EU – India Partnership on Smart and Sustainable Urbanization
The European Union is an important partner for India fostering the exchange of experience and knowledge and the availability and implementation of policies, practices and cost-effective and affordable technological solutions for smart and sustainable urban development.
In 2017, the Prime Minister of India and the Presidents of the European Council and European Commission adopted a Joint Declaration on a Partnership for Smart and Sustainable Urbanization. This thematic partnership supports smart and sustainable cities, promotes investments in sustainable urbanization, climate action and disaster risk reduction in cities. It will continue to develop effective solid waste management & treatment and promotion of circular economy, developing effective water supply & sewage system and innovation in housing.
The partnership brings together under a long-term cooperation platform all relevant stakeholders: European and Indian institutions, EU member states and Indian states, EU and Indian cities, businesses and civil society, to address challenges arising from rapid urbanisation in India.
At the 15th Summit between India and the European Union held on 15th July 2020, the Prime Minister of India, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission endorsed an “EU-India Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025”. This common roadmap should guide joint action and further strengthen the Strategic Partnership including as regards Urban Development and aims for further implementation of the Partnership for Smart and Sustainable Urbanisation.
The first Joint Working Group Meeting between the European Union and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs under the Partnership for Smart and Sustainable Urbanization took place on 18th September 2019 in New Delhi, along with the first EU – India Urban Forum. A Joint Action Plan 2019 – 2020 was signed to strengthen cooperation in different areas like urban planning, solid waste management, wastewater treatment, drinking water supply, resource efficiency and circular economy, sustainable urban mobility, green housing, energy efficiency, ICT solutions and climate change adaptation in cities.
The second EU-India Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting on Smart and Sustainable Urbanization and the second India-EU Urban Forum took place on 3-5 May 2021. The main focus of both meetings was to share the success stories and lessons learnt from India-EU partnership, and to explore potential business solutions for smart and sustainable urbanisation in India.
As a part of the JWG meeting, a Joint Action Plan 2021-22 was signed which includes several initiatives to strengthen cooperation in the area of smart and sustainable development
The Joint Action Plan includes actions on:
- Demographic change and competitiveness Environmental sustainability, disaster risk reduction and climate change Regional innovation and smart specialization policies and practices Promoting Smart and Sustainable Cities,
- Promoting investments in sustainable Urbanization,
- Promoting Climate Action and Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities,
- Developing effective solid waste management & treatment – Promoting circular economy,
- Promoting involvement of European businesses in sustainable urbanization,
- Developing effective water supply & sewage system,
- Innovation in Housing,
- Sustainable urban mobility
Cooperation projects and initiatives
The International Urban Cooperation programme (IUC) has been supporting cities in delivering on the pathways to a green and inclusive recovery and to boost adequate investment in environmentally friendly technologies, to generate and support innovation.
Under IUC India, 11 city pairings have worked together during the period 2017-2020 and drafted action plans, developed concrete cooperation activities and agreed on pilot projects, for instance Surat has worked to replicate a water plaza concept from Rotterdam for one of its riverside neighbourhoods to allow excess rainwater from monsoon season to recharge groundwater aquifers for later use during the dry season while converting a waste dumpsite into a recreational greenspace for the public. Engaging citizens for heritage protection has been the main cooperation theme between Gwalior and Leuven, both cities having a number of culturally important buildings, which are not well preserved. Leuven is passing on its knowledge in the field of heritage protection to help Gwalior improve relevant regulations and mechanisms, including identifying key policy gaps and applicable solutions (e.g. cultural funds or smart technologies).
Building on the IUC success, a second phase has been launched in 2021, to be called International Urban and Regional Cooperation ( IURC). With IURC the EU will continue to support cities in India to drive sustainable development and climate action by giving to 14 new cities on each side to opportunity to exchange experience on sustainable urban development.