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How to achieve sustainable, inclusive and participatory urban development? Learnings from the experience of African and European cities

Mathilde Bigot



Tuesday, June 28, 2022


Multifunction Hall Room 13
African Smart Towns Network (ASToN) and URBACT
Integrated Governance in Spatial Planning for a More Just, Green, and Healthy Urban Future
NE 73


How can cities achieve inclusive and sustainable urban development? Why multi-stakeholders dialog at local level can be beneficial? Would it be relevant to connect with others cities at a transnational level to tackle complexes and local issues? How can cities integrate a city-network? We will be looking into these questions and some more through the experience of several city practitioners from Africa and Europe.

This event will look into how cities can achieve integrated urban development. Multiple stakeholders from Africa and Europe will share their experience, and will exchange with the audience on their participation to transnational networks and the adoption of good practices on different policy areas. With years of experience, combined with key learnings from different EU cities, a unique methodology has been developed and refined to ensure a more integrated, inclusive and sustainable urban development. This method is relevant to all topics, from social inclusion to economic development and is based on three key concepts: Integration, Participation, and Action-Learning. The combination of these principles enables cities to work together and develop integrated solutions to common urban challenges, by networking, learning from one another’s experiences, drawing lessons and identifying good practices to improve urban policies. This method is also known under the name of the URBACT Method.

URBACT is a know-how programme that promotes exchange and learning between cities. It is a European Territorial Cooperation programme (ETC) aiming to foster sustainable integrated urban development in cities across Europe. Since 2002, around 1 000 EU cities involved in URBACT have experienced the added value of transnational cooperation, the transfer of good practices beyond national borders, and the participatory approach to policy-making. But can this method be applied outside the European borders?

In 2019, the ASToN project started in order to test the URBACT Method with non-European cities. ASToN is a flagship programme financed by the French Development Agency (AFD), managed by the French National Urban Renovation Agency (ANRU) and inspired by URBACT knowledge and tools. It takes the form of a network gathering 11 African cities using digital tools to overcome local and global challenges. The project followed many URBACT good practices and tools but it also derived from them to develop its own methodology, more iterative. This approach allows them to better react to the evolving needs and stakes of its participants. It fosters their capacity to adapt: they do, they learn and it constantly informs their plan.

This event will present the URBACT Methodology and its adaptation to different contexts and different policy areas.


This event aims to promote integrated urban development. We wish to inspire the audience, stimulate reflections and conversations about how to connect with partners and how to adopt good practices to overcome cities’ challenges. The event will provide a comprehensive framework to stakeholders so they can adopt the URABCT Method and adapt it to their own projects. URBACT and ASToN use participative tools to involve stakeholders and achieve effective results.

The speakers will present two examples issued from the URBACT tool box, so the participants can learn practical tools and re-use them in their cities. During this networking event we want to create meaningful connections among the participants and initiate future collaborations. Our work is about peer leaning and events such as the WUF allow us, city practitioners and enthusiasts to meet exchange and build relationships with fellows which will inform our future projects. Finally, both of the presented programs will evolve or end. URBACT III will shortly shift to URBACT IV and ASToN network will end in December 2022. We want to share our learnings with a wider audience. This event is also an opportunity to reflect on our work and the methodologies developed.

Session speakers

Ms. Simina Lazar
ASToN Network Lead