stop at a friendly chat. The county and BID got to work monitoring, measuring and adapting their strategies. Brían Flynn, Town Regeneration Officer, presented the town’s creative use of data in developing their policies. In 2023 the Irish business platform GeoDirectory released data on commercial vacancy in the country. At 25.4%, the rate in Sligo was listed as the highest in the country. In order to curb the negative press and further investigate the truth behind this report which seemed incomplete to local officials, the town decided to collect its own data in the form of a comprehensive land-use policy survey. The study is still being carried out but the town has already gained valuable knowledge on the vacancy profile of downtown property and 16 landowners have discovered the national Croí Conaithe scheme for refurbishment of vacant buildings.

    Brían Flynn presents Sligo’s data policies

    In turn, after witnessing Sligo policies first-hand through a series of site-specific visits and presentations, the network conducted a workshop on the subject of information gathering to address issues all along the chain of data management: identifying data sources, collecting data and data governance. While obtaining data can be simpler than expected, data-driven policy requires vision and advanced planning in order to identify independent sources of information and a successful, manageable tool for translating data into actionable proposals for city improvement.

    Network partners enjoy a performance of traditional Irish music at the Tourism Bureau

    An inaugural meeting for the network and for new URBACT participant Sligo, the event was opened by Cllr. Gerard Mullaney, Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council and attended by Irish National URBACT Point Karl Murphy and Kristijan Radojčić of the URBACT Secretariat. The meeting was drawn to a close with a hike to glimpse the breathtaking vistas at the summit of the Knocknarea rock formation, providing a bird’s eye view of the Atlantic coast and the Sligo town centre.

    Network partners hike the Knocknarea rock formation

    With one meeting completed and the new year well on its way, the URBACT Cities@Heart network has three transnational meetings planned in Granada (ES), with the Quadrilatero Urbano Association (PT) and in Cesena (IT). Ensuing transnational meetings and those of Urban Local Groups (ULGs) will allow the network to share learnings and experiment small-scale actions over the next year.

    Network members :

    • The Greater Paris Metropolis, France
    • The City of Cesena, Italy
    • The City of Granada, Spain
    • The City of Osijek, Croatia
    • Amfiktyonies, a business development organization representing the City of Lamia, Greece
    • The City of Celje, Slovenia
    • The City of Fleurus, Belgium
    • The City of Sligo, Ireland
    • The Krakow Metropolis Association, Poland
    • The Quadrilátero Urbano Association, Portugal



  • A call for Innovation Transfer Networks

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    From urbact


    Happy New Year to you all. A busy and exciting 2024 has begun for us here at URBACT Ireland following the launch of the URBACT Secretariat’s call for Innovation Transfer Networks (ITN). The ITN call is the second of the URBACT IV programme, following on from the Action Planning Networks call which saw 30 new projects announced last May, featuring seven Irish towns and cities.

    The ITN call began on January 10th and will remain open until March 20th. See the above Infographic for an immediate overview of what the call has to offer.

    It is envisaged that ten ITNs will be formed upon the topics of Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) projects that were implemented between 2016 and 2023. Those cities that implemented the UIA project will automatically become ITN Lead Partners if selected for funding following the closure of the call.

    You can read much more about the call at There you will find important documentation such as the call’s Terms of Reference, the Applicant Guide, as well as information on a number of info sessions organised by the programme secretariat. The first one, presenting the call in a nutshell has already taken place but the recording is available alongside the schedule of other sessions at the link above or you can click here for the recording and here for the presentation.

    At, you can also conveniently access the partner search tool to discover the potential 21 Lead Partners, the themes of their intended networks and a one-liner on the policy challenges.

    In summary, the thematic angles include culture and heritage; migration integration; urban security; nature-based solutions; urban poverty; demographic change; digital transition; jobs and skills; renewable energy; housing; and air quality.

    Also, a reminder that the URBACT Ireland Information Day occurs at the Custom House, Dublin on January 25th between 10h and 15h. You can read more details here. Click here to register.

    We at URBACT Ireland are keen to see the best possible uptake of this call among our 31 local authorities and we would welcome the opportunity to speak to you and support you on this. Reach out anytime to Karl at to arrange a chat.


  • Save the date! Ireland's Info Day on the Innovation Transfer Network call in Dublin on January 25th, 2024.

