Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and this is expected to rise to just over 80 % by 2050 (Source: United Nations (World Urbanisation Prospects) and Eurostat). In addition to demographic growth, cities and metropolitan regions are centres of economic activities and increased resource consumption.
Cities are the home of complex, inter-linked challenges related to climate change, pollution, energy efficiency, urban mobility, water, waste, food and resource efficiency, health and well-being and social innovation. Cities are key actors for meeting the targets set out by international frameworks.
For 30 years, Europe has been investing in transnational EU research and innovation on urban-systems-related issues, with providing financing from the Framework Programmes FP5, FP6 and FP7 of €2.8 billion and even in Horizon 2020: €3.1 billion. Horizon Europe plans to continue similarly to invest in these issues. For this, we need to take stock of where we are and what are the options we have for the future. This report capitalizes on 30 years of successful EU-funded research on sustainable urban development. It relies on the analysis of a critical mass of inspiring knowledge, ideas and best practices coming from 41 projects funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) across the different thematic priorities. It showcases and provides an EU-wide evidence base of the outstanding contributions of EU funded research and innovation in meeting urban societal challenges, notably those supported by the FP7 Research Framework Programme which deploy a citizen-centric, systemic and integrated analysis of the urban ecosystem. The report highlights the need for integrated policy research solutions to the societal challenges that generate policy benefits and co-benefits simultaneously delivering socio-economic and environmental political objectives for regional, local city authorities, civil society, political representatives, the private sector and industry.
The report spreads expertise across Europe and paves the way to future European cities being climate-proof, resource-efficient, smart as well as more resilient, healthy, inclusive, prosperous, safe and sustainable and contributes to the European Green Deal to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent.