Laia Bonet backs successful urban innovation pilot projects

Bonet states that cities must play a more active role in setting priorities and defining projects for structural funds.

Yesterday afternoon, the third deputy mayor for the 2030 Agenda, Digital Transformation, Sports and Territorial and Metropolitan Coordination, Laia Bonet, attended the fourth edition of the Cities Forum, which has taken place today and yesterday in Porto under the slogan ‘Together we shape a sustainable urban future’.

The event, organised by the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy and the city of Porto, has brought together the European, national and local stakeholders interested in sharing common goals and reflecting on future directions for urban development within the framework of cohesion policy, including the future of the urban agenda for the European Union.

Laia Bonet participated in the debate on how the European Urban Initiative can support cities. In her presentation, the third deputy mayor highlighted Barcelona’s involvement in programmes funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the pilot initiatives promoted thanks to this participation, such as the Urban Innovation Action project, which adapts schools to climate change, or cooperation with Chinese cities, through the International Urban Cooperation project, to promote urban innovation policies.

Bonet made a positive assessment of the projects, as they provide an opportunity to ‘try out innovative initiatives in complex urban contexts, while exchanging good practice with other cities facing similar challenges’. However, she expressed concern ‘both with the challenges relating to management of the fund and with the path to be taken when a pilot trial is successful and should be implemented in another city’. She called for solutions to render the financial and administrative management of European Fund projects less complex and expressed a desire to roll out successful pilot projects through European funding programmes.

Laia Bonet also shed light on the main challenges faced by the city of Barcelona: ‘fighting climate change, reducing inequalities and governing technological development so that innovation becomes a tool for social progress’. To respond to these challenges, the deputy mayor declared that local governments need to get involved in making policies and cities must take on a more active role in setting priorities for structural funds and in the design and definition of funds and European policies.

Furthermore, the third deputy mayor took this opportunity to meet with various personalities in the field, including Normunds Popens, deputy director-general for Regional and Urban Policy at the European Commission, Anna Lisa Boni, secretary general of Eurocities, Pia Pakarinen, deputy mayor of Helsinki and Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence and vice-president of Eurocities.

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