Sabrina Abdi

Programme Director for housing, mobility and security, French National Agency for the Cohesion of Territories

As the Programme Director for housing, mobility and security of the French National Agency for the Cohesion of Territories, Sabrina Abdi is intensively working on the French Presidency programme on urban matters. Her focal points are the National Urban Development Policy in France with its different formats and projects. Ms Abdi has extensive experience in urban and regional policy-making in different French public administrations.

The French EU Council Presidency kicked-off in January and will continue until June. What is the programme when it comes to urban matters?

Building on the strategic and political framework provided by the previous Trio Presidency (Germany – Portugal – Slovenia), France will ensure an effective and operational programme focused on three main strands.

The first strand is the implementation of the Ljubljana Agreement and the new Urban Agenda for the EU working programme. We need to continue focusing on the urban dimension of major contemporary challenges. Losing the momentum generated by the first generation of the Urban Agenda for the EU and the work of its Thematic Partnerships would be a missed opportunity. In this respect, the French Presidency will focus on two major challenges: Greening Cities and Sustainable Tourism, preparing the ground for new Thematic Partnerships and Other Forms of Cooperation working on these topics. To increase the impact of new Partnerships’ work on existing policy frameworks, an Ex-Ante Assessment will be carried out. This new and experimental step has been introduced in the Ljubljana Agreement to facilitate Partnerships in optimising their focus, ensure the success of multilevel cooperation approaches, and create better regulations, better policies, and better knowledge.

The second strand relates to further implementation of the New Leipzig Charter and the need to share knowledge on key urban issues. The French Presidency will adopt the major challenge of promoting just cities, and organise ‘The Art of Just-City-Making’ Policy Labs. This will be a series of events exploring means to create just cities in a green, productive, and digital way, emphasising the relevance of integrated approaches towards sustainable urban development.

The choice of the ‘just city’ theme derived from France’s long standing national urban policy targeting deprived urban areas with socio-economic difficulties. The just city dimension of the New Leipzig Charter was interesting in connection to French policy but also offered an opportunity to explore more integrated approaches with other city dimensions, as listed in the New Leipzig Charter (i.e. green, productive, and digital). We propose to extend and deepen knowledge of the New Leipzig Charter and its just city dimension. The pandemic has shown that deprived urban territories and their inhabitants were most affected by an unprecedented crisis. Despite this observation, we are convinced that areas seen as vulnerable have valuable resources grounded in communities and abundance of their inhabitants. That is why we are looking forward to focusing on the dimension of the just city and aim to deepen the social dimension of urban development.

We are looking forward to focusing on the dimension of the just city and aim to deepen the social dimension of urban development.

Finally, the third strand will focus on increasing synergies between territorial and urban agendas. A common event will be organised to explore linkages and prepare the ground for stronger cooperation in the future.

Working on these three strands will allow us to produce concrete documents at the end of the French Presidency: a report co-produced with the European Commission presenting the results of the Ex-Ante Assessment, and a set of recommendations for policymakers at different governmental levels exploring how to create just cities.

We would like to thank the EUKN for supporting the preparation and creation of abovementioned documents.

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