Discussion on how emerging technologies and real estate can help European cities
The recent conference ‘Innovation, Technology and Real Estate: building cities for Europe’s future’ was organised by the URBAN Intergroup and INREV. It took place on Tuesday the 4th of December in Brussels.
In his opening speech, Jan Olbrycht, President of the URBAN Intergroup, emphasized the importance of integrated, rational urban planning if we are to meet the challenges facing cities. “It’s not possible to have long-term real estate investment without a stable legislative and political system” – said Olbrycht. It was followed by several presentations explaining the role that technology and real estate can play in improving the quality of life in cities.
The first presentation made by a representative of ULI (the Urban Land Institute) explained the challenges facing cities such as increasing density, congestion and aging populations and underlined some of the growth trends in urban areas.
A leader of the URBAN Air Mobility (UAM), within the Sustainable Urban Mobility Action Cluster of the EIP-SCC (European Innovation Partnership, Smart Cities and Communities), illustrated their vision of smart cities and how urban air mobility and electric flying vehicles, which are developing rapidly, can help address some of these challenges. As there is a significant disconnect between urban planning and new technology, a strong call was made for a more integrated approach. Moreover, the need for urban planners to take into account the “fourth” dimension of urban mobility (not only walk, ride, bike but also fly) was underlined.
Discussion with Partnership for Urban Mobility
Members of the URBAN Intergroup had a chance to discuss with members of the Partnership for Urban Mobility of the Urban Agenda on the 9th of October at the European Parliament in Brussels. This breakfast meeting was an occasion for the representatives of the Partnership to present the results of their work ahead of the adoption of their Action Plan. Members of the Partnership called for the reinforcement of multi-level cooperation and governance and better uptake of sustainable urban mobility planning.
In the area of public transport, an evaluation of best practices in facilitating access to public transport and a scaling up of innovative clean busses were underlined. The Partnership advocated for the development of active modes of transport and the use of public space: it prescribed to develop guidelines on infrastructure for an active mobility supported by relevant funding, by promoting sustainable and active mobility behaviour and finally by reducing the diversity of Urban Vehicle Access Regulations. Moreover, members of the Partnership argued that there is a need to explore the development of New Mobility Services and to set up a European framework for fostering urban mobility innovation.
“What surprises me is that your actions are very concrete! You are, as practitioners, a part of the European project and you deal with the core problems that the EU cities must tackle” – said during the discussion Lambert van Nisterlooij (EPP, the Netherlands), Vice-President of the URBAN Intergroup. Dr Frank Mentrup, Lord Mayor of Karlsruhe, underlined that “urban mobility is not only about tackling climate issues but has an important social impact” by pulling out people from poverty.
Peter Simon (S&D, Germany), member of the Intergroup, noted that local authorities need to have a serious debate with representatives of industry in order to plan new mobility services and different types of interconnections within urban areas. Jan Olbrycht (EPP, Poland) added in this context that other cities can learn how to deal with industry thanks to the best practices collected by the Partnership.
A Europe closer to citizens? The Urban and Territorial Dimension of Cohesion Policy post-2020
The URBAN Intergroup together with EUROCITIES and CEMR hosted an event on the urban and territorial dimension of cohesion policy post-2020 on Tuesday, 4th of September 2018. The meeting was organised with regard to the current negotiations of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 and was designed in two main panels. The first one discussed possible ways of the new cohesion policy framework that would stimulate a truly integrated, place-based development. The latter reflected on improving the delivery of sustainable development strategies within the urban dimension of post-2020 cohesion policy.
The President of URBAN Intergroup, Jan Olbrycht opened the meeting by stating: “Today we will not discuss technicalities but the way we make policy.” Later, he emphasised the main objective: to build Europe, through cohesion policy that is closer to its citizens.
The European Commission representative (DG REGIO) shared a view of a simplified and feasible cohesion policy that would be adaptable to the needs of key beneficiaries.
The Secretary General of EUROCITIES Anna Lisa Boni stated: “We want to deliver faster and better results from cohesion policy for the people.”
Study visit to China
URBAN Intergoup representatives took part in a successful visit to China in July 2018. During one week, the participants gained knowledge, exchanged views and shared ideas on many issues related to sustainability and urban development between European and Chinese cities. Upon arrival in the city of Shenzhen, the first day was dedicated to the study of innovative solutions for urban management concerning water supply and transportation. Shenzhen lies along the eastern part of the Pearl River Delta megalopolis, bordering Hong Kong. The group visited the Shenzhen Integrated Transport Command Centre, a key unit responsible for controlling transport flow in the city of over 12.5 million inhabitants. MEPs saw a real-time data management on smart supervision platform. It allows Chinese authorities to supervise not only the whole fleet of busses (100% electric!) but also underground transport system, as well all available parking spaces in the city. Moreover, participants met representatives of the Shenzhen Water Group, the company responsible for water production, supply and sewage treatment services in the area.
The next day, the group was hosted by Huawei, one of the world’s largest networking and telecommunication companies but also one of the biggest Chinese owned companies. Upon arrival to the headquarters in Shenzhen, the group saw two meaningful expositions. The first one explored company’s R&D sector, which included a showcase of new mobile technologies (5G). The second exhibition of the Industry discussed key components of modern urban planning including Energy, Transportation, Finance and the concept of Smart Cities. Huawei experts explained innovative technologies , which have been developed to increase efficiency of city’s transportation systems including the management of civil aviation in the world’s largest airports. This was followed by a visit to the so-called ‘Road of Digital Transformation’ in the Huawei Enterprise Business Briefing Centre and a workshop in which both sides exchanged views on how new technological discoveries can aid modern urban planning.
The following days, the group had a guided tour over the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition which displays a remarkable multi-faceted transformation of the city over the past decades and discusses the many contemporary solutions for the modern planning of Shanghai. MEPs visited the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Planning and Land Resources, which holds key responsibilities including establishing legal framework for town and country planning. At Shanghai Environment Protection Bureau MEPs meet with authorities responsible for executing environmentally friendly policies acting against the proliferation of air pollution. MEPs had as well the opportunity to discover Shanghai as one of the biggest world’s transport hub by visiting the Shanghai Yangshan Deep Water Port. This world’s biggest automated container terminal built in 2017 one two islands is connected with the mainland by the 32,5 km long Donhai Bridge, the longest sea bridge in the world.
Presentation of the URBACT program at the European Parliament in Brussels- January 10th
We are pleased to invite you to attend the presentation of the URBACT program and its contribution to the URBAN Intergroup’s legislative discussions and reflections on urban affairs and the new Cohesion Policy
On Wednesday January 10th
From 13.00 to 15.00 at the European Parliament in Brussels
Room JAN 6Q2
Instrument of the European Cohesion Policy, URBACT is a European Territorial Cooperation programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Member/Partner States of the European Union since 2002.
URBACT finances and enables local authorities to work together to develop new and sustainable solutions to major urban challenges, through networking activities, knowledge-sharing, and capacity-building for urban practitioners.