Tag Archives: transition


The success of the green-belt launch in Liège (Belgium)

ceinture-logoThe desire to work on a relocation and ” decarbonisation ” of the food system, to brainstorm about the revitalization of Liège’s local economy, or to think about how to guarantee access to healthy food to everyone, these were some of the main motivations behind the project of a Green-Belt in Liège (Belgium), officially launched last November. Born during an informal discussion between social entrepreneurs and members of Liège in Transition at the 2012 conference ‘For innovative sustainable development alliances’, the project quickly began to take shape. Its goal – structuring reflection and action plan for the development of multiple initiatives all aiming at a greater market share for local products, “good, clean and fair food”, accessible to the whole population.

Thus, on November 5th and 6th 2013 was held in Liège the official launch of the green-belt project (Ceinture aliment-terre liégeoise). More than 300 people attended the evening debate and the next day, the Open Forum has mobilized 150 actors with varied and complementary profiles: producers of different types of agriculture (conventional, rational, organic, biodynamic, permaculture) and livestock actors from meat, dairy and horticultural processing industries, representatives of all the possible range of short supply chains (joint purchasing groups, farmers’ cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, organic grocery stores, web platforms), representatives of farmers’ organizations and trade unions, actors of territorial development, catering, alternative finance, local and provincial government, culture, social economy, training or even research.

Designers of the Art School of St. Luke had the place scenography. Theatre skits punctuated the event.

Designed as a true exercise of collective intelligence, the open forum gave birth to 25 workshops and allowed to come to the definition of structural projects. It was a precious and regenerating moment, allowing exchange and building around a common desire: to restore the city’s capacity to promote local food.

Collaborative platform, the green-belt project (Ceinture aliment-terre liégeoise) is now composed of seven social economy structures. Its official launch was an opportunity to assert its structuring role: to act as facilitator of different stakeholders’ interaction, but also as a spokesperson, especially towards national, international institutions and the media …Today, the project is receives support from many local partners.

A pilot project farm and a cooperative of agro-ecological activities are also emerging in Ourthe-Amel with Agroecoop. Ultimately the project aims to train and assist agricultural entrepreneurs to settle. Beyond these issues, the Agroecoop project is a concrete case illustrating the start of the green-belt project (Ceinture aliment-terre liégeoise) dynamics. Local development structures, the Regional Economic Grouping Ourthe- Amel (GREOA) and Local Development Agency (ADL) from Comblain-au-pont are actively engaged as they share a common vision: local agricultural production valued through short supply chains is a new vector of employment and the social economy has a role to play in supporting independent producers.

For more information on the green-belt project (Ceinture aliment-terre liégeoise), visit their website (in French only).


I’m a City Changer – UN-Habitat campaign for a positive urban change

The World Urban Campaign is the advocacy and partnership platform for cities in the twenty first century. Its goal is to place the urban agenda at the highest level in development policies. It is coordinated by UN-Habitat and driven by a large number of committed partners from around the world.

‘I’m a City Changer’ is the advocacy initiative of the World Urban Campaign. It is meant to raise awareness about positive urban change by engaging citizens in voicing issues and solutions to change their urban communities, and to achieve green, productive, safe, healthy, inclusive, and well-planned cities.


The Steering Committee of the World Urban Campaign is the governing body of the Campaign, with its permanent Secretariat based within UN-Habitat. It is the catalyzing, action-planning, and monitoring organ of the Campaign, offering guidance on substantive and operational matters, and to serve as an advisory body to the Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

The Steering Committee serves two purposes:

      • To decide on policies and strategic priorities for activities that partners have agreed to undertake together or with the support of one other. This requires that partners define their respective organizational priorities for the Campaign and identify those partners/networks with which they would like to work together as part of the World Urban Campaign to enhance mutual impact.
      • To advise UN-Habitat in carrying out its activities, especially through the World Urban Forum that is mandated to provide technical advice to the Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

At the fifth session of the Steering Committee held in Shanghai (8-10 October 2010), Mr. Nicholas You was elected as the Chair of the Steering Committee. At the same meeting, Professor Eugenie Birch was elected as the Co-Chair of the Steering Committee. Both were re-elected at the eighth session of the Steering Committee held in Naples, Italy on 2 September 2012. To view Steering Committee Meeting reports and documents, please see the Resources page.

