URBACT City Festival 2022: Highlighting cities’s key role in tackling future challenges

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Cities house more than half of the world’s population. They are the engines of economic growth and innovations. From tackling climate change and inequality to cybersecurity, there are countless problems that our modern-day societies are faced with. In order to overcome these and many other challenges, cities and mayors must take on leading roles, make brave decisions and be catalysts for change. More than ever before, cities across Europe are taking major steps to address these issues and strengthen their resilience.

Since most European cities are experiencing similar issues and challenges, it remains a necessity for local authorities around the Old continent to stay connected and share expertise. Local leaders and their respective cities can benefit greatly by cooperating and working together whenever possible in order to achieve the greatest potential results and secure a better future for their communities.

One of the initiatives that fosters such cooperation is URBACT. The objective of URBACT is to enable cities to collaborate and develop integrated solutions to common urban issues. Under the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, URBACT, the EU’s city cooperation initiative, hosted the URBACT City Festival 2022 in Pantin (Greater Paris), it was announced on the European Commission’s website. The event took place from June 14 to June 16.

Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, quoted by the European Commission’s website, at the closing ceremony of this year’s festival stated: ‘’Cities are on the forefront of our ambitions for the future: a modern, innovative, digital economy; a greener lifestyle, based on renewable energy, recycling, deep renovation; and a new localism, building a new sense of place. For all of these ambitions, and more, Europe’s cities are the testing grounds, and the motor of the future.’’

There is an increasing number of common challenges and problems. The rapid rate of change in today’s societies necessitates more opportunities to learn and share knowledge and expertise than ever before. Supporting cities in their ability to design and implement integrated urban policies and actions, as well as inspiring and encouraging innovative exchange, networking and learning between cities, is one of the fundamental aims of URBACT. Ferreira also stated that URBACT has brought together around 1.000 cities of various sizes from across the European Union and its partner nations since its inception.

URBACT City Festival 2022 was mainly held at La Cité Fertile and was unique for a number of reasons. The organizers of this year’s event have taken on the task of making it the first carbon-neutral URBACT program-level event, making the festival even more special. During the festival, 450 European city representatives were able to share knowledge and positive examples regarding climate, inclusion, urban innovation, as well as many other crucial topics.

‘’I will conclude by saying, that for all these situations, from crises, to green and digital future, we depend on Europe’s cities, large and small. And we depend on the capacity of Europe’s cities, large and small to become corridors of growth for the wider surrounding areas,’’ Commissioner Ferreira also stated in her speech. (photo credit: Freepik)