Press Release: Future Urban Challenges call for renewed and integrated policy approaches


The research Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe released two studies on urban global megatrends – climate change, economic and demographic development – and their long term impacts on European cities and urban regions. The reports were presented and debated at a high level event organised at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels on 27 March 2014. One of the most important conclusions is the need for increased co-production of knowledge in order to bridge the gap between civil society, citizen participation, policy development as well as research and innovation.

The analysis of urban global megatrends indicates that the diversity across Europe will increase in the next years and decades. The challenges will affect European regions in different intensity and ways and result in growing East-West and North-South gaps regarding economic growth, in- and outmigration and needs to adapt to climate change. New strategies are required to manage these developments and ensure that the urban development in Europe is well-balanced. Furthermore, there is sheer evidence for differing developments in large cities and in smaller and mid-sized cities, which should be acknowledged in research and innovations activities, as there is much diversity in city-size in Europe.

Cities and urban regions are where most Europeans live and innovate.

They are key players in tackling societal challenges and building a sustainable future. They can count on Europe’s support. I welcome the ambition of the Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe to pool resources at national level and look forward to reading its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, said Peter Dröll, Director, European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation and one of the speakers at the event.

New policy approaches need to support urban transformation in an integrative way. Addressing individual challenges will not result in an optimized solution. The studies show that economic, social, environmental, demographic developments are highly interlinked and need to be addressed in their complexity to the highest extent as possible. This situation calls for new models and forms for urban governance that are able to anticipate the complexity and allow to manage urban transformation. These models can only be developed in a public participatory and trans-disciplinary way. New concepts need to be assessed and validated together with urban stakeholders and policy-makers. Social innovation needs to go hand in hand with technological or process innovation. Civil society has to be part of this development to ensure trust and acceptance of new solutions, enhance participation, and jointly realize a sustainable urban future in Europe.

Addressing this multifaceted challenge will require fundamental interdisciplinary research and that this is translated into practical techniques, technologies, planning solutions and policy instruments.

Addressing only one of these two stages will lead either to unexploited opportunities or to the application of suboptimal solutions; the scale of our urban challenges requires that we avoid such a calamity, said Darren Robinson, Vice-Chair of the JPI Urban Europe Scientific Advisory Board and Professor, University of Nottingham and one of the speakers at the event.

As a trans-national research and innovation initiative the JPI Urban Europe has the ambition to contribute to this development by addressing the urban diversity in Europe, by fostering inter- and trans-disciplinary research, strengthening co-operation between research and policy as well as supporting European cities of different size, shape and needs for progress.

The EU Urban Agenda should be based on evidence-based policy advise.

Therefore, we support European cooperation in research on solving urban challenges, said Bas Verkerk, Rapporteur of the Committee of the Regions on an integrated EU urban agenda och one of the speakers at the event.

The seminar “Urban Megatrends and Future Challenges for European Urban Areas” was organised by a joint effort of the research Joint Programming initiative Urban Europe and the European Commission. The event brought together more than 150 representatives from the JPI Urban Europe and the European Institutions as well as from other urban networks and cities representatives, along with high-profile scientific and policy experts to discuss issues relating to megatrends and future urban challenges.

For additional information:

Please contact:

Margit Noll, Member of the JPI Urban Europe Management Board,  or M +43 664 8251158

The reports can be downloaded via


More about 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 urbanisation 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.

About JPI Urban Europe:

Joint Programming is an instrument established in 2008 by the European Commission to strengthen research and innovation by having European countries to voluntarily work together and pool national research efforts. The Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe was set up in 2010 to strengthen European research and innovation in the field of urban development. The JPI Urban Europe addresses the entire urban field. It strives to make better use of Europe`s public funds in the urban research and innovation field. The JPI Urban Europe supports the urban development process by generating scientific knowledge and relevant expertise. As such, the initiative works closely together with important stakeholders on national, European and international level. Please visit




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