Handbook of Sustainable Urban Development Strategies

The EU has developed a thorough discourse on cities and their development in the past decades. Since the end of the '90s, periodical meetings of ministers responsible for urban development (e.g. Lille, 2000; Bristol 2005; Leipzig 2007; Toledo, 2010; Amsterdam, 2016) led to the consolidation of an 'EU perspective' on the urban question (‘urban acquis’) that can be translated in a EU approach to urban development. This approach has been refined over the years through its implementation on the ground, thanks to the urban initiatives promoted by the EU through its Cohesion Policy and other specifically urban-oriented initiatives.

The European Parliament resolution of 9 September 2015 on the urban dimension of EU policies (2014/2213(INI)) underlines the need of systematising and analysing 'all available data and shared conceptual frameworks (‘urban acquis’) in order to prevent duplication and inconsistencies and provide a clear definition of integrated Sustainable Urban Development and thus identify the common coherent and transparent EU objectives in this area'. In fact, still the EU approach to urban development when implemented on the ground, leads to different interpretations, depending on local planning cultures, as well as on the wide typology of actors involved in its implementation. Moreover, there are some methodological aspects which need clarification and strengthening, with the aim to provide better and clearer guidance for post 2020.

In line with that, the Handbook of Sustainable Urban Development Strategies is aimed at developing a methodological support to augment the knowledge on how to best implement integrated and place-based urban strategies under the Cohesion Policy. In particular it refers to Sustainable Urban Development (SUD) as supported by the European Regional Development Fund during the current programming period (2014-2020) and the upcoming one (2021-2027). In this context the Handbook is conceived as soft guidelines which complement official regulations, without being prescriptive. In fact, it is conceived as a policy learning tool, flexible and adaptable to the needs which result from the different territorial and administrative contexts. The Handbook does not provide a quick fix approach but suggestions, through concrete examples and reference to existing tools and guides, on how to tackle key challenges during the process of strategy-making. The Handbook targets Local Authorities, Managing Authorities and all the other relevant stakeholders involved in the design and implementation of strategies.

The Handbook is structured in six chapters, each one addressing one of the building blocks of the EU approach to Sustainable Urban Development as follows: 1. Strategic dimension; 2. Territorial focus; 3. Governance; 4. Cross-sectoral integration; 5. Funding and finance; 6. Monitoring.

Source: Fioretti, C., Pertoldi, M., Busti, M. and Van Heerden, S. (eds), Handbook of Sustainable Urban Development Strategies, EUR 29990 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-13673-6, doi:10.2760/32842, JRC118841.