No 4 | July 2011


Welcome to the 4th edition of the Informed Cities Update!

This newsletter keeps you up to date with the key developments within the Informed Cities initiative, which aims to make research work for local sustainability. The 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

  • It's time for conclusions!
  • European experience with Local Agenda 21 discussed in Milan
  • Researching Urban Europe

2  |  Upcoming events

  • ICLEI European Convention, 12-14 September 2011, Brussels (Belgium)
  • Informed Cities Forum 2011, 26-27 October 2011, Naples (Italy)

3  |  Improve your local sustainability processes

  • Toolbox of Methodologies on Climate and Energy for the Covenant of Mayors
  • SWITCH your urban water system to prepare for climate change

4  |  Recent publications

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    mso-bidi-language:AR-SA" lang="EN-GB">"Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a finite planet", Tim Jackson

  • "Du quartier a la ville durable: Vers un nouveau modele urbain", Antoine Charlot

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It’s time for conclusions!

In recent months the Informed Cities team has been busy meeting hundreds of local government representatives from all over Europe and collecting data on local sustainability. It was inspiring and encouraging to see how many cities are interested in evaluating and benchmarking their sustainability performance.

Both the cities and the researchers that accompanied them learned a lot throughout this process. These discoveries weren’t limited to the state of local sustainability as European local governments shared their problems with accessing the right data, the different indicators used in different countries and the challenge of coordination and sustained political commitment.

The results of this exercise will be presented in a book, which will be published in autumn 2012. Focusing on brokerage, local governance and the role of research, the book will analyse the tools for governing and monitoring urban sustainability from the local government perspective.

Contribute to the final recommendations – register for the Informed Cities Forum 2011
The upcoming Informed Cities Forum will give all interested stakeholders the opportunity to contribute to the final recommendations on making research work for local sustainability. Join us in Naples and be part of the discussion. To learn more about the conference, click here.

European experience with Local Agenda 21 discussed in Milan

The participants of the European Roundtable for Local Sustainability met in Milan, Italy, to discuss the history of local sustainability processes in their respective countries, in view of the upcoming UN Rio+20 conference, 4-6 June 2012.

With representatives from 11 countries present, the discussion reflected the diversity of European local action. From the pioneers, like Finland or Germany, to the newcomers, like Serbia or Romania, everyone agreed that in order to be successful, local sustainability needs appropriate national and international support.

Martina Eick of the German Federal Environment Agency and Jutta Emig of the German Ministry for Environment presented Rio+20 vor Ort, a project analysing local sustainability processes in Germany. The project summarises the work done up to now and outlines future perspectives.

Together is better - share your Rio+20 initiatives with us
National governments, research institutions and other organisations are all mobilising in the run up to the UN Rio+20 conference. If you are working on a project that concerns local sustainability or the history of Local Agenda 21, contact us at To find out more about ICLEI’s global Rio+20 activities, visit

Researching Urban Europe

The first Urban Europe Forum workshop was held in June 2011 at COST Office in Brussels, Belgium. The Urban Europe Forum forms an integral part of the newly-established structure of the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe.

The JPI Urban Europe is a long-term, coordinated research and innovation initiative established in 2010 and currently involving 15 countries all across Europe and aspiring to "rethink and manage the increasing urban orientation and concentration in Europe in order to create and exploit synergy in an urbanised Europe, from an economic, social and environmental and transport-related perspective, leading to a strengthened global position of Europe".

All participating countries are working together to avoid compartmentalisation and duplication of research, address common challenges, speak with one voice in the international arena and develop a joint programme to propose to the European Commission. In Brussels the Urban Europe Forum, considered as an open platform for stakeholders (universities, knowledge organizations, research institutes, European NGO's, cities and private companies), contributed by giving input to the research themes and discussing how to ensure public support for JPI.

For more information on JPI Urban Europe click here.


ICLEI European Convention 2011: Cities in Europe 2020 – Enhance Sustainability Now! 12-14 September 2011, Brussels (Belgium)

How to pursue the appropriate balance between growth and sustainability and deliver low carbon, climate resilient and sustainable cities by 2020? The ICLEI European Convention is set to be a riveting and diverse event with over 20 plenary and parallel sessions, more than 80 speakers, special events, workshops, exhibits, and more.

The convention provides an opportunity for local leaders and other stakeholders to connect locally, nationally and globally with innovative ideas and thinkers. Participants will discuss and share ideas, experiences, and information on Water, Energy, Quality of Life, Digital Democracy, Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity, Resilience and Building Design & Construction.

Together we can call for recognition of local autonomy and territorial cohesion. It's time to jump on the train towards real sustainability! To find out more and to register, click here.

