Posts Tagged ‘Local Support Group’

Interview With István Hunyadi, RE-BLOCK, Budapest

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Sans titre

Housing estate in Budapest by G Y Gabor on Flickr

The 18th district of Budapest started to built up the RE-Block (REviving high-rise Blocks for cohesive and green neighborhoods) network based on the need to find new tools and solutions to give a boost to rehabilitate the “Havanna” high-rise block building estate, a deprived urban area situated at the outskirts of the 18th district of Budapest. The population of the district is around 100,000 and the “Havanna” housing estate is home to a population of more than 17,000 people with low income and social status. István Hunyadi is in charge of the lead partnership of the RE-Block project for the 18th district of Budapest. Here he shares his experiences with the different aspects of an URBACT Project.

Building and Managing a Transnational Network

“I can honestly say the support of the RE-BLOCK project is a great honour for the local government of District Pestszentlőrinc – Pestszentimre – it is not just the only project with Hungarian but also the only one with Central-East European leadership.  The issue selected for the project is rather difficult and it wasn’t at all easy to find appropriate partners, though problems of high density housing estates have to be faced by several cities. (more…)

URBACT Markets Project : Stakeholder inclusion pays off for Torino with 100,000 € web investment

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

000orinoURBACT Local Support Group (ULSG) is paying off handsomely for Torino. Thanks to active ULSG measures, the Chamber of Commerce of Torino has announced it will fund a 100,000 € investment to create a web platform that will promote local markets and test innovative new market services.

Engaging the different stakeholders involved in URBACT projects, whatever their nature, is a key success factor to successful implementation and buy-in from interested parties. That’s one of the guiding principles in the URBACT way.

Torino, one of the partners in the URBACT Markets Project which aims to harness the power of markets to regenerate city centres, create employment and leverage local supply chains, is obviously perfecting the art of inclusion to its maximum with a process they call the Torino Method.

The Torino Method

Firstly, URBACT project leaders identify the people and organizations with an interest in the issue at hand, those that have a role in markets, or people with ideas for the particular aspect of market management at issue. The result is a stakeholder meeting for between 5 and 8 people, with 2 to 3 of these usually facilitators.
Stakeholders range from the Chamber of Commerce, shoppers, local administration’s service providers, residents, regional commerce representatives and market traders, amongst others.

The stakeholder meeting follows a set process: facilitators use a flipchart to note down concrete ideas as they develop throughout the meeting, with the first point at hand giving an overview of the particular topic being discussed as it was in the past. The stakeholders move on to talk about the present, paying special attention to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the current state of the situation and how important these might be. Again, these are all documented on a flip chart as they crop up. The next step is usually the most creative as stakeholders brainstorm the future of the issue, generating ideas that could help improve the situation.

Above all, the process aims for simplicity and buy-in on central issues. These are summed up in a short document highlighting the date and time of the meeting, the participants, an analysis of the current situation with strengths and weaknesses, and ideas for the future.  These minutes are being collected by Torino’s URBACT External Expert and they will be presented at a plenary meetings stakeholders during the course of the URBACT Project, with the participation of politicians responsible for commerce, trade and markets and also members of the press.

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Steven Guest
URBACT Markets Communication Officer


Addressing Urban Youth Challenges at the World Urban Forum

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Last September the World Urban Forum (WUF) in Naples, Italy, gathered many urban practitioners and civil society members throughout the world to discuss tools and methodologies for a better sustainable urban development, both in developed and developing countries.
Kristine Sergejeva, Communication Manager of URBACT, and Raffaele Barbato, Project Officer at URBACT Secretariat, Simina Lazar from Brodolini Foundation in charge of animating the URBACT Local Support Group Community and Eddy Addams, URBACT Thematic Pole Manager, represented the URBACT community there!

The Urban World Forum is such a large event that it’s difficult to get a comprehensive picture of it. That’s why we asked our four URBACT delegates – Kristine, Simina, Raffaele and Eddy – to give us feedback on their experience. Find out below what they learnt at the WUF!

What did you like the most at the World Urban Forum?

Eddy Adams: The fact that it was truly global event. In Europe we are currently very focused on the crisis, so it’s good to get a wider perspective.

