European Development Days – On the importance of the Urban Dimension

European Development Days – On the importance of the Urban Dimension

With adoption of the Amsterdam Pact on May 30th, EU leaders showed their full endorsement of the need to attach considerations at the urban dimension to EU decision-making. As we pointed out in our previous article on the topic (We are already on our way to Amsterdam: Countdown to the new EU Urban Agenda), the Amsterdam Pact aims at enhancing new forms of multilevel cooperation in the management of EU funds in four pilot sectors: housing, air quality, integration of migrants and refugees, urban poverty. The real breakthrough is represented by its working method, which champions partnerships on urban-salient issues across multiple levels of government. It is the symbolic beginning of a new process, signalling how sensitive this issue has become for EU policy-makers. By now, reflecting on citizens’ needs at the urban level has become a cornerstone in EU policy-making. EU institutions are demonstrating their leadership and willingness to dialogue with stakeholders on such topics.

logo_edd13Brussels has become a hub to share ideas and experiences and to inspire innovative solutions to the most pressing urban challenges. Here, the European Commission will host the 10th edition of the European Development Days, one of the major conferences dedicated to the issue which will be held on 15th and 16th of June. Among the co-organizers are: ALDA European Association for Local Democracy, Smart Villages Initiatives, The Hague Academy for Local Governance, UN-HABITAT, and UCLG, United Cities and Local Governments. The agenda will focus on the status of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Within the five main themes (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership) a considerable number of parallel sessions will be in fact devoted to urban-related sub-topics: “Inclusive, sustainable and resilient cities”, “Circular economy”, and “Inclusive and peaceful societies”). Here our selection:

15 June 2016

Time to think urban (09.30-10.45)

City-to-city cooperation: Municipal climate partnerships (09.30-10.45)

Move towards sustainable lifestyle for the people and the planet (09.30-10.45)

My city, my right: Towards inclusive and equitable urban spaces for women (14.00-15.30)

Towards a circular economy for sustainable consumption and production (16.00 – 17.30)

Localising the Sustainable Development Goals: Owning the global development agenda (16.00 – 17.15)

New cooperation models for cities in the age of the Sustainable Development Goals (17.45 – 19.00)

 

16 June 2016

Mobilising innovative finance for resilient and sustainable cities (13.00 – 14.15)

Local action to address fragility and protracted displacement (14.30 – 16.00)

Urban Now: City Life in Congo (14.45 – 16.00)

 

Most of the sessions will be available online via streaming.

For the complete agenda and further information visit the link.

 


Con l’adozione del Patto di Amsterdam lo scorso 30 maggio, i leader europei hanno confermato come la dimensione urbana sia ormai elemento cardine per la formulazione di politiche efficaci a più livelli. Il tema sarà uno dei principali discussi durante gli European Development Days che si terranno il 15 e 16 luglio a Bruxelles alla presenza di personalità di spicco, dal Segretario Generale ONU, Ban Ki-Moon al Vice-Presidente della Commissione Europea, Federica Mogherini.

We are already on our way to Amsterdam: Countdown to the new EU Urban Agenda

We are already on our way to Amsterdam: Countdown to the new EU Urban Agenda

eprs-briefing-565865-developing-eu-urban-agenda“Europe is one of the most urbanised continents in the world.”

75% Europeans live in urban areas, where 77% jobs and 53% companies are concentrated. They are the place where daily life takes place with challenges and demands to face every day in an increasingly complex matrix. With regards to climate change, social innovation, transport, poverty and economic development, cities are key partners to a successful formulation and implementation of policies answering to those problems.

Since last year Riga Declaration, the European Union has come to grasp the full potential of European cities in the achievement of its objectives. The Council of the European Union provided the political support for the development of the first effective, coordinated, truly integrated, place-based, coherent European Urban Agenda in full respect of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and of the EU Urban Acquis. From that moment on, the Dutch Presidency committed itself to take the lead of the process, making the new EU Urban Agenda one its top priority for the first half of 2016.