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    Audience during Info Day 2023
    From urbact


    Following the announcement of 30 Action Planning Networks last May-of which Irish Local Authorities are party to 7, a new Call for Innovation Transfer Networks (ITNs) will open between January 10th and March 30th. With this Call most specifically in mind, we warmly invite you to join us for an Information Day at the Custom House, Dublin on Thursday 25th January.

    On this day we will provide an overview of the ITNs Call, give some tips in getting started, hear from some past (and current!!) URBACT partners in Ireland, and as well as this, get insights from other urban actors at the local, regional, and national level. The European Urban Initiative programme will also be presented to attendees, detailing the menu of options it offers to urban localities around the country.

    Please register at this link for the Info Day. Further information & agenda will be circulated to you in advance of the 25th of January. In line with our own ongoing efforts towards sustainability and in tandem with URBACT IV's efforts at being greener, we will not circulate paper agendas on the day and will make further efforts to be more digital during the lifetime of the programme.

    If you have any questions on the above or on any matter related to URBACT or the European Urban Initiative in Ireland, reach out to the Contact Point for both programmes, Karl Murphy at

    Read more about the day and register here!

  • Falling in love with downtown: the URBACT Cities@Heart network is here!

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    As a part of the URBACT IV European Programme, ten European urban areas come together to form Cities@Heart, a network dedicated to sharing best practices and innovations for improving city centre management.


    Osijek, Croatia

    From urbact

    Having a chat with your neighbourhood baker, running into an old friend, finding all you need in one place: these are just some of the reasons why we feel so attached to our city centres. However, today in the 21st century, city centres are facing more than just a little competition. From the rise of big-box stores and franchises to the omnipresence of online commerce, downtown areas have lost some of their edge. A result of urban sprawl and rising property values, the spatial fragmentation of our cities further strains the resilience of the high street. Amid all these challenges, city centres are well worth understanding, defending and improving. That’s where the URBACT Cities@Heart Action Planning network comes in.

    A programme supported by ERDF funds from the European Union, URBACT promotes sustainable urban development in Europe’s cities, both big and small. This year marks the beginning of URBACT IV, the fourth iteration of the programme with the launch of 30 Action Planning Networks throughout Europe and IPA countries. Harnessing an understanding of governance and recognizing the transverse coordination between the public, private and civic sectors as a driver for change, Cities@Heart partners will work together with a data-driven approach to plan, monitor and evaluate the implemented policies in the urban core. For the next 2.5 years, Cities@Heart will mobilise ten European urban areas. Network partners will work together to understand the way city centres function and create new monitoring tools to be used in city centre improvement initiatives.

    The Greater Paris Metropolis (Métropole du Grand Paris, France) coordinates the network in the role of Lead Partner. With a strong track record in downtown revitalisation policy, The Greater Paris Metropolis is a public entity representing 131 cities in the French capital region including the city of Paris. Endowed with extensive experience in local economy, architecture and urban planning, Barcelona-based Mar Santamaria Varas will assist the network as Lead Expert.

    The ten network partners include:

        The Greater Paris Metropolis, France (Lead Partner)
        The City of Cesena, Italy
        The City of Granada, Spain  
        The City of Osijek, Croatia
        Amfiktyonies, a business development organisation representing the City of Lamia, Greece
        The City of Celje, Slovenia
        The City of Fleurus, Belgium
        The City of Sligo, Ireland
        The Krakow Metropolis Association, Poland
        The Quadrilátero Urbano Association, Portugal

    Celje, Slovenia

    Each partner in the network is facing their own challenges: loss of inhabitants to the peripheries or the metropolitan areas, underdeveloped local commerce networks, conflicts generated by the intensive use of public space, the transition to walkable and carless environments, gentrification and over-tourism, gender equality and inclusion... Yet, all partners can agree on one thing: city centres are unique places and not just because they hold a certain affective charm: they truly are the lifeforce of our urban societies. Keeping the heart of downtown healthy is key to ensuring the vibrancy of local economies and the well-being of inhabitants.

