Greener Cities, Greener Europe - How the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnerships can bring sustainability closer to citizens

7 October, 2019


 

The Conference was organised by the European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN) EGTC on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. It took place on 7 October 2019 as an official side event of the 2019 European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC). It explored two of the guiding topics of the 2019 EWRC –a greener Europe and a Europe closer to citizens – through the acquis of the “green” Partnerships of the Urban Agenda for the EU

The participants discussed three main issues:

1. What is the role of cities and citizens in implementing sustainability policies?
2. How can the “green” Partnerships of the Urban Agenda for the EU contribute to bringing sustainability closer to citizens?
3. How can key political stakeholders support the implementation of the Actions proposed by the Partnerships?

These questions were addressed from different perspectives and by different stakeholders throughout the day. The Conference featured two keynotes, shedding light on academic as well as on political aspects. 

The first keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Derk Loorbach, Director of the Dutch Research Institute For Transitions (DRIFT). Mr. Loorbach presented a research perspective on sustainability transitions happening in EU cities nowadays. His main argument was that cities, Member States and other actors need to develop more transformative and bottom-up governance capacities to support emerging alternatives (often proposed by citizens), adapt existing conditions and phase out unsustainable technologies and practices.

Mr. Jan Olbrycht, Member of the European Parliament, contributed to the conference with a critical-constructive keynote speech, looking back on the experiences with the Urban Agenda for the EU until now, and the opportunities for urban sustainability in the post-2020 era. His discourse can be summarised as a down-to-earth approach in which appropriate future actions and achievements of the Commission and the Partnerships will be welcomed, supported and evaluated on their contents by the European Parliament.

In parallel working groups, the Coordinators and/or Action Leaders of the “green” Partnerships talked about their experience with the Urban Agenda for the EU. They presented a specific Action selected from their Action Plan and explored linkages with the cross-cutting issue of “Effective urban governance, including citizens participation and new models of governance”. 

The event concluded with a political panel debate, during which Members of the European Parliament, mayors, aldermen and senior experts discussed how the actions proposed by the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnerships could be taken on board by politicians and decision-makers. 

The EUKN Secretariat is currently working on a follow-up publication containing the Conference proceedings.