No 6 | April 2012


Welcome to the 6th 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

  • Towards a new mode of cooperation between research and local policy-making
  • EMI and ICLEI launch survey on urban sustainability in cities
  • Cities and researchers to work together on urban biodiversity
  • Creating a space for ideas - a community arena approach to improve quality of life and sustainability
  • Knowledge brokerage and Rio+20 on the agenda in London

2  |  Upcoming events

  • Adaptation Strategies for European Cities: Stakeholder Dialogues, May-July 2012
  • ICLEI World Congress and International Urban Researchers' Symposium, 14-17 June 2012, Belo Horizonte (Brazil)
  • EcoProcura 2012, 19-21 September 2012, Malmö (Sweden)
  • Local Renewables 2012, 25-26 October 2012, Freiburg (Germany)

3  |  Improve your local sustainability processes

  • CHAMP Capacity Development Package for Integrated Management
  • CLIMATE-ADAPT European Climate Adaptation Platform

4  |  Recent publications

  • "Governance by evaluation for sustainable development. Institutional capacities and learning", ed. M.Sedlacko, A.Martinuzzi
  • "Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing", UN High-level Panel for Global Sustainability

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For more information on the Informed Cities initiative visit

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Towards a new mode of cooperation between research and local policy-making

It is almost three years since the kick-off meeting of PRIMUS (Policies and Research for an Integrated Management of Urban Sustainability), a project behind the Informed Cities initiative. Meeting in Freiburg in May 2009 to start working on bridging the gap between research and policy-making for local sustainability we knew we were on to something important. As the project comes to a close in April 2012, we have no doubt that this is just the beginning of a long journey.

Researchers and local policy-makers need each other. However, even though both sides are aware of the benefits of cooperation, they still largely operate in parallel universes, using different languages, choosing different priorities, working with different timescales. What the Informed Cities initiative has achieved is to bring these two groups together, both during conferences and in a working environment, to help them find a common ground and to show inspiring examples of existing cooperation.

The lessons learned from this process will be presented in two concise publications, to be available in print and online from May on:

  • European Frameworks for local sustainability. The role of researchers, policy-makers and European institutions in shaping local commitment by Stefan Kuhn and Cristina Garzillo of the ICLEI European Secretariat. The publication will explore the usefulness of European schemes, such as the Covenant of Mayors or the Aalborg Commitments, in supporting the local sustainability process and presenting recommendations on the role of researchers in shaping local processes 

  • Knowledge brokerage in action in European cities by David McGuinness of Northumbria University, analysing five examples of cooperation between researchers and local policy-makers with a focus on sustainable development coming from different European cities, including Oslo (Norway), Tilburg (Netherlands), Newcastle (UK), Norrköping (Sweden) and Turku (Finland)

The results of explorative application of the Urban Ecosystem Europe indicator set will be available on an online platform that allows for comparisons of different aspects of urban environmental quality in 53 cities across Europe. The platform will be launched in May 2012.

By the end of 2012 the Informed Cities partners will finalise a book on making research work for local sustainability, based on the information collected throughout the project.

ICLEI, together with partners, will continue to publish the Informed Cities Update and organise events bringing local governments and the research community together. We are also involved in a number of projects that enable us to continue working on this topic, including InContext, URBAN NEXUS, URBES and others.

To make sure you don’t miss any news on making research work for local sustainability, follow us on Facebook and check the Informed Cities website regularly.

Image: SuprisePally@flickr

EMI and ICLEI launch survey on urban sustainability in cities

In order to gauge the sustainability priorities and views of European cities, the European Metropolitan network Institute (EMI) and ICLEI have jointly launched a digital questionnaire on urban sustainability. Cities are asked to fill out the questionnaire before the end of April so that results can be used in further developing EMI’s Urban Sustainability Research Agenda. The main aim of this Agenda is to, together with cities, identify new, overarching research questions so cities can become (increasingly) sustainable.

Sustainability is one of the main challenges facing today’s cities and larger urban areas. There is, however, a distinct chasm between the (development of the) theoretical sustainability debate and the practical translation that cities assign to the concept. Does this make it more or less likely that we, in Europe, will reach our sustainability goals and objectives?

The online questionnaire takes just 5-10 minutes to complete and is available here.

Cities and researchers to work together on urban biodiversity

Launched in January 2012, the URBES project is a transdisciplinary collaboration project between 11 top research institutes in Europe and New York, as well as four urban case study areas, Stockholm, Rotterdam, Salzburg and Berlin.

The project addresses significant scientific knowledge gaps on the role of urban biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being. It will pioneer the development of the TEEB- approach in an urban context and be innovative in integrating monetary and non-­monetary valuation techniques, explore their governance implications and develop guidelines for implementation in urban landscapes. The project is funded by biodivErsA, a network of pan-European funding organisations. ICLEI together with IUCN is taking over the brokerage role between science and practice. Therefore, capacity development instruments such as fact sheets and trainings workshops will be developed. The first fact sheets will be available in summer 2012. The trainings will be available for all European local authorities throughout 2013 and 2014.  

