EPRSauthor By / February 19, 2014

Sustainable Urban Development

Smart growth, green growth and inclusive growth are the three pillars of sustainability. An urban integrated approach rather than a…

© Wild Orchid / Fotolia

Smart growth, green growth and inclusive growth are the three pillars of sustainability. An urban integrated approach rather than a sectorial one is needed to ensure the success of the policy.

Urban policy has to provide cities in Europe with instruments to achieve the right balance between the social, economic and environmental dimensions.

This Keysource provides a selection of documents focusing on the sustainable urban development in Europe.


Le développement local au sein de l’UE / Briefing by Ariane Debyser posted on 02 July 2013, 6 p.

Depuis plus de vingt ans, l’Union européenne encourage le développement local. A cet effet, elle a élaboré un certain nombre d’outils à caractère plus ou moins expérimental pour intégrer le développement local, phénomène spontané au départ, dans le développement économique européen.

The EU commitment to sustainable cities / Briefing by Ivana Katsarova posted on 13 June 2012, 6 p.

Most current environmental challenges have their origins in urban areas, but it is also these same urban areas that bring together the commitment and innovation needed to resolve them. In recent years, the EU has sought to explore ways in which urban and environmental policies can be integrated in order to promote and develop sustainable cities.


Sustainable Urban Development
© Wild Orchid / Fotolia

Planning tools for urban sustainability / Nordregio News, n°1, February 2014, 16 p.

While technological developments have significantly contributed to cities complexity, they also offer new so­lutions for future urban developments. In this issue of Nordregio News, researchers explore new technologies and new tools for sus­tainable urban planning. From different perspectives the three artic­les provide new insights on innovative planning tools and models for managing complexity at different scales. (Source: Nordregio)

Mapping Smart Cities in the EU: study / Policy Department A: Economic and Scientific Policy, January 2014, 200 p.

“Abstract This report was commissioned to provide background information and advice on Smart Cities in the European Union (EU) and to explain how existing mechanisms perform. In exploring this, a working definition of a Smart City is established and the cities fitting this definition across the Member States are mapped. An analysis of the objectives and Europe 2020 targets of Smart City initiatives finds that despite their early stage of development, Smart City objectives should be more explicit, well defined and clearly aligned to city development, innovation plans and Europe 2020 in order to be successful.” (Source: the study)

Integrated approach in urban planning and development. Policy Lab Romania: factsheet / EUKN, October 2013, 8 p.

“This factsheet is developed in support of the EUKN Policy Lab for Romania, on “Integrated approach in urban planning and development” The aim of this Policy Lab is to support Romanian cities and regions in having a better understanding of these new instruments and to enable them to better access to the new structural funds. This document provides an overview of the broader context of integrated development ranging from the European level to the local perspective. Special attention is given to the upcoming European programming period (2014-2020) and the ITI and CLLD initiatives. Furthermore, a number of international cases and European projects are presented, which provide a deeper insight in urban integrated development in practice.” (Source: the factsheet) More documents available here.

Economic, social and territorial situation of Berlin, Germany: Note / Esther Kramer, Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies, 2013, 54 p

This note provides an overview of Germany’s socio-economic, political and administrative framework for EU Cohesion policy. With a focus on the state of Berlin, it presents the Operational Programmes 2007 – 2013 as well as the main policy objectives. The paper gives also an insight into the German view on the future of Cohesion policy and the preparation of the programming period 2014-2020. The note has been prepared in the context of the Committee on Regional Development’s delegation to Berlin, 16 – 18 June 2013. (Source: Note)

Quality of life in cities: Perception survey in 79 European cities / European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, October 2013, 152 p.

This Flash Eurobarometer, “Quality of life in European cities” (No 366), was conducted at the request of the DG for Regional and Urban Policy to get a snapshot of people’s opinions on a range of urban issues. Earlier surveys were conducted in 2004, 2006 and 2009. This survey included all capital cities of the countries concerned (except for Switzerland), together with between one and six more cities in the larger countries. In each city, around 500 citizens were interviewed. A total of 79 European cities were used in this analysis. In addition to these, the surroundings areas of Athina, Lisboa, Manchester and Paris were analysed. The report therefore refers to “83 cities”, though a more accurate terminology would be “79 cities and 4 surrounding areas”. The annexes can be consulted on the EUROPA website. (Source: Report)

Housing investments supported by the European Regional Development Fund 2007-2013: Housing in sustainable urban regeneration / Ecorys, DG Regional and Urban Policy, September 2013, 97 p.

