Driving Urban Transitions programme co-designed in first ever AGORA Virtual Dialogue

Initially planned to take place in the beginning of May in Innsbruck linked to CEMR’s 2020 conference, the JPI Urban Europe AGORA Strategic Dialogue had to be shifted to an online format due to the current travel restrictions and lock-downs across Europe. We took on the challenge to develop a new, travel free format for stakeholder engagement in JPI Urban Europe: the AGORA Virtual Dialogue. On the 5th and 6th of May the new AGORA format premiered with about 40 participants from all over Europe and across professional backgrounds to discuss and co-design key elements of the Driving Urban Transitions programme. 

When we firstly announced the AGORA Strategic Dialogue, we thought we would meet about 80-100 urban practitioners, change makers, representatives from urban administrations, the research community and others in a true place of transition: a former hardware store on the fringes of Innsbruck, Austria. The aim was to jointly discuss how the Driving Urban Transitions (DUT) programme JPI Urban Europe is currently designing can support taking the big leap forward for transitions towards sustainable and livable urban areas. Although we have not been able to meet physically, engaging a wide range of stakeholders in the programming process has been and will continue to be a priority. For that reason, we developed a highly interactive workshop format together with the Centre for Facilitation. Participants had the opportunity to discuss in virtual breakout rooms, use digital flip charts and post its to bring together different knowledge(s) and experiences.

The aim of the two half-day workshop was to jointly elaborate key issues and measures for the implementation of the DUT programme. Results of the public consultation were discussed and taken further to identify those aspects that are most important for radically advancing urban transitions. Participants exchanged on the priority areas of urban energy transitions, greening of cities and sustainable urban mobility and the potential for integrated urban development and the contributions of a transnational programme to drive such transitions.

Besides many inspiring discussions, some take-aways are:

  • New approaches in the use and design of space are required to realise sustainable pathways which does not only include the Covid-19 triggered focus on the accessibility of public spaces but also regarding the flexibility and adaptability of spaces
  • A much stronger public engagement in urban planning and governance is called for to make the big leap happen which requires a redesign of decision making processes, new ways of communication and specific support of community-led initiatives
  • There was a strong call for both decentralization/localization of governance and decision-making together with an improved inter-connectivity between neighbourhoods and within Functional Urban Areas to ensure locally adapted solutions and social inclusion.

Due to the high interest in the event, there will be a second edition of the AGORA Dialogue “From ambitions to local actions” on 18 and 19 May. Since this event is also fully booked, the results of the workshops and the current state of play of the Driving Urban Transitions Programme will be presented in an interactive webinar on 18 June. Feel free to register here

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European Union

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 857160.