Future urban challenges in focus at the high level event in Brussels

On March 27th the JPI Urban Europe and the European Commission organised a high level event at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. During the event, two new studies from JPI Urban Europe on urban global megatrends and their long term impacts on European cities and urban regions were presented and debated.

The event was attended by 150 invitees, representing the JPI Urban Europe, European Institutions, cities and urban networks, along with high-profile scientific and policy experts. During an intense and interesting day, participants were discussing issues relating to megatrends and future urban challenges, both in plenary sessions, parallel workshops and informally during breaks.

Future urban challenges
Chair Henk Snoeken, Vice-chair of the JPI Urban Europe Governing Board, led the participants to an insight on urban megatrends and future challenges for European urban areas in the first plenary session. The main conclusion of the reports is that future urban challenges call for renewed policy approaches and research. Another important conclusion is the need for increased co-production of knowledge in order to bridge the gap between civil society, citizen participation, policy development and research.

“We need a new governance and a more substantial and structured way to involve local and regional levels in policy making.”, said Bas Verkerk, Rapporteur of the Committee of the regions on an integrated EU urban agenda, in his opening remark.

“An integrated approach is important and a reality within cities. Urban issues provide a possibility not only to work together but to really use the research funded by the EU. Policymakers at all levels must be encouraged to use the research results”, said Jan Olbrycht, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the URBAN Intergroup.

Congres 1 Congres 3 Congres 5 Panel discussion
Urban challenges and policy responses were discussed by a panel of representatives from various European cities and city networks. The cities are facing a diversity of challenges that result in diverse requirements for each of the cities, depending of size, location, region etcetera. The panellists agreed however that research must be based on cities and citizens’ challenges and needs. From the cities point of view, science is only relevant when it contributes to concrete practical and tangible solutions to their problems.

Four workshops
In the afternoon, the morning plenary session was followed by discussions in break-out groups on four different topics; European urban diversity, Smart cities – smart citizens, the Role of cities and urban regions in smart specialisation and How to mediate between urban research and urban policy. The discussions in the workshops were presented to the closing plenary and provided additional perspectives to the discussion on future urban challenges.


Congres 4 Congres 6 Congres 2Final Reflections and proposals
In the last session, that addressed final reflections and proposals on the way forward, the panel agreed that the discussions during the day were a good starting point for continued work and that the JPI Urban Europe will be a contribution to the development of European cooperation in research and innovation and solving urban challenges. Horizon 2020 also offers great opportunities for those who have good ideas and smart solutions to urban challenges.

“The EU is serious about stimulation of integrated urban development, and therefore, we have significant increased the budget. Cities are in the driving seat when to make use of the available funding.”, said Wladyslaw Piskorz, Head of Unit, European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy.

In his concluding remark, Dimitri Corpakis, Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, emphasised that the combination of research and policy making is the way forward.

def3 def2 def 1About the reports
The policy paper concludes that global megatrends, including climate change and demographic and economic development, will have a regionally differentiated impact on European urban regions and implications for policy-making at all levels.

The scientific in-depth analysis gives evidence of the increasing complexities of contemporary urbanism and urbanization and this calls for interdisciplinary and integrative as well as pluralistic and place-based approaches to urban research and urban governance. These results form a departure point for the JPI Urban Europe’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) that is being developed through an iterative process involving the urban research and innovation community as well as local stakeholder platforms in 15 European countries.

Download presentations
Read the Press-Release
Watch the web stream recording from the event




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