A green, social recovery needs a neighbourhood-based EU renovation wave

  • An international conference gathering input from 6 EU funded projects working on urban regeneration One-Stop-Shops underlines the importance of local action in the forthcoming European and national recovery plans. 

On 12 May an international multi-stakeholder Webinar was organised by Opengela (an EU-funded project led by the Basque Regional Government), gathering representatives from 5 other projects from France, Austria, Italy, Ireland and Spain. The event, followed by more than 180 participants from 26 countries and 4 continents, aimed to foster a collective brainstorming on how to tackle the situation provoked by the COVID19 crisis in local urban regeneration projects.

Moderated by representatives from EASME, the European Commission’s Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, participants fostered a lively debate on the effects of the COVID crisis on local One-Stop-Shops for building renovation, the specific actions foreseen for the “new normal” scenario and the best possible ways to place sustainable urban regeneration at the core of forthcoming regional, national and European recovery programmes.

Among the main challenges for the way ahead, speakers underlined the need for solid financial schemes to overcome the barriers that citizens will face for making the decision of renovating their homes. But, according to the experience drawn on the field from the participant projects, finance is not the main potential barrier: other elements, such as integrating building refurbishment with other socio-economic measures fighting energy poverty, increasing accessibility to buildings and strengthening the social fabric in neighbourhoods, were judged to be as important as the availability of funds.

“European Regional and local authorities need a signal from the EU to ensure that the Renovation Wave is made real not only top-down, but also bottom-up, from our neighbourhoods,” said Ignacio de la Puerta, Opengela Coordinator and Director for Territorial Planning, Urbanism and Urban Regeneration of the Basque Government. “The deployment of the Green Deal on the ground will only be successful if it takes into account the essential contribution of One-Stop-Shops already in place at local level, and working on a broad approach: this is about energy savings, but also about fostering social fabric, ensuring healthy homes and promoting local, long-term job creation».

All participants agreed that the current crisis has shown the importance that our homes and neighbourhoods have in our daily life: the dwellings in which we have spent almost our entire time have suddenly become learning, working and care centres, and – as our societies learn to live with the effects of the pandemic – it is increasingly clear that our immediate vicinity will play an essential role in our daily lives in the future, therefore increasing the importance of holistic, integral and fair urban regeneration, leaving no one behind.

* Interview in the regional media Radio Euskadi to Ignacio De la Puerta and Davide Cannarozi about the Opengela project and the webinar ‘Post Covid-19 Urban Regeneration: One-Stop-Shops for a fair, green and social recoveryHERE

 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 846707.

Otxar Opengela

Address: Avenida Pau Casals, No. 16, Otxarkoaga, Bilbao (In front of Plaza Kepa Enbeita)

Telephone: 946 85 19 32

E-mail: otxaropengela@vvmm.bilbao.eus

Txonta Opengela

Address: Calle Txonta No. 3, ground floor, Eibar

Telephone: 688 77 97 37

E-mail: txontabulegoa@eibar.eus

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