RFSC – European Union Helps to Build Sustainable Cities

Capgemini Consulting helps EU design framework for sustainable urban development.

The Situation

In 2007, the Ministers in charge of urban development across the EU Member States drew up the Leipzig Charter in Germany when the country held the EU presidency. The document states that cities’ urban policies should focus on two key areas: the application of an ‘integrated approach’ (taking into account the impacts of any new project launched, including social, environmental, economic, cultural and governance aspects), and the rehabilitation of deprived areas in the city. In 2008, when France took its turn to chair the EU, the Member States signed the Marseille Declaration to agree that a Reference Framework for European Sustainable Cities (RFSC) be created to make the Leipzig Charter concrete. The objectives of the RFSC are to define a common vision of what a sustainable European city should be like, provide tools to help cities of all sizes and in all countries progress on the path towards sustainability, and to promote the exchange of knowledge and good practices between European cities.

France took the lead in building the first draft of the framework in collaboration with other Member States, the CEMR and a team of experts. A deadline of June 2010 was given to the French Ministry of Sustainable Development (MEDDTL) to develop a prototype. MEDDTL invited Capgemini Consulting to facilitate the working group with representatives of Member States and key stakeholder organizations to assess the prototype, support the project team in the design of the tool and the management of the whole project.

The Solution

Capgemini Consulting facilitated the collaboration of an array of high profile partners, including MEDDTL, its research and technical department the Center for Urban Development Issues (CERTU), EU Member States and Council presidencies, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), EUROCITIES (the network of major European cities) and the European Commission (EC). On the basis of a survey of the tools and the practice of several European cities, this group of partners produced the RFSC prototype, an online toolkit to help cities and, more generally, public sector organizations to improve sustainable urban development. The RFSC website is a tool designed to enable users to assess, develop and analyze their urban strategy, and track their progress. It allows city officials to participate in debates on sustainable urban development, and work closely with other cities across Europe by sharing their experiences, ideas and best practices. The tool also enables cities to orm networks with others facing similar challenges. Overall, it emphasizes the two key themes of the Leipzig Charter: rehabilitation of deprived neighborhoods and an integrated approach across pillars of sustainable development.

The Result

The prototype of the RFSC was completed before the deadline and within budget. In June 2010 in Toledo, during Spain’s EU presidency, the Ministers in charge of urban development across the EU approved the RFSC prototype for testing. Together with France, the European Commission decided to co-finance and co-lead the testing phase, which began in June, involving a restricted group of European cities. Phase 2 of testing, involving 66 cities, is now closed and Version 2 of the web-tool is due for completion by the end of 2012


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