Copenhagen, December 3- 4, 2012
The Annual Conference of URBACT, a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development, brings together urban practitioners, policymakers and experts from across the EU, to investigate solutions to the critical challenges faced by EU cities. Drawing on evidence from URBACT – in particular, project results and lessons, – and other European Territorial Cooperation programmes, the participants discussed how cities can tackle six key issues:
SHRINKING CITIES: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES – Urban shrinkage affects a large number of cities and the shrinkage process can be very complex. Complex shrinkage is characterised by population loss due to low fertility rates and outward migration of economically active citizens; the loss of employment opportunities due to de-industrialisation, business re-location and a growing population in retirement; insufficient revenues to sustain service infrastructures and key human services; a large proportion of older people who demand services that reflect their needs and aspirations. However, shrinkage does not have to result in such scenarios, but can be the source of new opportunities and a re-positioning of a city’s purpose and fortunes.
MORE JOBS: BETTER CITIES – Across Europe almost one in ten of the active population is unemployed – 23 million people are without a job. At the same time employers continue to report recruitment difficulties and a shortage of talent in the labour market. More jobs are needed (almost 18 million by 2020, if EU2020 targets are to be met) and URBACT believes that cities have an important role to play in supporting and growing new jobs, which lead to economic growth and resilience, and addressing this mismatch.
SUPPORTING YOUNG PEOPLE THROUGH SOCIAL INNOVATION – The period of reducing public budgets and rising youth unemployment has been described as a perfect storm. Across Europe, young people are angry, disillusioned and disconnecting from mainstream public life in ways that threaten the European cohesive city model. Record levels of youth unemployment – hitting 50% in Spain – have underlined the risk of a Lost Generation. However, the crisis has only highlighted long-standing structural problems relating to youth transitions.
How can cities respond to this challenge? And where will the new ideas come from?
AGAINST DIVIDED CITIES IN EUROPE – The development of European cities in the last decades was enormous. The success of urban areas, however, cannot mask the growing differences between different parts of the cities.
Cities are usually divided into better and worse areas. The extent of the division, however, is different: some cities have ‘dead-end’, no-go areas, while in others the differences can hardly be felt.
Cities usually intervene into their most deprived areas. The outcomes of such interventions, however, are varying: some cities manage to stop the down-ward spiral while others deal with their worst areas through decades without any real success.
MOTIVATING MOBILITY MINDSETS – Transport accounts for between a quarter and a third of all CO2 emissions in the EU and up to 70% of other pollutants. Congestion in the EU is often located in and around urban areas and costs nearly 100 billion Euro, or 1% of the EU’s GDP, annually. A large majority of European citizens live in an urban environment, with over 60% living in urban areas of over 10.000 inhabitants. Cities themselves are usually in the best position to find the right responses to these challenges, to enhance mobility while at the same time reducing congestion, accidents and pollution, taking into account their specific circumstances.
BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN EUROPEAN CITIES – The European building sector accounts for 40% of the total energy use and for 36% of Europe’s CO2 emissions. It generates 9% of the total EU 27 GDP economic turnover and 8 % of the total employment. Since the European Union aims at reductions in domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 level, the building stock plays a major role in the European 20-20-20 energy policy. In fact it has been calculated that it should achieve reductions of at least 88-91% of GHG emissions. Without consequently exploiting the huge savings potential attributed to the building stock, the EU will miss its GHG reduction targets.
Programme: Download Programme
Annual Conference of URBACT – Cities of Tomorrow Action Today: http://www.conference2012.urbact.eu/