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Sustainable development at local and regional levels: methods and techniques to support Ecosites and monitor urban sustainability


Specific Objectives:
Ecosites Component;
1. To write the specification of a European standard for Ecosites and to provide Technical Guidelines for Ecosites creation;
2. To support the communication and networking between Ecosites in order to develop and exchange best practices;
3. To identify, compare, develop and compute spatial indicators of sustainable development at local level;
4. To provide training for the implementation of new Ecosites Sustainable Urban and Regional Development Component;
5. To identify, develop and compute spatial indicators of sustainable development at urban and regional scale for comparison and benchmark at EU level;
6. To develop reference methods for impact assessment and impact scenarios on urban and regional development. Impact scenarios will take into account the development policies in the framework of urban and regional sustainability in order to compile technical guidelines for reporting;
7. To support the definition and preparation of the Urban Thematic Strategy by leading the Working Group on Sustainable Urban Management and to complement the Research Programme of the European Spatial Observatory Network (ESPON) by interfacing with the related individual research topics (urban, polycentrism, transport, accessibility etc.) and co-ordinating the ESPON research teams in order to ensure methodological consistency across the topics. Possibilities to extend the geographical scale of the JRC work (namely Moland in FP5) will be investigated. The results of pilot project in Northern Ireland (done in coordination with DG REGIO C.1) will be presented and included into the ESPON research programme. Anticipated milestones and schedule February 2003: First Thematic Strategy Annual Platform (Concept and Priorities) February 2003: Draft Table of contents of Technical Reports on Ecosites specifications, Ecosites and best practices June 2003: Second workshop on Sustainable Urban Management Delivery of skeleton of report on Urban Management July 2003 (tbc): ESPON Steering Committee Delivery of early results on accessibility (as contribution to 3rd Cohesion Report) September 2003: Third workshop on Sustainable Urban Management Delivery of Draft report on Urban Management November 2003: First European Training Course on Ecosites December 2003/Jan. 2004: Delivery of report on Sustainable Urban Management December 2003: Delivery of draft reports on Ecosites specifications, Local impact of EU policies, Ecosites and best practices, indicators of sustainable development at local level.
Planned Deliverables:
1.1 Report on definition, concept, approach for Ecosites and links to R&D and economy
2.1 Report on Ecosites and best practices in selected thematic fields (e.g.integrated water management, rural development, coastal zones water quality assessment, renewable energies production, green buildings, urban renovation, eco-industrial parks, environmental parks)
3.1 Report with definition, detailed specifications and examples of computation of spatial indicators of sustainable development at local level
4.1 One Training Course on Ecosites
5.1 GIS databases of land use types, transport networks, environmental indicators, and socio-economic data for about 40 European urban areas and regions
5.2 Technical report with definition, detailed specifications (guidelines manual) and tables of indicators of sustainable development at urban and regional level
5.3 Contribution to the Mediterranean BLUE PLAN Report "Environment & Development in the Mediterranean Region" (Due end 2003)
6.1 Refined database for the evaluation of EC structural plans and programs in Northern Ireland and other areas in EU and in the Candidate Countries as pilot projects for impact assessment
6.2 Scenarios of future land use development and sustainability to assess the impacts of alternative policy options and practices on urban and regional development
6.3 First release of the technical guidelines for "European Urban Sustainability Reporting"
7.1 Report on "Management Systems for Urban Sustainability"
7.2 EU indicators and requirements for multi-themes modelling
7.3 Testing scenarios (feasibility assessment, data needs) for an ESPON integrated pilot project (at EU level) for the themes related to urban development, including flood risk assessment and mitigation
7.4 Table of content of report on "Good practice and reference methods for spatially balanced regional land use development"
7.5 Network with national authorities responsible for urban and regional policies through the National Expert Group on Urban Development and the Topic Centres of the European Environment Agency
7.6 Three workshops on Sustainable Urban Management.
Summary of the Action:
The main objective of this Action is to produce monitoring tools for the evaluation of sustainable development at local level with emphasis on urban and regional processes. The objectives of ECODEV are: - Development and implementation of the concept of Ecosites at EU level. This will be achieved by supporting a network of Ecosites in the Member States and by developping best practices. - Scientific & technical support to an Ecosites network for the monitoring of EU policies that have an impact on sustainable development at local level. - Implementation of Ecosites approach to the specific urban thematic aspects. - Definition of sustainability criteria in urban development policies, by developing and implementing integrated approaches for the environmental at different admninistrative level (EU, National, Regional) - Support to the European Spatial Development Perspective to facilitate the environmentally sustainable implementation of the European Spatial Observatory Network by developing reference methods, terrestrial indicators and by performing trend analysis in view of local and regional sustainability. The ECODEV component on Ecosites will support a European network of Ecosites that are practical examples and tools to implement sustainable development at local level: association of environmental protection, research and economic activity.

The ECODEV component on Sustainable Urban and Regional Development aims at facilitating the inclusion of criteria of sustainability in urban and regional development policies, by developing and implementing integrated approaches for the environmental protection and for the assessment of Structural Funds programmes, plans and projects. This component supports the definition and preparation of the Thematic Urban Strategy of the 6th Environmental Action Plan and complements the ESPON Programme set by DG REGIO. Rationale The most widely used definition for sustainable development is: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister and Chairman of the World Commission on Environment and Development, is credited with popularising this term in "Our Common Future" (1987).

The issue of sustainable development has been growing significantly worldwide during the last few years and has been given growing importance not only by policy-makers but also by environmentalists and researchers. Further to the 1987 Bruntland Commission Report, an important step was accomplished in terms of awareness raising on the occasion of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro World Conference on Environment & Development. There was recognised or confirmed a need to develop tools or methodologies that can help to measure and assess progress towards the achievement of sustainable development goals. Such tools can for example provide an early warning or allow to take measures in order to prevent economic, social and environmental damage. It is worth noting that the indicator work performed under the United Nations Commission on Sustainable development CSD (1995-2000) suggested four main categories to be considered and monitored: social, economic, environmental and intitutional.

Regarding environmental issues, the main themes identified have been: freshwater/groundwater, agriculture/secure food supply, urban, coastal zone, marine environment, fisheries, biodiversity/biotechnology, sustainable forest management, air pollution and ozone depletion, global climate change/sea level rise, sustainable use of natural resources, sustainable tourism, land use change. In recent years, the EU has taken steps to raise awareness of the need for a more sustainable development in Europe, notably in the Cardiff process and the Gothenburg declaration. The EU also participated actively at the Rio+10 World Summit in Johannesburg (August 2002). In addition to international conventions dealing with the global level, there is a need to strengthen local initiatives and the links with European Research have been weak so far. Within the large framework of sustainable development, the ECODEV Action concentrates specifically on 1) technical/scientific support to a European network of Ecosites 2) sustainable urban & regional development.

Funding Scheme

JRC - Joint Research Centre research


Institute for Environment and Sustainability
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