UrbanA: Urban Arenas for Sustainable and Just Cities

UrbanA (Urban Arenas for Sustainable and Just Cities) takes up the challenge of synthesizing and brokering actionable knowledge needed to transform our cities into more sustainable and just environments. To as many people as possible, and as far throughout the EU as possible.

(Un)just (un)sustainabilities: it’s all connected
Sustainable and just cities enable overall quality of life and well-being, including social justice and ecological sustainability, for current and future generations. These aspirations are filled with inherent ambiguities, tensions and contradictions. Viruses, ecological degradation, economic downfall, racism and other forms of injustice are all interconnected. 
Understanding (un)just (un)sustainabilities and their complex underlying processes of transformation and political contestation, requires a tremendous interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary effort. Each of these words – politics, justice, sustainability, transformation, cities – comes with elaborate fields of research and practice, ranging from urban political ecology and just sustainabilities to innovation and transition research. Bridging these different fields is paramount to make sense of sustainable and just cities.
Co-creating commons and community
UrbanA aims to facilitate and co-create an open source knowledge commons and community of practice of city-makers and city-thinkers that share a passion and interest for transforming their urban environments into more sustainable and just cities.
The project does so through live and blended Urban Arenas: co-creative spaces designed to generate convincing, specific, and actionable solutions towards sustainable cities that foster deep forms of democracy and citizen empowerment. Over its three-year run, UrbanA is organizing four arenas Rotterdam (November 2019), Barcelona (June 2020), Berlin (March 2021) and Brussels (October 2021), building upon each other content-wise and process-wise.
Actionable knowledge is also spread and co-created through the UrbanA Wiki on Sustainable Just Cities and its Podcast Series, online community conversations, website, and social media. See the blog “Six starting points…” by Vaishali Joshi and Flor Avelino for an overview.
In detail
The project synthesises the knowledge and experiences generated in prior EU-funded research projects that deal with interventions tackling urban social inequalities and exclusion. The partners working together in the project seek to feed innovative integrated solutions for equitable and inclusive urban areas into sustainability policy regarding, for example, housing, energy, mobility and food. In this way, UrbanA supports arena participants and city-makers – including researchers, policymakers and practitioners – in transforming European cities into inclusive and sustainable urban and peri-urban environments.
UrbanA will do so through a transdisciplinary Urban Arena for Sustainable and Just Cities (established in WP2). By co-creatively mapping urban sustainability approaches (WP3), assessing their potential to improve urban social equity and inclusion (WP4) and identifying potential avenues and agents by which such interventions could be transferred to more widespread governance contexts (WP5), UrbanA will develop actionable and actor specific solutions (WP6), which will be disseminated to key local and European actors (WP7).
DRIFT is leading two work packages: designing and evaluating the process of the Arena meetings and developing the methodology for the mapping of approaches to sustainable and just cities.
Duration of the project
UrbanA runs from January 2019 to January 2022.
UrbanA has received funding under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement no. 822357.
ICLEI (project coordinator), Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg (ALU-FR), Central European University (CEU), Barcelona Lab for Environmental Justice and Sustainability at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), ECOLISE and Faculty of Science Lisbon (FC.ID).
Flor Avelino, Sarah Rach (project leaders), Karlijn Schipper, Giorgia Silvestri & Frank van Steenbergen
Read more
Read more about the project, events and updates at the UrbanA website.