NEWS - MAY 2013

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Germany’s first umbrella vending machine inside a bus
The transport operator for Unna County (VKU) has equipped buses of Route S30 with umbrella vending machines. The small vending machines were installed in the standing area of the bus so, if it starts to rain during their ride, passengers can buy an umbrella for 4 Euro.


Growth through diversity in Copenhagen
Engage in Copenhagen is a three year inclusion program, designed to function as a catalyst for the City of Copenhagen’s new inclusion policy and vision for the city.
The goal of Engage in Copenhagen program is to start a number of initiatives with the common aim of making Copenhagen into an open and welcoming city. During an interview with Cities of Migration Copenhagen’s Mayor for Employment and integration, Anna Mee Allerslev said: “Just like the climate movement, the diversity movement has a severe impact on our growth and quality of life. And just like there is no reasonable alternative to green energy, there is no reasonable alternative to growth through diversity”.
The city’s vision is to become “the most inclusive city in Europe by 2015- based on trust and active citizenship.” Four strategic pillars currently guide the city into achieving its vision. The city aims at systematically engage partners.


Hasselt cancels free public transport after 16 years (Belgium)
The city of Hasselt abolished public transport fares in 1997 within the city range and, since then, both the number of travellers and the number of routes and buses has increased over time. Until June 1997, there were approximately 1,000 Hasselt bus passengers per day. Ten years later there was an average of 12,600. Now, however, after 16 years, Hasselt has had to take budgetary efforts to keep costs under control and the Town Council has decided that subsidies for bus transport are to be abolished.


UN-Habitat Executive Director roots for smarter streets patterns in cities 
Well planned street systems in cities hold the key to better mobility, provision of urban basic services as well as economic productivity, UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos has said.


Rotterdam fighting poverty and social exclusion
An example of urban regeneration at an upcoming Committee of the Regions conference
An urban regeneration programme from the city of Rotterdam will be on show tomorrow at a high-profile Committee of the Regions conference showcasing local efforts at tackling poverty and social exclusion. Nationaal Programma Rotterdam Zuid (NPRZ) will be part of an exhibition that is shown to participants of the ‘Poverty and social exclusion: what role for regions and cities?’ conference. The latter is part of a conference series that explores how cities and regions are addressing the flagship initiatives of Europe’s 2020 strategy.


770,000 € for cycling infrastructure in Aalborg
As part of a national funding scheme, the City of Aalborg has received 770,000 € to support the establishment of a six kilometre long cycling route from the city centre to the industrial harbour.


How do cities improve quality of life by motivating mobility mindsets
What is our vision of urban mobility? What is the definition of quality and sustainability with regards to mobility? How do cities define and carry out long term mobility strategies that will deliver on climate goals and maintain competitiveness? How can smart mobility boost European economic growth? These are the challenges tackled by the URBACT Workstream "Mobility mindsets" team.  The article "Motivating Mobililty Mindsets" written by Anette Enermark and Sally Kneeswhaw, Lead Expert of the URBACT EVUE project, presents the first findings of their work.


Seattle Unveils Plan to Become Carbon Neutral
Seattle city leaders recently unveiled a new climate action plan for the city. The new plan sets a goal of making Seattle carbon neutral (with zero net emissions of greenhouse gases) by 2050, with many of the action items initiated within the next 15 years. The plan elements include expanding bus and light-rail systems, increasing biking and walking options, and requiring energy-use disclosures when houses or apartments are rented or sold.


New stations for better city transport
A new generation of interchanges for a more efficient and sustainable urban mobility system
Launch of the new NODES website at 
NODES, New Tools for Design and Operation of Urban Transport Interchanges is a three-year European research project, focusing on providing and demonstrating tools for better transport interchanges to support a more efficient urban transport system.
Toulouse, Reading, Budapest, Rouen, Rome, Thessaloniki, Osnabrück, Coventry and the Dutch Railways will all implement new solutions for a new generation of interchanges which will contribute to better transport services and an improved experience for the travelers.
Their efforts, supported by a consortium of 17 European partners, will lead to new solutions in five key areas:
•the integration of the interchange with its urban environment; 
•a design which improves the traveler experience, is attractive and enables efficient transport operations;
•the integration of different transport services at the interchange, from rail and buses to bikes and electromobility services, all this supported by the smart use of information and telecommunication technologies;
•business models to ensure the financing of the developments and the financial sustainability of the projects;
•solutions for more energy efficient stations with lower impacts on the environment.
The NODES Toolbox will provide a catalogue of integrated planning, design and management tools, based on the most advanced practices in urban and other related transport sectors. It will allow practitioners to assess and benchmark their new or upgraded interchange and to improve their performance.


Urban Dwellers Happier in Cities with Trees and Green Space
New research published in the UK's Psychological Science found that people living in urban areas with more green space report greater well-being than city dwellers who don’t have parks, trees, or other green space nearby. Survey respondents reported less mental distress and higher life satisfaction when they were living in greener areas, even accounting for changes in participants' income, employment, marital status, physical health, and housing.


Centenary of the International Municipal Movement
100 years ago one of the Founding Organizations of UCLG, International Union of Local Authorities, held its first Congress in Gent Belgium. This Union became the ‘nerve centre’ for city international relations and marked the beginning of the international municipal movement.
In the framework of the preparation for this Centenary that we will celebrate in Rabat during the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders, UCLG is calling upon the experience and memory of all its members, partners and associates.
Our goal is to gather the major events of the last one hundred years of decentralised cooperation and united municipal action and present them in a chronological exposition.
To pay tribute to the achievements of the last 100 years of the municipal movement, we require before the 20th June, archives and/or testimonies that may contribute to this common project. This may include:
•Photos dating from 1913-2001 from meetings held by the founding organisations of UCLG: International Union of Local Authorities / United Towns Organisation
•Photos, minutes or brochures from early cooperation projects conducted directly between municipalities
•Particular memories or testimonies of important events or meeting that have been important to local governments on global level
•For the sections or sister organisations, details of the creation and evolution of your organisation and photos/minutes from key events
•Other documents or photos that you may consider relevant for the purpose of this exhibition
Please do not send us original documents or photos, if we require originals we will contact you directly.
Questions, inquiries and proposals are all welcome. Do not hesitate to contact the World Secretariat, in particular Craig Laird (

SUMP-SEAP International Experience Exchange Workshop
The Workshop will bring experts in the field of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP) and Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) together. Transport and energy practitioners from local authorities are invited.


