From the Leipzig Charter to the SDGs: an integrated approach to sustainable development

What are the links between the Leipzig Charter, EU Cohesion Policy and the United Nations' 2030 Agenda? The EUKN's Lea Scheurer took part in a discussion on this complex topic during an RFSC event in Brussels.


The Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC) and the Urban Development Network (UDN) jointly organised the event “From the Leipzig Charter to the SDGs – an integrated approach to sustainable urban development” on 13 October 2017 in Brussels.

The discussion touched upon four thematic areas and their links:

  • Findings of the study “Ten years after the Leipzig Charter”
  • EU Cohesion Policy and the 2030 Agenda
  • The Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities
  • Localising the SDGs in Flanders

Setting the scene, Lea Scheurer (EUKN) presented the EUKN's "Ten years after the Leipzig Charter" publication investigating the state of integrated urban development in Europe ten years after the adoption of the Leipzig Charter. The study presents the findings of a survey among national ministry experts in 35 European countries plus Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the USA. The results show that integrated urban development policies according to the principles of the Leipzig Charter have entered the political mainstream all over Europe, while the implementation continues to pose challenges to all levels of government. The adoption of the Leipzig Charter was crucial to foster the concept of the integrated approach and impacted many governance dimensions of urban policies, including funding structures and the approach to deprived neighbourhoods. Three case studies from European cities complement the study by showcasing how concrete integrated urban development projects implement the Leipzig Charter principles on the ground.

Watch the videos on Brno,  Brussels, and Vantaa. 

Download Lea's presentation here.

Making the link with present-day policies, DG REGIO's Judit Torokne Rosza emphasised the strong connection between EU Cohesion Policy and the Global Agenda, both being focused on sustainable development in its economic, environmental, and social dimensions. She described Cohesion Policy is the main financial tool to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in Europe and sketched the European Commission's next steps in the development of the post-2020 Cohesion Policy and beyond. 

The Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC) has been set up in 2008 to support the delivery of the Leipzig Charter principles. François Bertrand from the French Ministry on Territorial Cohesion outlined how the RFSC provides support to local authorities of all sizes in the development of integrated territorial strategies, thus providing a common language for different stakeholders and different levels of government. The RFSC also supports local authorities in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.

In the last part of the session, Karlien Gorissen presented a pilot project of the Flemish Association of Cities and Municipalities (VVSG) on localising the SDGs. This pilot project focuses on awareness raising, on influencing policy-making by linking local strategic plans with the Sustainable Development Goals, and on enhancing the integrated approach to implementing the SDGs.


Read a more detailed article (in German) that Lea Scheurer wrote for the magazine of the German section of the CEMR, "Europa kommunal"