No 1 | January 2010

TABLE OF CONTENT

Welcome to the 1st edition of the Informed Cities Update!

This newsletter will keep you up to date with the key developments within the Informed Cities initiative, which aims to make research work for local sustainability. The Informed Cities initiative is a European project dedicated to bridging the gap between research and policy-making in sustainable development, with a focus on tools for urban management. The Informed Cities Update is designed for local governments, researchers and other partners interested in advancing urban sustainability.

1  |  Informed Cities news

  • New project connecting local policy makers to researchers
  • Visit Informed Cities online

2  |  Upcoming events

  • 1st Informed Cities Forum in Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), 14-16 April 2010
  • Informed Cities European Roundtable

3  | Improve your local sustainability processes!

  • Local Evaluation 21
  • Urban Ecosystem Europe

4  |  Opportunities to get involved

  • Informed Cities for local authorities
  • Informed Cities for researchers
  • Informed Cities for national partners

Visit the Informed Cities website at informed-cities.iclei-europe.org for the latest news.
Read this newsletter online


1 | INFORMED CITIES NEWS

New project connecting local policy makers to researchers

With such a wealth of urban sustainability research being produced in Europe every year, we should all be living in green, resilient, prosperous cities, confidently looking forward to a bright future. Instead, we still struggle with pollution, poverty and the consequences of climate change. Where is the problem?

Are the tools developed by researchers not relevant to cities? Are they difficult to find, difficult to use, too complex or perhaps not complex enough? If so, where is the solution? How can we make research work for local sustainability?

We all need answers to these questions and we need them urgently. The Informed Cities initiative, a 3-year European project that aims to examine and enhance connectivity between research and policy-making for sustainable development at (and for) the local level, offers an opportunity to take an important step towards finding them. This will be done by encouraging interaction and face-to-face discussions between researchers and policy-makers, as well as through explorative application of research-based tools for sustainable urban management by local governments across Europe. More information about project objectives and outputs is available here.

The Informed Cities Initative is funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union under the name PRIMUS – Policies and Research for an Integrated Management of Urban Sustainability. The project is delivered by a consortium of experienced European organisations, representing both the academic and practitioners‘ perspective: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Ambiente Italia (Italy), Åbo Akademi (Finland) and Northumbria University (UK).

 

 

Visit Informed Cities online

To stay up to date with the opportunities offered by the Informed Cities initiative, make sure to visit our website regularly. You will get the chance to learn more about the Informed Cities initiative, get recommendations on how to support your local sustainability processes, register for upcoming Informed Cities events, read back issues of the Informed Cities Update and find out how you can get involved. Visit us at informed-cities.iclei-europe.org

2 | UPCOMING EVENTS

Informed Cities Forum in Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), 14-16 April 2010

Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne City Council and the partners of the Informed Cities Initiative have the pleasure of inviting you to the first Informed Cities Forum, which will take place in Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom), on 14-16 April 2010.

This key European event opening the Informed Cities initiative will provide a platform for local authorities, national institutions and researchers from across Europe to discuss the successes and shortcomings in the local adaptation of tools for urban sustainability developed by European research in the past years. Meet European local governments and leading European researchers in the field of urban sustainability management, and contribute to a concrete dialogue to bridge the gap between research and policy-making!

At the Informed Cities Forum:

  • Local governments will improve their insight into and understanding of European research developing tools for urban sustainability;
  • Researchers will understand the conditions under which research results can be applicable and beneficial for cities;
  • European monitoring activities on local sustainability will be explored and prepared;
  • Current cooperation practices between decision-makers and researchers will be discussed;
  • Interested local governments can enrol in the Explorative Application of two research-based tools for sustainable urban management.

The Informed Cities Forum is proud to be hosted by Northumbria University, in cooperation with Newcastle upon Tyne City Council. Newcastle upon Tyne has just been awarded for its local initiatives carried out in the field of sustainability, including measures on air quality, life expectancy, and education, thus spearheading the list of green cities of the United Kingdom.

Places are limited. If you are interested in participating in the Informed Cities Forum, please visit informed-cities.iclei-europe.org for programme and registration details.

Informed Cities European Roundtable

The first Informed Cities European Roundtable, to be held on 13-14 April 2010 in Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), will gather the representatives of national institutions responsible for dealing with sustainability policies at the local level.

The participants will discuss with the researchers the applicability of certain tools in their specific national and local contexts. These discussions will be continued throughout the implementation phase, contributing to a better understanding of the different barriers to, and specific requirements for, an effective application of research results in each of the Member States.

The Informed Cities European Roundtables, to be held annually throughout the project, will encourage the relevant national institutions to take ownership of the brokerage process, connecting research and policy making at the country level. 

