Sustainable Cities Initiative for European Communities

Hopes to guide citizens to do things in a better way that will benefit all of society


THE IRISH PRESIDENCY of the EU have launched the Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities website, which aims to promote and enhance a European city’s work on integrated sustainable urban development.

The Irish Presidency said in a statement that the main purpose of the RFSC site was to guide citizens to do things in a better way that will benefit all of society:

For Europe to be truly prosperous, environmentally sustainable, and a place in which no citizen is marginalized, our urban areas must be empowered to act as pioneers that guide the rest of society towards a better way of doing things.

Inspired by the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities which defined key fields of action and possible solutions to sustainability issues, the process leading to the tool’s creation was initiated at the request of the European ministers for urban development during the French Presidency in 2008.

There are 25 main objectives that define the European sustainable city, including:

Check the list of the objectives that define the European sustainable city
1 – Reinforce the economic attractiveness of the city/region/territory
Provide training and assistance to staff of local administration and other partners to develop and improve relevant competences and skills e.g. service orientation
Highlight and enhance the strong points of your city
Promote cooperation with businesses and research institutes to generate, disseminate and apply knowledge and skills
2 – Develop the local economy through knowledge and skills provision
Identify potential and complementary opportunities for business and non-profit purposes
Create and maintain good relations with both the business and non-profit sector and ensure the appropriate conditions and procedures exist to enable their smooth running and development
3 – Ensure city connectivity and the provision of efficient infrastructures
Improve internal and external connectivity through the provision of high quality infrastructure, including efficient transport systems, high-speed internet etc, in order to facilitate production and the flow of people and goods.
Provide flexible working conditions
Facilitate access to finance and information
4 – Develop/promote/support appropriate sustainable local production and consumption of goods and services
Improve the environmental and social impact of products and services
Encourage citizens, public administrations, businesses, etc. to use local sustainable products
Promote local production of goods and services, close to the users/consumers/citizens
5 – Meet the needs of the population in terms of employment types and access and jobs
Support the creation of employment opportunities that meet people’s needs e.g. flexible working conditions, and ensure fair access to these opportunities by tackling discrimination (racial, gender, cultural etc.)
Ensure fair access to these opportunities through specific measures e.g. to tackle both long-term and youth unemployment – and also by tackling discrimination (racial, gender, cultural etc.)
Improve the knowledge and skills of the local workforce by providing the necessary conditions for equal and easy access to education and training relevant to the local economy
6 – Maintain or develop a more diversified local economy
Identify and address current problems, in particular issues that can have a reverse effect on sustainable local economic development
Within the context of regional priorities, promote a healthy balance of economic activities and sectors within your city
Support local economic actors to innovate and adapt to new sustainable opportunities
7 – Improve the quality and accessibility of public services for everyone
Consider the right balance between the quality and the costs of public services
Encourage proximity and accessibility to public services
Encourage affordability of public services
Improve information on public services
8 – Ensure that everyone can benefit from a good level of education and training
Promote an affordable education system accessible to everyone
Promote high-quality schools and training centers for all
Adapt schools and training centers to local needs for all
Promote and provide life-long learning opportunities
9 – Promote good public health for everyone
Guarantee equal access to good quality health services for everyone
Ensure protection against health threats/risks
Ensure information on health determinants (impact of environment, lifestyle, etc.) and stimulate prevention
10 – Ensure high-quality housing and neighborhoods for everyone
Encourage the redevelopment of existing housing and the construction of new housing where appropriate (avoid urban sprawl)
Improve accessibility and affordability of good housing for all
Ensure socially mixed communities and avoid segregation
11 – Promote social inclusion and access to opportunities for everyone
Take steps to decrease the levels of poverty and social exclusion
Strengthen and develop social capital i.e. features of social organization such as networks, groups and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit
Adapt welfare services in view of socio-demographic changes
