16 August 2019

ICLEI contributes to building European cities that are sustainable and just

Bright and early on Friday 9 August, ICLEI Europe joined the debut breakfast event “Freiburg wacht auf” (Freiburg Wakes Up) at the Grünhof Kreativpark Lokhalle, a co-working space in a former rail shed in ICLEI Member Freiburg (Germany). The spotlight was on justice, providing an opportunity to present and reflect on ICLEI’s emerging work at the intersection of urban social equity and sustainability.

On a global level, ICLEI is committed to environmentally just cities, as highlighted by the “Equitable and People-Centered Development” pathway – one of five interconnected pathways at the heart of our vision for sustainable cities. This pathway aims to create and sustain “human-centered, safe, socially and culturally cohesive communities, where diversity and distinct identities are woven into the social fabric.”

The UrbanA project, funded by the European Commission and led by ICLEI Europe, puts this pathway into practice by explicitly linking the social justice and urban sustainability agendas. Launched in 2019, UrbanA brings together diverse city-makers and city-thinkers (including policy-makers, activists and researchers) to co-distill actionable solutions for making cities both more just and more sustainable.

The presentation sparked a lively discussion on the challenges of environmental justice, from the unequal distribution of green spaces in cities, to the exclusion of vulnerable communities (e.g. migrants) from urban governance, and to the ways public space can reinforce inequalities in urban identities and histories.

If you are interested in the topic of urban justice and sustainability, you can apply now to join the UrbanA project as a fellow, or as a participant in the project’s first Arena event in ICLEI Member Rotterdam (The Netherlands) on 28-29 November.

To learn more about ICLEI Europe projects related to this topic, check out the SMARTEES project on addressing energy poverty, and ENABLE, which examines who receives the benefits of urban green spaces.