MIT and ICLEI co-launch Urban Climate Governance Survey
In collaboration with ICLEI, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is launching the Urban Climate Governance Survey (UCGS) in May 2013.
The first survey of its kind, the UCGS will be able to pinpoint how local governments around the world are approaching the climate challenge, and what can be done to make their work easier and more effective.
Conducted by MIT's Dr. Alex Aylett, the UCGS will combine attention to institutional, technical, political, and economic factors. This makes it the first survey of this scope and scale to study how local governments worldwide design and implement climate change policies.
The results of the survey will be used to further develop ICLEI’s Low-carbon City programs. By providing a detailed view of what makes climate policies effective at the local level, it will also serve as a guide for developing future tools and resources to assist local governments in their emission mitigation work.
Later this month, all ICLEI members will receive an invitation to participate in the survey, with a link to the questionnaire. All respondents will also be entered into a draw for an iPad tablet. For more information, contact resilient.cities(at) or Dr. Aylett at climgov(at)

World Smart Cities Awards Open 2013 call.
The World Smart Cities Awards have been established in order to identify the best cities, projects and innovative initiatives in line with the Smart City concept.
Purpose of the award
The aim of the award is to nurture the development of future cities thus enhancing quality of life, sustainability, innovation, creativity, competitiveness, and efficient management and administration.
Who can participate
The World Smart Cities Awards are aimed at cities, businesses and entrepreneurs, research centers, public or non-governmental organizations or consortiums (public-private) with innovative Smart City visions and solutions.
What projects can be submitted for consideration?
All projects and solutions that contribute to any of the areas covered in the Smart City Expo World Congress can be submitted for consideration.


Is free public transport sustainable? New Covenant of Mayors video in Tallinn
In January 2013, Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, became the largest city in the world to offer free public transport to its residents. Meanwhile, the city of Hasselt, Belgium, which was the first ever to introduce zero-fare public transport in 1997, just stopped the free-of-charge nature of the scheme for budget reasons. Is free public transport sustainable in times of crisis? The Covenant of Mayors just visited Tallinn to enquire.
In only four-month time, about half of the residents of Tallinn have used free public transport, and traffic has fallen by 15% from December 2012 to January 2013 with an increase in public transport use of about 14%. Approximately 7,600 fewer cars enter de city every day, reducing traffic jams and pollution.
“The Tallinn free public transport initiative strongly supports the concept of sustainable mobility. The objective is to encourage people to use public transport and not private vehicles for the short distances in the city. Reducing the use of cars will lead to reduced air and noise pollution for the citizens of Tallinn and bring long-term environmental benefits”, Edgar Savisaar, Mayor of Tallinn.
To cover for the extra costs of running a free public transport, the city counts on the personal income tax from new residents establishing their lives in Tallinn. Since January 2012, the city has already welcome 9,000 (as of April 2013) new residents. Every 1,000 new resident brings a €1 million personal income tax revenue to the administration.
Interestingly there seems to be a correlation between the access to free public transport and the attractiveness of a city. While Tallinn has been attracting new residents, in the past years Hasselt has turned into a tourist destination, becoming Belgium’s fourth biggest commercial centre.
“For over 15 years, free buses have been touring the city of Hasselt. Before the implementation of the system, we used to carry some 1,000 paying passengers on our extensive bus network each day. Today, this number has grown thirteen fold. To this date, around 35 million passengers have used the free bus scheme in Hasselt”, Hilde Claes, Mayor of Hasselt.
Unfortunately, due to the financial constraints, this project is being replaced by a policy where only specific target groups are able to use the bus network free of charge. As of now, three audiences have been identified: youngsters until the age of 19, elderly people aged 65+ and everyone who qualifies for any form of social benefits. Everyone else will have to pay a fee of €0,60, which is still considerably lower than in the rest of Belgium.
Will free public transport prove sustainable for Tallinn? Only time will tell.


Eight Brazilian Mayors Commit to Low Emission Urban Development
Gathering around 500 Mayors and over 3,000 participants from across Brazil, the II Meeting of Cities with Sustainable Development organized by the Brazilian National Front of Mayors in Brasilia, Brazil in 23-25 April witnessed the first public announcement of the Urban-LEDS – a global project to promote low emission urban development strategies in emerging economies jointly implemented by ICLEI and UN-HABITAT.
In the presence of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and several Ministers of State, mayors from the Brazilian Model Cities of Fortaleza and Recife, and Satellite Cities of Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Sorocaba and Betim signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Pedro Jacobi, who represented ICLEI as the only international organization present at the opening ceremony.
“30% of the global GDP is produced in the 100 largest cities worldwide. 95% of urban expansion in the coming decades will take place in developing countries. The challenge of urbanization, its impacts and opportunities for technology innovation, quality of life and reduction of natural resources consumption are huge in this century and were recognized during Rio +20. Brazilian cities need to show leadership in the region and actually create 'cities of opportunities' and productive cities,” said Florence Laloe, Executive Secretary of ICLEI South America.