“Cities should be fully included in the mainstream policies. They should be seen as engines for economic growth and creators of jobs; cities as the frontrunners in Europe. It is about time to put forward the statement: Cities in Europe need to step out of the shadow and into the spotlights.

(Lambert Van Nistelrooij, Dutch MEP and promoter of the process)

 

Adjusting EU policies to citizens’ needs and make them count

The objective of the new EU Urban Agenda is to exploit the potential of European cities in terms of knowledge, expertise and resources by involving them in the formulation and implementation of a wide set of EU policies. By complementing policies at different levels (European, national, local), it aims at fostering (less and) better regulation, better funding opportunities and better knowledge exchange. The key of the whole process is a new, truly multi-level and shared approach, where no actor acts as the leader of the process.

A long process of consultation between EU institutions, Member States, local authorities, stakeholders and civil society representatives led to the selection of twelve thematic areas addressing the major challenges faced by cities today with the aim to promote the development of smart, green and inclusive cities.

The twelve themes:

• Jobs and skills in the local economy
• Urban poverty (in particular child poverty, deprived neighbourhoods and homelessness)
• Housing
• Inclusion of migrants and refugees
• Sustainable use of land and nature based solutions
• Circular economy
• Climate adaptation
• Energy transition (in particular energy efficiency and local renewable energy systems)
• Sustainable urban mobility
• Air quality
• Digital transition (in particular data collection, data management and digital services)
• Innovative and responsible public procurement

In addition, eleven cross-cutting issues will have to be taken into account when weighting action in each of the afore-mentioned twelve domains.

The eleven cross-cutting themes:

  • Good urban governance
  • Governance across administrative boundaries and inter-municipal cooperation
  • Sound and strategic urban planning
  • Integrated approach
  • Innovative approaches
  • Impact on societal change, including behavioural change
  • Challenges and opportunities of small- and medium-sized cities;
  • Urban regeneration
  • Adaptation to demographic change
  • Availability and quality of public services of general interest
  • International dimension

The political agreement we are heading to will set forth the start of multi-level, cross-sectoral partnership delivering specific Action Plans on each theme based on an open, transparent and bottom-up approach. Four pilot partnerships (Air Quality, Housing, Urban Poverty, and Inclusion of refugees and Migrants) were launched last December. All partnership will be characterised by a concrete, case-based and result-oriented approach to tackle the bottlenecks and potential of each area and deliver results.

 

Re-thinking the working method: Community-based Urban GovernancePP_Image-2

Beyond the priority areas and their objectives, the final version of the Pact will provide the definition of the working method of partnerships. Actions, actors, governance principles, monitoring and evaluation indicators will be included. As already stressed in Riga, actions will be assessed in terms of local and urban impact. Public-private partnerships and citizens’ participation will be championed through a multi-level, multi-sectoral and place-based problem solving approach.

“Ministers invite local and regional authorities:

[..]24.2. provide partnership in sustainable integrated urban development on the ground involving local community and stakeholders, and aiming to deliver effective urban solutions to challenges that go beyond one sector and administrative borders;

24.3. elaborate and implement integrated local strategies using a participatory approach, that is responsible and well-balanced in terms of spatial planning, respecting local assets and using existing tools for promoting sustainable development of urban area and its hinterlands.”

The last draft of the Pact shows the full endorsement of community-based participatory initiatives, stating:

“The Ministers agree:

[..]To encourage Urban Areas to stimulate community-based initiatives and cooperate with civic

urban developers (City Makers), who play an important role in creating innovative, resilient,

inclusive, economically stable and inspiring neighbourhoods and Urban Areas.”

 

Road to Amsterdam: what is next

The Urban Development Group just met on April 7th to discuss the third and last draft of the document, and it will gather again on May 12th to adopt its final version. On the same day, the Committee of the Regions delivered its opinion stressing three criteria that have to be taken into account to develop a truly successful bottom-up, multilevel approach, namely transparency, participation and the binding force of the Pact.

maxresdefaultOn May 30th the EU Ministers for Regional Developments will sign the Amsterdam Pact establishing the EU Urban Agenda. At a later stage, the EU Council will endorse and formalise its commitments though its binding Conclusions.