The aim of this study (initiated by the European Parliament) is to improve the understanding of how the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is used in housing projects in the 2007-2013 funding period. It also explores how ERDF has fostered integrated approaches which address simultaneously housing, energy and socio-economic needs of deprived communities. The study helps to inform the use of ERDF in the 2014-2020 programming period.(Source: the study)

Urbanisation in the Arctic / Klaus Georg Hansen, Rasmus Ole Rasmussen and Ryan Weber (eds.) Nordregio Working Paper n°6, 2013, 218 p.

The presentations and the discussions looked at how the urbanisation in the Arctic actually has been going on and is developing. The conference was open to researchers, planners and decision-makers who are directly involved in the administration or development of Arctic societies. The proceedings include 10 abstracts and 18 papers not previously published. They represent some of the most distinguished researchers on socio-economic, social and cultural aspects of urbanisation in the Arctic. (Source: the Proceedings)

Green Growth in Cities / OECD Green Growth Studies, OECD Publishing, 23 May 2013, 132 p.

This publication is the final report of the OECD Green Cities Programme, initiated by the 2010 OECD Roundtable of Mayors and Ministers in Paris, and presents the project’s main findings and policy recommendations. The aim of the programme is to better understand the concept of green growth in cities; the potential of urban policies for urban and national green growth; and to inform national, sub-national and municipal governments as they seek to address economic and environmental challenges by pursuing green growth. (Source: OECD)

Delivering Local Development: new growth and investment strategies / OECD, March 2013, 185 p.

This study compares and contrasts how cities are answering the financial crisis with a broader sample of comparable cities around the world. It examines the adjustment made by 12 cities in response to new fiscal, administrative and geo-economic realities. Its point of departure is the cumulative and collective experience of five internationally oriented, mid to higher ranking EU cities: Manchester, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Lyon and Hamburg. The case studies highlight the need for clear economic leadership. (Source: Study)

Place-making and policies for competitive cities / by Sako Musterd and Zoltán Kovács, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013

Urban policy makers are increasingly striving to strengthen the economic competitiveness of their cities. Currently, they do that mainly in the field of the creative knowledge economy – arts, media, entertainment, creative business services, architecture, publishing, design; and ICT, R&D, finance, and law. This book is about the policies that help to realise such objectives: policies driven by classic location theory, cluster policies, ‘creative class’ policies aimed at attracting talent, as well as policies that connect to pathways, place and personal networks. The experiences and policy strategies of 13 city-regions across Europe have been investigated: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Budapest, Dublin, Helsinki, Leipzig, Milan, Munich, Poznan, Riga, Sofia and Toulouse. All have different histories and roles: capital cities and secondary cities; cities with different economies and industries; port-based cities and land-locked cities. And all 13 have different cultural, political and welfare state traditions. Through this wide set of contexts, this book contributes to the debate about the development of creative knowledge cities, their economic growth and competitiveness and advocates the development of context-sensitive tailored approaches.

Understanding pollutant emissions from Europe’s cities /European Environment Agency, May 2013, 16 p.

24 May 2013 Highlights from the EU Air Implementation Pilot project: This brochure, produced by the EEA, summarises findings on local scale emission inventories from the EU Air Implementation Pilot project. It also highlights sources of information and guidance for those compiling city inventories.

Gender and Urban Planning: issues and trends / UN Habitat, 2012, 74 p

The aim of this report is to raise awareness about the way the planning of urban settlements affects gender equality, and women’s empowerment. A secondary aim is to ensure that urban planners and those involved with planning understand that urban planning has a role to play in assisting women to achieve their rights in the political, economic, social and educational fields. The report shows how urban planning can help contribute to delivering the international commitment to gender equality and empowerment of women as stated in the Millennium Development Goals, the Habitat Agenda the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) and other internationally agreed-upon commitments.(Source: the report)

Compact City Policies A Comparative Assessment / OECD Green Growth Studies – OECD Publishing, May 2012, 283 p.

This book examines the concept of the compact city and the implication of the current urban context for compact city policies. It explores their potential outcomes, particularly in terms of how it can contribute to Green Growth and looks at developing indicators to monitor compact city and track policy performance. It reviews compact city policies currently being implemented across the OECD in relation to the pursuit of Green Growth objectives and provides ideas to achieve better outcomes. And it assesses the key governance challenges faced by decision-makers as they seek to implement practical compact city strategies. This report is thus intended as “food for thought” for national, sub-national and municipal governments as they seek to address their economic and environmental challenges through the development and implementation of spatial strategies in pursuit of Green Growth objectives. It also illustrates best practices (which present key elements of successful compact city policies) based on empirical evidence that can be shared across OECD member countries. (Source: OECD)

Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe: report / European Environment Agency, 14 May 2012

This report and its annexes present the challenges and opportunities for cities together with supportive national and European policies.

