RURBAN – conference in Metz
The European Commission, in cooperation with French Lorraine region, organized on November 16th in Metz (France) a European seminar to present the first findings of a study on “Partnership for sustainable urban-rural development” RURBAN. The reflection was initiated by the URBAN Intergroup as a preparatory action in 2010.
This preparatory action agreed by the European Parliament and currently undertaken by the European Commission aims to draw policy lessons concerning the potential role of urban-rural partnerships in improving regional competitiveness and territorial cohesion.
At the beginning of the seminar, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presented a comprehensive study on assessing urban-rural partnership in OECD countries. The case studies of existing good cooperation practices between urban and rural areas from Germany, the United Kingdom and France were then presented.
In the last panel discussion, policy implications of the study were discussed. Jan Olbrycht MEP, as a President of the URBAN Intergroup, who initiated this reflection, reminded the aims of the RURBAN preparatory action supported by the European Parliament. He also underlined the importance of study findings and future policy implications. “Cohesion policy, which is necessary for a long term growth, should be achieved by all European policies. That is why we should work at all administrative levels on the complementarities between policies,” said Jan Olbrycht MEP. “Urban and rural partnerships can improve regional competitiveness”, he added.
The seminar was opened by Cécile Duflot, French Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing, and Charlina Vitcheva, Director of the DG REGIO. Around 200 participants, including representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, urban and rural networks, academics and high level officials from Member States took part in the conference.
The next step in this discussion will be a conference organised in Warsaw (Poland) in April 2013.
Seminar on Natural Solutions for Urban Areas in Europe – 14.11.2012
A conference on “Natural Solutions for Cities in Europe” was held on Wednesday November 14th in Brussels and was organized by the URBAN Intergroup, in cooperation with the Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development.
The conference was chaired by Jan Olbrycht, President of the URBAN Intergroup, Cristina Gutierrez-Cortines and Vittorio Prodi, Vice-Presidents of the Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development. The conference mainly focused on the presence of nature in the urban space. Participants agreed that in view of the increasing trend of urbanization and environmental exploitation care for nature is essential. Among many ideas raised at the conference, the most important was that the effective fusion of city and nature may be achieved in practical ways.
As emphasised by Jan Olbrycht at the opening of the conference: “The new principle of sustainable urban development has been introduced in EU cohesion policy’s new regulations. Now, we need to translate this concept of sustainability into concrete actions.” It may be achieved by introduction of cost-effective urban space economy, reasonable use of renewable energy and the creation of urban spaces with a friendly aesthetics. What may seem as an opposite, nature and city, can be overcome by a sustainable development of urban, peri-urban and rural areas. Next to best practices presentation there was a vital share of views on how to understand biodiversity in cities from various perspectives from regional development, business investments to NGO’s activity.
Cristina Gutierrez-Cortines underlined that the European Parliament strives to work together with the European Commission and the European Environmental Agency (EEA) to amendment, review and enlarge the Agenda 21 to become a roadmap and guide for all the Mayors inEurope.
To conclude the meeting, Vittorio Prodi stressed the importance of continuing discussions on the need to develop urban biodiversity initiatives because of the deteriorating situation of urban environments. “We have to organise territorial care to keep water as long as possible where it falls because the changes in rainfall patterns due to climate change have disastrous consequences on our territories,” he held. This organisation has to begin in our cities, which can then lead communities to make these changes.