It will be an historic moment, re-writing the history of urban governance in the European Union after years of inaction. However, despite the fact that it  is the outcome of a large-scale effort to an open dialogue involving stakeholders in its formulation, the new document will represent only half of the puzzle. There remain doubts about the political fuel, powers, capacity, incentives and sanctions necessary to deliver results (see Professor Michael Parkinson’ opinion). As a matter of fact, an EU eager to recognize the importance of the city as the crux of policy implementation indeed represents a big achievement.

Betting on urban governance means contributing to a new, responsible and inclusive political culture, making citizens’ participation and active cooperation with both private and public sectors structural features of a new form of governance and a new meaning of “citizenship” at the neighbourhood and city level. Current institutional settings are still inappropriate to embrace the structural, qualitative transformation that such an ambitious idea entails.That is why a need-based, integrated, cross-sectorial approach built on creative processes and social innovative projects is necessary to start an urban revolution from the bottom.

Which is exactly what LabGov promotes.

We are already on our way to Amsterdam.

Road to Amsterdam: urban governance, the commons and the principle of equality

Road to Amsterdam: urban governance, the commons and the principle of equality

As two thirds of Europeans live in urban areas, the latter have become the core of both institutional relations and economic activities. By carrying out almost 55% of public investments, cities are inescapably fore-front players at different political dimensions. Faced by increasingly more complex issues – from urban poverty and social exclusion to environmental protection and action against climate change -, they represent the locus where challenges arise but also where innovative solutions bloom.

 

More and more, communities, local authorities, national governments are developing their awareness about the role and importance that the city plays nowadays.

As stated in “Cities of tomorrow“, an EC report published in 2011, cities are and must be “centres of creativity and entrepreneurship, in short: a bundle of opportunities”.

 

As a matter of fact, to date, little has been achieved in order to sponsor and support a thorough coordination of actions between different levels of governance that should involve cities, States and the European Union in a tangled matrix.

The European Union took on the mission to support the formulation of a coherent EU Urban Agenda through the Riga Declaration of June 2015, in an attempt to foster bottom-up, inclusive and participatory forms of implementation of its social and economic policies.

Most recently, urban governance has been adopted by the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union as one of its top priorities for the first half of 2016. Ultimately, by the end of May, Member States will adopt the Amsterdam Pact that will finally give to the EU its new Urban Agenda.

 

Despite the fact that it  is the outcome of a large-scale effort to an open dialogue involving stakeholders in its formulation, the new document will represent only half of the puzzle.

In other words, the reform of the city as we all knew it must be the outcome of a two-fold, concerted approach that mixes top-down and bottom-up instances.

An EU eager to recognize the importance of the city as the crux of policy implementation indeed represents a big achievement. However, this must be complemented by the promotion of local processes aimed at rebuilding the meaning of “citizenship” at the neighbourhood and city level.

 

Betting on urban governance means contributing to a new, responsible and inclusive political culture, making citizens’ participation and active cooperation with both private and public sectors structural features of a new form of governance.

Current institutional settings are still inappropriate to embrace the structural, qualitative transformation that such an ambitious idea entails.

A need-based, integrated, cross-sectorial approach built on creative processes and social innovative projects is necessary to start an urban revolution from the bottom.

 

As a forerunner of participatory forms of governance of the commons, LabGov is extremely open to dialogue with other stakeholders.

That is the reason why we will be in Amsterdam on the 19th of April on the occasion of the conference “The Commons and the Principle of Equality“. The event is part of the “New Amsterdam –City in Transition” series, organized by Pakhius de Zwiger with the ambitious goal to “inform, inspire and debate” on the role of the city within the context of the transition to a society more sustainable, inclusive and capable to face today complex challenges.

