EU-China Urbanisation Forum Sub

EU-China Urbanisation Forum
Sub-Forum on “The Green and Inclusive City”
21 November 2013
Theme: The Green and Inclusive City – Creating an attractive city and promoting the
harmonious co-existence of citizens and the natural environment.
The Second Session: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Cities - new approaches
(including technological development for the low carbon city)
Stefano Palmieri
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentleman, I am honoured to participate in this Sub-Forum on the
Green and inclusive City, and I am glad to briefly introduce some information about the
European Economic and Social Committee and our work for the involvement of civil society
to promote a sustainable and inclusive city.
About the EESC
 The European Economic and Social Committee is a consultative European Union
body, the voice of economic and social forces of our societies: employers and
employees, as well as farmers, consumers and environment organisations. We are 353
men and women coming from all 28 member states. Our task is to assist the Council,
the European Commission and the European Parliament on European legislation. Our
added value? Through our knowledge, through dialogue and consensus we bring
together different, sometimes controversial interests, and succeed to speak with one
voice informing the European decision makers of what our society expects and what
impact their decision will have on society.
 Topics such as environmental protection, sustainable development and climate change
but also how we plan, build and manage our cities are high up on the EESC's priority
list, since they concern us all in our daily life and hence are strongly connected to the
activities of all civil society organisations, be it employers, trade unions or NGOs.
What makes sustainable cities so important?
In the last decade our cities have been subjected to enormous pressure.
 We all know about the continuous strong trend towards urbanisation: worldwide
more than 50% of the population lives in cities – and this trend is increasing. In the
EU by 2020 80 % of the population is expected to live in urban areas. Whereas in
some world region Megacities are evolving, such as Mexico City or Rio de Janeiro,
the characteristics of the EU is a huge variety of big cities, mostly capitals, smaller and
medium-sized cities and there is an increasing importance of city-regions, i.e.
metropolitan areas where a number of cities form a boosting networks for living and
economic activity – such as in Northern Italy or in the Netherlands, Belgium and
Northern Germany.
 Global warming raises new issues for cities and requires new responses.
 Increasing energy prices can affect living patterns, for example by raising transport
 The recent economic crisis has affected local governments’ finances, making it more
difficult to invest in new infrastructure.
Regardless of whether we live we face today new Challenges for urban development
 Many of our cities struggle to cope with social and environmental problems
resulting from pressures such as overcrowding, poverty, pollution, waste and traffic.
Two thirds of our energy use is consumed in Europe’s cities and towns, which also
means that most of our greenhouse gas emissions stem from cities. Urbanisation has
huge adverse impacts on health and environment. And urbanisation demonstrates very
clearly, how closely environmental and social issues are linked: usually it is the
poorer classes and city quarters which are most exposed to air pollution and noise and
a lack of green space and recreational areas.
 Land consumption for built-up areas will increase more rapidly than the population.
This is particularly important when the land consumption for urban uses (residential
and commercial buildings, major roads and railways, sport facilities and urban parks)
threatens the quality of the landscape or bio diversity
 Some challenges we are facing in European urban development:
the revitalisation of depopulated city centres
the conversion of old industrial zones into new commercial and residential urban areas
immigration and the problem of marginalisation of immigrant communities in certain
city quarters
creating education and jobs for lowly qualified people
providing housing to affordable prices for all income classes
managing transport and mobility in a way that reduces air pollution and noise
reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by renovating the existing
building stock
create a green urban infrastructure
ensure efficient waste management.
Green urban infrastructure
 Recently, the EESC has in particular looked into green infrastructure as a means for
sustainable and inclusive urban development. Green infrastructure refers to features
that connect the natural and built environments und make cities and towns more
liveable, such as parks, trails, green roofs, green streets. Green Infrastructure should
become an integral part of the development of residential areas: well-designed parks,
avenues, footpaths and green roofs and walls are a cost-effective way of improving the
urban climate and generally improving the quality of urban life. Moreover, green
infrastructure helps also to protect biodiversity. Cities and urban areas are an
important habitat for natural species: e.g. Brussels is home to more than 50 % of
floral species in Belgium!
 Meanwhile, there are many successful examples for the creation of green
infrastructure in European cities, such as the development of biotope areas in Berlin,
the creation of a metropolitan ecological network in Lisbon, Plymouth's Green
infrastructure Plan, the green roof policy in Copenhagen: some of these examples are
also presented in this EU-China Urbanisation Forum.
Finding the right governance models for sustainable and inclusive urban development
I would like to point out how important it is to choose the right governance models to promote
a sustainable (from economic, social and environmental point of view) and inclusive urban
 Some scholars (Prof. Richard Sennet among these) said that the tendency to build
large-scale cities is depriving us of the social energies of traditional urban form, and as
if in one that can be defined as the URBAN AGE is proposed the contrast between
EFFICIENCY and SOCIABILITY. So the problem is how to balance the large
economic benefit that often accrue form large-scale projects in the metropolis areas
and communal rights of citizens
 In the European Union we found that a bottom-up approach is necessary in order to
reap the full potential of sustainable and inclusive urban development. Our objective is
to promote the initiative and creativity of the local level and facilitate their projects by
providing guidance and networks for the exchange of best practice and by supporting
investment into sustainable city infrastructure.
 A very good example is the European Covenant of Majors. This is an initiative
launched by the European Commission in 2008 to support local and regional
authorities in the fight against climate change. Under this scheme meanwhile more
than 5.200 cities and regions, representing 173 million citizens have voluntarily
committed to exceed the EU 20% CO2 reduction target for 2020 through by setting up
and implementing a Sustainable Energy Action Plan which is tailored to the specific
local circumstances.
 Finally, a strong involvement of civil society is crucial for the success of such
projects. The main actors in such projects are the bodies responsible for regional and
local planning, cities and local authorities, bodies responsible for infrastructure
projects in areas like road building, railways, companies and city developers, civil
society environmental organisations and trade unions. Projects work out successfully
if they are initiated, accepted and supported by these actors. These actors should be
strengthened. They must be actively involved as early as possible in the planning of
urban development.
In 2050 around 70% of people will live in the Cities.
If we want to guarantee the wellbeing in the World we should start to promote the wellbeing
of the Cities.
In doing so we believe it is crucial the participation of civil Society in the process of
measuring local wellbeing.
Measuring local wellbeing can help citizens and policy makers to assess results of policies
and monitoring progress and better understanding how measures of well-being at local level
can enhance the implementation of local policies.
Because as Professor Stiglitz said if we measure the wrong thing we'll do the wrong
thing….and in this field the Civil Society can give a crucial support to find the right way.