URBACT projects: Building on past experiences


By URBACT, on November 3rd, 2011

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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

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3 Responses to “URBACT projects: Building on past experiences”

  1. Fernando Barreiro Fernando Barreiro says:

    The URBACT program is an excellent opportunity to connect cities and their projects. In our societies we need a permanent learning, but the question is: “How to learn”? Learning is a complex combination of theoretical knowledge, shared practices and communication among peers to achieve a capitalisation process. But this communication must be based on common interests and expectations. For example, how to transform cities to improve the quality of life and the social cohesion in Europeans cities. URBACT is giving an opportunity for these new practice-based knowledge, facilitating comparison, benchmarking and innovation. We have to learn how to build more sustainable and inclusive cities in the 21th century and we should do it in a shared way, as a community of knowledge and practice. Cities are becoming more and more key spaces to overcome the crisis in Europe. Experimentation and innovation need “laboratories” where we can sample the best solutions. To some extent, URBACT is playing this role.

  2. URBACT was born to support capitalisation of URBAN projects. Today this original task is fullfilled and URBACT is ready to open the way to a “new deal” of EU initiatives in the field of sustainable urban development.
    From my point of view, having being involved both in URBACT and in URBACT II, the programme has produced massive results in terms of documentation about good practises of sustainable urban development and in terms of active involvement of cities and people. This is no news, but it must always be reaffirmed. A lot of capitalisation was done and more is underway, enough to provide information and inputs to all those who need it in their everyday practise, everyone who wants to share and learn.
    The next challenge is to really “go local”, intensify support of implementation activities at local level, supporting setting up of URBACT Local Support Group and production of Local Action Plans, in a genuine bottom-up approach.
    This is a very big challenge for a EU Programme, but in today’s hard times both for the EU and for the single States, the bar has to be set that high.

  3. […] 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 […]

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