For further information please consult or contact

Image: Andreas@flickr

Creating a space for ideas – a community arena approach to improve quality of life and sustainability

Finkenstein is a community of 8,500 inhabitants in Carinthia, Austria, bordering Slovenia and close-by Italy. Finkenstein is characterised by internal differences like the contrary demands of the two dominating economic sectors industry and tourism, as well as the mixed cultural background of the Slovenian- and German-speaking Austrian population. These particularities make Finkenstein especially interesting for exploring conditions enabling societal transition towards an ecologically sound, economically successful and culturally diverse future. Therefore it has been selected as one of the action research pilots within the EU-funded InContext project, to be done by SERI.

While local politicians feel a lack of interest in political participation, many citizens are willing to contribute, if conditions are right. At the beginning of 2012, SERI selected 15 committed citizens and established a community arena that will meet four times until June. After the development of a long-term vision, short-term activities are being implemented.

Creating a more sustainable community through strengthening social cohesion is a central common issue at this stage of the project, where a spirit of optimism has taken hold of all participating parties. In line with the project, a group of local entrepreneurs installed a task force to collaborate and help implement the citizen’s visions.

The community arena approach will support the development of participatory environment in Finkenstein. To follow the process and its outcomes, visit the website LebensKlima in Finkenstein (in German).

Interested in supportive environments for sustainable living?
The Community Arena approach is piloted within the EU-funded InContext project. For more information about the project and opportunities to get involved, click here.

Knowledge brokerage and Rio+20 on the agenda in London

In February 2012 the European Roundtable for Local Sustainability met in London, UK, to discuss the recommendations coming from the Informed Cities initiative and exchange on the state of national preparations for the UN Rio+20 Conference. The participants highlighted the need to broaden the understanding of cooperation between researchers and policy-makers, moving from knowledge transfer to a co-production of knowledge and including local community as an important source of knowledge. There is also a need for better evidence on the advantages of cooperation between cities and universities, e.g. based on the analysis of existing examples.

National preparations for Rio+20 are quickly gaining speed and many countries wish to use this international event to strengthen national and local sustainability processes. Andy Johnson (Local Government Information Unit) provided a short overview of the preparations in the UK, pointing to the recent speech of the UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and the report of the Environmental Audit Committee. Vaia Tuuhia and Laurence Ermisse (Association 4D), together with Anne-Laure Carlier (Ministry for Sustainable Development), presented a number of activities that are taking place in France, with a strong involvement of local and regional governments and civil society. Emanuele Burgin (Coordinamento Agende 21 Locali Italiane) reported that, following the change of government, Italian preparations for the Rio+20 Conference are slowly gaining momentum. Pilar Álvarez-Uría Tejero (Observatory of Sustainability in Spain) presented the results of an assessment of local sustainability processes in Spain, as well as further activities planned.

Bringing together 21 delegates from 16 European countries, the meeting was a great success. Representatives from national institutions were given a platform to work with cities and place their activities in the broader European and global framework, bringing home new ideas and contacts. For more information visit or contact


Adaptation Strategies for European Cities: Stakeholder Dialogues May-July 2012, Aalborg (Denmark), Burgas (Bulgaria), Ancona (Italy)

Adapting European cities to climate change is one of the most significant challenges of our century, and only through an integrated adaptation strategy and the involvement of all relevant stakeholders can cities be prepared to tackle climate change.

The Adaptation Strategies for European Cities, is a project commissioned by DG Climate Action, which aims to provide capacity building and assistance for cities in developing and implementing an adaptation strategy. The project will support European cities in identifying the current and future needs in dealing with adaptation challenges by means of one day cost-free Stakeholder Dialogues to be held between May and July 2012 in Aalborg (Denmark), Burgas (Bulgaria) and Ancona (Italy).

For more information visit

Image: Nikada@istock

ICLEI World Congress 2012 and 3rd International Urban Researchers’ Symposium 14-17 June 2012, Belo Horizonte (Brazil)

The ICLEI World Congress 2012 will be held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil from 14 to 17 June 2012. Closely linked to the UN Rio+20 conference, the ICLEI World Congress 2012 will chart the way forward for local governments and their partners to a more sustainable and prosperous future. The programme will be based on ICLEI’s eight strategic goals and will showcase the vast work of ICLEI Members on advancing sustainability. Participants will learn from inspirational speakers and real-life city cases about cutting-edge integrated solutions to the challenges we face.

The 2012 World Congress will be held together with the third International Urban Researchers’ Symposium. The symposium will convene researchers to exchange their concepts, studies, findings and ideas for future research, and to enable them to exchange with local government practitioners in order to strengthen the link between research and practice.