Kristine Sergejeva: A kind of sense of ease and informality was one of the characteristics of the Forum. The first impression when I entered the venue of the World Urban Forum was as if I would have been arrived in a large-scale music festival. This impression was given by the feeling of the large open space of the venue, where participants circulated from one event to another, accompanied by the sounds of music provided by some deejays. For one week the forum hosted multiple activities and events, such as dialogues, training events, exhibition, etc. I was amazed by the variety of approaches and tools cities use for coping with their urban challenges and also by the ways how they managed to present these tools in the exhibition and during the events.

What new did you learn during the World Urban Forum?

Kristine: Firstly, we cannot impose urban solutions to each other without understanding the context and the background; Secondly, there is a huge gap among several countries and continents how IT tools and different methods are used for coping with urban challenges; Thirdly, the developments of ITC tools and the change of human communications are one of the biggest influencing factors for urban governance in the future, which should not be forgotten; Fourthly, “gaming” as a concept is more and more often used for facilitating participatory approach in the urban governance.

Raffaele Barbato: There were three main messages according to me:
First, the main challenges for urban development are in developing countries. Here there will be no development without urbanization. In Asia and Africa the pace and the dimension of the urbanization process is dramatic. If well planned, inclusive and sustainable urbanization can be synonym of prosperity and better living conditions. Urbanization is thus a key factor for achieving Millennium Goals. Better urbanization facilitates better development!
Second, to support this urbanization, national governments shall develop and implement comprehensive and innovative national urban policies. But a top-down national led urbanization process is not the only answer.
Third, the cities are at front of this process. They need legitimacy, powers, and financial tools to adapt their planning process to the growing and changing threats. Cities also need to be innovative and inclusive taking into account the multiplication of actors and stakeholders to be involved in a participative process of policy-making.

What has been the involvement of URBACT in the programme of the 6th World Urban Forum?

Raffaele: URBACT organized one of the 133 networking events held in the framework of the Forum. With a Focus on the theme of co-production, particularly, in relation to young people, we presented some innovative solutions developed by local institutions involved in URBACT, stressing the importance of the URBACT method, especially, in creating the ground for genuine co-production with the Local Support Groups .

Simina Lazar: URBACT held one of the parallel networking events. A challenging task, considering the high number of parallel sessions (more than 20). The number of persons that attended as well as their feedback was an important result that demonstrated that the subject discussed was not only pertinent but very useful and of actuality.

Do you feel that co-production and the issue of young people’s involvement are key issues which are integrated in local urban policies?

Eddy: The whole issue of cutover involvement is key in my view. I think this will be a hot topic as public service reform rises up the urban agenda in the coming period.

Simina: Even though they are key issues and should be integrated to local urban policies, this passage is not obvious to all, especially to policy makers. As a general rule, it should be reminded more often that the youth of today are tomorrow’s decision makers.

URBACT projects: Building on past experiences

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

1photoville1URBACT enables European cities to work together in projects to share and capitalise on experience.

It enables the development of solutions to urban challenges that other cities can then adapt to their own context. It also has the role of analysing and capitalising on learning.

And when we speak of learning, it is both the actual knowledge developed by cities on integrated urban development, but also experience developed by cities while developing URBACT Projects!

Here you can read on a few ‘learning points’ that cities can pass to each other before new projects start next year!

The perfect time to pass on experience

URBACT, as many European Programmes has a limited timeframe. During its lifetime URBACT has already organised two calls for proposals (in 2008 and in 2010), as a result of which 37 projects have so far been selected.

The first wave of URBACT projects have now concluded their exchanges and delivered their final results, the second wave of projects run their implementation stage and new projects (the third wave) will be selected soon.

In the perspective of the new call for proposals for URBACT projects ( the 3rd call for tender planned for the period December 2011 to March 2012) and in order to make sure the experience of past projects benefits to new projects, two assessment days have been organised recently: one with the Lead Partners and Lead Experts of the completed projects (28-29 September 2011) and one with the projects in course (19th of October 2011).

‘The objective of the meetings is clearly to learn from the 3 years experience of finished projects in management and knowledge production. We are going to draw with them lessons and conclusions in order to improve the way project function in the future and to create a better environment for the 3rd call projects’, says Jean Loup Drubigny, Director of URBACT Secretariat

Some key learning points for ongoing and new projects

As they run their projects many cities develop extensive experience in organising transnational exchanges, supporting their partners and producing knowledge useful for urban practitioners all around Europe.