Host an EFUS Manifesto Debate Day in your city!
Efus is offering the opportunity to host a Manifesto Debate Day to its members, a half day event dedicated to the promotion of its principles, through a dialogue with civil society and citizens, encouraging their participation in safety.
As 2013 is the European year of citizens, Efus decided to launch a series of local debates ‘Manifesto Debate Days’, to encourage dialogue between local governments, civil society and the private sector, to discuss the political Manifesto and understand different perspectives on the future of prevention.
The aim of these “Manifesto’ Debate days” is to share and discuss the Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis and its thematic recommendations with decision-makers and civil society (citizens and NGOs) at the local level.
Efus invites local authorities to demonstrate their commitment to the Manifesto by hosting a Manifesto debate day. This can be an opportunity for Efus members to put forth their local policies and to bring the voice of their local community to Brussels, at the end of the year.
For more information, read the call for interest.


Discover the FMDV programme “REsolutions to fund Cities”
REsolutions, a four-year international programme, offers an invitation to all urban actors to Rethink Economic solutions that operationalize sustainable, efficient, and resilient local development.
Initiated by a consortium of local authority networks, REsolutions concentrates on identifying, analysing, transferring and pilot-implementing economic and financial strategies and mechanisms that have improved the impact and performance of local urban development policies.
Anchored and articulated at the regional level in a multi-actor setting, REsolutions seeks to equip local authorities with the tools to integrate and operationalize a wide variety of financial resources for the endogenous development of their cities.
The outputs of the activities developed in the REsolutions programme will serve to reinforce local authorities’ role as drivers of their own economic development in global development debates ranging from the Post-2015 Development Agenda, to the follow-up to the Sustainable Development Goals (post Rio+20). Furthermore, by raising the issue of funding for urban development, the programme seeks to support cities in strengthening their own agenda in the wider urban development debate that will culminate with the HABITAT III summit organized by the United Nations in 2016.
FMDV’s coordination of the activities of REsolutions over the next four years will demonstrate through action the potential for the local economy to finance local development. The evidence drawn from the programme will serve to nourish the general advocacy activities of UCLG and Metropolis, who will politically carry the conclusions to HABITAT III.
In order to politically promote the most inclusive approach to finance for urban development, UCLG, Metropolis, and the FMDV open an invitation to all interested urban development actors to join this initiative and share their vision of funding innovations for cities.
Check the publication about REsolutions here!


International Council for Caring Communities and UN-Habitat launch design competition
The International Council for Caring Communities (ICCC) and UN-Habitat have launched a design competition targeting students.
The competition, in which UN-Habitat is participating within the ‘I’m a City Changer’ initiative, is running under the banner ‘International Student Design Competition 2014, A Society for All Ages.’
It has the fabulous prizes of USD 10,000 for the winner, USD 5,000 for the runners up and USD 2,500 for the third place.
The Competition invites architecture students around the world to apply their creative talents in developing solutions, which integrate older persons into the fabric of the community and fully include them in all social, cultural, and productive activities.
The program is aimed at answering future urban challenges: Is it possible to design successful, diversified and multi-generational communities for older adults including aspects of information and communication technology (ICT)? How are older adults fully integrated, connected to and fully engaged in their communities?
To enter the competition, an individual or teams of students must register on the entry form. The entries are due on or before 15 September 2013 and projects must be postmarked by 31 December 2013.


European Mobility Week 2013: focus on air quality
European Mobility Week takes place in towns and cities across Europe on 16-22 September 2013
European Mobility Week is an annual campaign designed to promote sustainable urban travel, financed by the European Commission DG environment and coordinated by EUROCITIES.
With the slogan ‘Clean air, it’s your move’, this year from 16-22 September European towns and cities are encouraged to raise awareness about the increasingly negative impact of motorised traffic on local air quality.
To support local authorities with the development of campaign activities, the European campaign team has produced a set of tools and publications which can be downloaded at the mobility week website (below), including thematic guidelines, a communications toolkit and a handbook for campaigners and best practice guides.
Cities wishing to follow in the footsteps of previous Mobility Week Award winners Zagreb, Bologna and Budapest are invited to sign the European Mobility Week charter and to register their campaign programme online. Only cities that promote or introduce new permanent measures and organise a full week of activities including a car-free day are eligible to enter the award scheme.
European Mobility Week:


Nations show greater interest to work with local and subnational governments to scale up concerted climate actions
As national governments from both developed and developing countries express greater eagerness to actively collaborate with local and subnational governments in combating climate challenge in the pre-2020 period at the UN climate talks held in Bonn last week, ICLEI welcomes this positive step towards raising global level of ambition.
These views are noted at the second workshop of ‘Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action’ (ADP), an intergovernmental negotiation group under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which took place in Bonn, Germany during 29 April – 3 May 2013.
The role of local and subnational governments are particularly emphasized at ADP Workstream-2, which focuses on ways to increase the current inadequate global ambition in addressing human-generated climate change before 2020.
“The positive spirit in ADP-2 Workshop proves that the messages to integrate local and subnational governments in global climate actions are now well received by majority of national governments from both developed and developing countries. It is a result of two decades of success in direct local climate actions, strengthened with concrete achievements of the global climate advocacy since Bali 2007. ICLEI is proud to play a pioneering role in these remarkable achievements,” said Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General.


Court Ruling Means UK Cities May Need to Ban Cars
The UK's supreme court ruled this week that the government has failed to live up to its legal obligation to curb air pollution, in breach of an EU air quality directive.
Following recent reports of Britain's growing pollution-caused public health crisis, the UK's supreme court has ruled that it's time the government did something about it. "The ruling by five judges [PDF] – the first time a UK court has recognised that the government has failed in efforts to meet European air pollution limits – delighted air pollution campaigners," reports John Vidal.
"The ruling marks a turning point in the fight for clean air and will pile the pressure on the environment secretary, Owen Paterson. He must now come up with an ambitious plan to protect people from carcinogenic diesel fumes. Until now, his only policy has been lobbying in Europe to try and weaken air pollution laws," said James Thornton, chief executive of ClientEarth, the group that brought the case.
"With the possibility of heavy fines and European commission action closer, Britain may now have little option but to come forward with ambitious new plans to reduce NO2 pollution in cities," notes Vidal. "Because most of the pollution is from cars, these could include ultra low-emission zones, bans on certain vehicles and the use of technological 'solutions' such as dust suppressants."


