Sustainable Urban Development: what role for the EU?

European cities are the playing fields of intensifying contemporary challenges. Traffic congestion, air pollution, climate change effects, clean water and energy provision, jobs and skills issues, housing and social segregation largely concentrate on urban areas. Cities are also in the position to develop innovative solutions to these multiple challenges. Doing this effectively means that cities have to scale up their cooperation, seek new solutions, and develop a solid knowledge basis for bottom-up evidence-based policy-making.

These themes were the subject of a lecture by Peter Takacs, Policy Officer in the Inclusive Growth, Urban and Territorial Development Unit of the DG for Regional and Urban Policy. He provided an overview of EU Urban Development policies, ranging from the 1997 strategy ‘Towards an Urban Agenda’ to the mainstreaming of Sustainable Urban Development (SUD) in the current programming period. SUD in 2021-27 promises further increases in coherence and integration of EU support to cities, as well as territorial interventions targeting full functional urban areas.

After his presentation, two discussants raised thought-provoking questions, and the audience participated in the ensuing discussion. Verena Balz, Lecturer in Regional Planning at TU Delft and Cottbus University of Technology, highlighted the regional gaps in SUD strategies and the dependency of their success on local planning systems. Martin Ferry, Senior Researcher at EPRC, raised the importance of monitoring and evaluation systems of the interventions, and of coordination with existing local strategies. Part of his intervention referred to his recent work on the performance of Integrated Territorial Development Strategies.

The afternoon is part of a joint series ‘Contemporary challenges in European spatial development’, organised by the Spatial Planning & Strategy chair in Delft’s Urbanism Department and EPRC Delft. This third session in the series was moderated by EPRC Director John Bachtler and Marcin Dąbrowski, Assistant Professor in the Urbanism Department of TU Delft. As the EPRC base at the Technical University of Delft is built up, EPRC is developing its cooperation with Dutch government departments at different levels and with universities. The lecture by a representative of the European Commission who leads on European Sustainable Urban Development strategies, is an example of the opportunities provided by our new location in the Netherlands.

The next seminar of this series will take place in May 2020 in Delft, and discusses the Geographies of Discontent. Follow EPRC and Spatial Planning & Strategy to receive updates, or get in touch.

For the lecture slides, click here.

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