Empowering cities to design and implement integrated approaches to sustainable urban development remains at the heart of EU Cohesion Policy and vital for creating cities that are productive, green and just.
No matter the policy theme or territorial area, putting this into practice requires the right tools and innovative approaches for delivering results, based on strong partnerships between local citizens, civil society, industry and various levels of government.
Portico offers the latest EU resources on how to design and implement integrated sustainable urban development projects and strategies. The knowledge provided under operational topics range from articles on strategy and governance, to participation and communication, resources and funding, data management, scaling up and transfer, and territorial focus.
Sound long-term and strategic thinking and planning strengthen the ability to deliver results for sustainable urban development. This involves knowledge and alignment with national goals and targets, while working with local stakeholders to identify local capacities, opportunities and priorities for achieving the most impact with the resources available.
Strategical approach to sustainable urban development also involves identifying and trying to build synergies and links with global, EU, national and regional policy frameworks and agendas that can lend political and/or financial support to local strategic initiatives, and make a greater impact.
knowledge in this section gives you access to resources on techniques and tools for both designing and implementing such strategic approaches to sustainable urban development. These topics cover knowledge-based strategy making, building local capacity, bridging strategies and implementation programmes and project pipeline management.
Governance is a fundamental pillar of sustainable urban development, as emphasised by EU Cohesion Policy and the New Leipzig Charter. It is also a challenge considering the breadth and complexity of sustainable urban development goals and the need for collaboration among an unprecedented number of public and private parties in policy design and implementation. It involves effective coordination between national, regional and local levels of decision-making (multi-level governance) and effective stakeholder engagement.
Good governance is also about transparent decision-making processes, effective partnerships between all stakeholders, and accountability in urban management. It is complex, involving multiple layers of government and diverse stakeholders, such as community groups, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, and research bodies. While governing sustainable urban development is complex and requires coordination among multiple sectors and tiers of the government, solutions and good practices exist for building relationships, creating and managing partnerships and facilitating stakeholder engagement in decision-making processes, which is available through the resources presented under this topic.
Participation and Communication
Citizen participation in the context of urban development refers to the efforts by public institutions to hear the views, perspectives and inputs from citizens and stakeholders to influence activities and decisions of public authorities at different stages of policy cycle, and/or development. EU Cohesion Policy emphasises the importance of citizen participation in the planning and implementation of sustainable urban development – from identifying the problem that is to be solved, to implementation of the project and evaluation of the results.
This commitment is aimed at ensuring that policies and projects respond to the needs and priorities of local communities, based on resolving conflicting interests and sharing responsibilities, while increasing the project’s legitimacy and ensuring its success and acceptance among the citizens. Elisa Ferreira, EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms has highlighted that “Citizen participation is not an optional extra. It is one of the foundations and preconditions of a project’s success.”
In this section, knowledge on innovative approaches for involving citizens, including in the co-creation and co-design of sustainable urban development solutions can be explored. These resources also cover communication, awareness-raising and ensuring transparency and easy access to information by beneficiaries.
Resource and funding
In a rapidly urbanised and changing Europe, delivering quality urban environments and accessing the opportunities for financing sustainable urban development is the most pressing challenge for towns and cities to thrive economically, socially, and environmentally. With mounting pressure on the traditional avenues of financing, future constraints on government revenues and unexpected global events such as Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and Covid-19 global pandemic, cities must secure income locally, as well as accessing allocations and funding programmes at regional, national and EU levels.
Improving local authorities’ access to sustainable sources of finance can help create more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities. Therefore, cities have the potential for strategic use of diversified sources of funding and developing business models and strategies to ensure long-term financial viability.
Resources in this section aims to provide knowledge about principles of financing sustainable urban development; from understanding selection procedures and criteria of existing EU and national financial schemes, to preparing funding applications and public procurement.
Data management and evaluation
Collection, use and sharing of data is ubiquitous in today’s social, economic and physical sustainable development. The New Leizpig Charter highlights that “the digitalisation of processes… including massive, rapidly growing data flows is key to integrated urban development”. Effective use of data and analysis of findings can enable cities to better understand local needs, effectively monitor the impact of local initiatives and ultimately improve public services.
Cities need a powerful and resilient public data infrastructure to provide the necessary data to inform public tasks. They also need to ensure ethical and socially responsible access, use, sharing and management of data, balancing potential benefits with privacy issues and data protection requirements.
Resources in this section explore the knowledge on data management and interoperability, data collection and evaluation, and methodologies for localising SDGs through data.
Scaling up and transfer
The ability to identify, transfer and scale up urban solutions, adapting them to local conditions, is a key driver of positive transformation in Europe’s towns and cities. Sharing of knowledge on localised sustainable urban development policies, raising awareness on never-tested-before solutions and mutual learning incite city-to-city cooperations, while avoiding repetition of oversights and encountering similar obstacles.
Scaling up of tested solutions and transfer of the empirically acquired knowledge have evolved to become an integral part of many European and international programmes and initiatives. The starting point is the identification and understanding of inspiring practices, building on existing knowledge and experiences – often referred to as ‘capitalisation’.
Transfer or replication on the other hand is the process of expanding a successful small-scale public policies, strategies and approaches to a larger scale or another context, all the while considering the challenges and opportunities ahead. Adaptation is key here, taking account of local differences and specificities – whether social, cultural, economic, environmental or other.
Resources under this topic are aimed at providing practical guidance on how to successfully capitalise, scale up and transfer the knowledge that cities acquire empirically through implementation of sustainable urban development projects.
Cities are not created in vacuum; rather, they are in close contact with their regional and rural settings, and as such require horizontal cooperation and an integrated territorial approach to localising sustainable urban development policies and strategies. The New Leipzig Charter advocates place-based approaches as an overarching principle of sustainable urban development, taking into consideration the functional urban areas, as well as linkages, needs, challenges and opportunities between a city and its rural surroundings.
The territorial approach to sustainable urban development can also go inwards, translating into smaller scale such as the neighbourhood level. Urban design, place making, and activation of space will sometimes require a community-led local development with active participation of citizens in all stages.
Resources in this section will provide insights to implementation of sustainable urban development in smaller to medium-sized cities, with special attention to the larger impacts at the territorial level and spatial adaptability. Understanding the integrated territorial tools available in Europe - such as Community-led Local Development (CLLD) and Integrated Territorial Investments (ITIs) – and the role of Territorial Impact Assessment are also included.