JRC report looks at the future of cities
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has recently published a report on "The future of cities - opportunities, challenges and the way forward". The report is part of the "Facts4EUFuture", a series of reports for the future of Europe. The "Future of Cities" report was presented during the European Week of Regions and Cities on 11 Oct. 2019, identifying trends, raising questions and provoking discussions on what the future of cities can, and should be.
According to the report, Europe is unique in that it will have cities that grow and others that will shrink, while urban population is expected to continue growing across most of the globe, with 75% of the global population living in urban areas, and 72% of Europeans. Brussels, Luxembourg and Stockholm may grow by over 50% by 2050; geowth of between 25-50% by 2050 is expected mostly in medium-size capitals, such as Vienna, Budapest, Prague, or large regional cities in France as well as in Munich or Bologna. On the other hand, population loss exceeding 25% will occur mainly in small and less populated cities in Eastern Germany, Spain, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria. Europe will also have to cope with new challenges related to a declining and ageing population in many cities.
Other trends listed in the report include:
- Most European cities are expected to grow geographically, and cities will have to increasingly recognise the importance of optimising how their public space is designed and used.
- An ageing EU population will require further adaptation of infrastructure and services.
- Cities will increasingly apply new technologies and innovation across a wide range of sectors, from transport and mobility to citizen engagement. These technologies will need to work together seamlessly, and be inclusive to benefit all citizens.
- The dominance of personal cars could be drastically reduced in favour of more efficient public transport, shared and active mobility. Demand for transport could also be reduced through new working patterns.
- Cities will need to cope with existing issues such as providing affordable housing to an increasingly varied population, ensuring inclusiveness and integration among its communities, and reducing environmental impacts.
- While cities are frontrunners in fighting climate change, they are also where the effects of energy poverty and water scarcity, to mention but a few, will be particularly evident.
- Citizen engagement in policy making is growing and should become more prevalent in the future. New forms of urban governance are already being tested in many cities, and the importance of networks bringing cities together is expected to increase.
The report also points out the importance of cities for innovation, stating that cities play a central role in innovation dynamics: geographical proximity of stakeholders and multidisciplinary interaction enable innovation.
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