In early December URBACT launched a call for Good Practices, inviting Europe’s cities to put forward their most effective examples. The call remains open until 31st March. Across Europe, cities face formidable environmental, economic and social challenges. Affordable housing, business stimulation, migrant integration and good air quality are amongst them. These are issues that affect cities of all sizes, at a time when public budgets remain squeezed in many places.
Against this background, it is little wonder that the appetite for sharing effective urban solutions is growing. We see this within the URBACT programme, where participant cities are thirsty to hear about one another’s work. We also see it at the policy level, reflected in the work of the Urban Agenda for the EU. As its working groups come on stream, their initial activities include a thorough scan of the policy landscape, with a focus on what works.
Thanks to the Internet, there has never been an easier time to access examples of good practice. But in this era of half-facts and unsubstantiated claims, there are health warnings that come with this information. Who decides what good practice is? What are the criteria attached to it? And, crucially, where’s the evidence?
URBACT cares about these questions. As a programme for cities, we believe in their ability to find solutions to even the most wicked problems. We also believe that it’s important to identify Good Practice examples as a starting point for driving improvements in integrated sustainable urban development in Europe. That’s a major reason for the launch of this new call.
Yet we also know that good practice is, in itself, only the starting point. This is starkly evident in the fact that whilst we are surrounded by good practice examples, our cities can still struggle to find solutions. Ultimately, it is the transfer of those good examples, and the potential impact they have on wider city behaviours that is the bigger prize. Ultimately, this is URBACT’s goal, but a critical first base is the gathering of good urban practices from across Europe.
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