Strengthening Cooperation Between Cities, Member States and the EU!

Europe's Cities Fit for Future" web sessions is now successfully completed

More than 600 practitioners and experts from urban development and local authorities across Europe exchanged views and experiences in the context of “Europe's Cities Fit for Future”, an online event series throughout September 2020. In the discussions about current and future approaches to successful integrated urban development it became clear that many cities are already implementing the foreseen principles of the New Leipzig Charter. Scientists, experts and political representatives at all levels took part in the conversation. The result: Sustainable cities in Europe should be resilient, networked and should have the courage to change. The cross-level cooperation of cities, regions, Member States and the European Commission is crucial. In order to be empowered to act, the municipalities also need support from EU funding as well as national, regional and local programmes. The New Leipzig Charter, which is to be adopted in November 2020, offers municipalities an important strategic framework for this. The web series was organized by the DV on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI).

All five web sessions have been recorded:

September 3rd 2020: Launch of the "Europe's Cities Fit for Future" web conference series

The kick-off event on 3 September 2020 focused on ways in which the New Leipzig Charter can contribute to sustainable cities and regions. What has urban development to achieve in the future? Tilman Buchholz, Deputy Head of the Unit at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, and Prof. Silke Weidner from BTU-Cottbus-Senftenberg presented the foreseen elements of the New Leipzig Charter and emphasised that the document is not the result of individuals or single institutions, but was discussed and elaborated in a broad dialogue process at national and European level. The charter identifies five principles to make cities greener, more just and more productive: orientation towards the common good, integrated urban development, participation and co-creation, place-based approaches and multi-level cooperation. It also calls for Member States and the EU to encourage the capacity of cities to act through supporting policies and funding opportunities.

The drafting of the Charter has been underway since 2018, but with the corona pandemic at the beginning of the year the omens changed almost overnight. Do we therefore need a Leipzig Charter with completely different goals and principles? Both Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Michael Groschek, former Minister of State in North Rhine Westphalia and President of the German Association for Housing, Urban and Spatial Development (DV) made it clear: Even if the resilience of cities with Covid-19 has been given a much higher priority and urban density is to be seen in a new light, the current draft of the New Leipzig Charter already provides the right answers. After all, integrated, common good-oriented and participatory urban development that balances and links ecological, social and economic goals is more important today than ever before.

Niklas Maak, author and editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper (F.A.Z.), also asked fundamental questions about the changes in cities caused by the coronavirus: "How should we live in transforming cities? And how can we use the free space when shopping malls and office towers disappear?". In his opinion, these new open spaces should also be seen as opportunities to rethink a city.

September 9th 2020: The New Leipzig Charter in practice

At the "Translate it into Action" session on 9 September 2020, practitioners from all over Europe showed that the principles and mission statements of the New Leipzig Charter are already being lived in many municipalities. In three sessions, examples of the "green", the "just" and the "productive" city were presented. The three thematic sessions were moderated by URBACT programme experts Marcelline Bonneau (Green City) and Eddy Adams (Productive City) and URBACT lead expert Nils Scheffler (Just City).

The main protagonists were the municipalities themselves. For the city of Aveiro in Portugal, André Cester Costa told how the former centre of the ceramics industry is gradually making a name for itself as a digital centre. Aveiro is one of the first Portuguese cities to have the new 5G mobile phone standard. At the same time, the city is attracting as well as training technology professionals.

To become "greener", the city of Ghent in Belgium implemented a car-free city centre. Merijn Gouweloose from the municipal department of transport explained how this was achieved: the new traffic plan, initially implemented as a pilot in a neighbourhood, directs cars around the inner city. It has been such a success that it is now to be implemented in seven other neighbourhoods in Ghent – all in close cooperation with the residents and shopkeepers.

Arthur Cady showed how cities can become more socially just when it comes to the land problem with the CALICO project from Brussels, which is implemented within the framework of a "Community Land Trust" (CLT). A CLT acquires land in order to keep it permanently, with the land being jointly managed by users, the neighbourhood and the public. The intergenerational and intercultural cohousing project CALICO was realised on a land belonging to the CLT Brussels. The project provides space for people suffering from homelessness, and includes housing units for poor and single women. There is also a community-oriented birth and end-of-life facility and a community space open to local neighbourhood initiatives.

These are just three of the twelve examples from these sessions, that clearly demonstrated how many cities are already putting the New Leipzig Charter into practice today. All the projects mentioned and other best-practice examples can also be found in this database (URBACT Knowledge Hub)

September 18th 2020: Discussing the Right Political Framework

At the meeting on 18 September, participants discussed in particular the framework conditions that will be needed in the future at EU level to help municipalities to cope with the necessary environmental, economic and social changes. Dr. Susanne Lottermoser, Deputy Director-General for Urban Development at the German Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community, emphasised that this municipal capacity to act must be at the heart of the supporting EU framework in order to implement the New Leipzig Charter and place the focus on the common good as the centre of European urban development policy. She also made it clear that it is important to continue and further strengthen the dialogue at an equal level between cities, nation states and the EU Commission, how it was for instance initiated by the "Urban Agenda for the EU", so that local concerns, but also innovative ideas, have a clear impact in European urban development and funding policy. Normunds Popens, Deputy Director-General for Regional and Urban Policy at the European Commission, also stressed that the implementation of the New Leipzig Charter is fundamental for the European Commission and that the promotion of the "Urban Agenda for the EU" and the foreseen European Urban Initiative (EUI) should contribute to this. It will also be crucial to disseminate innovative municipal pilot projects such as those presented on 9 September, to support courageous initiatives and motivate other cities to "copy" them. Emmanuel Moulin, Director of the URBACT programme, pointed out that funding programmes such as URBACT already contribute a great deal to such exchanges. It encourages cities to cooperate and work together across departments. Especially in times of a pandemic, it had become clear that the URBACT community and the ideas of the New Leipzig Charter were relevant. In addition, Nuala Morgan, Head of Communication and Capitalisation at URBACT, emphasised for the future: "Special attention must be paid to smaller cities, which currently often find it difficult to acquire EU funding due to a lack of structures and experience".

On the process of creating the New Leipzig Charter:

Since the beginning of 2018, the DV, the European Urban Knowledge Network EUKN and the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg have been implementing the dialogue process and the drafting of the New Leipzig Charter on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and are committed to continuing and strengthening a multi-level model in European urban development policy. URBACT supported the dialogue process for the drafting of the New Leipzig Charter by, among other things, running thematic City Labs. More information on the development of the New Leipzig Charter can be found here: https://www.deutscher-verband.org/aktivitaeten/projekte/weiterentwicklung-leipzig-charta.html

About Europe's Cities Fit for Future:

Presentations & Contributions | Kick Off

Presentations | Productive Cities

Presentations | Green Cities

Presentations | Just Cities

Presentations | Set the Right Framework

In Co-operation with:

Kontakt

Hauke Meyer

Email
Telefon
+49 30 2061 325-53

Kontakt

Heike Mages

Email
Telefon
+49 30 2061 325-92

Littenstraße 10
10179 Berlin

Kontakt

Jonas Scholze

Email
Telefon
+32 2550 16-10

3, rue du Luxembourg
1000 Brüssel