29 October 2020
Sustainable Land Use

EWRC workshop of the Partnership on Sustainable Use of Land & Nature-Based Solutions

The Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership on Sustainable Use of Land & Nature-Based Solutions contributed to the European Week of Regions and Cities with the workshop “Sustainable Use of Land & NBS in Europe” on Wednesday 14 October 2020. The speakers of the session discussed several of the actions and their outputs that are part of the work of the Partnership. 


Action 1 - ‘Including Land Take and Soil Properties in Impact Assessment Procedures’

An overview of Action 1 was given by Elisa Conticelli, from the University of Bologna. Action 1 aims at reducing land take as much as possible but also to maintain a good presence of green areas in dense urban areas.

This resulted in the development of The Guidebook which includes land take and soil properties in impact assessment procedures. The Guidebook was used to provide evidence of the effectiveness of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) application and other similar approaches by searching good practises around Europe.

Action 2 – ‘Funding and Financing Guide for Brownfield Redevelopment’

Action 2 is targeted at redeveloping underutilised brownfields. The solution presented by Frederick-Christoph Richters, from the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning from Luxembourg, was to develop a comprehensive funding and financing Guide for brownfield redevelopment. The Guide contains five categories, associated instruments that could be successfully implemented within the categories, as well as a profile of each instrument which portrays the elements that would be necessary for the instrument to succeed.

Action 3 – ‘Identifying and Managing Under-Used Land’

Albert Civit, Director of INCASÒL Government of Catalonia, presented the outcome of Action 3 which brought forward the Handbook on Sustainable and Circular Reuse of Spaces and Buildings. This Handbook was created in cooperation with the Urban Agenda Partnership on Circular Economy, as that Partnership had a similar action with a similar goal. The Handbook contains experience and examples from multiple levels of governance to develop a strategy for better use of abandoned buildings and spaces to build more compact and liveable cities.

Action 7 - ‘Better Financing on Nature-Based Solutions (NBS)’

The fourth presentation came from Sanja Jerkovic, Head of the City Office for Strategic Planning and Development of the City Zagreb, who talked about the implementation of Action 7. The outcome of this action was a set of recommendations that can be used to intensify the implementation of NSB and to increase the visibility of NSB in Operational Programmes and strategic documents. 

In Conclusion: Key Recommendations

The key message regarding land take and how to accommodate more people and infrastructures was shared by Daniel Balinski, the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy in Poland.

Indeed, many ecosystems have been disturbed during urbanisation, as environmental protection was compromised for urban development. This can be diverted if urban planning focuses more on utilising already artificialized land and other natural resources, in other words, NBS.

To achieve this, the Partnership developed recommendations to achieve the goal of ‘efficient and sustainable use of land and natural resources to help create compact, liveable and inclusive European cities for everyone’:

  1. On the European level, there is a need for more research focused on real needs of cities and regions and better mainstreaming and promoting sustainable land use, functional urban areas (FUA) cooperation, and NBS in cohesion policy.
  2. At the national level, the most important recommendations are to establish multi-level governance models and strengthen cooperation with regional and local authorities, including FUAs, and to provide guidance for local authorities on compact and liveable city models and provide incentives.
  3. At the local and regional levels, the most important recommendations were to adapt local, binding guidelines on where to build and how to build to mitigate sprawl, cooperate with the private sector to utilize land re-use opportunities and NBS, and they recommend a stronger role of SEA/ Environmental Impact Assessment procedures at earlier planning stages.

These recommendations, along with the other viable content that the Partnership provided, is very helpful, especially within the current context for the preparation for the future programmes of the Cohesion Policy, as stated by Laura Liger from the European Commission (Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy).  

To watch the session back, click here