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Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Almost three-quarters of the EU population live in urban areas — cities, towns and suburbs — with more than 40% residing in cities alone (1 ). The share of the urban population in Europe is projected to rise to just over 80% by 2050 (2 ). Cities, towns and suburbs are therefore essential for Europeans’ well-being and quality of life. They also serve as hubs for economic and social development and innovation. They attract many people thanks to the wide range of opportunities for education, employment, entertainment and culture on offer. This large concentration of people and wealth, however, often comes with a range of complex challenges. Ensuring sustainable and healthy mobility, such as walking or cycling, through better urban planning and by improving the accessibility and attractiveness of public transport systems, among other measures, is one of these challenges. Another is dealing with cities’ negative environmental impacts, such as the spread of the settlement areas or the large amounts of waste generated in urban areas.

Within the EU, the urban dimension is at the very heart of EU Cohesion Policy. More than EUR 100 billion is being invested up to 2020 to support urban mobility, energy efficiency, as well as urban renewal, research and innovation capacity, and regeneration of deprived communities. Making the Union’s cities more sustainable is one of the priorities of the 7th Environment Action Programme.

Targets and Indicatorshttps://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg11

LIFE programme

The LIFE Programme s the EU Funding instrument for the environment and climate action.

  • The Environment sub-programme includes Funds for nature conservation and biodiversity, environment and resource efficiency, environmental governance and information;
  • The Climate action sub-programme includes Funds for climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, climate governance and information.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/life

Cities and urban development

The Commission is working together with cities to ensure a good quality of life. The Commssion helps cities to grow sustainably through sharing of knowledge, funding and other urban policies and initiatives.

Priority themes for EU cities are:

1) Air quality in cities;

2) Circular economy in cities;

3) Climate adaptation in cities;

4) Culture in cities;

5) Digital transition in cities;

6) Energy transition in cities;

7) Housing in cities;

8) Innovative and responsible public procurement in cities;

9) Inclusion of migrants and refugees in cities;

10) Jobs and skills in the local economy;

11) Sustainable use of land and nature-based solutions in cities;

12) Urban mobility;

13) Urban poverty.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/eu-regional-and-urban-development/topics/cities-and-urban-development_en

Sustainable Urban development

The 2014-2020 period has put the urban dimension at the very heart of Cohesion Policy. At least 50% of the ERDF resources for this period will be invested in urban areas. This could increase even further, later in the period. Around 10 billion euros from the ERDF will be directly allocated to integrated strategies for sustainable urban development. And about 750 cities will be empowered to implement these integrated strategies for sustainable urban development.

https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/themes/urban-development/

Landfill of waste

The Landfill Directive defines the different categories of waste (municipal waste, hazardous waste, non-hazardous waste and inert waste) and applies to all landfills, defined as waste disposal sites for the deposit of waste onto or into land. Landfills are divided into three classes: a) landfills for hazardous waste; b) landfills for non-hazardous waste; c) landfills for inert waste.

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/landfill_index.htm

Bringing buildings into the circular economy

Sustainable buildings use less energy and materials, and are healthier and more comfortable spaces for occupants. Along with lower environmental impact, sus ainable buildings are relatively low cost to run and in the long term, more valuable properties. To move away from the linear economic model of ‘take, make, and waste’ and towards resource efficiency, Europe needs a sustainable built environment. And the buildings sector is one of the most resource consuming sectors in Europe – it accounts for approximately half of all extracted materials, half of total energy consumption, one third of water consumption and one third of waste generation.

That’s why the built environment is a key target in the European Commission’s policy for circular economy: a regenerative economic system in which resource and energy consumption are minimised.

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/buildings.htm

Final Circular Economy package

On 4 March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The report presents the main achievements under the Action Plan and sketches out future challenges to shaping our economy and paving the way towards a climate-neutral, circular economy where pressure on natural and freshwater resources as well as ecosystems is minimised. In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan, which includes measures that will helpstimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.

