Watch the “Functional Approaches 101: How to cooperate across municipal boundaries?” workshop
Functional area approaches can assist many sub-national or cross-national areas to become liveable, green, and sustainable places. Ultimately, functional area approaches can enable more efficient and effective public investments and local service delivery. Moreover, they have the capacity to trigger various positive spillover effects if aligned with existing economic flows.
Read the key conclusions:
Functional area approaches are feasible and needed in many different contexts.
All territories need to have a stronger focus on functional areas in their work efforts to better respond to challenges and increase the quality of life.
Non-urban or natural functional areas need to receive the same attention as urban areas
Functional areas can trigger positive spillover effects if aligned with existing economic flows into such areas.
Inter-county and inter-community cooperation are important tools for just transition regions.
In pursuance of sustainable urban development, areas need to implement participatory governance, an integrated approach, and multi-level cooperation.
Find out what happened
The “Functional Approaches 101: How to cooperate across municipal boundaries?” workshop was designed to inspire participants to consider functional areas approaches in addressing some of their key local challenges. The workshop encompassed two parts, delimited by a surprise video, and had 135 online and offline attendees. The first part focused on highlighting the positive impacts of functional area approaches, while the second part played an important role in demonstrating that these approaches are feasible and needed in many different contexts. To further emphasize the benefits, a video titled Thoughts from the functional areas in the EU was screened during the workshop, including testimonies from some of the functional area stakeholders involved in this project. Overall, the session offered guidance in overcoming challenges by sharing real-life insights from advanced and less advanced subnational governments from the EU.
Every part of the workshop was intended to build on previous ones. Before the speakers started their presentations, the moderator, Marcel Ionescu-Heroiu, World Bank Senior Urban Development Specialist, offered participants a summarized picture of what to expect from the event and introduced the speakers to the audience. He also guided the conversation during the entire workshop and managed participants’ questions.
The first speaker of the session, Marek Teplansky, Head of Unit Inclusive Growth, Urban and Territorial Development, DG REGIO, encouraged participants to have a stronger focus on functional area approaches in their work efforts, to better respond to cross-jurisdictional challenges and to more efficiently improve the quality of life for the people in a functional area. Moreover, he highlighted that the functional area approach is a key pillar of Policy Objective 5 of the Cohesion Policy 2021-2027 and a key topic in the coming years. After his intervention, Yondela Silimela, World Bank Senior Urban Specialist, presented the “Functional Areas in the EU” project and highlighted that the role of the project is to enhance coordination and cooperation across administrative boundaries and develop an EU toolkit to overcome fragmentation. Other important parts of her presentation were the examples of good practice and the tools to build strong functional areas. All of them were shown to the audience and are available on the official website of the project, https://functionalareas.eu/.
After the first part of the workshop was concluded, the content of the video Thoughts from the functional areas in the EU was screened for the audience. The video encompasses testimonials from different European functional areas. The video screening was followed by in-depth discussions on best-practices and challenges faced by two functional areas in the project – Lake Balaton Functional Area and the Cluj Metropolitan Area.
Eva Varga, Project Manager at Lake Balaton Development Council, started the second part of the workshop with insights from an incipient functional area and conveyed that natural functional areas need to receive the same attention as urban areas. She highlighted during her presentation that the Lake Balaton Functional Region struggles with several challenges and cooperation of stakeholders and dedicated resources are necessary to tackle them.
Ovidiu Cîmpean, State Secretary and former Director of Development in Cluj-Napoca City Hall, presented Romania’s best practices in terms of urban development and just transition. Cluj-Napoca is known for its progress in reaching EU objectives such as competitiveness, smart, and green through several investment programmes, and several metropolitan flagship projects from Cluj were highlighted. As for the Just Transition Mechanism, the State Secretary promoted the European tool and presented the situation in Romania, whilst highlighting progresses made by Jiu Conurbation and Jiu Valley from which many other territories in their situation may learn.
Meet the FAs Network present at the event
135 creators and friends of functional areas were present at the workshop.
The audience was formed of students, specialists, NGOs, mayors, local government, functional areas representatives, national authorities and representatives from EU institutions and research programmes.