The making of a city
Half of humanity - 3.5 billion people - live in urban areas today. Our metropolises are the engines of growth for a global economy emerging from the shadow of financial crisis. In Bangalore, my home, investment is pouring into a city at the forefront of the Indian economy's transformation - home to companies like Infosys and Wipro, and named by Forbes Magazine as one of the "Fastest Growing Cities of the Next Decade."
But, as Bangalore's citizens prepare to go to the polls in state elections, their concerns are not merely economic. The city's financial success stories mask a darker reality - quality of life for many city-dwellers has deteriorated over recent years.
The movement of the rural poor to large cities is one of the exemplary narratives of the modern era. And governments, which typically focus on crude measures of economic performance, encourage rapid urbanization.
In China, for example, the relaxation of migration controls in the 1980's and the opening of the economy led to the spectacular growth of the country's eastern cities. More than 50% of Chinese live in urban areas today, up from 25% in 1990, and the proportion is expected to reach 70% by 2035.


Legacy Cities of Upstate New York
In February, The American Assembly released Revitalizing the Legacy Cities of Upstate New York -- a report documenting revitalization strategies for upstate cities, based on a recent Assembly-sponsored meeting of urban policy and economic development experts. The report emphasizes several approaches, including partnerships among municipal governments and local anchor institutions, the development of regional export plans and venture funds, and maximizing opportunities afforded by the new Regional Economic Development Councils (see WBFO interview). It proposes the creation of a statewide export czar to organize and coordinate these efforts.


The TIDE project will support five Polis members to deploy innovative transport measures
Out of over 60 applications, the TIDE project, with the approval of the European Commission, has selected ten Champion cities to work closely with the TIDE consortium. Five out of ten are Polis members: Barcelona, Bologna, Ghent, Rome and Aalborg.


EU Energy & Climate strategy: will local authorities be left out?
At a time when the Intelligent Energy-Europe programme is endangered and the EU post 2020 strategy seems to completely leave governance issues out, Energy Cities is more than ever supporting local authorities towards their energy transition.
Lately, Energy Cities has been worried about the EU not considering local authorities in its long-term energy & climate strategy.
In the European Commission’s Green Paper "A 2030 framework for climate and energy policies", no mention of “local”, “regional”, “mayors” or “governance”. The Intelligent Energy-Europe programme? We still have no confirmation that it will get a follow-up, supposed to be included in the new framework programme for Research and Innovation – “Horizon 2020”.
So what? Does the European Union really think that technologies alone can help us achieve the much-needed energy transition?
Of course they won’t! The energy transition requires both "smart" technologies AND a new local governance. Local authorities have proved to be frontrunners: they demonstrate outstanding innovation skills to improve resource management, achieve greater self-sufficiency, involve local actors in their strategies, use new funding methods and make urban planning drive their energy transition.


Engaging slum dwellers as partners
The involvement of slum dwellers as partners and not beneficiaries was identified as one of the main recommendations that help to empower communities as well as strengthen the effectiveness of participatory slum upgrading processes.
The recommendation was advanced by participants attending a side event on participatory slum upgrading that took place during UN-Habitat’s 24th Governing Council Session that was held in Nairobi last month.
The recommendation proposed a shift of engagement where slum dwellers are seen as partners as opposed to the more traditional perspective of seeing them as beneficiaries. ‘I am happy to take note of the remarks made by Uganda’s Commissioner for Urban Development which called for the need to engage slum dwellers as partners and not beneficiaries in the slum upgrading process. Engaging slum dwellers as partners also ensures their empowerment,” said Mr. Justus Mlaba representing the Uganda Human Settlement Network.
Mr. Sipliant from Cameroon  and Mr. Samuel Mabala from Uganda explained how slum dwellers are being engaged in slum upgrading interventions that uses a three pronged approach which includes an assessment of needs, action planning and implementation of interventions. Participating in consultations, research and action planning are some of the processes that slum dwellers take part in.
“This meeting is an important avenue through which the sharing of experiences and lessons learned in slum upgrading can be exchanged amongst partners.  Replication and the building of capacities through training are other important aspects that need to be taken into consideration,” said Sanne Willems, the European Union’s delegation representative to the meeting in her welcoming remarks.  When summarizing his presentation, Mr. Franz Marré of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany mentioned the necessity of paying greater focus on cross-sectoral issues and the need to undertake proper planning and integration of slum dwellers participation when rolling out interventions.
Earlier in the day, Slum Dwellers International also signed a working agreement with UN Habitat that will promote and strengthen working relations on issues affecting slum dwellers. The meeting provided a platform for partners to share participatory approaches in slum upgrading that are being promoted at global level and national levels. The Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Secretariat is partnering with UN Habitat, European Commission, National and Local Governments to promote participatory approaches in slum upgrading.


Barcelona passes the baton to Johannesburg on Safer Cities for Women
On April 3 2013, more than 200 people gathered in Barcelona within the framework of the symposium organised by the Metropolis Women International Network, to discuss and deliberate on policies regarding public space and urban development from a gender perspective.
The symposium on “Safe Cities within the Sphere of Public Space and Gender” was opened by Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat. The minutes of the symposium will soon be available online. We invite you to watch the video highlights of the symposium, subtitled in English.


CityMobil2 launches website
The FP7 project on automated road transport systems, CityMobil2, has launched its brand new website. You can visit it on:
  The website contains all relevant information about the project and will during the next four years be updated with news and relevant events. Keep yourself updated on activities going on in the field of automated road transport systems.
Find out what CityMobil2 intends to do to facilitate the transition to automated road transport system deployment
Learn about the dozen sites hoping to run a 6-month demonstration of an automated systemRegister for the CityMobil2 newsletter and other project news.
You can sign up for our bi-annual newsletter from the homepage. It is free and gives you detailed information about the results of the project.
You can also get involved in the project, by joining the CityMobil2 LinkedIn Group.