Both events are free of charge. For more information visit

EcoProcura 2012: New opportunities to deliver sustainable procurement and innovation, 19-21 September 2012, Malmö (Sweden)

The eighth conference in the EcoProcura series will take place in the Swedish city of Malmö and will focus on how public procurement can stimulate the broad uptake of new technology and become a driver for the green economy and social responsibility. The conference follows the 2009 event held in Reykjavik (Iceland), which saw public authority delegates pledge to use their vast economic purchasing power to help fight climate change by boosting the market for climate-friendly products and services.

EcoProcura is the only conference series to provide a platform to promote exchange and dialogue amongst purchasers from all levels of governance, as well as suppliers, policy-makers and multipliers on strategies and the latest practical solutions for implementing sustainable procurement. In Malmö, both European and international cities will showcase their success stories, allowing more than 250 participants from countries across the globe to interact and share their visions, knowledge and lessons learned.

For more information visit

Local Renewables 2012: Cities and regions explore smart grids and smart solutions 25-26 October 2012, Freiburg (Germany)

The fifth Local Renewables Conference focuses on the combination of locally generated renewable energy, smart grids and smart end-users. The interconnection and need for close cooperation between cities and regions is essential in this context. The participants are invited to explore the potential of using information and communication technology (ICT) and energy storage in smart grids, using renewable resources to the fullest extent. Becoming a low carbon and a 100 percent renewable community is challenging, but possible.

Representatives from cities and towns, decision-makers from various levels of government, energy service providers and energy experts will present and discuss ways in which smart grids and solutions can be shaped – with urban-regional links seen as a core element in this. How to integrate stable grids with stable energy provision in the energy transition towards renewable? What role does local government play in this? And where should key actors connect and cooperate to make it work?

For more information visit


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

CHAMP Capacity Development Package for Integrated Management

In order to help local governments to address climate change in a holistic and effective way, while ensuring sustainability at the same time, the Integrated Management System (IMS) was developed. It is designed as a cycle that consists of five steps and two cross-cutting issues. By following these steps, the local government ensures that all sectors and levels are considered and directed towards sustainability. Annual repetition of the cycle provides for the possibility to adapt the cycle to new circumstances and to learn from experience.

The Capacity Development Package (CDP), developed within CHAMP, enables local governments to actually apply this new management form. It is the first training kit for IMS in Europe and supports local governments to combat climate change through an integrated management system. In detail, the CDP provides hands-on guidance, good practice examples and tools to establish an IMS. It is designed for three different types of users: local and regional authorities, trainers or consultants and auditors. While local and regional authorities learn everything about the IMS from scratch, can look at practical case studies and can benefit from tools, trainers will have access to a complete set of training material for the IMS, including presentations, training schedules and much more. Auditors, on the other hand, learn more about the characteristics of the IMS.

For more information click here

CLIMATE-ADAPT European Climate Adaptation Platform

The European Climate Adaptation Platform is a publicly accessible, web-based platform, designed to support policy-makers at EU, national, regional and local levels in the development of climate change adaptation measures and policies.
CLIMATE-ADAPT has been developed with the support of the European scientific and policy making community, and will help users to access, disseminate and integrate information on:

  • Expected climate change in Europe
  • The vulnerability of regions, countries and sectors now and in the future
  • Information on national, regional and transnational adaptation activities and strategies
  • Case studies on adaptation and potential future adaptation options
  • Online tools that support adaptation planning
  • Adaptation-related research projects, guideline documents, reports information sources, links, news & events

To be able to take the necessary decisions on how best to adapt, it is essential to have access to reliable data on the likely impact of climate change, the associated socio-economic aspects and the costs and benefits of various adaptation options. The Commission's 2009 White Paper on Adaptation emphasised that a lack of knowledge is a major obstacle to the development of successful climate change adaptation responses.

For more information click here


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

“Governance by evaluation for sustainable development. Institutional capacities and learning”, edited by Michal Sedlacko and André Martinuzzi, Edward Elgar, UK 2012

This book presents lessons on how evaluation studies and systems forward the agendas of sustainable development and good governance. It also examines how political-administrative realities affect the design and use of such evaluation studies as well as the institutionalisation of monitoring and evaluation systems.

The authors review recent European experience with evaluation at the EU, national, regional and local levels and recognise that the range of instruments and approaches that influence policy-making and governance is complex and diverse. The reader is reminded of the complexities and the need for further research to investigate these issues.

Much has been written about evaluating sustainable development. This book represents an attempt to tackle these questions with a technical language and it is written with researchers and practitioners in the area of policy/programme evaluation in mind. 

To read more and order your copy, click here

“Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”, UN High-level Panel for Global Sustainability 2012

In August 2010, Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon launched the High-Level Panel for Global Sustainability, with a mandate to reflect on and formulate a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it. The Panel was composed of 22 members drawn from government, the private sector and civil society and co-chaired by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma.

In its final report, “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”, the Panel provides 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice so as to strengthen inclusive growth, enhance social equity, and preserve the planet. The Panel members remind, after Mahatma Gandhi, that “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed” and call for our actions today to be consistent with where we want to go tomorrow, urging greater accountability for the long-term consequences of our choices.

To read more and download 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