Learning from city recovery in Europe and the United States
A study of why cities decline, how they recover and how low-income communities within them fare under the impact of dramatic changes.
This study investigates why cities decline, how they recover and how low-income communities within them fare under the impact of dramatic changes.
The study focuses on the fortunes of seven European cities – Sheffield and Belfast in the UK; Bremen and Leipzig in Germany; Torino, Italy; Saint-Étienne, France; and Bilbao, Spain. Other cities, including several in the United States, were also involved in this programme of work.
The findings sum up common themes from these cities related to:
- the history and effects of their decline;
- the process and results of recovery;
- what the future might hold.
A book by the same authors – Phoenix cities: The fall and rise of greatindustrial cities across Europe – reports in detail on the full three-year programme and is due to be published by The Policy Press for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in March 2010.
Over a three-year period, researchers interviewed leading policy-makers and practitioners in each of the case-study European cities, and visited low income inner and outer areas, suburbs, city centres, science parks and business incubators, universities, museums, heritage and reclamation sites and flagship projects. They collaborated with the Brookings Institution, Washington, visited three case-study cities in the US, and participated in four major Brookings Metropolitan events. They set up the City Reformers Group, representing the seven European cities, US city reformers, regional and national governments, the European Union, academics and partner institutions, LSE and Brookings. This group met four times to debate research findings, present evidence, contribute original research material and host research visits.
The report was published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The seven European cities studied are: Sheffield and Belfast in the UK; Bremen and Leipzig in Germany; Torino, Italy; Saint-Étienne, France; and Bilbao, Spain. Other cities, including several US rust belt cities, participated in the programme.
Innovative technologies – such as the world’s first tidal turbine, launched in Belfast in 2008 – point to the potential for future ‘green’ growth. Investment in public infrastructure and transport, and in building reclamation, creates a strong foundation for energy saving, reuse and conservation. Social reinvestment, particularly in the bottom layer, will avert further decline. In a resource-constrained world, cities offer new ways of coping with intensifying environmental, social and economic pressures.
Global financial upheaval, climate change and resource limits are posing unknown threats to the future of cities. But these cities are at the cutting edge of new solutions precisely because of their past experience of hypergrowth, intense decline and dramatic recovery. Existing infrastructure, services and transport connections, and a tradition of invention and innovation, are leading these cities to pioneer exciting new ideas.
Europe is a crowded continent with limited resources, so existing assets are constantly redeployed to cope with new shortages. Innovative reinvention and reuse of finite resources propel cities back to life. Along with their US counterparts, the seven European cities face an uncertain future. But they have demonstrated how they may survive and indeed flourish in a more sustainable world.
Anne Power et. al.