"Citizenship and Sustainability", 13th conference IOPD
At the annual conference of the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD),held in June 2012 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the Municipality of Cascais was elected unanimously as the international ambassador for participatory democracy of the year 2013, and therefore elected as the president for the Observatory for this year.
It will be up to the Municipality of Cascais during this year, as the President of the Observatory, to deepen the debate on participatory democracy by organising the XIII IOPD International Conference to be held on 2nd -5th July at the Estoril Congress Centre.
Under the theme "Citizenship and Sustainability", this conference will also integrate the V GLOCAL Conference, "Think Global, Act Local", adding to the debate the issues of Sustainability and Local Agenda 21.
An important debate will hence take place in Cascais, bringing together two of today’s leading topics: Citizenship and Sustainability. Citizenship as a tool for citizens to participate in building a more sustainable world, and sustainability as a political concern that gives back citizens their rights to participate in a society that regards its resources responsibly.
Therefore, we invite all to join the Conference "Citizenship and Sustainability" as a way of learning about the best practices in participatory democracy and sustainability, presented by experts and professionals.
The registration fee for this conference is €60 per person and includes lunch for the three days. Students can attend for free.


Earth Hour City Challenge highlights cities’ role
As the UNFCCC working group met in Bonn last week to discuss the new 2015 global climate agreement and the strategies to raise level of ambition until its entry into force in 2020, the new round of Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC) is launched on 30 April to accelerate efforts of local governments to create climate friendly lifestyles for urban dwellers.
“Earth Hour City Challenge has clearly demonstrated that global level of ambition can be easily raised with ambitious local leaders and actions. Now it is the responsibility of national governments to tap this potential into the new global climate regime,” said Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI, the focal point of local governments at the UNFCCC and an active partner of EHCC.


Associations of local and regional government in partnership agreements
With the help of its members, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) has prepared a study on the degree of involvement of national associations of local and regional government in the preparation and negotiation of partnership agreements.*  We hope to see this document incorporated into the Committee of the Regions’ report on the subject. The evidence found and presented in the study shows that the situation differs from country to country: in some member states, local and regional authorities and their representative associations are fully involved in the negotiation process.  However, in other countries they are merely consulted, along with a number of other stakeholders.
While the application of the partnership principle has improved in most cases, we regret to have noticed that the degree of involvement of municipalities, regions and their national associations varies substantially from one member state to the other.  This is all the more worrisome when considering that the provisions of the Code of Conduct, which provide a set of rules on how to involve local and regional authorities in these partnerships, are to become binding in the near future.


Chicago Announce Next Steps in Developing Bus Rapid Transit
Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced plans to develop faster and more reliable transit in Chicago, which will include developing Bus Rapid Transit on a 16-mile stretch of Ashland Avenue. The new bus system would create faster, more reliable bus service, increasing bus speeds by more than 80 percent during peak travel times and creating economic benefits for businesses and residents along the entire corridor.


Budapest example confirms that traffic restriction does not cause chaos (Hungary)
The "Heart of Budapest" programme aims to revitalise the central areas of Budapest by converting public road spaces into areas of soft mobility and leisure. At present, the construction work of the last phase of the programme is in progress (see Eltis video clip and case study for previous phases). This includes the permanent closure of road lanes of the capital’s most important cross-through road. Surprisingly, within only a few days after lane closure, the traffic has adjusted to the new situation.


Serbian cities unite to advance sustainable energy priorities
This 2nd meeting was crucial for Serbian Covenant of Mayors Signatories, as they are facing delays in the preparation of their SEAPs.
Acknowledging this challenging context, Mayors of Serbian Signatory cities see more than ever this bottom-up approach as the way forward to catch up with the rest of Europe!
Strong support to the initiative was shown through the presence of Serbian Minister for energy, sustainable development and environment Zorana Mihajlovic, and of George Stanicic, who is the General Secretary of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities in Serbia (a Covenant of Mayors Supporter).
An important part of the meeting was the mayors signing a joint letter launched by the Network of Associations of Local Authorities in South-East Europe (NALAS). They would like the European Commission to consider extending the scope of the Covenant of Mayors to South Eastern Europe, and Western Balkans and Turkey (IPA Countries).
"It is regrettable that South-East Europe, which has both candidate and potential EU candidate countries, is the only region neighbouring the EU where there isn’t a Covenant of Mayors Office nor is it anticipated to be established in the near future. Indeed, apart from Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia, which are EU Member States, there are already 32 Covenant of Mayors Signatories in the region, among which two capital cities."  [Sarajevo and Skopje - ed.]


Brescia becomes smallest city in Europe with a metro line (Italy)
With the opening of a fully automated metro line on 2 March 2013, the city of Brescia has become the smallest city in Europe with a metro service. Brescia City Administration completed the ambitious project within 10 years despite initial opposition from citizens. The main aim of the project is to increase the use of public transport from 40 to 56 million passengers per year and to offer a valid alternative to private transport, thus protecting the environment by decreasing congestion and pollution.


Circles of sustainable methodology presented at Metropolis
As part of the Metropolis Initiative on Integrated Strategic Planning and Public-Private Partnerships, Paul James, Director of the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme and Director of the Global Cities Institute at the RMIT, Melbourne, presented the groundbreaking “Circles of Sustainability” methodology to the Metropolis General Secretariat on friday 26th April.


Host a Manifesto Debate Day in your city!
Efus is offering the opportunity to host a Manifesto Debate Day to its members, a half day event dedicated to the promotion of its principles, through a dialogue with civil society and citizens, encouraging their participation in safety.
As 2013 is the European year of citizens, Efus decided to launch a series of local debates ‘Manifesto Debate Days’, to encourage dialogue between local governments, civil society and the private sector, to discuss the political Manifesto and understand different perspectives on the future of prevention.
The aim of these “Manifesto’ Debate days” is to share and discuss the Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis and its thematic recommendations with decision-makers and civil society (citizens and NGOs) at the local level.