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Amsterdam has become the capital of the urban revolution in Europe. We were there in February (here the post) to give a contribution to the above-mentioned EU Urban Agenda.

This time we will share our experience on the “bottom-up” side of the urban coin, illustrating how grassroots cooperative projects enable citizens to create their own cities collectively by taking care of the commons and developing a new social culture.

Tine de Moor, Professor of “Institutions for Collective Action in Historical Perspective” at Utrecht University, will open the conference with a lecture on the commons and the sharing economy. Christian Iaione, Professor of Public Law, Director of the Laboratory for the Governance of the Commons, LUISS Roma and member of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, will make a link between the commons and the principle of equality, trying to detect whether it has to be redesigned and whether the governance of the commons can be seen as a new regime for equality and access to resources.

 

For further details click here.

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Amsterdam, capitale delle rivoluzione urbana in atto in Europa, accoglierà domani la conferenza “The Commons and the Principle of Equality“, il quarto incontro della serie “New Amsterdam –City in Transition” organizzata da Pakhius de Zwiger. Informiamo, ispiriamo, dialoghiamo!

“New Democracy: Co-Creating the City” – ECF’s event in Amsterdam

“New Democracy: Co-Creating the City” – ECF’s event in Amsterdam

Today, almost three quarters of Europeans live in urban areas. Cities are at the core of institutional relations and economic growth. Yet, they are facing unprecedented social and environmental challenges that curb their rational  development. It is time to think about the need to overcome these obstacles and plan a way to create fertile conditions to foster urban development, engaging citizens and communities in the process.

Experts, scholars and city-makers will explore this issue on February 25th in Amsterdam during the ECF’s event “New Democracy, Co-creating the City”.  It will be a welcome opportunity to dialogue about urban poverty, affordable housing, sustainable use of land, exploring the already rich European landscape of public-civil partnerships and participatory governance practices. The event is organized by the European Cultural Foundation –  in collaboration with Europe by PeopleKunsten ’92, Leeuwarden – Fryslân 2018 European Capital of CulturalNetwerk Democratie and Pakhuis de Zwijger . It is part of “New Democracy”, a series of events on democratic and cultural renewal in Europe from a citizens’ perspective.

The event has the clear aim to contribute to the forthcoming EU Urban Agenda, a cornerstone of the Dutch Presidency of the Council, which will be adopted by EU Heads of state and government during the ad hoc Ministerial Conference that will take place on May 30th. Experts, scholars, academics and city-makers will gather in Amsterdam to discuss and formulate creative and innovative solutions to urban challenges, in order to encourage cultural change and stimulate the development of good governance practices.

Eminent figures – leading the process towards urban, social and institutional innovation in the cities of Bologna, Solin and Leeuwarden – will intervene as speakers. Among them: Christian Iaione, professor of Public Law, Director of the Laboratory for the Governance of the Commons, LUISS Roma and member of the International Association for the Study of the CommonsAntonija EremutManager of the EU funded projects in cultural tourism and sustainable urban developmentPedro Campos PonceBeleidsadviseur Europees stedenbeleid, BZKSjoerd FeitsmaCouncillor of Culture Leeuwarden.

You can find the program of the event here.

Commonspoly-a-hacked-version-of-the-Monopoly-©-Julio-Albarrán

Commonspoly, a hacked version of the Monopoly ©Julio-Albarrán

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Circa tre quarti dei cittadini Europei vive oggi in aree urbane. Le città sono ormai il cuore pulsante dell’Europa. Tuttavia, esse sono costrette a confrontarsi con sfide sociali, ambientali e istituzionali senza precedenti. E’ tempo di superare questi ostacoli e contribuire allo sviluppo urbano in modo creativo ed innovativo, partecipando attivamente in quanto cittadini e  comunità, con l’obiettivo di ricreare e co-creare le nostre città, insieme. Lo faremo ad Amsterdam, il 25 febbraio, in occasione dell’evento “New Democracy: Co-Creating the City” organizzato dell’European Cultural Foundation.