Adapt to existing, and anticipate future, social integration needs, including those of vulnerable groups
Promote the integration of people with reduced mobility and disabilities
Encourage participation of citizens in city life
12 – Promote cultural and leisure opportunities and ensure access for everyone
Encourage and value cultural diversity
Support and encourage cultural and artistic creation and exchange
Ensure broad, affordable and equal access to culture for everyone
Provide leisure and sports facilities
13 – Mitigate, and adapt to, the effects of climate change
Define territorial quantitative CO2 and energy reduction targets aligned with EU objectives
Promote urban development that is more energy-efficient in all the stages of the energy-cycle: production, distribution, equipment, use/consumption
Encourage the reduction of energy consumption for households, public and economic activities
Improve energy efficiency in all fields (household, industry, agriculture, building etc.)
Promote the development and use of renewable energy sources emitting less greenhouse gases
Identify, measure and manage the territorial impacts of climate change
Consider the role of ecosystems (flora and fauna etc.) in helping the city adapt to climate change
14 – Protect and promote biodiversity
Safeguard and encourage ecological corridors across the whole territory
Maintain and improve the protection of fauna and flora species
Preserve and increase the percentage of green and natural areas in the city – as well as protecting those areas dedicated to agriculture in and around the city
15 – Reduce pollution
Reduce air pollution
Reduce water pollution
Reduce soil pollution
Reduce all kind of nuisances (visual, noise, light etc.)
Manage possible natural and technological disasters
16 – Preserve the quality and availability of natural resources
Identify and improve the use of local material in order to reduce the impact of importing and using non-local materials
Reduce the consumption of natural resources
Avoid the production of waste and encourage the re-use and recycling of materials
Promote efficient innovations and the use of renewable resources
17 – Preserve and promote the high quality and functionality of the built environment, public spaces and urban landscape
Identify, preserve and promote the existing heritage according to the local and cultural context
Prevent unplanned settlement and take steps to limit urban sprawl
Promote and enhance the architectural quality of urban landscapes, public spaces and the built environment
Create mixed-use and functional spaces and ensure the safety, security and easy accessibility of public spaces
18 – Develop an integrated vision for the sustainable development of your city
Consult all relevant stakeholders in the creation of your integrated strategy
Set out clear priorities and objectives in your integrated strategy
Follow an integrated approach when setting up your sustainable urban development strategy
Make the required preparations needed to identify problems/challenges in your city
19 – Pay special attention to deprived neighborhood areas
Ensure that any specific strategies for deprived neighborhoods are integrated with the wider city strategy
Ensure your policy/strategy/project includes targeted specific actions for deprived neighborhood areas
Ensure that the residents of deprived neighborhood areas are involved in the design and implementation of your policy/strategy/project
20 – Organize the management structures of your city to achieve sustainable urban development
Organize your city administration to encourage working in an integrated way
Organize or adapt your management structures to implement your policy/strategy/project
Give a good example, by your city administration, in achieving/aiming at the sustainable urban development objectives that have been set
Promote skills for good governance and leadership
21 – Take steps to ensure the financing of the integrated sustainable development of your city
Use your capacity to create/allocate financial resources
Encourage a flexible and innovative approach to finance, with an emphasis on sustainability
22 – Monitor and evaluate progress
Prepare and regularly follow up the monitoring and evaluation of your policy/strategy/project
Encourage the dissemination of evaluation results to ensure that lessons are learned
23 – Cooperate with other authorities from different levels
Consult and/or co-ordinate with other authorities from different levels in your planning and decision-making processes
Develop partnerships at local and regional level e.g. urban-rural or inter-municipal
Develop partnerships at national level
Develop partnerships at European and/or international level
24 – Promote active stakeholder and citizen participation
Encourage active stakeholder and citizen participation and involvement in the different stages of the decision-making process and clarify participants’ responsibilities
Ensure public access to information regarding policies within the city
25 – Promote networking and exchange of knowledge
Promote local capacity building through the transfer of knowledge and skills, especially in the voluntary sector and in community organizations
For more information about the initiative and its resources, please visit

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