At the end of April, the definitions of the topics selected for the fifth and final call for Innovative Urban Actions, which will open in September 2019, were published.
EuroVértice is an expert company in Urban Development and Innovation that has experts in various fields to support the development of a successful proposal and even be a partner of a city that bets on innovation.
The main objective of Innovative Urban Actions is to provide urban areas across Europe with resources to test innovative solutions to major urban challenges, to see how they work in practice and to respond to the complexity of real life.
This European Union initiative is aimed at cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants or groupings of urban authorities with a total population of at least 50,000 inhabitants, located in one of the 28 EU Member States.
Despite considerable progress in recent decades, ambient air pollution remains the number one environmental cause of premature deaths in the EU. Urban authorities are best placed to implement local measures that benefit the health and well-being of citizens and the environment, as they know the local situation and control a variety of instruments such as urban planning and design, infrastructure/traffic management, housing permits, neighbourhood modernisation and adaptive reuse of buildings, parking policy, etc., which enable them to direct and promote innovative solutions.
Healthy living and urban air quality can be improved by mitigating relevant emission sources of air pollutants or their precursors. Urban air quality is influenced not only by urban sources (i.e. traffic, domestic heating, poorly insulated buildings, industry) but also by sources outside the city.
This is the second time that an UAI call addresses this issue, so this time is invited to address, among others, the following points and problems in the projects:
- Clean displacements.
- Clean air and climate.
- Clean air for all.
- Clean Air Citizen Science.
- Clean air communication.
- Clean air governance.
The transition to a circular economy, where the value of products, materials and resources remains in the economy for as long as possible, and minimised waste generation, is a priority for the EU. Water and plastics are key resources in this transition.
Cities have solid experience in waste management as a service of general interest. They play a key role in the fight against waste and the reduction of the amount of solid waste distributed in the environment, as well as in the sustainable, efficient and equitable management of water (including the supply of drinking water and wastewater treatment).
Like the previous theme, this theme repeats. The initiative invites cities to consider the following points and problems:
- Reduction of plastics and other pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals in urban waste and waste water streams, with a focus on:
- single-use plastics;
- collection of plastic waste, microplastics and other pollutants from water runoff and stormwater overflows;
- promote the collection and separate treatment of wastewater contaminated by pharmaceuticals at typical access points.
- More circular management of urban water, which includes:
- make wastewater treatment and collection plants climate neutral or climate positive – reducing energy consumption / energy production;
- exploit the full potential of urban wastewater reuse;
- improved water use efficiency / reduction of water consumption, and improved access to water and affordability for the most vulnerable population groups.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
Culture and cultural heritage are vital assets for regional competitiveness and social cohesion, while constituting key elements of the identity of cities. In addition, cultural participation has a significant impact on the quality of life of citizens, contributing to their well-being and sense of belonging.
Innovative Urban Actions seeks to transcend the traditional approach in which investments in these sectors focus on supporting cultural production or physical interventions in heritage sites or buildings, through innovative and integrated approaches in local, people-based policies, adapting interventions to the effective needs of communities and offering them the opportunity to benefit from cultural heritage resources through participatory approaches in decision-making, joint creation and joint implementation, and open governance models.
In the context of the Urban Innovative Actions and taking stock of the European Union’s activities in this respect, urban authorities are invited to test innovative community-based solutions for access to and participation in culture and cultural heritage, which can have a positive impact on growth and employment, social cohesion and social inclusion, by addressing the following points and problems:
- Promote social inclusion and cohesion through better access to and participation in cultural and recreational services.
- Identify and implement innovative models of governance and participatory management for cultural heritage and cultural goods.
- Improve natural heritage, especially in peri-urban areas and historic centres to create quality public spaces to improve cities’ sense of belonging and resilience.
- Promote local employment through sustainable business models of culture and cultural heritage based on stakeholder participation and innovative public-private partnerships.
- Explore innovative models for enhancing social and physical well-being through improved access to and participation in culture and cultural heritage.
- Identify new strategies for more sustainable tourism flows, taking advantage of the potential of minor / peri-urban / rural heritage sites.
- Fostering intercultural dialogue through better access to and participation in culture.
In the EU there has been a dynamic of population loss due either to a natural reduction or to net outward migration, a process that has taken place between 2005 and 2015, while, on the contrary, the metropolitan regions of the capital have experienced population growth.
At the level of cities, many small and medium-sized cities that are not capitals in the EU face a decline in population in recent decades, i.e. cities that are shrinking. The phenomenon is affecting the EU in general, and the countries of Eastern and Southern Europe in particular.
Urban contraction brings with it fundamental challenges for urban entities, planning processes and governance structures. The decline in population affects almost all areas of urban life: business and employment, housing, social (including schools) and technical infrastructure, municipal finances, social cohesion, segregation, etc.
Urban authorities are invited to test innovative solutions to adapt to demographic decline, reverse demographic trends and attract relevant and resident economic activities for sustainable urban development to counteract the effects of demographic decline, in particular the following points and problems:
- Access to community-based health and social services.
- Accessibility and sustainability of basic public services.
- Reorganization of existing infrastructure and public services.
- Reorganisation of land use and public buildings.
- Development of Society 5.0, e.g. use of robotics and artificial intelligence.
- Development of the “silver economy”.
- Strengthening the active workforce by retaining and retraining the local workforce and attracting active workers.
- Stimulating local entrepreneurship, especially for the young population.
- Strengthen the capacity of labour market institutions, vocational education and training services and lifelong learning.