Multilevel Governance for the Co-production of Urban Security
Multilevel Governance for the Co-production of Urban Security was the topic of the latest online event co-organised by the URBAN Intergroup and the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) on 11 February. Jan Olbrycht, President of the Intergroup, led the discussions.
Brigitte De Deyne, International relations officer for the City of Liège, who represented Willy Demeyer Efus’ President and the Mayor of Liège, started the event with an introduction on Efus’ work – based on regular exchanges with its more than 250 member local and regional authorities from 17 EU Member States – and objectives that nourished the activities of the European Forum for Urban Security’s Security, Democracy and Cities international conference held in Nice on 20-22 October 2021. She presented Efus’ Security, Democracy and Cities Declaration, adopted during the closing session of the above-mentioned conference, which underlines the central role of cities in designing and implementing transversal security policies with mayors as one of the central figures. Moreover, signatories of the Declaration called for investing in prevention, mobilising the most adequate and agile tools and partnerships for co-production of urban security. Multilevel governance between different actors was stressed in the document with the role for the URBAN Intergroup as a key partner. Ms De Deyne called for the support of the Member of the European Parliament to implement the Declaration’s actions.
Elizabeth Johnston, Executive Director of Efus, further specified Efus’ actions and initiatives. She underlined that the definition of security constantly evolves. That is why Efus promotes a holistic approach to urban security, which involves all local actors and citizens in the co-production of policies. It considers security as a fundamental right of all people. She also expressed that both the URBAN Intergroup and Efus would share a joint interest on the topics of environment, urban transport, housing, security of senior citizens/ageing and social issues, which can be a good basis for further cooperation between the local-regional and EU level. Elizabeth Johnston also highlighted the need and utility to jointly identify tools for EU support allowing for the implementation of actions of joint interest.
Sebastian Viano, Director Europe, Euro-Mediterranean relations & External Funding at Nice Côte d’Azur metropolitan area, together with Werner Van Herle, Head of the Prevention and Security Department, City of Mechelen, presented the Partnership on Security in Public Spaces of the Urban Agenda for the EU (UAEU). This partnership was set up in 2019 as one of the 14 thematic Partnerships of the UAEU. It is co-led by Efus, the City of Nice and the City of Madrid. They explained potential benefits that would come from partnerships that can involve local and regional authorities of all sizes.. The key areas presented during the event involved the reinforcement of social cohesion, the elaboration of agile training tools for local security actors and the safety of women in public spaces.
Kyriaki Bourdakou, Deputy Mayor of the City of Piraeus and President of the Local Council for Crime Prevention, presented the BeSecure-FeelSecure project – in which Efus is a partner – financed under the Urban Innovative Actions. This project aims to reinforce urban security and promote positive perception of urban safety by providing strategies and tools to link the main urban security stakeholders and facilitate their collaboration in physical-and-cyber space. Dissemination and scaling-up of the project will be possible via Efus network. Ms Bourdakou equally mentioned the need for EU support for such initiatives to be sustainable.
During the discussion, it has been mentioned that integrated urban strategies are important to cope with different aspects of urban security. However, not only the access and use of technologies is important in public spaces but also the perception of security by inhabitants. Preventing and fighting against systematic sexual harassment in public transport and public space was mentioned as well.
The session was closed by Fabienne Keller, Vice-President of the URBAN Intergroup, who expressed overall support for the idea of improving urban security and the plans presented by the speakers. She also stressed that urban security is a prerequisite for the well-functioning of a city. Moreover, a balanced solution is needed between freedom and over-control of European cities. Security for everyone and especially for the most vulnerable inhabitants should be a priority for all politicians. Fabienne Keller paid particular attention to women’s safety in public spaces, including in public transport.