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Overview

Improving the urban environment – and city dwellers’ quality of life – has become a major issue in the global effort to achieve sustainable development. Cities house most of Europe’s population and consume most of its resources. Steps to create sustainable urban living must be underpinned by high-quality research.

Nowhere is the goal of achieving sustainable development more at risk than in our cities, home to 80% of Europeans and most of the social and environmental challenges. Urban dwellers face overcrowding and related problems: traffic, congestion, pollution, waste, and the effects of these on health and the quality of life in society.

But cities are also incubators for new ideas to combat this environmental hangover. The urban scene inspires fresh economic solutions (competitiveness, knowledge generation, employment, etc.), environmental action (against pollution, waste, urban sprawl, dereliction and contaminated land, public transport, etc.), and social responses (combating exclusion and slum formation, building green spaces, etc.). In fact, cities are now being seen as intrinsic to any strategy aimed at sustainable development.

But how can we make our urban environments more pleasant places? Europe’s leaders already know that isolated action, though well intended, is not enough to alleviate urban sustainability problems. A European-wide vision is required to tackle these challenges. This was first addressed in the EU’s Fifth Research Framework Programme (FP5), later touched on in FP6, and is on course to being developed in future programmes.

… in this brochure

The search for win-win solutions benefiting all three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – is paramount. This publication highlights the role of targeted environmental research on urban sustainability and how EU-funded projects are making a world of difference for European city dwellers.

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