Informed Cities Forum 2011: Rio+20, local performance and the role of research 26-27 October 2011, Naples (Italy)

Thousands of European local governments have signed up to the Aalborg Commitments, the Covenant of Mayors and other local sustainability schemes but what about the results? For local governments to deliver on their commitments, we need more than tools, schemes and frameworks. Can research provide the missing piece of the local sustainability puzzle?

The second Informed Cities Forum will bring together local policy makers, researchers working on urban sustainability and the representatives of the institutions behind the main European local sustainability schemes. Participants will have the opportunity to take stock of the achievements of local governments so far and outline a new vision for local sustainability, in preparation for the UN Rio+20 conference in 2012.

Building on the success of the 2010 event, the discussion on the cooperation between local policy makers and researchers will continue, but this time using the experience and data gathered during the initiative's European-wide explorative application of two research-based sustainability management tools.

Participation is free of charge and limited funds are available to cover travel expenses. To find out more and to register, click here.


In this section you will find profiles of selected urban sustainability tools that will help you improve your local sustainability processes. 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

Toolbox of Methodologies on Climate and Energy for the Covenant of Mayors

The ICLEI European Secretariat, in the framework of the Energy for Mayors project, launched an online Toolbox of Methodologies to centralise guidance material for Supporting Structures (SSt) of the Covenant of Mayors (CoM).  This innovative toolbox is a growing collection of resources and methodologies and has been developed as part of a support package for organisations that are assisting cities and towns across Europe in developing their CoM Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs). 

"Energy for Mayors" project coordinator, Dario Miroglio of the Province of Genova stresses that "SSt work is complex and we need solutions. The opportunity to easily access a full range of existing tools, methodologies and materials developed by other SSt or organisation can make the difference". The Toolbox addresses the typical steps, as well as different actors and fields of action relevant to SEAP development – from setting targets to monitoring and from financing actions to engaging citizens.

Designed with the user in mind, the toolbox is available in several languages and is a valuable resource for SSt and CoM signatories making the move towards a sustainable energy future. To ensure it is continuously developed, registered users are invited to add other useful tools and methodologies and to give comments and evaluate the guidance material in the Toolbox.

For more information visit or contact

SWITCH your urban water system to prepare for climate change

Struggling more and more with dwindling water supplies and extreme flooding events? The SWITCH handbook "Adapting urban water systems to climate change" was developed for local decision makers and provides an introduction to the consequences of climate change for urban water systems.

Launched together with the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and the International Water Association (IWA) at the Resilient Cities Conference in Bonn this year (3 - 5 June 2011), the handbook helps readers to understand the practical implications of climate change and provides guidance on how to manage them in the most effective way. Download the handbook at or get in touch with the ICLEI European Secretariat for a hard copy. Contact: Anne-Claire Loftus,

For more information on Integrated Urban Water Management, please refer to the SWITCH Training Kit, available at ICLEI offers workshops for city officials working in water supply, stormwater and wastewater management and related departments of local governments. Please contact Barbara Anton at to discuss options for a tailor-made training in your city.                                                                                               


In this section you will find our reading recommendations for those interested in local sustainability. We choose publications that are accessible to a broader audience, bold and provocative, both theoretical and practice-oriented. Would you like to see your publication featured in this section? Contact us at

"Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a finite planet", Tim Jackson

"The idea that today’s model of consumption-driven economic growth will secure sustainable, equitable and decent lives for 9 billion people between now and 2050 is literally laughable" says Jonathon Porritt, former chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, and adds: "'Prosperity without growth' is the first book in a long time to go after the complacency and dishonesty that lies at the heart of contemporary politics".

Hailed as one of the most explosive books in recent years, "Prosperity without Growth" makes a compelling case against continued economic growth in developed nations. In view of mounting evidence that ever-increasing consumption adds little to human happiness, Jackson provides a credible vision of how human society can flourish – within the ecological limits of a finite planet.

To read more and order your copy, click here.
For Tim Jackson’s TED Talk on economic reality check, click here.

"Du quartier a la ville durable: Vers un nouveau modele urbain", Antoine Charlot

Published by Comite21, a French network of actors for sustainable development, this well-documented book advocates progressing from sustainable neighborhoods to sustainable cities. Drawing on examples from all over the world, authors underline the importance of holistic approach, combining urban planning with local policy in the fields of education, employment and social cohesion.

With an introduction by Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, the book features numerous contributions from local government representatives, civil society activists, researchers, business leaders and other stakeholders, painting a rich and diverse picture of a sustainable city or a "tangible utopia", as the authors describe it.

To read more and order your copy, click 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 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, 2011