frameworks for ‘equality and non-discrimination’ in the world. It protects against discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion and belief, race and ethnic origin. The EU laws are transposed to all EU Member States and EU and Member State legal systems have provisions to ensure legal equality principles are elevated to include equity and justice too. However, it is important to note that these equality and non-discrimination laws are used in case of transgressions and so they are reactive rather than proactive.
On the other hand, the ‘Cities of Equality’ theme goes a step further to proactively create environments for equality. While it is good to lean on EU and Member State law to ground our understanding of equality, equity and justice, urban planning and development is ultimately about creating urban futures in which no one is left behind. In order to achieve this ambition whilst creating the environments for equality, we need both targeted interventions that benefit protected groups specifically (as in equity) and holistic thinking aimed at ensuring cities work for all. The key challenge is therefore evolving our urban practices and policies to do so and this is the central task of the future Urban Agenda for the EU partnership on Cities of Equality.
What do you see as the most important intervention areas that can improve equality in urban areas?
The most important intervention is engaging with all people in our cities without prejudice or judgement, learning about barriers they face and their needs, and then updating our urban policies, planning codes and practices to serve them equitably. This is the only way to progress towards inclusive urban futures.