4th CITIES FORUM 2020 - “Together we shape a sustainable urban future”

Organised by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, and the City of Porto, the "CITIES Forum 2020 – "together we shape a sustainable urban future" was a two-day major event bringing together more than 700 key stakeholders from European, national and local levels and all EU member states on 30th and 31st January 2020. The Forum was a place for all stakeholders to capitalise on common achievements and reflect on the future directions of urban development within Cohesion Policy including the future of the Urban Agenda for the EU.

Many stakeholders relevant in the urban acquis, including umbrella organisations and NGO’s, contributed to the success of this edition of CITIES Forum by being speakers, leading workshops, and hosting stands. Additionally, more than 30 politicians representing all different tiers of government from all over Europe representing balanced geography, gender and sizes of cities participated in plenary debates.

On the first day, we conferred and organised two workshops in the City of Porto showcasing how this city works on technology solutions and deals with climate and environmental issues at specific locations in the city. At the same time, a CityLab on balanced territorial development in relation to the renewal of the Leipzig Charter was scheduled. Moreover, the Handbook of Sustainable Urban Development Strategies produced by the Joint Research Service and DG REGIO of the European Commission was published during the CITIES Forum. In the afternoon of the first day welcoming words and introductions of high-level speakers were followed by two panel discussions on “how will the European Urban Initiative support cities” and “shaping the future of sustainable urban development including the Urban Agenda for the EU”.

On the second day, several parallel workshops allowed the creation of visitors’ own urban workshop ‘menu’. The attendees were inspired by cities presenting good practices making use of European Regional Development Funds, learned more about the outcome of the assessment study on the Urban Agenda for the EU, were prepared for a transition towards a circular economy, saw the launch of the circular city funding guide and discussed the issues cities face related to housing and equal access to services for all. They joined in to learn how we could strengthen the local economy by focusing on Jobs&Skills and help us boosting digital transformation in cities and communities. After the workshops, mayors from different EU cities reflected on their current challenges and shared their visions on the way forward towards better urban policymaking and urban investments.

After lunch, we continued with different sessions highlighting the progress made so far by the Urban Agenda Partnerships, how to localise the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals or be vocal on what attendees thought the European Urban Initiative should focus on.

Following lively and fruitful discussion, the main outcome of this edition of CITIES Forum was that cities could be an inspiration when responding to the major current and future challenges. They are living labs for policy, innovation, creativity and progress. Yet to do so, cities voices need to be heard and they need have a seat around the table when setting-up and implementing EU and national policies that impact cities.

In addition working in an integrating and participatory way, collaborating with neighbouring territories and networking with other cities, citizens and other levels of governance are the cornerstones of sustainable urban development. It is precisely through this working method where the added value of Cohesion Policy support can be found for cities in this new period.

A small exhibition was also open to participants where urban organisations and networks hosted stands, engaged and provided information on urban programmes and initiatives.

53 EU-funded good urban practices projects form all of the Member States were selected from the Cohesion Policy funded programme and exhibited during CITIES Forum. Through a public poll, participants were then able to choose a favourite project per one of the five categories. The corresponding project representatives will be contacted to receive the award certificate. The results of the poll were the following:

Useful links

We thank you for your participation in CITIES Forum and we hope you had a pleasant stay in Porto!


TECH4SDGs: Best practices about the implementation of tech solutions in Porto

Discussion on the outcome of the assessment study of the Urban Agenda for the EU

Showcase of good urban practices within Cohesion Policy presented by cities

Cities as guardians of fundamental rights. Ensuring equal access to quality services for all

Cities Engaging on the Right to Housing

Jobs and Skills in the Local Economy: Challenges and potential solutions

Scaling up the transition towards a circular economy in cities

Working together to deliver Sustainable Development Goals at EU and global level

European Urban Initiative Expert Working Group


Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms

Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence and Vice-President of EUROCITIES (IT)

Ana Abrunhosa, Portuguese Minister for Territorial Cohesion

Kieran McCarthy, Member of the European Committee of the Regions and Councillor of the city of Cork (IE)

Paulius Kulikauskas, Acting Chief of Office for Europe and European Institutions, UN-HABITAT

Taylor Hughes and Fruzsina Nagy, Greehill