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DCE at the Cities Forum 2017

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On 27-28th November 2017, the Dutch Cycling Embassy attended the 3rd Cities Forum, Organized by the European Commission in the City of Rotterdam,NL

Location: Rotterdam.
Agenda: The main focus of the event was to bring together stakeholders from different countries in EU and debate on the New Urban Agenda for the EU.
Day 1: The first day 8 themes of Urban Agenda were presented in the form of workshops at various locations in Rotterdam. The following are the themes:
• Urban Mobility
• Urban Poverty
• Circular Economy
• Jobs and skills
• Housing
• Digital Transition
• Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees
• Air Quality
Theme: Urban Mobility
The workshops and discussions revolved around, the role of Urban Mobility on the sustainable development goals of the New Urban Agenda.
Workshop presentations were conducted on projects and initiatives by:
2. Urban Innovative Actions (UIA)
After the presentations, discussion sessions were conducted from the point of view of possible contributions of various stakeholders and participants.
A site visit was planned around the Rotterdam central station, to present the Urban mobility scenario around the station and surrounding areas. Bicycle accessibility to the Rotterdam central station and its parking management and planning and new development proposals around the station, were the main aspects covered in the site visit.

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The event concluded with the keynote speeches by experts on Urbanization. They pointed out the importance of understanding Urbanization as it is the first step to effectively managing it. Urbanization is wrongly perceived as driven by the development, instead, it is driven by the needs of the people.

Day 2: On the second day, panel discussions on the New Urban Agenda in EU were conducted. The experts pointed out that Urbanization is a strategic issue and Multi-level (national and local) governance is much needed. Some of the other topics discussed were:
- Urbanization should focus on sustainable tourism and how to manage it, as this is one of the most uncertain aspects of various cities around the world, and it is bound to grow in the future.
- Rural areas and cities hinterlands are also to be focused as they feed the Urban areas. Especially, there is a need for opportunities in the rural areas
- Polycentric cities is one of the options which can be explored.
- Education on the New Urban Agenda is essential.
- The role of cohesion policy in the future of EU.
The take away from the panel discussion would be, Sustainability should be the main focus than growth and we should ‘Think Global and Act Local’.

During the panel discussions, few questions were asked of the attending members regarding sustainable development goals and other topics. The following are the results from the public opinion:
• Only 30% have answered ‘Yes’ when asked if they know about the Sustainable development goals of the new urban agenda. The rest of the participants had partial or no knowledge about them.
• Only 28 % have clear idea how organizations are progressing to achieve these goals.
• Around 45% of the participants feel that the city voices are heard more than before and have an influence on policymaking.
• Financing of risky and innovative projects and Co-investing with the private sector financing social projects were considered biggest challenges for investments in cities.
• Only 13% of the participants feel that cities are ‘very well equipped’ in managing different financial sources.
• 64% of the participants feel the specific budget for urban development (5% of ERDF available in a MS), made it possible or stimulated cities to design an urban policy.
• Specific program for cities with dedicated amount and Better involvement of cities by member states are the 2 most topics which are considered by the participants, which would improve the involvement of cities.

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Towards the end, the Innovate, inspire and exchange workshop, presented some of the innovative ideas which were selected in the last year.

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