Before shifting focus to a new year and new priorities, URBACT looks back on the touchstones and flashpoints that have taken the programme to new thematic and geographic heights. You will also find some hints about what’s in store for 2024.
1. URBACT approves 1st round of Action Planning Networks
A total of 254 project partners have joined the URBACT IV Programme, following the approval of 30 Action Planning Networks by the programme’s Monitoring Committee. The new beneficiaries primarily represent small and medium-sized cities across 28 European countries. From the technical to the practical, the holistic to the segmented: these project partners will develop Integrated Action Plans to tackle common local challenges.
Get a glimpse of the 30 networks whose topics range from sustainable mobility plans for urban and rural areas, place-based climate action and digital inclusion, to industrial renewal, migrant support, gender equality, green growth and public procurement.
2. URBACT University welcomes the class of 2023
From 28-30 August, the URBACT University was held in Malmö (SE). The 2023 edition marked the first in-person gathering of 430 partners from the recently approved Action Planning Networks.
Following in the footsteps of previous editions, this year’s landmark capacity-building event provided participants with tools and guidance on how to better define their local challenges and vision for change with the help of civil society. On day 1, participants got familiar with tools like the Problem Tree and the Newspaper of Tomorrow, followed by stakeholder mapping and engagement on day 2, and a new tool (the Action Planning Canvas) on day 3.
The URBACT University 2023 was one of a kind, but not the first of its kind. Looking ahead to 2024, national campus events will take place for network beneficiaries.
3. URBACT plugs in to the 1st EU City Lab
From 23-24 November, the first EU City Lab on Energy Transition was held in Viladecans (ES). This thematic event, co-organised by URBACT and the European Urban Initiative (EUI), is part of a series of labs aiming to bring together stakeholders from local, national and EU levels to increase their knowledge on good practices related to energy, food and other related urban challenges.
This event gathered energy specialists and representatives from European cities. The packed two-day agenda featured presentations from Viladecans’ Deputy Mayor Jordi Mazon, representatives from URBACT, the EUI, the European Energy Research Alliance and valuable insights on local learning practices, energy communities and governance. The walking tours were a highlight of the event programme, featuring site visits to the Vilawatt energy company, municipal buildings, the municipal market and Enxaneta School.
How will the EU City Labs help cities face pressing societal and environmental challenges? Read the article and take note of upcoming topics. Starting in March 2024 in Mouans-Sartoux (FR), the next EU City Lab will cover cities’ role in changing behaviours when it comes to food production and consumption. More topics are still to come!
4. URBACT National Points put words into action
The URBACT Method is all about providing cities with the tools and support to address local challenges. Yet, it’s not a surprise that language can present a barrier to these types of cross-border exchanges.
Over the last year, 25 National URBACT Points (NUPs) have sprung into action supporting local partners in European cities and, most recently, in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA).
This year, most of the National URBACT Points were appointed to also act as Urban Contact Points for the European Urban Initiative, providing a common line of information for both entities in their respective countries.
Find your NUP on the URBACT website or search for ‘@URBACT_country abbreviation’ on social media.
5. The URBACT Secretariat welcomes new faces
This year, as every year, the URBACT team is here to support cities. Now with 16 staff members, the Secretariat is working at full speed, and the team is still growing! Find a familiar or a fresh face here.
Interested in driving change for better cities? Check out the latest opportunities here to join the URBACT team.
The future is calling…for more URBACT networks!
Lots more activities to come, the first being the URBACT call for Innovation Transfer Networks (ITNs) opening on 10 January 2024. Through these networks, cities previously funded under the Urban Innovative Actions initiative will be sharing their innovative projects with other cities across the EU as well as in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
Interested in transferring an innovative project in your city? Get a taste of what to expect and go to urbact.eu/get-involved on 10 January to learn even more. Last but not least, save the date for the first online info session on 16 January.