Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities

mai 2007

The « Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities » is a political document adopted by the ministers responsible for urban policy at their informal meeting in Leipzig on 24 May 2007 within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency. The ministers committed themselves, among other things, to support the development of integrated urban development concepts and to ensure the establishment of the governance structures necessary for their realisation.

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The « Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities » is a document of the Member States, which was developed with broad participation of European interest groups. The Ministers responsible for urban development of the Member States have taken note of the challenges, perspectives and different historical, economic, social and ecological backgrounds of European cities and have agreed on a set of common principles and concepts for urban development policy.

The Ministers commit themselves to

The Ministers thank the German Presidency for the presentation of the report « Integrated urban development as a prerequisite for the success of the sustainable city » and the studies « Strategies for the enhancement of urban qualities in deprived areas », « Strengthening the local economy and local labour market policy in deprived areas », « Active education and training policy for children and young people in deprived neighbourhoods », « Sustainable urban transport and deprived urban neighbourhoods », all of which contain examples of practices that have proven to be effective throughout Europe. These studies will help cities in different categories to apply in practice the principles and strategies set out in the Leipzig Charter.

The Ministers declare

We, the Ministers responsible for urban development of the Member States of the European Union, consider traditional European cities as a valuable and irreplaceable economic, social and cultural asset. In order to protect, develop and evolve our cities, we strongly support the European Union’s strategy for sustainable development with reference to the Lille Work Programme, the provisions of the Urban Acquis and the Bristol Accord, which we are prepared to follow up. In this context, we stress the need to take into account, at the same time and without restriction, all the dimensions of sustainable development, namely economic prosperity, social balance and respect for ecological imperatives. At the same time, it is essential to take account of cultural and health requirements. The institutional capacities of the Member States must also be respected.

Our cities have unique cultural and architectural qualities. They have considerable social integration strengths and extraordinary economic development options. They are both centres of knowledge and sources of growth and innovation. However, our cities are also experiencing demographic problems, signs of social imbalance and exclusion, and environmental problems. In the long term, cities will only be able to fulfil their role as guarantors of progress and growth in the sense of the Lisbon Strategy if they succeed in maintaining social balance within and between them, as well as preserving their cultural diversity and ensuring a high architectural and ecological quality.

We increasingly need comprehensive strategies and concerted action by all persons and institutions involved in the urban development process, even beyond the boundaries of individual cities and municipalities. All levels of government - local, regional, national and European - have a responsibility for the future of our cities. In order to make this responsibility effective at the various levels, we must better coordinate the sectoral policy areas and create a new sense of responsibility for integrated urban development policy. We must also ensure that all those whose task it is to achieve the objectives of the sustainable city acquire the necessary multidisciplinary skills and knowledge.

We strongly welcome the principles and recommendations of the Territorial Agenda of the European Union and the work of the European institutions in promoting an integrated approach to urban development. We appreciate the importance of the « Aalborg Commitments » as an important contribution to strategic and concerted action at the local level and the conclusions of the European Architectural Policy Forum « Architectural culture and its relevance for sustainable urban development » of 27 April 2007. We note the European Charter for a Network VITAL CITIES.

We recommend :

I. to make better use of integrated urban development policy approaches

By an integrated urban development policy we mean the simultaneous and equitable consideration of the essential requirements and interests for the development of cities. The design of an integrated urban development policy is a process in which the essential urban policy fields are coordinated in an objective way in space and time. In this context, the involvement of economic actors, interest groups and the public is essential. Integrated urban development policy is a fundamental condition for the implementation of the European strategy for sustainable development. The realisation of such a policy is a task of European dimension, but it must take into account local particularities while respecting the principle of subsidiarity.

The balance of interests established with the help of the integrated urban development policy forms a viable basis for consensus between the state, regions, cities, inhabitants and economic actors. By pooling knowledge and financial resources, it is possible to increase the efficiency of limited public funds and to better coordinate public and private investments. The integrated urban development policy enables the involvement of actors outside the administration and gives the inhabitants the opportunity to actively participate in the development of their immediate living environment. At the same time, greater security in terms of planning and investment can be guaranteed.

We recommend that European cities explore the possibility of developing an integrated urban development plan for all cities concerned. These planning instruments, which focus on the practical implementation of the planned measures, should

It is also important to strengthen consultation at the level of the metropolitan region. The aim within urban and metropolitan regions is to achieve an equal partnership between urban and rural areas on the one hand, and between small, medium and large towns on the other. Dealing with urban development problems and decisions in isolation will have to be seen as an outdated method of approach. Our cities should also be the pillars of the development of metropolitan regions, while at the same time assuming responsibilities for territorial cohesion. In this respect, it is useful for our cities to network more at European level in the future.