QUEST (Quality management tool for Urban Efficient Sustainable Transport) released its final brochure.
It presents the tool and the process of auditing and shares cities’ testimonies on using the tool.
The 2-and-a-half year project QUEST will come to an end in October 2013. With substantial work in about 50 cities, QUEST has summarized the most important things to know about the tool and the experience with it in its final brochure.


New UNEP report: greening city infrastructure can sustain economic growth while using fewer resources 
"Investing in sustainable infrastructures and resource efficient technologies in cities offers a golden opportunity to deliver economic growth with lower rates of environmental degradation, reductions in poverty, cuts in greenhouse gases, and improved well-being, according to a new report released by the United Nations. Around three-quarters of the world's natural resources are already consumed in cities, and the proportion of the global population living in urban areas is set to rise to 70 per cent by 2050. At the same time, cities generally offer lower per capita resource use and emissions than their surrounding areas.


ICLEI and UN-Habitat unveil the world’s first ecomobile city
Pledging to show the world that an ecomobile city is possible, ICLEI, UN-Habitat and the City of Suwon (South Korea) are organizing the first EcoMobility World Festival – a month-long event celebrating the latest innovations and solutions on sustainable urban mobility in Suwon, South Korea from 1 to 30 September 2013.
A joint ICLEI – UN-Habitat press conference was held on Thursday 18 April at the UN-Habitat 24th Governing Council in Nairobi, at which UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos put his weight behind the Festival together with ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin, H.E. Mr. Chan-Woo Kim, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of Kenya and Dr. Se-Chang Ahn, Director of the Environmental Transportation Division in the Korean Ministry of Environment.
Describing the innovative and exciting project as a vital step towards reimagining how the core population of 9 billion people will live in the next 40 years, Clos said of the Festival: “This is a natural experiment where people can see one of the possible alternatives to urban life in the future.”


Massive Bike-Sharing Programs Poised to Launch in 2013
New bike-sharing programs rolling out in America's largest cities in 2013 will dwarf existing efforts.  New York City’s CitiBike program will place 5,500 bicycles at nearly 300 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn in May, with the ultimate goal of reaching 10,000 bikes. Chicago plans to start its bike-sharing program in June, ramping up to 4,000 bikes at 400 stations by 2014.  And a pilot project of 1000 bikes this spring in San Francisco and Bay Area cities may expand to a 10,000-bike program in a few years


Special Report - Launch of URBACT Training for Politicians on Sustainable Development 
When it comes to driving sustainability in urban development, the focus is usually on technical experts. But what about elected representatives? How can politicians become more involved when their city is a partner in an URBACT project? To answer those questions, URBACT has developed a pilot training scheme for elected representatives. We look back at its opening seminar, held in Brussels from April 8-10.


Poverty-induced immigration within the EU
Poverty-induced immigration within the EU and notably from Romania and Bulgaria, two countries whose citizens will be able to live and work freely in EU countries from the 1st January 2014, was the focus of discussions at the last Efus Executive Committee meeting, which took place on 25 and 26 March in Mannheim (Germany).
The debate was proposed by the city of Mannheim, a member of the Executive Committee. German cities are highly concerned about the influx of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria, which is expected to happen when they are given the same rights as other citizens of the European Union, due to the terms of the Treaty of Accession to the EU. (Since they joined the EU in 2007, restrictions were imposed on their right to reside and work in EU countries, for a period which would last until the 1st January 2014.)
German cities have recently called on the Federal Government as well as the Länder and the EU to take action to improve living conditions in Eastern Europe “to make emigration due to poverty pointless.” In a press release (read in German) issued on 14 March, they also demanded that “the Federal State, the Länder and the EU make efforts to tackle existing problems,” emphasising the fact that “cities are facing major challenges “and that “action must be taken urgently”.


Thriving Local Businesses Increase Community Resilience
According to several recent studies summarized in Grist Magazine, cities where small, locally owned businesses account for a large share of the economy have stronger social networks, more engaged citizens, and better success solving community problems. The studies also show that adapting to the impacts of climate change may also be easier for communities with a large proportion of locally owned businesses.


What does it mean to be a caring city?
The 2013 Metropolis Annual Meeting, scheduled to take place in Johannesburg from July 16 to 19, 2013, will explore the six key issues covered by the event’s theme, “Caring Cities,” at thematic sessions led by academic and urban experts, local and metropolitan leaders, and leading figures from international institutions, among others.


Mexico City Committed to a Culture of Peace
In December 2012, the mayor of Mexico City, Dr. Miguel Angel Mancera Espinosa, launched the "For your Family, Voluntary Disarmament" program, which aims to prevent crime and to tackle urban violence caused by the use of firearms in the city. This program seeks to raise awareness among the population regarding the risks of owning guns and ammunition. It consists of an exchange of weapons for economic assistance, domestic appliances, or computer material. Furthermore, the program also contemplates the exchange of toy weapons (bows and arrows, toy guns and rifles, etc.) for educational toys. This exchange is voluntary, the anonymity of those handing over the weapons is guaranteed, and the exchange is held in the atrium of a church, which is seen by the population as neutral territory and therefore increases trust in the operation, thanks to an agreement with the church authorities.


4D Cities Project, 2-Year Road Map for Promoting Health Innovation
What are 4D Cities partners' objectives and planned activities? This new URBACT project is looking for joint, effective and sustainable solutions to promote innovation and knowledge economy in health field for local, social and economic development. The 8 partner cities met in the Lead Partner city Igualada on 18 and 19 March 2013 in order to launch the Implementation Phase of their project. The aim of the meeting was to set the project road map for the upcoming two years of exchange and learning activities.


International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organization, UN-Habitat in a USD2 million deal 
The partnership between UN-Habitat and the International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organization was strengthened with the signing of an agreement of cooperation focusing on youth empowerment and urban ecological safety.