    During the network’s lifespan, project partners will have the opportunity to travel throughout the European Union to see first-hand examples of city solutions driving change for better cities as they take part in transnational meetings hosted by the different project partners. To kick things off, the URBACT Secretariat hosted Summer University in Malmö, Sweden this past 28-30 August. Here, project partners met for the first time to discuss the framework of their networks, building capacity and learning more about the URBACT methodology for better cities. 

    Over the course of the autumn months, Lead Expert Mar Santamaria-Varas has travelled with the Greater Paris Metropolis to visit the ten project partners spread out across the European Union. From Poland to Greece, from Croatia to Portugal, the recent mobilities have provided a wealth of insight for this network of urban areas. The first transnational meeting of the network is planned for 6-7 December in Sligo, Ireland. After completing the Baseline Study Visit with Project Partners, the findings will allow the network to go from knowledge to action, laying out the roadmap for the next two years.

    With activities well underway, Cities@Heart is off to an exciting start. Check in regularly with the LinkedIn Page and the URBACT network webpage to stay up to date on project mobilities and findings!

  • Cities@Heart: an URBACT Network proposing solutions for city centres, the testing ground for addressing future urban challenges

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    Baseline Study visit in Charenton-le-Pont, France

    In spite of urban sprawl and a franchise economy, city centres are on the rise! Cities@Heart is here to defend proximity and mixed use, making downtown more accessible and appealing for new generations.


    Baseline Study visit in Charenton-le-Pont, France

    From urbact

    Cities@Heart is an URBACT Action Planning network bringing together ten urban areas from all across Europe. With three different time zones, contrasting demographics and over 12 official languages, the Cities@Heart network draws upon a diverse pool of urban professionals, civil servants and citizens dedicated to improving their downtown areas. Taking the form of an observatory, the network employs a broad approach to improving city centres. Rather than focusing on one aspect of local economy or urban planning, Cities@Heart is working to develop a tool to measure factors contributing to the success of city centres in places as diverse as Sligo, Ireland or Lamia, Greece, two of the project partners.

    A network to rethink public policies, governance models and decision-making tools for city centres

    As a response to this multifaceted challenge of city centre management, Cities@Heart proposes the creation of a shared methodology applicable to different types of urban contexts. Relying on a bottom-up approach integrating data management, this accessible, user-friendly framework will support decision-making processes as well as the implementation and efficiency of cross-cutting sustainable urban policies.

    The Cities@Heart methodology is based on five fundamental pillars:

    Governance: exploring existing models of town centre management (public vs. private, formal vs. informal) and new paradigms of participatory agreements among stakeholders in the form of multi-level partnership

    Integrated Public Policies: deploying policies that cut across multiple policy domains (housing, public services, mobility, public space, commerce, etc.)

    Decision-Making Tools: integrating data and indicators to support the analysis, formulation, and monitoring of implemented actions

    Sustainability: ensuring urban centres can adapt to climate change despite facing greater difficulties in comparison to the rest of the city (such as scarcity and limited space in public areas, a poorly maintained built environment, household incomes incapable of coping with transformation, etc.).

    Inclusion: providing optimal living conditions for all residents (regardless of gender, age, or background) and promoting personal autonomy through inclusive care

    Lamia, Greece

    The ten network partners include:

        The Greater Paris Metropolis, France (Lead Partner)
        The City of Cesena, Italy
        The City of Granada, Spain  
        The City of Osijek, Croatia
        Amfiktyonies, a business development organisation representing the City of Lamia, Greece
        The City of Celje, Slovenia
        The City of Fleurus, Belgium
        The City of Sligo, Ireland
        The Krakow Metropolis Association, Poland
        The Quadrilátero Urbano Association, Portugal

    The Cities@Heart Baseline Study

    Within the context of the URBACT methodology, each Lead Partner must conduct visits with the different partners comprising the network. These study visits allow the Lead Partner and Lead Expert to better understand the local context for each project partner all while revealing the commonalities shared across the network. During this phase, from June to December 2023, each partner in the network had the opportunity to host a visit in order to highlight their best practices but also their challenges: gentrification and over-tourism, adaptation to climate change, overuse or conviviality in the public space, improvement of local commerce networks and integration of new habits of consumption, creating a sense of belonging and identity, coordination between the public and private sectors or bolstering efforts for more inclusion and gender equality in the public space.