The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy establishes a concrete and ambitious programme of action, with measures covering the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials and a revised legislative proposal on waste. Key elements of the revised waste proposal include:

  • A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2035
  • A common EU target for recycling 70% of packaging waste by 2030

 

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm

EURES. The European Job Mobility Portal

EURES is a cooperation network designed to facilitate the free movement of workers within the EU 28 countries plus Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The network is composed of: the European Coordination Office (ECO), the National Coordination Offices (NCOs), EURES Partners and the Associated EURES Partners.

https://ec.europa.eu/eures/public/en/homepage

Horizon 2020

By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. Two year work programmes announce the specific areas that will be funded by Horizon 2020.

https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/how-get-funding

Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW)

Construction and demolition waste (CDW) is one of the heaviest and most voluminous waste streams generated in the EU. It accounts for approximately 25% – 30% of all waste generated in the EU and consists of numerous materials, including concrete, bricks, gypsum, wood, glass, metals, plastic, solvents, asbestos and excavated soil, many of which can be recycled.

CDW has been identified as a priority waste stream by the European Union. There is a high potential for recycling and re-use of CDW. Technology for the separation and recovery of construction and demolition waste is well established, readily accessible and in general inexpensive.

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/construction_demolition.htm

LEADER

LEADER is a local development method which has been used for 20 years to engage local actors in the design and delivery of strategies, decision-making and resource allocation for the development of their rural arecultureas. It is implemented by around 2 600 Local Action Groups (LAGs), covering over 54% of the rural population in the EU and bringing together public, private and civil-society stakeholders in a particular area.

In the rural development context, LEADER is implemented under the national and regional Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) of each EU Member State, co-financed from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

https://enrd.ec.europa.eu/leader-clld_en

In many European cities, libraries are an essential element of contemporary urban planning. City administrators and urban planners place libraries along strategic urban development axes in order to enhance socialization, the aggregation of people and inter-ethnic integration in large as well as in small cities. The regeneration of depressed and deprived city areas has often started with the creation of libraries and their qualification as “meeting places” for citizens.

Examples of libraries being the focus of, or a chain for, urban regeneration are present in many European cities, from Aarhus to Helsinki, from Paris to Copenhagen.

Cities may also be the ideal ground field from which to develop Citizens Science projects. In Belgium The air seekers is developed by Transport and Development, an NGO with its headquarters in Brussels. T&D allied with several Belgian libraries to develop a citizen science project that aims at creating as much data as possible on air pollution. Sensors detecting the air quality are given to users of public libraries and data are transmitted to research centres analysing the quality of air. The air seekers project is a perfect match for SDG 11.6.

Book heritage projects qualify for Target 11.4 which aims to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. Most library cultural heritage projects create links with Europeana, which provides access to millions of books, music, artworks and more – with sophisticated search and filter tools.

In Bulgaria, a number of projects on cultural heritage have been funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds, namely:

a) the “St. Cyril and Methodius” National Library of Bulgaria, which has been established as a Centre of Excellence for the Bulgarian Heritage;

b) the “Written treasures of the Lower Danube”, also involving a library in Craiova, Romania; and

c) the “cultural and historical destinations”, in collaboration with a Turkish library.*

In Germany, two projects were funded through the European Structural and Investment Funds in Oranienburg – a city of 40,000 inhabitants in the region of Brandenburg – and Waltershausen – 13,000 inhabitants, in Thuringia. In Oranienburg, the region decided to restore the library with a tourist information and a Galerie after having requalified the Old Castle, the Castle Park and the Havel promenade. The Stadtbibliothek Waltershausen was re-qualified in an historical complex, which also includes the town hall (1441).*

* See EBLIDA. Funding Opportunities in Libraries. The European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027, https://www.eblida.org/publications.html 

 

This Chapter refers to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2021-2027, and in particular to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund+ (ESF).

In order to make the most out of these Funds, first refer to the ESIF managing authorities, which are different in every Member State and are responsible for national operational programmes and policies. The list of national authorities, country after country, and region after region, is available at the following link, https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/atlas/managing-authorities/.

In the Table(s) below, for each ESIF objective: Column 1 designates the ERDF or ESF+ specific objective. Column 2 and 3 set, respectively, the related outputs and results indicated by ESIF official documents. It can be easily inferred that European Commission criteria for evaluation are quite general and do not get into the detail of the programmes. It is up to Member States to set additional criteria for evaluation.

Finally, Column 4 lists examples of library projects set up to pursue ESIF objectives or to attain specific Sustainable Development Goals. ESIF-funded and SDG-oriented library projects are matched with specific ESIF 2021-2027 objectives and sub-objectives; what is shown in the table, however, is a simulation: under which presumed ESIF specific objective could SDG-oriented library projects have been funded, if they were to be presented within the ESIF 2021-2027 framework?

