Speech by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira at the World Urban Forum

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Dear President Duda,

Dear Prime Minister Morawiecki,

Dear leaders and ministers,

Dear colleagues,

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today. Sustainable urban development is one of the keys to the future of Europe, and indeed, the world.

Cities are key to our green and digital future. Many of the investments of tomorrow will start in cities.

But cities still face many crises and challenges. Deprived neighbourhoods and people in vulnerable conditions. And demographic change which will widen territorial disparities in access to services.

Cities are in the frontline of the challenges we face, but also of the solutions we need to overcome them.

We cannot rise to the green and digital opportunities, nor to the social and demographic challenges, if we are territorially blind. We must tackle the specific needs of each place, recognising the relationship between places, such as urban areas and the surrounding areas.

We need to reinforce our cooperation, peer exchanges, best practices, knowledge sharing, on the best way to provide essential services to our citizens.

We firmly maintain our collective commitment, and wish to reinforce it, together with you, and other committed partners and stakeholders.

Through cohesion policy alone, the EU has invested 115 billion euros in cities over the last 7 years. And through EU development cooperation, we have provided substantial assistance to sustainable urban development in many of our partner countries.

But today there is a new sense of urgency. This became clear at the recent High Level Meeting on the New Urban Agenda. And this urgency will continue in the High Level Political Forum of 2023 and in the review of SDG 11. We must accelerate actions and delivery.

At the European level, our vision for future cities was set out in the New Leipzig Charter. The Charter sets out 3 goals for cities: green, just and productive. We want to improve quality of life for all!

But this requires substantial investment and bold measures. So we welcome the example of our hosts, the city of Katowice, and their commitment to zero carbon, to regeneration of the post-industrial landscape and to regeneration through the culture sector.

These investments, and many others across Europe, are supported by European Cohesion Policy.

We are dedicated to urban development. We are dedicated to supporting cities of all sizes, including the crucial role played by small and medium-sized cities.

We are dedicated to local strategies, developed by local people, tackling the needs of the functional area, in very diverse territorial contexts.

And we are dedicated to the principles of the New Urban Agenda.

The European Union and its Member States are ready to accelerate the New Urban Agenda. We stand by our previous commitments, including our cooperation with cities across the globe, and our provision of urban tools and data.

And we are now adding 3 new voluntary commitments.

First to extend cooperation on sustainable urban development with cities in EU partner countries.

Second, to support 100 European cities as hubs of experimentation and innovation for green, digital and inclusive transformations.

Third, through the New European Bauhaus, to support models and experimentation in making cities not just sustainable, but also more beautiful and inclusive: sustainability with style!

I will conclude, first by reminding there is no problem in the world where the solution is less cooperation. Unfortunately, these days we are all witnessing a Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. This aggression is unprovoked and unjustified. It is a blatant violation of international rules, the UN Charter and severely undermines global cooperation.

Secondly, I reaffirm our commitment to pursue sustainable urban development with all partners in a multilevel governance approach. And by all means: from cooperation to investment. Urban development is not an abstract concept, it is about changing people’s lives for the better, whoever and wherever they are. This is our commitment.

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