Cities Forum EUI
20 March 2023

EUI’s launch at the Cities Forum 2023!

The EUI was attending the 5th edition of the Cities Forum in Turin, Italy. Such a great opportunity to meet again in person with our community, urban stakeholders and partners. It was also a very special edition for us with the initiative’s official launch, the presentation of the capacity building offer, the announcement of the topics of the 2nd Innovative Actions Call for proposals and the presentation of the European Knowledge platform on urban matters, Portico.

Here's a look back at what happened!

The launch of the European Urban Initiative was a great success. It was followed by more than 1000 participants from across Europe that came together to discuss the future of cities and sustainable urban development at the Cities Forum.

EUI is a key initiative of the European Commission, driving sustainable urban development for the new programming period 2021-27. It is an essential tool, supporting cities of all sizes, building knowledge and capacities for cities as well as supporting innovative solutions for urban challenges across the EU.

The launch session brought together the Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms of the European Commission, Elisa Ferreira, the Vice-President of the Hauts de France Region, Daniel Leca, EUI’s director, Tim Caulfield, the Acting Director-General for Implementation DG REGIO, Normunds Popens as well as Teofil Gherca, URBACT director, Dorthe Nielsen, Executive Director of Eurocities, Michal Konicek from the Ministry for Regional Development of Czech Republic, and Kieran McCarthy, member of the European Committee of the Regions.

Commision photo

Commissioner Ferreira adds “the initiative will provide an enhanced support for knowledge transfer, connecting innovation leaders to partners from other member states, in particular those in less developed regions”. While EUI aims to support cities of all sizes, it is specifically aiming to support and target small and less developed regions. Take a look at the European Commission press release.

Vice-President of the Region Hauts-de-France Daniel Leca highlighted that EUI aims to ensure transfer of knowledge and experiment sharing and the uptake of successful innovative solutions. It will support capacity and knowledge building by providing activities and tools promoting and driving better cities in Europe. This in turn will design integrated and participatory approaches and strategies for sustainable urban development.

Innovative Actions

The first Innovative Actions Call was already launched in October 2022 focusing on the New European Bauhaus demonstrators with almost 100 applications from 21 Member states from cities of all sizes across Europe. The selection of projects will be announced in June 2023.

As presented during the Cities Forum, the second Innovative Actions Call will be published in May, with an even higher budget of 120 million euros. This call aims to support:

  • Greening cities
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Harnessing talents

Stay tuned to our channels and discover the full descriptions of these topics that will be available in the next weeks.

To support applicants for this second Innovative Actions Call, three seminars will be organised in June and July. You will also be able to join online webinars and Q&A sessions.

The Cities Forum 2023 also showcased several bold solutions of UIA cities. During the site visits, participants discovered the innovation capacity in Turin with the legacy of the UIA project Co-City that demonstrates the importance of common goods; as well as with the UIA project ToNite.

UIA projet at Cities forum

The presence of UIA cities in Cities Forum sessions highlighted the obvious need for new and creative solutions to tackle pressing urban challenges. They illustrated concretely the discussions, bringing their experience and recommendations from the ground into the debates focusing on innovation potential in cities, with Rennes Metropole – RUDI project, and on green and just transitions in small and medium size cities, with Ventspils – Next Gen Microcities project. The cities of Tampere (SURE project) and Viladecans (Vilawatt project) demonstrated the importance of exchanging and peer reviewing among cities, during the session dedicated to the EUI capacity building offer. The city of Pozzuoli (MAC project) contributed to the reflection on the food theme for the Urban Agenda for the EU, explaining the importance of urban agriculture to involve local communities and reduce poverty.


Capacity-building for cities

Did you follow the capacity building session or visit the EUI stand? We are happy to share that a set of capacity building tools and activities are soon to be launched! The work we deliver on capacity building for cities is built upon two main objectives: improving the capacities of cities to design and implement SUD strategies, policies and practices in an integrated and participative way, as well as improving the overall design and implementation of SUD for and in cities.

“Seeing is believing. Going on site really makes the difference to understand what peers are experimenting and what to learn from them” explains Jordi Mazon, Viladecans Deputy Mayor on Energy Transition. Through our bottom-up activities and events, we aim to bring together cities to participate in city-2-city exchanges and peer reviews primarily for cities to learn from each other and tackle similar urban challenges.

Find out about upcoming opportunities for EUI capacity building and check out the slides from the session on our website.


Portico, your gateway to urban learning

EUI also provides cities, urban practitioners and policymakers with knowledge. The initiative is developing a new knowledge sharing platform, called Portico.

Portico is the gateway to the resources produced by a wide range of EU Cohesion Policy partners, and beyond. It will be the entry door for the European urban community to access the knowledge and skills needed to design and implement sustainable urban policies and strategies; and to connect peers to exchange ideas and experiences on urban matters of EU relevance.

During the EUI stand, participants were able to test and navigate the animated prototypes of the platform. What is Portico in a nutshell? Portico connects European urban actors with a wide range of knowledge, people and initiatives at EU level. This is an opportunity for all European urban stakeholders to network, exchange, discuss and receive tailored advice on their local challenges, and share the news of their latest projects, publications and events.

For more detailed info, have a look at this page. In the meantime, become part of the BETA community, help us design different features of the platform! Complete this survey and contribute to the design of the platform and its main tools. Portico will be live for Autumn 2023.


A renewed Urban Agenda for the

Another unique opportunity for EU cities is the EUI’s support to the Urban Agenda for the EU, which was first launched in 2016 with the Pact of Amsterdam and today represents a multi-level working method, for urban policy and practice, promoting cooperation between Member States, cities, the European Commission, and other stakeholders.

The dedicated session at Cities Forum started with a state of play of the Urban Agenda by DG Regio, highlighting the new Thematic partnerships having kicked off at the end of 2022 (Greening Cities and Sustainable Tourism) and the new role for the EUI to offer support and to take over the communication on the UAEU.

After this introduction, experts for the Ex Ante Assessments of the new UAEU themes (Food and Cities of Equality) were welcomed to the stage, together with representatives of the cities of Pozzuoli (IT) and Umeå (SE). The discussions revealed the major challenges for the new partnerships to be built this year and stressed once more the potential of cities to make a difference. Or how it was emphasized by Roxana Triboi (expert for Ex Ante Assessment of the Food theme): “Cities can be the catalyst for systemic change!”

Next, representatives of German and Swedish ministries, JRC, Eurocities and the European Economic and Social Committee, were welcomed to the Cities Forum stage for a final talk, exploring the next steps for the Urban Agenda for the EU. All speakers agreed that the future should be marked by an increased focus on cooperation between different government levels in strengthening the urban dimension in EU Cohesion policy.

Let's keep working together until the next edition!

Finally, congratulations on this successful edition of the Cities Forum! The EUI will now follow up on all the discussions and continue to work in strong partnership with EU initiatives and programmes such as URBACT IV, ESPON, IURC, the European Commission Joint Research Centre and Eurocities, who were also present at the event, to provide the most coherent offer to European cities.

We look forward to the next edition and to meeting you all again!