    Over the course of the Baseline Study, the network has also identified innovative solutions to these challenges in addition to methods for capacity building and scaling actions: collaborative models of town-centre management, data observatories and sectorial indicator tools, strategies to renovate listed buildings, greening initiatives for the public space, monitoring of tourism, revitalisation of vacant premises, night-life economy initiatives, creation of new commercial polarities around local markets or enlivening the city centre through festivals or citizen-based initiatives.

    Contextual Examples from the Network

    City centres have undergone significant changes in the past century. To understand the context of Cities@Heart, it is important to provide a brief historical background. With the advent of industrialisation, the early 1900’s witnessed the rapid growth of cities in Europe. These new metropolises developed and  gradually endowed themselves with new, more modern infrastructure and services. By the mid-20th Century, a phenomenon of urban sprawl could be observed, with peripheral, “sub-urban” areas offering a higher standard of living than the historic centres, then perceived as dense, unhealthy, and obsolete.

    However, starting in the second half of the 20th century, an awareness of the importance of historic centres began to emerge. European urban centres became a prominent target for urban regeneration initiatives. City centres started to be recognised for their crucial role in urban dynamics and social cohesion. From the 1970s, city management started directing resources to the historic centre. These oftentimes obsolete and abandoned central spaces gained prominence in spite of contradictory policies encouraging unlimited urban development in the preceding decades. In response to the renewed concern for urban areas, city centres are now poised to become the focus of urban transformation and revitalization initiatives.

    Today, city centres still represent an opportunity to address structural challenges in the transition to new urban models fuelled by the green transition and grounded in the principles of  proximity. As proposed by urbanist Carlos Moreno in the 15 minute-city paradigm, town centres have the potential to provide most essential services within a short walking distance: community-scale education and healthcare, retail, parks for recreation, working spaces and more. This hyper-local framework has the potential to generate dynamic local growth, stronger communities, viable businesses and commerce, active mobility, and in turn reduced emissions.

    However, the configuration of contemporary city centres also creates conflicting urban realities where several functions coexist in permanent tension. Transition can come at a price. A high quality of life in the city centre also requires healthy environments, efficient infrastructure, and easy access to amenities. In addition to basic everyday amenities , citizens also need to have opportunities to develop economic activities that increase wealth and social mobility. City centres are tasked with providing housing to a diverse population, prioritising affordable housing, catering to diverse socio-economic groups and fostering inclusivity, all while ensuring accessibility to public spaces that enrich communal bonds, promote well-being and create a sense of belonging.

    The Next Steps for the Cities@Heart Network

    The URBACT framework enables the transfer of knowledge on transnational and local levels, promoting capacity building activities, the development of local action plans together with stakeholders (the ULG or Urban Local Groups) and the dissemination of results with the aim to transfer this evidence-based and integrated approach to other urban contexts.

    An interdisciplinary, complex subject matter, city centres are certainly worth observing. Observing the core of the city provides insight to broader national and global trends. Addressing social and urbanistic issues in the city centre may in turn yield more positive effects on the greater urban area, creating more spaces for people to meet and create engagement in their communities. As the Cities@Heart Baseline Study comes to a close, the network partners are looking forward to two more years of collaboration, using the road map generated by the findings of this investigatory period.


  • Upcoming EU City Lab on Energy Transition!

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    EU City Lab on Energy Transition in Viladecans
    From urbact


    Urban practitioners, please note an upcoming opportunity for your city! The URBACT Secretariat, alongside the European Urban Initiative (EUI) Secretariat is organising an EU City Lab on Energy Transition in Viladecans, Spain on 23 and 24 November.

    The Lab will seek to capitalise on the knowledge built up in the field of Energy Transition through URBACT networks (in particular, the VILAWATT Transfer Network) and Urban Innovative Actions projects.

    Just a little more about Viladecans’ experience: “Under the VILAWATT Urban Initiative Actions’ project, the municipality of Viladecans had the exquisite opportunity to develop an energy citywide strategy, as well as to explore alternatives for citizen engagement and retrofitting buildings. With the URBACT Transfer Mechanism pilot, the city could further refine actions, while learning and exchanging with three project partners. The work of this network also reflected on the possible ways to implement the European Commission's Clean Energy for All Europeans Package (2020), which recognises the rights of citizens and communities to engage directly in the energy sector.”

