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Urban Sustainability in Europe - What is driving cities' environmental change?

It is becoming increasingly clear that the complex and interrelated challenges of climate change, environmental degradation and rising inequality will not be solved without a fundamental transformation of our societies. Far-reaching changes are needed to our technologies and infrastructures, cultures and lifestyles, as well as adaptations to the corresponding governance and institutional frameworks. Around the world, these important system innovations are converging in cities.

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Drivers of change of relevance for Europe's environment and sustainability

This report, building on the experience of both the EEA and Eionet, presents a synthesis of global and European megatrends with illustrations of key emerging trends, wild cards and uncertainties. It aims to inform about on‑going, emerging and potential future developments, raise awareness and contribute to the diffusion of anticipatory thinking.

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Tools to support green infrastructure planning and ecosystem restoration

Green infrastructure is a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas, which include other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services. These include water purification, air quality, space for recreation and climate mitigation and adaptation. This network of green (land) and blue (water) spaces can improve environmental conditions and therefore citizens' health and quality of life. It also supports a green economy, creates job opportunities and enhances biodiversity. To maximise the benefits it provides, GI should be an essential component of spatial and physical planning. Developing GI is a key step towards successfully implementing the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy. Target 2 of the strategy requires that ‘by 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems.’

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Financing urban adaptation to climate change

This report shows that, although cities and municipalities across Europe increasingly acknowledge the need to adapt to climate change, meeting the costs of measures for adaptation remains very often a major challenge. Nevertheless, the report presents examples of several cities and municipalities that have found innovative ways of financing adaptation and implementing measures. These range from classic funds to more innovative financing mechanisms, including crowdfunding and green bonds. These solutions could be relevant for other cities, towns and smaller municipalities, and the examples are meant as an inspiration to learn from.

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Rivers and lakes in European cities

Most European cities have at least one river or lake crossing their urban landscape. Urbanisation has come at a cost to rivers and lakes, as they have been heavily degraded to enable development, carry waste, supply drinking water and facilitate transport and industry.

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Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe 2016 — Transforming cities in a changing climate

This report builds on and complements existing products and initiatives on urban adaptation in Europe. It focuses on the state of actions in the field and progress achieved since the first EEA report in 2012, and it considers this analysis in relation to current challenges: Do existing actions lead to attractive, climate-resilient cities and if not, what needs to be changed? The report aims to broaden perspectives and provide input to a review and subsequent adjustment of urban adaptation to climate change by local governments and by supporting regional, national and European institutions, researchers and other relevant stakeholders.

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Urban sprawl in Europe - joint EEA-FOEN report

This report provides a comparable measurement of urban sprawl for 32 European countries at three levels (the country level, the NUTS-2 region level and the 1-km2 cell level) and for two years (2006 and 2009). The analysis is based on the Copernicus system which monitors the Earth and collects data by different sources. This data provides information about a number of thematic areas, including land. Under land a pan-European component delivers information about various areas, including the level of sealed soil (imperviousness), through high resolution layers taken from satellite imagery. The analysis uses new urban sprawl metrics taking into account the way built-up areas are laid out and how they are used. It also looks at the factors which contribute to an increase or decrease in urban sprawl. The results confirm the conclusions of earlier EEA reports namely that in many parts of Europe current levels of urban sprawl have contributed to detrimental ecological, economic and social effects. This gives cause for concern and such effects may increase alongside planned urban development.

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Urban sustainability issues — Resource-efficient cities: good practice

Cities are key players in minimising the use of resources and in developing the circular model. Generally, municipalities provide utilities and control public services for citizens and businesses that influence the majority of resource and energy use and the production of emissions and waste. Local authorities have the capacity to implement responses at multiple scales. This report analyses both the supply and the demand issues. It is divided into two parts: the first is devoted to how to avoid, prevent and reduce the use of resources; the second addresses reuse, recycling and harvesting.

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Urban sustainability issues —   What is a resource-efficient city?

The report introduces the concept of urban metabolism, the circular model and the role of compactness in urban resource efficiency. Cities require natural resources and energy to sustain the activities and daily life of the urban population. Nevertheless, there are opportunities to minimise the use of resources needed to sustain urban life and to reduce waste and emissions. As the urban form shapes the way people live, work and move, compact cities offer great potential to reduce the dependence on natural resources and energy. Urban planning, based on a vision of the future and developed with local stakeholders and crossing administrative borders, is a key factor in increasing the density of urban areas.

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Urban sustainability issues — Enabling resource-efficient cities

Shifting to a resource-efficient society is not just a question of technological change but a systemic one. It is a process that assumes fundamental changes in the governance, economy, social structure, culture and practices of the societal system. This report analyses challenges and opportunities for enabling resource-efficient cities.

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Performance of water utilities beyond compliance

Sharing knowledge bases to support environmental and resource-efficiency policies and technical improvements

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Global megatrends update: 2 Living in an urban world

In 2010, the EEA produced its first assessment of global megatrends as part of its five-yearly assessment of the European environment’s state, trend and prospects (SOER 2010). In preparation for SOER 2015, the EEA updated each of the megatrends, providing a more detailed analysis based on the latest data. This publication is one of the 11 updates being published separately. In mid-2015 the chapters will be consolidated into a single EEA technical report.

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A closer look at urban transport – TERM 2013: transport indicators tracking progress towards environmental targets in Europe

This TERM 2013 report includes an assessment of progress towards the transport-related environmental targets set out in the 2011 White Paper and other transport and environment regulations. It also includes a focus on the environmental impacts of urban transport.

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Air Implementation Pilot - Lessons learnt from the implementation of air quality legislation at urban level

Almost three quarters of Europeans live in cities. The air quality in our cities is therefore of significant importance to the health of Europeans. Considerable progress has been made in the past twenty years in improving urban air quality, but issues remain. A number of different air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and ozone remain above regulated levels, posing a threat to human health. This report describes a European pilot project to help identify and address the reasons underlying this 'gap' in implementation of air quality policy in 12 European cities, and thereby draw lessons of wider relevance.

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Understanding pollutant emissions from Europe's cities

Highlights from the EU Air Implementation Pilot project: This brochure, produced by the EEA, summarises findings on local scale emission inventories from the EU Air Implementation Pilot project. It also highlights sources of information and guidance for those compiling city inventories.

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Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe

Challenges and opportunities for cities together with supportive national and European policies

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