Launch event of the six #URBACT Reports “Cities of Tomorrow | Action Today!”
Over 150 people attended the launching event of a series of six new URBACT thematic reports “Cities of Tomorrow: Action Today” on 18 June in the European Commission conference centre. The participants have been introduced with the main findings of each report and URBACT capitalisation process in general and have debated the key urban challenges facing European cities. For those who could not make it, here is a selection of what we heard in Brussels.
“Be very sure we will make good use of it!”, Johannes Hahn
The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn opened the URBACT launching event. He explained “Vision is fine, but it is nothing if we cannot make it a reality. URBACT is helping us to take the Cities of Tomorrow process one step further, and showing how to implement the recommendations on the ground. I am therefore very pleased to be with you here at the launch of the six URBACT thematic reports. “There are no easy solutions to any of these challenges, but URBACT – through its extensive network of urban experts and city partners throughout all of Europe – is an ideal mechanism to test innovative approaches that others can take up.”Commissioner concluded “that is why Cities of tomorrow need action today. And this is what URBACT is all about! I congratulate you on the high quality work you have produced. Be very sure we will make good use of it.”
A Unique Launching Event Gathering Political Representative and Urban Experts
The URBACT launching event followed the European Parliament’s URBAN Intergroup’s presentation of the study on good practice in integrated urban development “Urban Development in the EU: 50 Projects Supported by the ERDF in 2007-2013”. Organised with the support of Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission, the launching event of the URBACT thematic reports “Cities of Tomorrow: Action Today” was a unique event gathering political representatives including Member of European Parliament and European Commissioner representatives, decision-makers, urban experts and practitioners, as well as other related stakeholders from EU institutions, partner programmes and organisations, civil society organisations and academia.
Presentation of the URBACT Thematic Reports and Dialogue with Workstream Coordinators
In October 2011, the European Commission published a far-reaching and quite visionary report called Cities of Tomorrow – Challenges, visions, ways forward. The Cities of Tomorrow report leaves open most of the questions about what cities can do to put their potential into practice. This is the task taken up by six “workstreams” launched by URBACT at the beginning of 2012. The end result of this collective reflection was the production of six thematic reports. Prefaced by the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, these URBACT thematic reports provide evidence of sustainable urban development strategies pulling together the environmental, social and economic pillars of the Europe2020, while also adopting an integrated and participative approach. The reports cover six interlinked challenges outlined in Cities of Tomorrow, all of which are high on the EU agenda.In Brussels, each report was introduced by its author, the URBACT workstream coordinator.Mike CAMPBELL, explained that “cities are part of the problem but also part of the solution” when introducing the report “More jobs: better cities – a framework for city action“. “Cities need to address three broad sets of issues – jobs and the economy, people and the labour market, and the connections between them. Adopt an integrated approach and make sure that your join up all the various pieces and get strong coordination”, he advised.Eddy ADAM, the author of the report “Supporting urban youth through social innovation: stronger together” explained “we want to demystify the new term social innovation and provide concrete examples of cities who are addressing these issues”. He added “By mobilising all stakeholders we can improve service design and delivery and achieve better results together”. “Spatial segregation is the project of social segregation on space. European cities are increasingly segregated. Segregation is not a problem in itself but obviously there are problematic segregated areas” explained Ivan TOSICS introducing the report “Against divided cities in Europe“. “The most important for the cities is first to understand the problem and then improve the public policies”, he advised.Sally KNEESHAW, the author of the report “How cities can motivate mobility mindsets” explained that they wanted “to change the way we think about mobility” and that “mobility is not only about infrastructures”.”It is really important that mobility is considered part of energy efficiency measures”, advocated Sally.”Cities can lead in the reduction of CO2 emissions and the fight against climate change. Integrated urban strategies provide the means to tackle the various challenges faced by cities. These strategies must link together the social, environmental and economic policy dimensions” Antonio BORGHI explained when introducing the report “Building energy efficiency in European cities“.Finally, Hans SCHLAPPA the author of the report “From crisis to choice: re-imagining the future in shrinking cities” explained that “shrinking cities are unique places to adopt new and innovative approaches” and how they “need to develop a new vision different from the vision of the past”.
Panel Discussion between URBACT Experts and Political Representatives
A “Question Time” session took also place during the launching event with questions from the floor directed at an Expert Panel.Cristina GUTIERREZ-CORTINES, Member of the European Parliament as well as Jan OLBRYCHT, Member of the European Parliament, President of the URBAN Intergroup took actively part in this panel. Władysław PISKORZ, Head of Unit, Competence Centre Inclusive Growth, Urban and Territorial Development, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission as well as Emmanuel MOULIN, Head of the URBACT Secretariat, Sally KNEESHAW and Antonio BORGHI, URBACT Workstream Coordinators were also part of the panel. The lunching event ended with a networking lunch, where participants had the chance to meet authors of publications and discuss the relevant urban issues. Read more: