Integrated Sustainable Urban Development
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Cities are spatial concentrations of human activity and interactions. They are the engines of the European economy providing jobs and services and serve as catalysts for creativity and innovation throughout the EU. Almost 70 % of the EU population lives in an urban area, and these areas generate more than two thirds of the EU’s GDP. However, they are also the places where persistent problems such as unemployment, segregation and poverty, as well as severe environmental pressures, are concentrated. Policies pursued in relation to urban areas therefore have a wider significance for the EU as a whole.
It is increasingly clear that the various challenges facing urban areas – economic, environmental, climate, social and demographic – are interwoven and success in urban development can only be achieved through an integrated approach. Hence, measures concerning physical urban renewal should be combined with measures promoting education, economic development, social inclusion and environmental protection. The development of strong partnerships involving local citizens, civil society, the local economy and the various levels of government is an indispensable element. Combining capacities and local knowledge is essential to identify shared solutions and to achieve well accepted and sustainable results.
Such an approach is especially important at this time, given the seriousness of the challenges European cities currently face. They range from specific demographic changes to the consequences of economic stagnation in terms of job creation and providing services, to the impact of climate change. Identifying effective responses to these challenges will be critical for achieving the smart, sustainable, inclusive society envisaged in the Europe 2020 Strategy.
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