The European Green Deal sets ambitious objectives for the EU to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Supporting frameworks, initiatives, policies and partnerships are already in place at the EU level to bring forward the needed transformations, in particular in urban areas. These will significantly contribute to delivering the European Green Deal on the ground. A number of questions arise that need urgent answers due to current global challenges that impact urban areas, including those relating to the energy transition.
Cities are essential to carry out the green transition on the ground and to foster the ambitious goals of the European Green Deal. To comply with this objective, they need a holistic approach that brings together many policy areas, sectors and regulatory measures. These areas include both environmental protection and climate mitigation and adaption measures and goals. Multi-stakeholder approaches, good governance and inclusiveness are also key to building and implementing strategic and integrated visions.
Used right, the New European Bauhaus can be a game changer in terms of building strong community ties and fostering sustainable urban development and experimentation at the local level. The workshop offers a key opportunity to present this movement and the ways Cohesion Policy can play a crucial role in putting the core values of the New European Bauhaus initiative in practice in cities and towns.
We are facing a climate emergency and its disastrous consequences are obvious. But cities are complex and integrated systems. Tackling climate change and the transition to a more sustainable future requires a profound and lasting transformation in multiple sectors simultaneously – a systemic change. Cities must rethink their food, energy and mobility systems all at once. The role of digital is central as it is a strong enabler for system transition and a change maker that incorporates the full potential of data and innovative technologies to rethink the system. Systemic change is hard to imagine, but not impossible.
Cities play an essential role in welcoming people with a migrant background and fostering their inclusion at the local level. When implementing national or regional integration policies, local authorities are responsible for translating policies to respond to the local needs and context, in particular in the area of service provision. This includes, among other things, making education and housing services accessible, inclusive and non-segregated. Local authorities are also encouraged to develop their own local integration policies. Ensuring a multilevel governance approach throughout the design, implementation and monitoring of integration policies is crucial to effectively coordinate stakeholders at different levels.
Europe should ‘leave no one behind’ . To this end, comprehensive measures are also needed to foster the socio-economic inclusion of marginalised groups at the local level. These groups include Roma, persons with disabilities, older persons, people with a migrant background and homeless persons. The measures should focus on preventing and combatting segregation and on fostering access to mainstream non-segregated services in education, employment, housing, health and social care.
This session will mark the official launch of the European Urban Initiative (EUI), a novel instrument of Cohesion Policy in support of sustainable urban development.
The Initiative fosters innovation, exchange of experiences and knowledge, and capacity building. The EUI supports cities of all sizes as key agents in the green and digital transitions and for a more inclusive Europe.
Cities can play a stronger role in the delivery of Cohesion Policy in the 2021-2027 period. This is possible due to the introduction of Policy Objective 5 and the earmarking of at least 8% of ERDF resources at national level for sustainable urban development.
What are the factors that enable innovation in cities? This session will focus on the potential of cities for creating local innovation ecosystems where place-based solutions can flourish. To achieve this goal, many cities have already established co-creation models, such as urban living labs. Nevertheless, developing a creative and innovative urban environment requires good governance, knowledge infrastructure and a strong capacity to attract talents and address brain drain.
Both the New Leipzig Charter and EU Cohesion Policy encourage functional area approaches to planning sustainable urban development. Evidence shows that well-coordinated functional urban areas can achieve higher productivity, promote a more efficient use of resources and ensure better access to public services.
Small- and medium-sized urban areas play a key role in the European polycentric urban structure, and they are an essential part of the urban-rural continuum. Hosting approximately 43 % of the EU population, they have gained recognition in the policy realm at EU level, which is also demonstrated by the recent policy frameworks/documents: Leipzig Charter, Ljubljana Agreement and the Territorial Agenda.
Since 2016, the IURC programme (previously IUC, https://iuc.eu/na/home/) has been financed by the Foreign Policy Instruments service with strategic support from the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission. The programme has contributed to bringing together cities and regions from across the globe to work jointly towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Cohesion Policy, the New Urban Agenda and the Urban Agenda for the EU objectives among others.
“Coming out of the European Box” to inspire alternative and innovative solutions is one of the most appreciated benefits of IURC.
2022 marked an important cornerstone for the implementation of the renewed Urban Agenda for the EU (UAEU). Two new partnerships on Green Cities and Sustainable Tourism have recently been established and there is an ongoing discussion about the priorities of the next generation of UAEU partnerships.
Finance is an indispensable ingredient in delivering the EU’s sustainable transition. What is influencing cities’ capacities to invest in the green and digital transformations?
Funding remains one of the most significant ways for governments to transform cities. However, the crises experienced during the last three years, from COVID-19 to rising energy prices, imposed a considerable strain on local government finances. Their effects have not been evenly distributed across cities, and some cities are exposed more to the negative impacts than others. As a response, the EU has mobilised significant funding within the multi-annual financial framework, and implemented several measures to support cities.
This debate between EU Mayors will provide an opportunity for an exchange on key concerns, experiences and the needs of cities after three years of tackling the COVID-19 crisis and its consequences on economies, societies and citizens.
It will notably raise the question of how to remain focused on the key objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion, while dealing with the recovery, the reinvention of cities, and the consequences of broader global issues and crisis on urban areas of all sizes.