Ministers of Housing and Urban Development approve the Toledo Declaration

The Ministers of Urban Development of the European Union formalised a commitment to apply a Spanish proposal for integrated urban regeneration, in a declaration bearing the name of the meeting city.

The Spanish Minister of Housing, Beatriz Corredor, stated that the Toledo Declaration “sets out the European Union's political commitment to defining and applying integrated urban regeneration as one of the key tools of the 2020 Strategy”.

According to Corredor, “the goal of European cities should be to come out of the crisis better positioned to face challenges”, and also “to be more liveable, sustainable, integrating and eco-efficient”.

The Minister added that the member states understand that "an integrated urban policy approach is a critical factor behind short and medium-term economic competitiveness of a sustainable economy”.

A benchmark for measuring urban sustainability

During the meeting, France presented the first phase of a tool for measuring cities' sustainability.

This prototype will be used by means of a web setting out four measurement criteria:

  • Analysing urban sustainability in terms of economic, social and environmental factors
  • Verifying that each and every strategy has an integrated approach
  • Evaluating the attention given to disadvantaged neighbourhoods
  • Studying the evolution of sustainability in a city by using a battery of indicators yet to be defined

The Minister reported that this tool will be ready by the end of 2011, during the Polish six-month Presidency.

The role of cities in the 2020 Strategy

In the morning, the ministers looked at the role of cities and urban environments in reaching the goals set out in the recently approved 2020 Strategy.

According to Corredor, the 2020 Strategy's priorities should be shaped by "a necessarily urban environment" since “70% of the European population lives in urban areas”.

“It is not possible to have a more sustainable, more integrated and smarter Europe without more innovative, more energy-efficient, more sustainable and therefore more inclusive cities”.

The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, centred his speech on climate change.

Hahn stressed that “according to world-wide estimations, cities use about two thirds of the final energy demand and generate up to 70% of all CO2 emissions”. For this reason, he said, “to reduce these shares is indeed a challenge. However, cities are also part of the solution”.

Committee of the Regions (CoR) President Mercedes Bresso declared in her message that “the future EU regional funding must address infraregional disparities, particularly social renewal and energy efficiency”. "Urban areas are engines of economic growth –she said- but they can also hide severe problems of social and income inequality”.

In Toledo, integrated urban regeneration, together with the renovation of homes and buildings, are the two main tools that the Ministers for Housing and Urban Development have cited for building more sustainable and more integrating cities.

Source: The Spanish Presidency