During the debriefing meetings,  Lead Partners and Lead Experts of projects had the possibility to give input and exchange on the following matters: organisation of transnational meetings, URBACT Local support groups, communication around their projects, Local Action Plans and interim outputs and results.

Relating to transnational exchange, some cities have encountered difficulties to find the balance between transnational exchange and local activities. Some key practices, such as involving systematically members of the URBACT Local Support Groups (ULSG) in transnational meetings or planning simultaneous translation may help.

In what concerns outreach and impact of the project, together with a well functioning communication strategy, the involvement of the political representatives may prove useful. Political commitment of the elected representatives of the cities is not always there at the beginning! However, ensuring it from start and maintaining it as the project goes along helps increasing the impact of the URBACT project in the city.  Of course, political changes may happen, but involving more systematically political representatives to key meetings may help face the impact of such changes.

As regards to the URBACT Local Support Groups (LSG), a way of improving them would be to brief the coordinators at the beginning of their action, so that they know how to manage the Local Support Group and what type of Local Action Plan they may be expected to deliver.

Of course, there are many other key points: on how to lead a successful communication and dissemination strategy for the project, how to deliver quality final publications, how to better relate to the Managing Authority of the project and involve them in delivering an efficient support to the project…but listing them all here would be too tedious.

I would prefer to let project partners, leaders and experts express key successes and learning point themselves on the web if they wish! Yes this is a clear request for comments!

Ségolène Pruvot, urbactwebpartners (@)

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Comments on URBACT Summer University on the web

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

First published on: Well designed and Built blog

I have been involved in Urbact Networks between 2005 and 2007 with the Hous-es project (about Regeneration of large housing estates in old and new member States) and since the beginning of 2011 in the Links project (about Future Proof Historical City Centers). My point of view is not the one of an external evaluator, but that of an independent researcher on urban policies and projects actively involved in the Programme itself. Attending the first URBACT Local Support Group Summer University that took place in Krakow in September 29th to 31st was an opportunity for a renewed reflection about the Program and how it works.

p1010529The First ULSG Summer University organised by URBACT II took place in Krakow and brought together more than 300 representatives of networks and Local Support Groups from all over Europe. The program of the event included short key-note speeches, lectures and interactive workshops about Local Support Group management, the so-called Urbact Cafè, allowing people from the same country or language to exchange in their native language and very few spare time to visit Krakow or meet with your Urbact friends. The work was supported by a fine tuned organisational management, extremely kind and competent polish language assistants and even a video team producing daily reports which are posted on the urbact dailymotion website. To watch some of these very nice videos you can click at the bottom of this blog. Wonderful!

This is all true, and there are many other interesting and exciting aspects of this undertaking that made worthwhile the significant effort required (2 and 1/2 days + travel). On the other side the main reason for this post is to focus on some issues that should be targeted in the next future to make a step forward towards URBACT III.

First of all the “Old Members States Supremacy”.  I have no statistics about it, but it is evident that most activities at the Summer University were led and managed by representatives of the old member States. It reflects the fact that also most Networks and Experts are from these countries where eventually the largest Urbact knowledge and experience lies. It is clearly a situation that has developed this way in the years and I am sure that there is no discriminatory thinking behind it, but just some more work to be done at programme level  in order to include more contributions by the ‘new’ Member States.

The second remark is related to the first one and I would call it the “English Supremacy”. Working, learning and exchanging with ideas means playing with words and this gives and conspicuous advantage to those who speaks in their mother language. Apparently a language is not only a way of expressing, but also a way of thinking and a channel for a specific cultural approach. This might become a problem for a program like URBACT which aims at putting in value the diversity of European cities (and cultures). Needless to say I love English language and culture and I have English for this blog in order to be able to communicate with colleagues at European and global level. Nevertheless we should always be aware of the language issue which becomes evident in occasions like the Summer University in Krakow.