    The event will provide a timely and unique opportunity for you to network and exchange with your European peers and to both inspire, and gain inspiration from, others involved in acting towards energy communities as part of an integrated, multi-level governance approach.

    The target audience are those that are URBACT past or present cities, other cities, ministries, and those public bodies working on energy transition.

    Seats are limited and the target audience will be prioritised in the first instance.

    You can learn more about the event, including the chance to register via the following link:

  • The URBACT Summer University-lots of learning and new insights!

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    URBACT banner "Drive Change for Better Cities"
    From urbact


    The URBACT Summer University returned this August, taking place in the Malmö Arena, Sweden between the 28th and 30th. Attended by almost 500 participants, Malmö offered a beautiful backdrop to this exciting capacity building event, demonstrating the City's beauty, hospitality, and its commitment to sustainable development.

    Among those in attendance at the University were 11 Irish participants from the six new Action Planning Networks (APN) which began in June: Clare (Ennis); Fingal (Balbriggan); Limerick (2), Longford, and Sligo. Joining the six was Meath who have become Ireland's seventh APN, joining the network In4Green. We are delighted to have Meath on board!

    The agenda for the three-day event was packed with learning and insights, including moments-in plenary, a site visit, and most crucially, opportunities for our Irish colleagues to engage with European partners from their new APNs during "networks at work", and mixing more widely with similar networks during thematic hub sessions, during lunch and coffee breaks and during a marketplace towards the end of the event. A central feature of the University was the immersion of participants in the innovation of the URBACT toolbox.

    Below are some photos of the Irish contingent during the national lunch!

    Irish contingent meeting at lunch 1


    Irish contingent meeting at lunch 2

    The Toolbox is something that anybody can use at anytime to effect change in their urban localities! It provides a catalogue of guidance, prompts and explainers among other resources which will support users in tackling their urban challenges. The box is sorted into the various stages of an action planning cycle, namely: analysis, planning, resourcing, implementing, and measuring. As well as this, supports on engaging stakeholders and sharing knowledge can also be found there. The page is regularly updated with new tools so keep an eye on it!

    The Contact Points also participated in the thematic hubs and engaged with the toolbox, best enabling them to be most helpful to their towns and cities in pursuing sustainable urban development that is both integrated and participatory.

    National Contact Points at work


    If you would like your town or city to be involved in future URBACT calls, reach out to the Contact Point for Ireland: Karl Murphy at today to arrange a consultation and discuss your idea. We are looking forward to continuing to grow URBACT's influence throughout the Republic of Ireland.


  • Capacity Building: the URBACT Summer University and the Toolbox!!

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    From urbact


    The first substantial capacity-building event for the 30 new Action Planning Networks (to which Irish local authorities are party to six!) will occur in Malmö, Sweden from the 28th to the 30th of August 2023. It will be an opportunity for our local authority staff to discover and engage with the URBACT toolbox to design participatory and integrated policies.  As well as an intense three days of learning, the Summer University will provide a great opportunity for each of the network's participants to meet in-person for the first time, to meet other URBACT project participants from their own country, and to get acquainted in-person with the respective National Contact Points and their network-appointed Lead Expert. The toolbox is something that staff from all our 31 Irish local authorities and other stakeholders can use at any time (regardless of being part of an active URBACT network or not) to effect change in their localities! The toolbox usefully provides a catalogue of guidance, prompts and explainers among other resources which will support staff in tackling their urban challenges. The toolbox is sorted into the various stages of an action planning cycle, namely: analysis, planning, resourcing, implementing, and measuring. As well as this, supports on engaging stakeholders and sharing knowledge can also be found there.

    The page is regularly updated with new tools so keep an eye on it!

  • Ireland's 6 new Action Planning Networks 2023

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    Tras el comité de seguimiento de URBACT IV del 31 de mayo, se aprobaron las nuevas redes APN.
    30 new Action Planning Networks announced with Irish local authorities as partners in six!
    From urbact


    Following the URBACT Programme Monitoring Committee meeting at the end of May, we learned that Irish local authorities will be party to six of the 30 new Action Planning Networks (APNs) which formally began on the 1st of June 2023.

    In Ireland, we have some "firsts"!

