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Sustainable urban development support in the European Union – Frameworks, practices and tools

Wallis Vandebrock-Goelen



Monday, June 27, 2022


ICC: Voices from Cities Room A
European Commission
Polish, Spanish, English, French + CART
VC-A 1


Cohesion policy is the EU’s main investment instrument to support Member States and regions to adapt to globalisation, to contribute to a climate-neutral and circular economy and to ensure that all this happens in a fair way. Cohesion policy accompanies the three main transition processes: digital transition, sustainability transition and just transition.

The urban dimension of the EU Cohesion policy has been reinforced for the period 2021-2027. The new Policy Objective ‘a Europe closer to citizens’ will support tailor-made strategies at territorial level, in cities and local communities, to address their diverse challenges, and tap into their development potential. It will mobilise substantial investments directed to priorities and projects selected by cities on the basis of their sustainable urban development strategies. The integrated, place-based and participative approaches (including citizens/civil society) constitute the key principles for implementing these strategies, in alignment with the UN New Urban Agenda. Moreover, these strategies contribute to implement the SDGs at local level.

In order to support actors in this endeavour, specific tools have been designed and promoted by the European Commission. The Handbook of Sustainable Urban Development Strategies and the Self-Assessment Tool for Sustainable Urban Development strategies (SAT4SUD) are at the core of the EU support, to help cities focus on their main policy challenges, and on the opportunities provided by the EU Cohesion policy instruments to tackle the green and digital transition.

The objective is to support the green and digital transition in line with the EU principle of territorial cohesion, promoting a balanced polycentric development as well as just and socially inclusive opportunities where no city or region is left behind. To reach this goal, collaboration among municipalities is encouraged through functional area approaches and through promoting urban-rural linkages.

This event will thus reflect on how European functional urban areas can drive a green, digital and just transition through strategic planning. Two European metropolitan cities, Lille and Rome, will be sharing and discussing their experience, reflecting on the lessons learned from the past programming period, and illustrating their ambitions for the future. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC) will present tools that can foster such transitions from a methodological perspective. With this event, we would like to introduce this specific framework to inform cities and various stakeholders about the EU approach to sustainable urban development and opportunities ahead, in line with the theme of the forum “Transforming our cities for a better urban future”.


  • This event will aim to provide a comprehensive overview of Cohesion policy’s support to sustainable urban development through the period 2021-2027.
  • It aims to display upcoming opportunities and key messages directed towards urban areas in order to support them in finding relevant information and channels which they can benefit from.
  • The objective of the event will also be to showcase relevant tools and practices of implementation. It will highlight experiences from cities, their solutions and challenges to develop sustainable urban development strategies, giving them an opportunity to take the floor and to present and discuss their work with a wider audience and interested international actors.

Session speakers

Mr. Thomas De Béthune
Team Leader for Urban policy
European Commission DG REGIO
Ms. Carlotta Fioretti
Project leader in the Territorial development unit
European Commission JRC
Ms. Claudia Capecchi
Head of the European affairs division
Metropole of Lille
Mr. Rafaele Barbato
Director for EU funds
Roma Capitale
Ms. Camilla Perrone
Professor in the department of Architecture
University of Florence