Urban researchers are experts when it comes to the processes that shape European cities and societies. However, in many cases a gap exists between what academic research tells us and the day-to-day practice of urban policy-making and implementation. By bridging the gap between research and practice, EMI translates research into practical recommendations and tailor made advice to decision makers on the EU, national and local levels. Agenda-setting, creating structured dialogue and building a thematic network are all goals of EMI’s research activities.
EMI video: interview with Prof. Dr. Wim Hafkamp
14 May 2012
Watch this interview about the role cities play when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions. In the interview Prof. Dr. Wim Hafkamp also talks about research on urban sustainability and the link with other EMI umbrella themes, like economic vitality and urban mobility.
Polycentric metropolitan areas
Many cities have become part of a broader functional urban region, incorporating many different types of centers: the polycentric metropolitan area. In order to find out how metropolitan areas around Europe deal with these spatial dynamics and what questions they share, research is needed. As a result, the spatial dynamics of cities within such areas have become much more interwoven. This has important implications for the (regional) economy, labour market, housing market, infrastructure and levels of services.Therefore EMI has developed a Knowledge & Research Agenda on Polycentric Metropolitan Areas.
Metropolitan regions and cities are increasingly becoming fundamental players in the international, European and national economic arenas. Economic productivity and competitiveness are 2 contributing factors in this process and therefore require extensive research.
In turn, economic strength, productivity and competitiveness are seen as the products of the efficient creation and dissemination of knowledge. Metropolitan regions and cities are the ideal hubs where knowledge and creativity can be translated into the innovation of products, services and production processes. By diversifying, developing critical mass and establishing strong partnerships, European metropolitan and urban areas will further develop their relevance and importance to the world economy.
Sustainable urban mobility
It is increasingly challenging for metropolitan areas to be sufficiently accessible in terms of transportation and mobility. European metropolitan areas will be able to learn from each other by utilizing wide-ranging research on accessibility, connectivity and mobility.
Increasing mobility in urban areas requires greater road capacity for which there is little space available. At the same time, citizens are less willing to deal with perceived downsides of more accessibility, such as increased traffic, congestion and air pollution. European metropolitan areas and cities need to develop efficient ways of ensuring they stay connected, by improving parking access, for example, or by using payment systems for inner-city roads.
Reducing CO2 emissions, creating more renewable energy sources, and reducing overall energy usage; these are just some of the many challenges facing today’s decision makers in Europe and beyond. Cities and urban areas are often perceived as being a large part of the problem when it comes to the size of their energy footprint.
At the same time, they are also part of the solution; cities and urban areas are increasingly striving towards energy-neutrality in the quest for increased sustainability. They have the ability to set the agenda, create an innovative climate change vision and show strong leadership. More research on urban sustainability can pave the way for metropolitan areas to play a significant role in meeting national and European climate and energy objectives.
The EU2020 strategy focuses on a high-quality urban economy with knowledge, innovation and culture as its principal pillars. Despite this image of cities as prosperous landmarks of growth and innovation, there is another side to cities. Europe’s cities are home to large vulnerable groups. Social disadvantage or exclusion typically is multi-dimensional and encompasses for example poverty, bad living conditions and fewer employment and educational opportunities.
Throughout Europe, social cohesion or inclusion policies aim to provide equal chances to every citizen to enable social mobility. What works, what doesn’t? How are vulnerable individuals and groups in society being protected but also encouraged and empowered to reach their full potential? Can policy alone combat social challenges such as youth crime or school drop-out?
19 December 2012