More detailed information on the Library Projects listed in Column 5 can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries – First European Report.

SDG 11 Objective

Key trend in “Sustainable cities and communities” show the following evidence (Eurostat Report, pp 215 and ss):

  • Quality of housing in the EU has improved over the past five years;
  • Europeans perceive their residential areas as quieter and safer, but exposure to air pollution remains an issue;
  • Despite recent improvements, exposure of the urban population to fine particular matter remains high;
  • The degree of urbanisation only has a marginal influence on overcrowding, but strongly affects perception of noise pollution, crime and vandalism;
  • Poor people tend to face more challenges in their living situation, especially in cities;
  • Cars are the main means of transport in the EU;
  • Despite good progress since 2001, stagnation in reducing the level of road fatalities in recent years has pushed the EU off track to meeting its 2020 target;
  • More environmentally friendly modes of municipal waste management in the EU;
  • Connection rates to wastewater treatment are increasing;
  • Settlement area per capita has increased.

 

Goal 11’s attainment is monitored through the following main indicators: Source: EU SDG Indicator set 2020:

Goal 11 Indicator set

Library Indicators enabling the evaluation of library performances and how they can match SDG indicators.

A report on Library indicators and SDGs has been released by the ELSA working Group: “Towards the implementation of SDG Indicators in European Libraries”

summarize Related projects on E-PANEMA

The “Resourcing Libraries: connecting libraries to EU resources” (RL:EU) project aims to help Europe’s public libraries unlock EU resources to support their adult education programmes and strategies. This project brings together Public Libraries 2030, EBLIDA, and PiNA to develop an approach that helps public libraries and librarians learn about EU initiatives and programmes and access EU funding.
The project will use books as a mean to reflect on one of the topics above-mentioned: youth from all the countries involved will be tasked with reading the same book/books, and this will be the opportunity to spark interactive moments and exchanges between them. We will work with young students (age 15 to 19) from at least 4 different European countries. The project will be the opportunity for them to reflect and express their opinions on the topic selected.
The project maximizes public libraries' potential as hubs for contemporary art. Creating a European network, it supports emerging artists through library residencies, turning them into ateliers for public engagement. The initiative enhances artists' visibility, opens commercial avenues, and strengthens the sector. Libraries evolve, reflecting on their cultural roles, hosting workshops, exhibitions, and training sessions for librarians and artists.
Famalicão Public Library project that consists of the free and disinterested transfer of books that will later be available for exchange for other books, not involving, this initiative, any type of costs, terms or loans.
The overall project aims at providing knowledge and tools to support analysis, debate and decision-making, in view of facilitating the strict protection of 10% of European seas, as per the European Union’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. SPA4OCEAN requires the support of libraries to raise awareness about the importance of ocean protection in their local communities.
Project “Librarians as promoters of local democracy, development and resilience” is the supplementary part of the multicomponent EC Programme “EU4Dialogue: improving exchanges across the divide through education and culture” (hereinafter - EU4Dialogue) that supports educational and cultural initiatives fostering an environment of dialogue and people-to-people contacts across the divides in the South Caucasus and the Republic of Moldova.
The objective of the action plan is to make the following digitally accessible by 2023: 3% of the documentary heritage, 32% of artefacts; 60% of both film and photographic heritage and 28% of printed heritage; i.e. about 33% of our entire cultural heritage. The total cost of the project is €9.02 million, of which €8.19 million will come from the planned European Union structural fund investments.
A commitment to combating educational poverty by developing actions aimed at the problem of the digital divide in the 6-13 age group, through the “DigEducati” project.
Estonian libraries (~830 in total) currently rely on three different library systems (ILS) and three different user services portals. All these systems differ by their user experience, service provision, and their functionalities that support the day-to-day work of libraries. The aim is to replace by the year 2026 three user services portals with a single portal and improve the ability of libraries to offer digital services
The national service for the lending of e-publications covers e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines, and audiobooks. The service can be used free of charge by all people with an Estonian personal identification code, both from a web browser and conveniently from a smart device. In addition, a separate mobile application is being developed, which allows e-publications to be used even without the internet connection.

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Contact with the proposer of RL:EU - Resourcing Libraries: Connecting Libraries to European Resources project

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