The European Urban Initiative is here
Endowed with 450 million euros, this European Commission mechanism supports projects for sustainable and smart cities
Good news for European cities thanks to Urban Iniciative Actions 2022 (UIA). Earlier this month, Brussels kicked off the European Urban Initiative (EUI) by signing an agreement with the French region of Hauts-de-France to implement it. As part of this programme, the first call for proposals for innovative actions (Urban Initiative Actions, UIA), with a budget of 50 million euros, is due to be published at the end of September.
With a budget of around 450 million euros for the period 2021-2027, from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), EUI is structured around Urbact, the sub-programme focused on the transfer of good practices and success stories from one city to another, and the aforementioned UIA. This sub-programme – which in the previous multi-annual period operated alone – aims to promote innovative solutions to the challenges faced by cities.
A New European Bauhaus
An example of this is Cartuja Qanat in Seville (Spain), a pilot project for which Zabala Innovation is responsible for the economic and administrative management. It not only recovers and modernises ancestral climate control technologies and rescues the strategies of Expo’92, but also applies innovative components and strategies such as variable solar control, night-time dissipation towards the sky, dissipation towards the ground with night-time evaporative regeneration, thermal storage in qanats (underground galleries) and the production of solar electricity. Remote sensing and artificial intelligence technologies complete this strategy of urban adaptation to climate change.
Ultimately, through the EUI, the European Commission seeks to increase the quality of life in European cities that focus their actions on sustainability. In this way, cities and conurbations of the Old Continent with more than 50,000 inhabitants are offered the possibility of taking risks in pilot projects with creative and innovative solutions to effectively address the social, environmental and mobility challenges they face.
The first call for UIAs is expected to be published this autumn and will be linked to another European initiative, the New European Bauhaus (NEB). Launched in early 2021 by the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, as a determined action to improve the lives of citizens, the NEB calls for thinking about what the spaces in which we live should look like, taking into account the culture of each place, but at the same time strengthening the links that unite the different European countries.
Urban Iniciative Actions 2022
It is an initiative created to restore to the architectural dimension its value in improving the quality of life in towns and cities, with an emphasis on the so-called culture of the built environment. Its funding comes from different EU programmes, including Horizon Europe, the main European research and innovation programme (with special emphasis on its missions), LIFE, the only European programme exclusively dedicated to issues related to the environment and climate action, and Feder.
The first UIA call will therefore fund projects that provide tangible and real examples of interventions in the field of buildings that fully integrate values that have already become fundamental, such as sustainability, inclusiveness and aesthetics, to a maximum level of ambition. It will test our ability to turn current urban challenges into opportunities, to address them through integrated solutions, translating the European green pact into innovative pilots that empower citizens through participatory processes to lead the shift towards green and inclusive cities, towns and local communities.
Now is the time to dust off risky and creative projects and ideas that can solve the problems of our cities and submit them to this call to become sustainable and smart cities.