Is urbanization the key to poverty reduction?
A new report released recently by supra-national agencies the World Bank and International Monetary Fund states that urbanization, if managed well, helps pull people out of poverty.
The Global Monitoring Report 2013 which compares well-being in cities versus rural areas describes urbanization as being a major force behind poverty reduction and progress towards other millennium development goals. "Urban infant mortality rates range from 8-9 percentage points lower than the rural rates in Latin America and Central Asia; to 10-16 percentage points in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa and highest in East Asia (21 percentage points)," it states. It points out that 60% of urban dwellers in  South Asia have access to sanitation amenities as compared to 28% in rural areas.


New ITS Planning Tool available for cities hosting large events
Last week saw the release of the newly developed STADIUM ITS online guide. The guide features an interactive ITS Decision Support Tool allowing cities to choose the most appropriate ITS tools to respond to transport challenges. The system has been developed to support cities which are hosting large events.


Rotterdam and Ho Chi Minh City expand climate change collaboration.
Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City and Rotterdam in The Netherlands have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding that will advance co-operation between the two delta cities on climate change adaptation.
The development follows the Vietnamese capital submitting a comprehensive climate change adaptation strategy at a meeting held between the two cities this week.
"The established climate adaptation strategy is the start of a new phase for which Rotterdam has been explicitly requested to continue to play a role, especially when it comes to securing responsibilities and increasing the knowledge of the various government agencies," said Alexandra van Huffelen, Vice Mayor of Rotterdam. "The cooperation agreement will formalise this."
The strategy was developed on the basis of six principles and includes permitting construction only where soil and water allow. Tidal locks will play a role, protecting the city centre from flooding, as will adapting houses for flood protection, and building quays and ring dykes. The Vice Mayor told Cities Today that the strategy could easily work as a blueprint for other delta cities "even though the agreement itself was tailor made for Ho Chi Minh City".
"Rotterdam is a city in which a lot of knowledge in the field of climate adaption has already been and continues to be developed," van Huffelen added, noting Ho Chi Minh City's involvement in the international network, Connecting Delta Cities, set up by Rotterdam. "This is done in close collaboration with the business community and knowledge institutes of our region, creating new business opportunities. The cooperation and support of the consortium is a good example."
Ho Chi Minh City is a densely populated city and regularly deals with flooding due to heavy rain and a low position in the delta.

Launch of the UCLG web platform Rabat 2013.
Today, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) launches the 'Rabat 2013' web platform for its World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders, to be held in Rabat, Morocco, this October. The platform will provide information on the strategic and thematic debates of the Summit, and will function as a resource for the exchange of good practices. It will also allow representatives and partners of local and regional governments to follow the Summit live from 1-4 October 2013, and to participate in the activities of the global network. You will be able to directly access information on registration and your stay in Rabat during the Congress.
The UCLG World Summit 2013 in Rabat will be inspired by the lema: "Imagine Society, Build Democracy", the central theme of the Summit. It will include an extended and on-going dialogue between local and regional authorities and their key partners - international organisations, development agencies, experts, practitioners, and civil society organizations - in order to analyse and evaluate the extent to which development goals have been met, and to define new priorities.
The Summit will address the key priorities of the local and regional government agenda. It will focus on access to basic services, the construction of societies that are diverse, open, and innovative, the promotion of tolerance, solidarity and exchange, gender equality, and the reinforcement of the role of culture in society.
The Summit will be an opportunity for participants to share and exchange experiences, highlighting the innovative policies and programmes that local and regional governments are implementing to meet the challenges they face. As such, the plenaries and workshops will be a unique occasion, not only for reflection, but for interaction. The key strategic debates of the Summit will centre on the possible goals and targets of Post-2015 Development and on the preparation of the path towards Habitat III, with the aim of developing a set of concrete proposals to represent local and regional governments in these international negotiations.
The web platform, 'Rabat 2013', will be a space for online discussion and exchange on the thematic issues of the Summit: Fostering wellbeing, strengthening solidarity among territories, supporting new governance and the dynamics of change, promoting diversity.
This platform will also allow you to stay connected to the World Summit 2013 via live streaming of the debates and workshops, regular tweets and Facebook updates by experts, speaker and participant interviews, as well as a blog of ideas and projects, with a view to establishing new partnerships.
Stay connected:


Outcomes of the 24th UN-Habitat governing council.
A delegation of the World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments lead by its Co-President Muchadeyi Masunda, Mayor of Harare, Zimbabwe, and Vice-President Wolfgang Schuster, President of Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), represented local governments at the 24th Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, held from 15 to 19 April 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya.
This year's Session of the Council was of particular importance in view of the upcoming Habitat III Conference in 2016 that will define the new international urban agenda. The focus of this Session was: "sustainable urban development: the role of cities in creating improved economic opportunities for all, with special references to youth and gender".
Local Government Statements
During the High-Level Segment Plenary on 16 April, Co-President Masunda addressed the Council and stated that "the Urban Agenda will need to be people-centered, bridge the rural-urban divide and understand urbanization as a territorial issue not limited to urban centers. It will need to put cohesion among territories at the forefront acknowledging important metropolization processes that are taking place and positive effects in development, as well as the increasing role of intermediate cities in developing countries. It will further need to recognize culture as a fundamental cornerstone for development". Click here to access his full speech.
During the Dialogue with Habitat Partners on this Session's focus celebrated on 17 April, Co-President Masunda reminded member states of the importance of women's economic empowerment, and the Chair of Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) Fatimetou Mint Abdelmalick, Mayor of Tevragh-Zeina, Mauritania, took the floor to advocate for increasing women's participation in local decision-making.
Furthermore Co-President Masunda and the Deputy Mayor of Mogadishu, Mr. Iman Nur Icar, participated on 16-17 April jointly with, among others, UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, and Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Aisa Kirabo, on a national live TV program "Urban Talk: A debate on sustainable cities in the 21st century".
Cities in the new Development Agenda
Vice-President Schuster was invited on 14 April to participate in the Roundtable on Urbanization and Development: Post-2015 Development Agenda jointly with, among others, the UN-Habitat Executive Director and Amina Mohamed, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning. Dr. Schuster emphasized the need to consider a goal for sustainable cities in the new development agenda and highlighted the interest of building one single agenda incorporating the MDGs and SDGs. He further called for a new international governance architecture that follows the multi-partnership principle and includes local and regional governments in the decision-making table.


