Mr van Iersel meets Vilnius and Glasgow

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On 15 October 2015, the ECO Section of the EESC organised a workshop under the title "Partnership – the key to successful urban development" in the course of the Open Days 2015. The workshop, chaired by Joost van Iersel, president of the ECO Section, looked at the cases of Glasgow and Vilnius. Although the two cities have a very different socio-economic background, their major projects clearly demonstrate their commitment to an innovative and sustainable urban development based on broad partnership. The objective of the workshop was to identify the various stakeholders and their roles, as well as how dialogue between them works and how it could be improved in order to contribute to better urban development.

The four guest speakers represented a wide variety of organisations involved in urban development. Ms Daniela Patti, managing director of Eutropian GmbH, presented several local projects which run in multiple cities, from Berlin to Athens. She highlighted that community projects were very popular at times, such as today, when municipalities face financial difficulties. It is however important to recognise the added value of communities also when municipalities have no difficulties providing services. Ms Vylūnė Urbonienė, deputy chief executive director of the Vilnius City Municipality, introduced their complex socio-economic development programmes with a specific focus on private-public partnerships. Mr Les Rice, project manager, presented the mission of Urban Roots, a Scottish community-led organisation working together with locals for the environment and the health of the area they live in. In his presentation he stressed the importance of sustainability. Finally, Mr Gintaras Valušis, director of the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology in Vilnius, gave an overview on how a new and highly developed research centre can convert Vilnius into one of the most innovative cities in Europe. This workshop proved again how partnerships between cities, governments, academics and private actors, often across borders, could play an important role in urban development. It is therefore of utmost importance to properly identify the stakeholders and their possible added value and be in constant interaction.