URBACT 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 (@) gmail.com