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OPENCities and Economic Recovery Why city openness matters during recession

Venue: European Economic and Social Committee / Committee of the Regions, Brussels, Belgium

OPENCities is a British Council project funded by URBACT and led by Belfast City Council in collaboration with a network of European cities. The partner cities include Bilbao, Cardiff, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Nitra, Poznan, Sofia and Vienna.

What does city openness mean? How can diversity help your city be more competitive? How can cities capitalise on the many resources that migration and a diverse population bring? What does it mean to become more international? What are the economic and social benefits of openness? Can openness be a competitive advantage during recession? If you are interested in exploring these exciting opportunities you are kindly invited to the closing conference of the OPENCities project. You will be presented with the OPENCities Monitor, interesting initiatives and will be able to participate in a forward looking debate about different ways of city governance which can help cities and Europe meet the 2020 Agenda.


Nowadays cities and regions are facing multiple challenges ­ competing globally to attract a highly qualified and talented labour force, on the one side, and facing unprecedented, diverse and complex social structures, on the other. These challenges undoubtedly require strong leadership and innovative ways of governance. The OPENCities project, a collaboration between the British Council, the European Commission and City Governments worldwide, is unique as it brings together European and global cities at special times. The project identifies the links between international migration to cities and economic growth, and suggests openness as a way forward to sustainable long-term success. "No city has ever reached the pinnacle of the urban hierarchy, without being explicitly and strategically open to international populations, as seen with the success of London and New York in the 20th Century. However, current levels of urban competition mean international populations can no longer be sustained and replenished solely by a straightforward culture of openness." Greg Clark, Lead Advisor on the OPENCities project.

Openness and Economic Recovery

In early 2010 the European Commission launched Europe 2020, its growth strategy for the next 10 years. Although it may seem a short term strategy to lead Europe out of the economic recession, in reality it aims at making Europe a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy for which Member States need to be able to generate high levels of employment, productivity and inclusiveness. "(as we come out of the recession) ...It is now time to rethink openness again, as the world provides not only threats but also opportunities and perspectives to today's Europe and its cities... It became only gradually clear in the course of 2010 that Europe was trapped by a sort of `closed' thinking. The world had decided to move on, with or without Europe. Emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil and Russia had decisively marched on, while closer to us countries such as Turkey and Poland had also continued to grow. In fact, the German economy recovered in 2010 surprisingly fast, mainly due to a rapid increase in exports in machinery and cars to... China. So perhaps openness is no longer a threat only?" Jan Maarten de Vet, Director ECORYS Brussels. Conference moderator Extensive research within the network of European cities and beyond enables us to better understand the competitive advantages of diversity. OPENCities highlights the importance of city leadership for successful societies and demonstrates that smaller cities are also capable of taking advantage of the opportunities that globalisation and diversity have to offer. Above all, it has pointed to the importance of culture to reach out to and work with ordinary citizens and migrants in celebrating diversity.

Innovative Thinking for Cities Worldwide

In order to help cities become more open and competitive, the OPENCities project has developed a unique tool for measuring city openness and sharing best practices from across the network of partners. With the OPENCities Monitor cities can gain insight into the various aspects of their openness and inform their future policies. Furthermore, the tool is available on-line, is easy to use and links to an extensive resource bank with around 100 case studies and qualitative recommendations towards internationalisation, governance and integration and diversity city policies. Although there is no formula that fits all there are important learning points for any city worldwide. The OPENCities closing conference will bring out the highlights of this project. It will provide pointers to city leaders, professionals and citizens on the value of open cities in the new global context and what is needed to make these cities more open. Perhaps a closing conference for the project, but the beginning of a broader OPENCities movement.

OPENCities and Economic Recovery Why city openness matters during recession

25MAY2011 Agenda

Venue: European Economic and Social Committee Committee of the Regions, Brussels Main conference room: JDE 52 Listening room: JDE 53

Conference Moderator: Jan Maarten de Vet, Director ECORYS Brussels 09.00 -10.00 Registration / Local Action Plans submission ceremony (for partner city delegates only) Coffee 10.00 -10.45 Welcome address Chaired by Susan Russam, Chair Local Support Group Belfast Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice-President EESC Michael Collins, Deputy Director, Committee of the Regions Dirk Ahner, Director General of DG REGIO Martin Hope, Director British Council Benelux and EU Office 10.45 -11.30 What is openness? OPENCities Achievements (short video) Why openness matters for Europe and its importance throughout the full economic cycle Jan Maarten de Vet, Director ECORYS Brussels Can openness be measured? A practical demonstration of OPENCities Monitor Marc Bros de Puechredon and Andrea Wagner, BAK Basel Economics Q&A 11.30 -12.00 Coffee Partner stands and city highlights

12.00 - 13.00

How can cities become more open: from strategic thinking into Local Action Plans A selection of the most transferable initiatives from local plans of partner cities, highlighting learning points and key challenges. Ian Goldring, Lead Expert OC URBACT & City partners Q&A

13.00 -14.00

Lunch Partner stands Managing authorities meeting

14.00 -14.30

The importance of strong city leadership for openness and long term success Richard Barnes, Deputy Mayor of London

14.30 -14.45

Looking to the Future What are the new priorities/challenges for URBACT and EU. What role does openness play in the future of our cities? Jean-Loup Drubigny, Head of URBACT Secretariat

14.45 -15.15

Coffee Partner stands & BC cultural activities video

15.15 -16.45

Panel debate on Local leadership. Are OPENCities the only way forward? Moderated by Oliver Freeman, Intercultural Management Consultant Deputy Eric Byrne T.D., Member of the Irish Parliament Klaus Werner-Lobo, Vienna City Council John McGrillen, Belfast Director of Development Rodney Berman, Leader Cardiff Council

16.45 - 17.30

Conference conclusions Jan Maarten de Vet, Director ECORYS-ECOTEC Brussels


Reception & OPENCities Faces exhibition visit (6th floor) Anna Maria Darmanin, Vice-President EESC Mark Baumfield, OPENCities Project Director

Conference Participants

Conference participants will include governance and migration experts, economists, media representatives and local and regional government officials as well as representatives of EU institutions. We expect around 150 delegates representing European cities and regions as well as Latin America, North America and Asia.

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OPENCities is a British Council project in partnership with cities around the world. It receives EU funding, under the URBACT II programme, led by Belfast City Council.

Running from October 2008 to September 2011 OPENCities is the only UK led project with a European Commission Fast Track label. Partner cities include Bilbao, Cardiff, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Nitra, Poznan, Sofia and Vienna. The Local Action Plans, prepared by each of the partner cities will be presented and submitted to Dirk Ahner, Director General of DG REGIO at the conference. URBACT is a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development. It enables cities to work together to develop solutions to major urban challenges, reaffirming the key role they play in facing increasingly complex societal challenges. It helps them to develop pragmatic solutions that are new and sustainable, and that integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions. It enables cities to share good practices and lessons learned with all professionals involved in urban policy throughout Europe. URBACT is 300 cities, 29 countries, and 5,000 active participants.


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