Virtual Forum on Urban Transformations

Brussels/Istanbul, 19 November 2021 – The 2021 Virtual Forum on Urban Transformation focused on system transformation in urban settings and working in complexity throughout the European Partnership region. 

Jointly organised by the EU and UNDP, the Forum showcased emergent practice on urban transformation among the M4EG network of municipalities as well as the civic and private sector. 

Diana Jabłońska, DG NEAR Head of Unit C1 ‘Georgia, Moldova, Economic Investment Plan’, stressed the importance of the EU-UNDP partnership to tackle local economic development challenges in a more innovative, inclusive and sustainable way, by relying on portfolios of interventions. She also recalled that the EU has designed an ambitious agenda and economic investment plan for supporting resilience, recovery and reform as well as harnessing the green and digital transition in the Eastern Partnership region. 

Gerd Trogemann, Manager of the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub, said that the demand for new approaches is tremendous, given the fact that municipalities are at the forefront of addressing systemic risks. He encouraged the Mayors network to lead by example vis-à-vis building partnerships based on trust, honesty, and openness, learning and iterating together.

During the Forum, M4EG municipalities joined in a discussion between various actors, exploring how to move from visions to actions. Panelists from Bilbao, Bologna, Lviv, and Vienna shared best practice on inclusive concepts implemented at the local level, including gender mainstreaming, civic imagination, adaptive city planning and portfolio approaches to tackle complex challenges. 

Oleksandr Syenkevych, Mayor of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, said that the pandemic outbreak has surfaced municipalities’ vulnerabilities. Recent and protracted challenges outlined the need to apply new tools and visions to address complex issues like inequality and economic development.

This is one session of many that will come where participants get a chance to engage with a growing network of municipalities and partners to build a space for a community of innovators at the regional level.

The joint EU-UNDP Virtual Forum on Urban Transformation is part of a series of strategic dialogues organised by the EU and UNDP on working in complexity in February and May 2020, as well as during the Partnership Forum on system transformation in November 2021. In December 2020, the EU and UNDP signed an agreement to apply portfolio approaches as a way to accelerate system transformation and build resilience at the local level under the initiative Mayors for Economic Growth. These dialogues have highlighted the speed of change and the need for development institutions to adapt their ways of working to allow for testing and discovery, while maintaining a high level of rigor.

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