The first Roundtable will be held back-to-back with the first Informed Cities Forum. For more information about the European Roundtable process and upcoming events, click here.

3 | IMPROVE YOUR LOCAL SUSTAINABILITY PROCESSES!

In this section you will find profiles of selected urban sustainability tools that will help you improve your local sustainability processes. All the tools featured here will be discussed in detail during Informed Cities events.

Are you interested in presenting your experience with urban sustainability management tools? Would you like your tool to be featured in the next edition of the Informed Cities Update? Contact us at informed-cities@iclei.org

Local Evaluation 21

Local Evaluation 21 is a user-friendly online tool offered free of charge to European local authorities for self-assessment of their local sustainability processes. The tool, available in 20 EU languages, provides a sound basis for political decisions on improving local management and governance mechanisms.

A local authority representative registers online to receive access details. Once logged in, the local authority responds to a set of questions and can register any other actors involved in the local process to share in the assessment by answering a separate stakeholder questionnaire. The automatically generated report, sent via e-mail, analyses the shortcomings of a local authority’s local sustainability process in relation to eleven evaluation criteria and benchmarks it against a database of scores from other local authorities across Europe.

Local authorities and their stakeholder groups will be able to assess the quality and progress of their local process for sustainable development, analyse strengths and weaknesses and identify possible areas of improvement.

Participating local authorities also become part of a Europe-wide benchmarking system. Local Evaluation 21 is the principal tool for local governments to use in the baseline review or monitoring phases of their sustainability management process, in order to meet the requirements of local sustainability (as set out in the Aalborg Commitments).

You can find out more and access the tool here

Urban Ecosystem Europe

The Urban Ecosystem Europe (UEE) is a core set of 20 advanced sustainability indicators that provides an integrated assessment of EU cities' urban environment. The set is based on the 10 Aalborg Commitments and has been aggregated to facilitate reporting.

A local authority representative registers online in order to be authorised to download the spreadsheet containing the data required. Once the spreadsheet has been filled in, the data sent are elaborated and reported as indicators. The participating cities are clustered and ranked according to a selection of key indicators and a city profile of 20-25 indicators is made available.

UEE helps local authorities to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their city, giving them the possibility to compare and benchmark against each other on a quantitative basis. UEE measures the local authority’s performance in response to the renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy, the Urban Thematic Strategy and the Aalborg Commitments, providing a reference point to set up a baseline review and for local target-setting practices.

You can find out more and download previous Urban Ecosystem Europe reports here

4 | OPPORTUNITIES TO GET INVOLVED

We want to invite you to be part of Informed Cities! Below you will find a short overview of the opportunities offered by the Informed Cities initiative. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Informed Cities for local authorities

As a representative of a local authority, you will have the opportunity to discuss your needs and experiences with the leading European researchers in the field of urban sustainability management, access the latest tools and guidance, as well as get hands-on advice in using the tools that will support your sustainability process.

Share your experiences in implementing sustainable local development with national and European partners, present your approach to evidence-based policy making and make your voice heard in the European debate on local sustainability.

Informed Cities for researchers

As a researcher, you will get a unique chance to present your tools and recommendations to the champions of local sustainability, as well as to the national institutions responsible for local sustainable development policies.

Through your involvement in the Informed Cities initiative, you will gain a better overview of the needs of local governments, receive critical feedback about the products you deliver and refine ideas for future research. You are also invited to contribute to the proposal of EU Reporting Mechanism on Urban Sustainability, based on data linking governance and policy outcomes in the field of sustainable development, to be delivered by the project.

Informed Cities for national partners

If your institution is concerned with coordinating and advancing local sustainable development policies, the Informed Cities initiative will support your work, offering a unique meeting place for researchers and local authorities from your country to develop new, more effective modes of cooperation.

Our aim is to encourage experience-sharing and networking on the European level, linking the Informed Cities initiative to the ongoing process of the Local Action 21 European Roundtable. Annual Roundtable meetings will also offer the opportunity to discuss the link between governance and policy outcomes in the field of sustainable development, based on the results of the explorative application and European Report on Urban Sustainability. These discussions are then expected to feed into the proposal for an EU Reporting Mechanism on Urban Sustainability.

To find out more about this process and the opportunities it offers, please visit the Informed Cities European Roundtable section of the Informed Cities website.

IMPRINT

The Informed Cities Initative is funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union under the name PRIMUS – Policies and Research for an Integrated Management of Urban Sustainability.

The sole responsibility for the content of this newsletter lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Communities. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Published by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, 2010
Contact: informed-cities@iclei.org