The third and last issue I like to point out is also somehow linked to the previous ones and is about the fragmentation of these kind of learning events where you find yourself hustled from one room to another to listen, learn and experience things at a considerable speed. For smart professionals familiar with those kind of methodologies (and with their jargon) this might have been a refreshing and exciting exercise. But for some other average practitioner like myself that was sometimes frustrating. In other words I was missing some space to reflect and concentrate on the many issues raised. Of course you can download everything from the Urbact website, but this is not the same thing…

Finally there will be a lot of reporting on those intense days, a lot of homework to be done to become a better stakeholder, facilitator, public officer, planner etc. For the moment I just want to conclude this post with some pictures I took in the beautiful host city, from the airport to the University Guest-house in Florianska street and from there to the premises of the Summer University. That was on the day before the University began and we started our way on the path towards the Dragon’s Den!

by Antonio Borghi, Well designed and Built blog

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Incubating New Ideas in Krakow

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

“But I’m desperate…how can you help me?”

“Don’t worry; we have all sorts of options to help you. For example you could go to our incubator unit”

“No, please don’t send me to Cuba!!”

eddy1This humorous exchange – between “Dmitri” a young Russian job seeker and a local support worker – was part of a mini-drama prepared during the Dragon’s Den session at the URBACT Summer University. Over the previous two days, delegates had been working on the problems faced by a fictional city called Terga. In the Dragon’s Den four teams competed to convince their peers that theirs was the best action plan for improving the situation for young people. Everyone had a vote and in the end the winners were a team called “Cops can dance”.

I was lucky enough to be working as the Lab Manager with this talented and inspirational group of people.  It was a first for me – in fact a first for everyone as the Summer University was an original concept – and I have to say that I arrived in Krakow not quite knowing what to expect. But over the three days I was blown away by the enthusiasm, commitment and calibre of the delegates. The Dragon’s Den was the culmination of an intense, exhausting process yet everyone rose to the occasion – producing robust, well-considered proposals in response to a fictional brief from the city mayor. Yet, as the “Dmitri” exert shows, they managed to do it in a playful way.

During our time in Krakow this was one of the key lessons for me. We work in difficult times – often in tough situations – and to succeed we need to believe that we can make a difference. We also need optimism, energy, and, at times, a sense of humour. There is more than one way to convey a message – and we can be playful and effective at the same time. So, working with groups – including our city stakeholders – we should take risks, be creative and try new things. At times like this there may be a temptation to stick to what we know – but I think the message from Krakow is the opposite. We need to challenge ourselves and those around us. URBACT can play an important catalytic role in encouraging this through the Local Support Groups.

I would hope that participants at the summer university will have come away with this message too and with increased confidence to experiment and innovate. I also hope that we see some direct results coming from this pilot event. It has been an effective networking platform which should help create momentum behind new proposals under the forthcoming URBACT 3rd call. It should also help build capacity through exposure to peers’ experience as well as through raising awareness of the resources available through the programme to support cities. The experience inspired me and I’d like to think that it has had a similar effect on the wider URBACT community. Let’s think big and be bold in the way we approach our work – and try to maintain that summer energy through autumn and beyond!

Eddy Adams

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Preparing the Local Support Groups to Summer University

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

As a joint initiative of the partners of the URBACT National Dissemination Point Poland, the URBACT Secretariat and the Ministry of Regional Development, a series of three thematic seminars was introduced to Polish members of the Urbact Local Support Groups (ULSG). The pilot project was to prepare the issues mostly interesting for the ULSG and give the background for the URBACT Summer University in Kraków, Poland.

The URBACT Local Support Groups (ULSG) are one of the key innovations in the URBACT II programme that allow participative policy making at the local level. Each URBACT partner is required to set up a Local Support Group gathering the local stakeholders most concerned by the issue addressed by the project. Visit the new URBACT Local Support Groups page!


For the very first time URBACT is organising a Summer University dedicated to the members of the ULSG from all projects. The event will take place in the Jagiellonian University of Krakow from Monday 29 August to Wednesday 31 August 2011.

The goal of these seminars was to strengthen the knowledge of the ULSG members on the processes of the cities development and enhancing their personal capacity on team work. The first seminar dealt with the agglomeration and metropolitan cooperation, where 40 persons took part, with the participation of Jean-Loup Drubigny, Ivan Tosics – Lead Expert of Joining Forces project and Frantisek Kubes –chief of the Spatial Planning and Regional Cooperation  Department in the city of Brno (Czech Republic). It concerns good practices in terms of experience sharing and mapping of needs among urban practitioners.

