The Greening Cities Partnership meeting in Pontevedra, Spain
15 April 2024
Greening Cities

Charting a Greener Future for European Cities

In an inspiring gathering hosted by the City of Pontevedra, the Greening Cities Partnership, under the Urban Agenda for the EU, held its pivotal fifth in-person meeting on April 4th and 5th, 2024. This meeting was crucial in the lead-up to presenting the draft Action Plan to the Urban Development Group advisory board meeting, scheduled for April 25th, 2024, in Namur, under the Belgian Presidency.

The Pazo da Cultura de Pontevedra welcomed 25 participants from 17 organizations, including  municipalities, national authorities, regional authorities, umbrella organizations, stakeholders, the European Commission (DG Environment), and EUI. This assembly marked a significant step toward formalising the Partnership's first draft Action Plan, creating a collaborative space for partners to debate, discuss, and reach a consensus on the proposed Actions.

Addressing the key elements of the Action Plan in an open process

Over two days, participants engaged intensively in working groups and plenary sessions to refine the proposed Actions of their Action Plan. Discussions focused on the objectives, impact, organization, and implementation of the proposed Actions, ensuring each leading organization has the mandate, knowledge, and resources required for implementation. Essential aspects of the implementation plan were also addressed, including a detailed breakdown of the implementation steps, the resources needed, the anticipated political and operational risks, the expected outputs, and the timeline. The agenda further explored how these Actions could integrate and synergize within the broader scope of the Partnership's objectives. The presence of organizations from all working groups of the Partnership facilitated an engaging and participative process.

Greening Cities Partnership members working together_01
Greening Cities Partnership members working together_02
Greening Cities Partnership members working together_03
Greening Cities Partnership members working together_04
Greening Cities Partnership members working together_05

Five bold Actions to transform European urban landscapes

The Greening Cities Partnership has strategically delineated its focus into five critical priorities aimed at enhancing urban greening across European cities:

  • Providing municipalities with a robust tool to accurately define their need for urban green infrastructure, supporting both climate adaptation and biodiversity enhancement.
  • Developing a comprehensive set of indicators to measure and monitor progress toward urban greening across EU member states and local authorities.
  • Supporting the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 by providing guidelines for enhancing green space in urban areas at national, regional, and local levels.
  • Proposing recommendations to earmark funds specifically for green infrastructure investments and maintenance, influencing future regulations.
  • Identifying best and worst practices in innovative funding to bolster financial mechanisms that support urban greening initiatives.
25 representatives of the Greening Cities Partnership worked together for 2 days in Pazo da Cultura de Pontevedra drafting the first illustration of their Action Plan.


Key Questions and Strategic Directions

Critical questions guided the discussions, focusing on the effective implementation of the Action Plan and supporting the Nature Restoration Law (NRL), which has yet to be voted on due to the lack of a qualified majority at the Member States ministerial level:

  • How can we leverage our Actions' outcomes to effectively communicate with the European Commission DGs and Member States?
  • What strategic messages should we craft to underscore the Partnership’s relevance and advocate for NRL support?
  • How can we design effective and meaningful advocacy and dissemination strategies?
  • How can we ensure the long-term viability of our Actions?
  • How can we ensure that our Actions not only coexist but also reinforce each other within the Action Plan? What methodologies or frameworks can we adopt to systematically identify and exploit synergies?

Study Visits and Cultural Immersion

The meeting also included tours showcasing Pontevedra’s commitment to urban greening. Highlights included a tour of the "Redeverde" project, a visit to the Island of Sculptures, and a guided city tour by the Mayor, Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores. A subsequent visit to Santiago de Compostela guided by its Mayoress, Goretti Sanmartín, provided further insights into urban naturalization projects.

Greening Cities Partnership members visiting strategic urban greening initiatives in Pontevedra.
Greening Cities Partnership members visiting strategic urban greening initiatives in Pontevedra (Island of Sculptures).
A guided city tour by the Mayor of Pontevedra showcasing urban regeneration projects
The team visited Santiago de Compostela guided by its Mayoress

Looking Ahead

As the meeting concluded, the focus shifted to the next steps:

  • Finalizing the first Draft Action Plan and preparing for its presentation at the Urban Development Group meeting on April 25th in Namur, Belgium.
  • Organizing a consultation phase to gather feedback on the draft Action Plan from stakeholders, Member States, and the European Commission.
  • Preparing for the next in-person meeting in Utrecht, coinciding with the Future Green Cities Conference on September 26th.

The Pontevedra meeting has been a significant milestone for the Greening Cities Partnership, enhancing its strategies for more effective policy implementation, securing innovative funding solutions, and fostering a rich exchange of urban greening knowledge. As the Partnership meticulously finalizes its first Draft Action Plan and moves into a consultative phase, it continues to strengthen its commitment to making European cities greener and more sustainable. The upcoming meeting in Utrecht will be another crucial step in sharing insights and progressing towards these goals.

The Greening Cities Partnership is looking ahead to the next milestones of its mission