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Urban Innovative Actions – 2nd Call for Proposals.

The Urban Innovative Actions Permanent Secretariat hosted on October, in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC), an interactive workshop on “Solutions for sustainable urban development from cities in the second Call for Proposals”. The topics that have been selected for the second call are those of circular economy, the integration of migrants and refugees and urban mobility. The three topics were presented by representatives of DG Transport and Mobility, DG Environment and DG Migration and Home Affairs.

Circular Economy

Without being prescriptive in terms of the types of projects expected, cities are invited to consider in particular the following themes and issues:

  • Cooperation with local manufacturers and retailers or citizen-led initiatives and third sector/social enterprises as a good way to promote more durable, reparable and recyclable products.
  • Supporting industrial symbiosis, allowing cooperation between businesses and the utilization of surplus resources generated by industry.
  • Influencing consumption patterns through the encouragement of re-use and repair.
  • Promotion of a collaborative economy which shares products or infrastructure, leading to citizens and businesses consuming services rather than products.
  • Tools such as Green Public Procurement and Public Procurement of Innovation with criteria developed by public authorities ensuring sustainability, durability and reparability.
  • Improving the management of municipal waste representing 10% of the total waste stream in Europe.
  • Prevention of food waste along the value chain by taking different steps including changing behaviours through awareness raising campaigns. Further development of urban composting systems, linked to urban farming and hydroponics projects.
  • The recycle or re-use of materials from construction and demolition projects, one of the biggest sources of waste in Europe and many of which take place in cities.
  • Recycling and re-using the rare-earth materials and precious metals included in waste from electrical and electronic equipment such as mobiles, TVs and washing machines, reducing the dependence on importing them.
  • Promote water reuse, as a measure to address water scarcity and droughts.

The integration of migrants and refugees

While many urban authorities in the EU are now attuned to the realities and policy responses needed for the effective inclusion of migrants and refugees; in terms of ERDF, there is a wide range of measures capable to support their effective integration such as:

  • A focus on the provision of health services for those problems with more prevalence in migrants and refugees such as chronic diseases as well psychological support and trauma healing. Innovative actions could include investments in health infrastructure for prevention and primary health care services.
  • Investments in social infrastructure such as community-based social care, community centers, shelters. Actions could be linked to urban regeneration plans and initiatives including physical and social regeneration of areas in which migrants and/or refugees are concentrated. Actions to avoid segregation and the creation of ghettos as well as to help to improve acceptance levels in local residents should be considered.
  • A specific focus on vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied minors, access to and adequacy of reception facilities, education and medical care. Measures that are coordinated and durable are needed for their protection, reception and inclusion.
  • Issues faced by refugee and asylum seeking women  in  their host  country  regarding  access  to  appropriate  housing,  health services, training and language courses, as well as integration into the labour market.
  • A targeted look at the integration of young migrants (including second generation migrants). Actions should focus on education and labour market inclusion but also on providing spaces for interaction between young migrants and young people from the host country (e.g. through sport and cultural activities and/or infrastructures).
  • Housing infrastructure: social housing.

UIA projects will be in essence isolated test cases and it is accepted that the effectiveness of the types of investments listed above largely depend on their coordination with social integration and labour market measures (such as training, language courses, counselling, coaching, vocational training and employment measures). Therefore, a flexible interpretation will be used in terms of what can be funded by the ERDF as part of a single UIA project, provided that the overall project can be viewed as supportive of the thematic objectives and investment priorities for ERDF.

Urban Mobility

Cities are important nodes of the European transport system as most trips start or end in urban areas. Urban transport plays a key role in achieving economic competitiveness, social cohesion and sustainable growth. Urban Authorities have been working for many years with local, national and European initiatives and projects on sustainable urban mobility, in particular under the Covenant of Mayors to reduce GHG emissions and the Smart Cities and Communities policy framework to develop innovative, replicable solutions. Part of this work has been reflected in the establishment of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) allowing a long term common vision for cities’ mobility strategies with the citizen at the center and making an effective use of public space. The UIA aims to support this. There are some key elements urban authorities proposing projects should consider:

  • To promote and facilitate cycling (including e-bikes and cargo bikes), a healthy, clean and cost effective means of transport
  • To support those solutions that will contribute to the implementation and the development of SUMPs as part of an urban authority’s integrated planning strategy
  • Innovative multi-modal hubs and mobility services, allowing for a seamless transfer from one mode of transport to another where passengers are able to take an informed decision, ticketing, routing on how to proceed with their journey in the most effective and sustainable way
  • The creation of logistic hubs to reduce congestion and increase average traffic speed.
  • Endorse shared mobility solutions such as car-pooling or bicycle sharing schemes which are slowly becoming part of the urban landscape,
  • Facilitate and implement innovative alternative fuels (e.g. biofuel, energy from waste, electricity from photosynthesis) infrastructure., in particular charging stations for electric vehicles, and other incentives.

The types of activities proposed include technological, societal, cultural, economic and environmental aspects. They imply an active role for citizens and communities as well as businesses and public transport providers. While urban authorities should experiment with bold ideas, they should involve communities and citizens to ensure an easy transition to more sustainable modes of transport.

The 2nd Call for Proposals of the UIA Initiative will be launched by the end of November 2016, with a deadline to apply in March 2017. The Permanent Secretariat will organise four Applicant Seminars across Europe.