Thematics of this meeting was the agglomeration and metropolitan cooperation  in the horizontal and vertical dimension. Participants had the chance to follow the in-depth cases of Poznań Metropolis, which is the example of the still informal, bottom-up cooperation (association of the municipalities on the way) and the case of Silesia Metropolis, which formally exists in the Silesian Region since 2007.

Prof. Jacek Nowak from the Economic University of Poznań gave the example of using the methodology of Experience Sharing Groups, which is successfully implemented by the Association Of Polish Cities for several years. This methodology of direct thematic meetings, moderated by the expert, using the research, and where groups from different cities exchange their knowledge on the given theme, may be a good idea of know-how capitalization between projects.

Trainers from Jagiellonian University presented the method of mapping of the needs.  This method includes identifying the problems in cities, finding rights partners to solving them. The participants could  also learn about the surprising research done in 11 Polish cities on 7 development capitals, evaluating their potential and dynamism.

This seminar introduced the form of URBACT Cafe to participants. They were divided in different cities, experience, professions. The conclusions from these sessions were presented during the second day of the seminar. They have shown the diversity of the views on the same topic, which only assured the participants in the conviction about the complexity of the cooperation within agglomeration.

The participants stressed the need of this kind of meetings and mutual experience exchange. For the people engaged in the implementation of the URBACT projects and for the potential leaders of the changes in their local environments, the broad knowledge on urban policy and trainings in social capacity are the personal capital, that may be used in the future work.

URBACT NDP for Poland
Association of polish cities / The Silesian Union of Municipalities and districts / Institute for Urban Development

Back from the URBACT Annual Conference in Liege

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

fred-470-sur-641We have just returned from the URBACT Annual Conference, strengthened in our conviction that combining transnational discussions with the local impact that URBACT II develops is working better and better. We experienced a warm and effective welcome in Liege; discussions were rich and high in quality. Here, I will review the results of the URBACT Café, where all the participants, grouped by country or by language, responded to three questions concerning the URBACT Programme, in view of developing a third and final Call for proposals, which will be launched in December 2011.

  • Question one: What, in your opinion, are URBACT’s main results?

What comes first is opening to new local partners in the Local Support Groups, but also in regional, national and, of course, European ones. Second came the contact with local realities thanks to the obligation to produce Local Action Plans.

  • Question two: What difficulties did you encounter in implementing the URBACT programme?

A lot of people complained about URBACT’s disproportionate bureaucracy. And then came difficulties in the relations with Managing Authorities. People also pinpointed the difficulties encountered in keeping transnational partnerships alive, and motivating Local Support Group members over time.

  • Question three: What improvements would you suggest?

There were many ideas, of course. Proposals for simpler and more flexible project management. Facilitating the search for partners, the participation of private partners and non-governmental association in URBACT projects. Planning for a period to implement Local Action Plans and disseminate results as part of the project life span. And, of course, greater collaboration with Managing Authorities, improving the link between Local Action Plans and operational programmes (ERDF and ESF).

We will quickly publish a summary of all these proposals on our URBACT website, and we are already looking into finding some answers.

Jean-Loup Drubigny
Head of the URBACT Secretariat

3rd RegGov Newsletter online!

Monday, April 26th, 2010

reggov1The RegGov project has published its third newsletter. The third edition of the RegGov newsletter starts with a statement from Merja Haapakka, representative of the European Commission (DG Regio) and contact person for the RegGov project, in which the importance and expectations of the Regional Policy is stressed. Afterwards  the Managing Authority from the Province of Gelderland (Netherlands) and North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) explain their experiences and expectations in regard to the RegGov Fast Track Network.

After a brief report on the Extraordinary Partner Meeting with representatives of the European Commission and the head of the URBACT Secretariat held in Duisburg (Germany) in February 2010, two contributions of the RegGov partners Satu Mare and Nyíregyháza present their practical experiences relating to the work with their Local Support Group. At the end, the newsletter closures with interesting news concerning the RegGov network.

Dominik Erbelding
RegGov Communication Officer