Offer an internship to a student of the European Master’s in Urban Security  .
Efus invites member cities and local authorities to offer an internship of a maximum of three months to a student of the European Certificate in Urban Security or of the European Master’s in Urban Security (ECUS/EEMUS) ... 
The internship, which is integrated to the ECUS/EEMUS course of studies, will allow students to acquire work experience in an organisation operating in the field of urban security. The deadline for the completion of internships is 30 November 2013.


Citizens help rebrand Dublin.
City rebranding competition Uniquely Dublin generated over 1,000 entries from photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers, writers and artists
An international competition launched by EUROCITIES member Dublin generated over 1,000 entries from photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers, writers and artists all keen to express what Dublin means to them.
The competition, Uniquely Dublin, was so successful that organisers chose to extend the deadline by a month, to the end of February 2013, despite having already received over 1,000 entries at the end of January.
The competition forms part of an overall rebranding process the city council is undergoing together with its partners at Creative Dublin Alliance. A 2010 survey revealed that only 24% of Irish people feel any emotional connection to the capital, with this figure going down by 15% when you exclude Dubliners. Coupled with Ireland’s EU presidency (January–June 2013), this left the city seeking new ways to engage its citizens and promote the capital.
That’s where Uniquely Dublin comes in. Launched in November 2012, the competition asks ‘what makes Dublin unique?’. Participants were invited to enter in seven categories – music, short film, animation, graphic design, visual arts, and photography – with an independent jury selecting two entries per category to go on to a public vote.
One winner per category, selected by the jury, receives €1,000, while the overall winner of the public vote wins the top €10,000 prize. On top of this, participants could see their entries used in international campaigns promoting the city.
The shortlisted entries offer a fascinating insight into what makes Dublin special to residents and visitors, from the accent, the smell of the place, the food and the friendliness of the locals.
You can view the entries in each category on the competition website, below, and there is still time to vote for your favourite, as voting closes on 25 April 2013. The winning entry will be announced on Friday 26 April 2013. 
In addition, the Little Museum of Dublin is showing the entries in a free exhibition.
Uniquely Dublin:
Little Museum of Dublin:


Women Cyclists Key to Saudi Arabia's Biking Future.
An impending lift of the ban on women cyclists could generate investment in much-needed biking infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has little to no biking infrastructure. Also lacking public transportation options, its cities are heavily dependent on transport by car. The only people seen biking are migrant workers and children in parks, surmises Sana Venjara based on interviews with Westerners living in the country.
But a new unlikely demographic is about to join the biking ranks: Saudi Arabia will be allowing women -- who cannot drive -- to bike for recreational purposes as long as they wear an abaya to cover their bodies completely and have male accompaniment.
Venjara thinks this move signals an intent to expand biking infrastructure, currently limited to places like the Wadi Hanifah, a wetlands park in the middle of Riyadh that was cleaned up and restored over the last decade and received the 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.


City of Medellín unveiled as host of WUF7.
UN-Habitat unveiled the City of Medellin as the venue of the Seventh session of the World Urban Forum due next year, 2014.
At a press conference in Nairobi, Dr. Joan Clos the United Nations Under-Secretary General and the Executive Director of UN-Habitat hosted top officials from the Colombian government and the city of Medellin in unveiling the venue.
Dr. Clos was accompanied by the Ricardo José Arango Manager of the Local Organizing Committee of the World Urban Forum Diego Restrepo, Chief of the Institute of Housing of Medellin and Colombia's ambassador to Kenya and Permanent Representative to UN-Habitat, Maria Eugenia Correa when they announced that Medellin will play host to the Forum next year.


Sustainable local production key to solving economic crisis - ICLEI.
At the biggest conference on sustainable development in Europe, delegates discussed how cities can drive a transition towards sustainability in the face of the current economic, environmental and social crises. As global policy processes have largely failed to put the world on the track to sustainability, hopes are increasingly placed on local and regional actors. However, as cities across Europe are struggling with austerity measures, can they meet the challenge to drive such a transition?
Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director of ICLEI Europe says, “The notion that social and environmental concerns need to be put on hold until the economic crisis has been solved fails to recognise the linkages between these. There are huge opportunities to strengthen the local economy through sustainable investments. There is enormous potential for economic benefits through smart spending for example on improving the energy performance of buildings, better water resource management and adapting cities to the impacts of climate change."
Yet, to drive a transition towards sustainability, cities need to start producing their supplies locally to a larger extent than today. Mr. Teubner explains, “Local production of renewable energy and food will not only reduce the ecological footprint but the value created will also benefit the local economy. Instead of spending money on energy from fossil fuels, cities that take control over their energy production will benefit economically, while creating green jobs for citizens.”
Sandrine Salerno, Vice-Mayor of the City of Geneva, adds, “These local solutions can be implemented through public-private and public-public partnerships. We also need to strengthen the social economy and choose sustainable investment strategies. In this spirit, Geneva 2013 has brought together representatives from all levels of government to build a strong local and regional foundation for the sustainable development of our societies in Europe and beyond. Geneva as a centre of humanism, multilateralism, peace and international solidarity has provided a symbolic location”.
Against this backdrop, the conference saw the launch of the European Sustainable Cities Platform. The online information hub brings together a number of topics and initiatives dealing with urban sustainability and will encourage international collaboration and drive exchange on sustainable local solutions.