Report EUKN 2010 conference
Fitting to the overall European trend in the last 17 years the core city of Budapest lost 300 000 inhabitants, while the number of settlers grew rapidly in the suburban ring. Some European cities face the challenge of depopulation and demolition of empty houses and neighbourhoods, while in other cities the rapid immigration causes social tension. According to experts it could happen, that in the near future four active employees will support three pensioners. What can we do for the European cities? What do urban planners say? Experts from 17 countries tried to find the answers to these serious questions in Budapest at the EUKN Conference “The effects of demographic change on urban structures”.
The annual conference of the European Urban
Knowledge Network (EUKN) took place in Budapest, Hungary on 13 and
14 September 2010. The conference was organised by the Dutch
Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Dutch Ministry
of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, Nicis Institute
in the Hague and in close cooperation with EUKNs Hungarian
partners: the Ministry of National Economy, the Ministry of the
Interior and VÁTI (the national Institute for Regional Development
and Town Planning).There was a time, when population decrease
appeared to be a problem. Nowadays the opposite seems to be the
case. While the active workforce decreases, more pensioners need to
be financially supported. Changes in demographic behaviour,
migration and ageing may reshape the structure of European cities.
What will the city of the future look like? Will it sprawl without
coordination, will it shrink or become more dense? Among other
issues the conference of European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN) in
Budapest sought the answers for these questions. Among the speakers
there were noted experts and politicians such as Prof. Dr. Zoltán
Cséfalvay, - State Secretary of Ministry of National Economy, Dr.
Péter Szaló – Deputy State Secretary of Ministry of the Interior,
Dr. Wladyslaw Piskorz, Head of Unit Urban Development-
Territorial Cohesion in European Commission - Directorate General
Regional Policy, and Prof. Dr. Thorsten Wiechmann from the
Technical University Dortmund. The conference was chaired by Mart
Grisel ( head of EUKN Secretariat) and Ádám Radvánszki (Knowledge
Manager EUKN Hungary and spatial planner at VÁTI)
From their speeches the audience got an insight into demographic processes, problems and the impacts of demographic developments on the urban structure and urban society, first from the point of view of Hungary, then from an EU perspective, and finally from a global point of view. In the afternoon of the first day the conference gave an opportunity to the participants to exchange experiences and knowledge in the framework of five parallel professional workshops (social cohesion and demographic challenges, ageing cities and regions, attractive cities to prevent urban sprawl, growing urban areas in cross-border regions, shrinking cities). After the workshops, experts answered the questions generated by the participants during the workshops.
The second day gave an opportunity to get to know projects and to exchange experiences. Participants visited locations in Budapest and its surroundings where local projects and mirror projects from different European countries were presented. There were projects which try to tackle the problems of an ageing society (Senior Mentor Program - Boras City, Quality-Ageing project - DC Noice), others dealt with social cohesion questions (Social regeneration programme of the Magdolna Quarter- IBA Stadtumbau 2010, Lofts in the 8th district programme- Back to the grassroots, Supplier House project - FEANTSA: Housing and reintegration of the homeless), and the coordination of urban sprawl (Törökbálint, urban sprawl and its consequences- Porto Vivo, inner city regeneration). At the project visits the participants got to know the area and stakeholders and they could discuss the efficiency and sustainability of some projects including practical problems such as the financing of the projects, participatory planning and difficulties of inclusion.
The EUKN conference 2010 served as a first step on the road to the high level conference dealing with urban demographic questions, which will be held in April 2011 during the Hungarian Presidency.
Download the entire report of the EUKN conference at the 'Reference material' section.
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