    We are excited to announce that Fingal County Council is Ireland's first URBACT Lead Partner, having been a past URBACT partner, most recently as part of iPlace and the Playful Towns’ National Practice Transfer Initiative (NPTI).

    Sligo County Council became an URBACT transnational partner for the first time, having recently been a partner in the NPTI.

    Clare County Council also became an URBACT partner for the very first time.

    As well as these exciting "firsts", it gives us great pleasure to report the return of Limerick City and County Council (as party to two new APNs) & Longford County Council as URBACT project partners. Both have been successful URBACT participants in the past.  We are excited to have them all on board!  

    Below is a brief description of the exciting projects our Irish partners will tackle alongside their European counterparts!

    EcoCore: led by Balbriggan, Fingal (IE) and including partners from Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, and Spain, EcoCore will focus on green growth and transition in small cities along the respective transport corridors, particularly in relation to the use of energy and transportation. BiodiverCITY: led by Hungary, the network includes Limerick and partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain, BiodiverCITY will focus on measuring urban biodiversity and related ecosystem services by exploring community-based approaches for valorisation and measurement of nature-based solutions, greening plans and pro-environmental behaviours. C@H (Cities at Heart) led by France, the network includes Sligo and partners from Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain, C@H will focus on helping different sized cities and towns of different backgrounds reverse a loss of attractivity. Ecconnecting: led by Italy, the network includes Clare (Ennis) and partners from Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain, Ecconnecting seeks to help create strong links and the involvement of citizens in developing proximity strategies for rural-urban functional areas. GreenPlace: led by Poland, the network includes Limerick and partners from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain (2), GreenPlace seeks to help restore forgotten urban spaces and making such places welcoming to residents, and in an environmentally-friendly way using existing resources. UR-IMPACT: led by Italy, the network includes Longford (Ballymahon), partners from Albania, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal, Romania (2), Slovenia, & Spain, UR-IMPACT seeks to ensure social inclusion and community development during times of urban renewal.

    **edit: Navan, Meath joined the below Network in place of Schiedam (NL) almost immediately following the latter's decision not to continue in the network.**

    In4Green: led by Spain, the network includes Meath (Navan), partners from Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal and Spain, In4Green focuses on implementing the green transition in industrial areas/cities while remaining competitive and inclusive. 

    The next call under URBACT IV is for Innovation Transfer Mechanism networks (ITMs)-seeing collaboration between URBACT and the European Urban Initiative. The ITMs will see cities adapt the experience of a successful past Urban Innovative Actions' project in order to develop an investment plan for implementation. More information will follow but this Call is envisaged for early 2024 while a Call for Good Practices is anticipated in the final quarter of 2024, ahead of the new Transfer Networks Call in early 2025. The work to identify Good Practices in Ireland will begin soon!

    It is never too early to begin thinking about how your locality could participate in URBACT so do reach out anytime for a chat at

  • URBACT news, opportunities and more!

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    Some miscellaneous news and opportunities on all things urban!




    From urbact


    With the URBACT IV Programme's first call for Action Planning Networks closing on March 31st, we await news on those networks chosen for funding! News on this will be communicated following the Programme Monitoring Committee meeting at the end of May. The new networks will formally begin on June 1st!

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    Job vacancies at the URBACT Secretariat: after some recent personnel and organisational changes, URBACT is currently recruiting for seven positions. Apply by May 28th.

    Events Officer

    Contract and Finance Officer

    Senior Finance and Audit Officer

    Programme Management Officer

    Project Officer

    Strategic Programme Development Lead Officer

    Head of Unit - Networks and Capacity-Building

    You can find out more here

    URBACT is also looking for service providers in the areas of editorial and digital support. The deadline is 6th June 12.00 CEST. See more here.

    Keep up with the digital transition in cities: this self-paced Moodle course aims to build the capacities of city-practitioners and policy-makers to understand the main concepts and challenges associated with digital transitions in policy areas such as environment, government or economy.

    Discover the URBACT IV experts: The first batch of URBACT IV validated experts available to support URBACT networks and activities is now online! Find out who they are or apply to become an expert here. The call remains open through to 2027. For those within Ireland interested in applying, feel free to reach out anytime to Karl for a chat at

    The European Urban Initiative has opened calls for its capacity-building opportunities. Read more about the recent call and related events here!