Europe to Provide a Sustainability Model

"I am convinced that the Managing Urban Europe-25 integrated management system is a very good tool that can help towns, cities, and regions to tackle the increasing impact of human activities on the urban environment," said Berlin's Senator for Health, Environment and Consumer Protection Katrin Lompscher at the "BerlinForum: Managing a Sustainable Future for Cities and Regions," held Feb. 12-13.

About 150 participants and managers responsible for the urban issues of 25 European countries gathered in Berlin to present and discuss an integrated management approach, including representatives from local governments, regional authorities, national governments, European Commission and European Union Parliament.

During three years, 25 European cities and regions have cooperated to develop an integrated management approach for local and regional sustainability in the project Managing Urban Europe-25. The approach is a response to the EU Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment (2006) and the EU Leipzig Charta on Sustainable Cities (2007). The BerlinForum served as discussion platform for urban integrated management -- from climate change to equity, from the EU Lisbon Strategy for Growth to the Aalborg Commitments.

Integrated management seeks to meet the environmental and sustainability challenges of urban areas in Europe such as poor air quality, high levels of traffic and congestion, urban sprawl, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and wastewater. It is a tool to meet further sustainability dimensions such as social and economic.

As more than 80 percent of EU's population lives in urban areas today, their quality of life is directly influenced by the state of the urban environment. With the rapid rate of urbanization, it is assumed that more than half of the world's urban areas expected in 2030 do not even exist yet. Efficient management is needed to make these future urban areas sustainable from Day 1. A sustainable development of urban Europe requires an efficient integrated management that supports both existing and future urban areas.

At the BerlinForum, coordinators of the 25 cities and regions of MUE-25 issued a statement declaring a commitment to continue their pathway with integrated sustainable management practices. They also agreed to meet in 5 years time in Leeds (UK) for a follow-up forum.

The cities and regions declared their commitment to continue their journey towards sustainability but that they need national governments to support their efforts by liaising local authorities nationwide and by providing a platform for exchange of solutions, ideas, experience. They also encourage EU institutions to enforce the Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment through innovative legislation, including consistent budgetary allocations to local governments. A direct dialogue with the European Commission is needed to build a more sustainable future.

As the project draws to an end, the 25 forerunner cities and regions are now ready to share their experience and motivate their peers. An integrated management manual has been launched in nine languages. In-depth guidance and more city cases on how to work with the model can be found at www.localmanagement.eu

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