Members of the Steering Committee also form working groups around areas and ideas that the Campaign would like to advance. These working groups convene on an ad hoc basis, typically corresponding with other large events and conferences.

The Secretariat of the World Urban Campaign is based within UN-Habitat’s headquarters, in Nairobi, Kenya.


The World Urban Campaign is guided by seven key principles:

1. Accessible and pro-poor land, infrastructure, services, mobility and housing;

2. Socially inclusive, gender sensitive, healthy and safe development;

3. Environmentally sound and carbon-efficient built environment;

4. Participatory planning and decision making;

5. Vibrant and competitive local economies promoting decent work and livelihoods;

6. Assurance of non-discrimination and equal rights to the city; and

7. Empowering cities and communities to plan for and effectively manage adversity and change.

Download Joining the WUC Brochure (PDF)

Download WUC Guidelines (PDF)


The World Urban Campaign serves as the partners’ platform toward the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), to be held in 2016. Habitat III will take place 40 years after the first conference on human settlements, Habitat I, was held in Vancouver, and the world’s urban and housing challenge was first internationally recognised. Twenty years later, in 1996 in Istanbul, Habitat II served as the place of negotiation on future policies for sustainable urban development.

The Habitat III conference will address sustainable urbanisation and the future of urban spaces. It will also serve as an opportunity to assess the state of our cities, to develop solutions, and to revisit our shared urban future. While cities are at the heart of today’s global crisis, they are also the source of solutions for a sustainable future.

Visit UN-Habitat’s web page on the Habitat III conference. 

Zagreb © joyfull / Shutterstock.com

Challenges of European Cities in transition

Zagreb © joyfull / Shutterstock.comThe State of European Cities in Transition is the latest addition to UN-Habitat’s rapidly-expanding series of regional reports on the state of cities, which already include the African, Arab States, Asia-Pacific and Latin America-Caribbean regions.

The current report gives an indepth overview of twenty years’ transformation efforts by the 23 countries and territories in northeast, central, east and southeast Europe that, in the early-1990s, embarked on a monumental transition from Socialist centrally-planned economies to democratic and market-based systems. As this report shows, the transition has been a long and winding road with these countries now in various phases of completing their reforms.

The European transitional nations are a varied group of countries. Domestic populations in 2011 ranged from 68.9 million people in the Ukraine to as few as 632,000 in Montenegro. National urbanization levels also varied significantly in 2011: from 75 per cent in Belarus to 48 per cent in Moldova, averaging about 60 per cent region-wide.

The latter figure would appear to indicate that the region is in the last phases of its urban transition. However, both recorded and projected figures indicate a trend of notable region-wide population declines and near stagnant urban population shares. Consequently, the region-wide urbanization level is projected to only slowly increase to 70 per cent by 2050 and, currently, more as a result of rural depopulation than actual growth of urban populations.

The challenges associated with this on-going historic political and economic transition process faced by the region’s more than 200 million inhabitants are enormous and without precedent in modern history. It involves, as this report shows, deeply unsettling and extremely complex governance reforms that affect all aspects.

But disquieting as major change often is, it can also bring new opportunities. Improving the human condition is one of the main aims of the current transition. But, while reform processes unfold, circumstances can be extremely painful by creating turmoil, suffering and deprivations in the short-term.

The breaking up of the former Yugoslav Republic, for instance, brought conflict, war and significant loss of human lives. Likewise, throughout the region, the collapse of industries and manufacturing processes rendered uncompetitive by their sudden exposure to global markets had major impacts on the region’s cities; especially those whose urban economies were insufficiently diverse, or worse, based only on a single industrial sector. Almost over-night, such cities saw their very economic raison d’être  evaporate, while the subsequent rapid exodus of many young and entrepreneurial inhabitants left them with even weaker prospects for the future.

But worldwide, cities have a strong record as engines of growth, human development and prosperity. By carefully exploring the human ingenuity embedded in urban areas, together with cities’ locational, agglomeration and other advantages – both as individual urban entities or as components of cooperating urban networks – economic revival can often be achieved.

With this report, UN-Habitat hopes to contribute to that revival process and help create a better urban environment for the citizenry of European countries in transition.

Download The State of European Cities in Transition.