Stakeholder views

An EU urban agenda for and with European cities / EUROCITIES, February 2014, 3 p.

In this policy paper, EUROCITIES pledge for make the most of the expertise and leadership already present in cities to shape priorities and solutions through their direct involvement in decisions on policy and investment. Dialogue between cities and the European Commission must be still strengthened. (Source: the document)

Cities supporting einclusion and citizen participation / Eurocities, November 2013, 24 p.

This publication demonstrates what cities are doing to facilitate digital access and IT skills to promote employability, job creation, social inclusion and integration, and help stimulate their economies.

EU responses to urban challenges / Toby Johnson. In: URBACT Annual Conference 2012 “Cities of tomorrow, action today”, Copenhagen, 3-4 December 2012, 4 p.

The panel discussion that opened the second day of the URBACT conference in Copenhagen on 04 December 2012 examined how the EU is responding to urban challenges. The panel, chaired by Darinka Czischke, comprised representatives of a city, a Member State, the European Parliament (Jan Olbrycht) and the Commission, ensuring a multifaceted view. The panel discussed a successful city strategy, the progress of the cohesion policy negotiations for 2014-20, and how to make the policy work for cities. The conclusion is that the way to deliver the Europe 2020 objectives is through integrated urban policies.

Cities of tomorrow: challenges, visions, ways forward / DG Regional Policy, October 2011, 116 p.

More than two thirds of the European population lives in urban areas. Cities are places where both problems emerge and solutions are found. They are fertile ground for science and technology, for culture and innovation, for individual and collective creativity, and for mitigating the impact of climate change. However, cities are also places where problems such as unemployment, segregation and poverty are concentrated. The ‘Cities of tomorrow’ reflection process will provide inspiration for policymakers and practitioners involved in urban development, whether at local, regional, national or European level. (Source: DG Regional Policy)

EU programmes and projects

GROSEE: Growth Poles in South East Europe: draft final report / University of Bucharest, ESPON, December 2013, 63 p.

This project shall study the three main growth poles in South-Eastern Europe – Athens, Sofia and Bucharest – their relation to the European core development areas, their competitiveness and the role that the three capitals can have individually as well as together in the European polycentric network as economic drivers of South-Eastern Europe. A key factor in the project is the cooperation of the capitals with surrounding territory. Furthermore, as accessibility has a great impact on competitiveness, the project should assess alternatives to overcome the long distances in order to improve the accessibility of South-Eastern Europe and its competitiveness. Main report, executive summary, annex and scientific report are available. (Source: ESPON)

Territorial dynamics in Europe: gateway functions in cities / ESPON. Territorial observation, n°9, December 2013, 26 p.

Gateway cities are crucial for smart growth and Europe’s global competitiveness. Cities and regions need to increase their efforts in exploiting their specific strengths and development potential to achieve Europe 2020 targets in relation to smart growth. This implies also that different cities and regions may strengthen their role as gateways for specific functions and territories. The report shows where in the territory which types of gateway functions are to be found. This evidence can support policy decisions about investments to strengthen gateways, smart growth and Europe’s global competitiveness.

URBACT project results: second edition / URBACT, November 2013, 97 p.

URBACT II enables European cities to work together and to develop effective and sustainable solutions to major key urban challenges. Each network brings together 8 to 12 cities or other partners working together to address a specific urban issue and develop integrated action plans. Nine thematic networks from the second URBAct call for proposals have completed their programme of exchange and learning activities in 2013. The results and main recommendations are presented here.

URBACT has published in 2013, 7 thematic reports on “Cities of Tomorrow: Action Today” (see below). Reports are covering the following topics: integrated and sustainable urban development, shrinking cities: challenges and opportunities, more jobs: better cities, supporting young people through social innovation, against divided cities in Europe, motivating mobility mindsets, and building energy efficiency in European cities.

FOCI – Future Orientation for Cities / ESPON, 2010, 63 p

This project analyses the state, trends and development perspectives for the largest cities and urban agglomerations within the European territory. It identifies the driving forces of urban development which are the most relevant for understanding urban evolutions and offer scenarios for the development of Europe’s cities leading to alternative policy options.

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