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City initiatives

The Commission organises and participates in initiatives within the EU and at international level addressing cities' needs.

Urban Development Network

Between 2014 and 2020, the European Regional Development Fund will allocate €15 billion directly to integrated strategies for sustainable urban development. Around 900 cities across the EU are empowered to implement these strategies. The Urban Development Network supports information exchange between cities involved in integrated Sustainable Urban Development and in Urban Innovative Actions. UDN promotes the dialogue on Sustainable Urban Development among the Commission, cities and other stakeholders.

For more information see the Urban Development Network webpage.

Smart Cities

Solutions bringing together different policy fields and technology sectors in the frame of the twin green and digital transition help cities to reduce their environmental impact and offer better lives for citizens. The Smart cities and Communities area builds on the experience of 18 large-scale and cross-sectoral Lighthouse Projects and is supported by the Smart Cities Marketplace, an interactive platform for knowledge exchange, capacity building and matching financing options – across sectors.

Smart cities

Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy

Since 2008, the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy has brought together local and regional authorities who voluntarily commit to implementing the EU’s climate and energy objectives on their territory.

Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy

Green City Accord

Launched in 2020, the Green City Accord (GCA) encourages cities to take further action to protect the environment and thereby to make their cities greener, cleaner, and healthier places to live in. Signatories commit to achieving five goals (on air quality, water quality/efficiency, nature and biodiversity protection, waste and noise pollution) by 2030.  The Green City Accord also supports the implementation of relevant EU environment legislation at local level. Many of the measures cities will take to meet their 2030 GCA goals will support climate adaptation and mitigation.

For further information: Green City Accord (

City Awards – Green Capital and Leaf

The European Green Leaf is awarded annually to  cities that are committed to further environmental improvement.  The award recognises the sustainable efforts of smaller cities (less than 100.000 habitants). 

For further information:

European Green Capital Award (

Living-in.EU Movement

Living-in.EU Movementis a collaborative platform for cities and communities to accelerate their digital transformation the 'European way' (citizen-centric, ethically and socially responsible data usage, open and interoperable standards).

Created by a group of cities, city representative groups Eurocities, Open and Agile Smart Cities (OASC), the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL), and supported by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions, it was launched in December 2019 by the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The aim of Living-in.EU is to work together to scale up the use of data technology to tackle a range of interconnected challenges, including urban mobility, energy efficiency, and digital public services, while ensuring environmental sustainability in line with the European Green Deal. Cities, regions and Member States are invited to join the community by signing the ‘Join, Boost, Sustain’ Declaration, which NGOs and businesses can also subscribe to as supporters.

International urban policy

At the global level, the EU supports sustainable urban development through various engagements and initiatives.  

Support to and implementation of the global agendas

The EU participated in 2016 to Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, where the New Urban Agenda was adopted by UN Member States. In this context, the EU made three voluntary commitments to support the implementation of the New Urban Agenda atEU level:

The EU also contributes to the delivery of the Sustainable Developments Goals, notably Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and to the localisation of SDGs.

Specific initiatives and programmes

The EU, as co-president of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), is co-chairing and steering the work of its Regional Platform on Sustainable Urban Development. This work has led to the launching of a Strategic UfM Urban Development Action Plan 2040, and its accompanying housing plan.

The EU also provides funding for city-to-city cooperation. The International Urban and Regional Cooperation (IURC) programme enables local and regional authorities in different global regions to link up and share solutions to common problems, by exchanging knowledge and testing new solutions.

URBAN2030 - Localising the Sustainable Development Goals

The URBAN2030-II Project aims at fostering the achievement of SDGs in European cities and regions. It focuses on providing methodological support and inspiration for the design and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals Voluntary Local Reviews. It builds on the knowledge and experience gained in the URBAN2030 project (2018-2020) developed with the support of the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy.

The Community of Practice on Cities

The Community of Practice on Cities is an initiative of the European Commission, open to external stakeholders (cities and networks of cities, International and Intergovernmental Organisations and research bodies). Its scope is to map and integrate available JRC scientific knowledge and DG REGIO expertise on cities, and to anticipate needs for knowledge on cities matters and urban policy objectives in a holistic way.

The City Science Initiative

The City Science Initiative aims to strengthen the ways in which science and research can help address the urban challenges and to develop a structured approach to evidence-informed policy-making at cities' level.