The integrated urban development policy offers an instrument which has proved its effectiveness in many cities, as it allows the development of modern, cooperative and efficient governance structures. This instrument is essential for strengthening the competitiveness of European cities. The policy enables the forward-looking coordination of housing, economic and infrastructure development, taking into account, among other things, the ageing population, migration trends and general conditions in the energy sector.

Within the framework of the integrated urban development policy we consider the following action strategies to be of particular importance for strengthening the competitiveness of European cities

The quality of public spaces, urban cultural landscapes, architecture and urban design is of great importance for the concrete living conditions of city dwellers. As soft location factors for companies, they also offer interesting conditions for companies in the knowledge economy, as well as for a qualified and creative workforce, and ultimately also for the tourism sector. For this reason, the interaction of architects, infrastructure planners and urban planners should be strengthened in order to create attractive public spaces of a high cultural and architectural standard which are geared to the needs of users. Architectural culture (Baukultur) should be defined in a broad sense as the totality of cultural, economic, technical, social and ecological aspects which influence the quality of planning and building activities. However, the ambitions of architectural culture should not be limited to public spaces. Architectural culture is a necessity for the city as a whole and its surroundings. It is the responsibility of the cities and the state to exert their influence in this respect. This is particularly important with regard to the preservation of architectural heritage. Historic buildings, public spaces and the urban and architectural values they represent deserve to be preserved. For this reason, the creation and preservation of functional and ambitious urban spaces and facilities is not only a task for national, regional and municipal authorities, but also for residents and businesses.

A key contribution to improving living conditions and environmental quality and to creating favourable factors for business location can be made by sustainable, easily accessible and affordable urban transport systems with concerted links to urban and regional transport systems. In this context, particular attention should be paid to traffic management and the interconnection of transport modes, including cycling and walking. Urban transport must comply with the requirements of utility in relation to housing, activities, the environment and public spaces. Technical facilities, in particular water supply, sewage treatment and similar facilities, must be brought into line and adapted to the new conditions in good time to ensure that they can meet the requirements of the high quality of life in cities in the future. Energy efficiency, rational use of natural resources and efficient economic management of equipment are essential prerequisites for a sustainable supply and disposal infrastructure. The energy efficiency of buildings must be improved. This applies to both new and existing buildings. The renovation of existing buildings makes a decisive contribution to energy efficiency and to improving the quality of life of the inhabitants. In this context, particular attention should be paid to large prefabricated buildings, old buildings and dilapidated buildings. Efficient and optimised infrastructure networks and energy-efficient buildings reduce the costs of locating companies and residents. Clustered housing is an important basis for the efficient and sustainable use of resources. This can be achieved by using urban and regional planning methods that prevent urban sprawl. In this area, great care must be taken to manage the supply of land and to contain any tendency towards speculation. In this context, the development of mixed urban districts for housing, work, education, supply and leisure is particularly sustainable. By using the most modern information and communication technologies in the fields of education, the labour market, social services, health, safety and e-government, cities should contribute to preserving and improving the quality of life of people and the attractiveness of locations for business. At the same time, these modern information and communication technologies must also be used as tools to improve urban administration. Our cities will also have to comply with the requirements arising from the threat of climate change. Urban development based on high-level planning and design methods can lead to growth based on low carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and thus contribute to improved environmental quality. Cities will be able to achieve this goal through innovative prevention and adaptation measures, which in turn can encourage the emergence of new low carbon industries and businesses.

Knowledge develops mainly in cities, which also contribute to its proliferation. The knowledge potential of a city and the high level of use of this knowledge depend on the quality of pre-school and school education, the permeability of the school and vocational training system, social and cultural networks, opportunities for lifelong learning, the excellent level of universities and non-university research bodies, and the transfer networks which exist between the economic and scientific communities. Integrated urban development policy can contribute to the improvement of these factors by, for example, promoting the meeting of the relevant actors, supporting networks and optimising reception structures. Integrated urban development promotes social and intercultural dialogue.

The concepts of integrated urban development, cooperative urban development management and efficient city management make it possible to use the potential of European cities for competitiveness and growth and to bridge the disparities within and between cities. These concepts offer the opportunity for social and democratic participation.

II. focus on deprived urban areas in the context of all cities involved

In the context of changing economic and social structures and the phenomenon of globalisation, cities are faced with considerable challenges. Specific problems include the high number of unemployed and social exclusion. There are wide disparities between cities within their boundaries in terms of their economic and social prospects, as well as in terms of the quality of the environment. In addition, social inequalities and disparities in economic development are increasing in many cases, thus contributing to the destabilisation of cities. A policy of social integration which combats inequality and social exclusion is the best prevention to ensure that our cities remain safe. A well-designed social housing policy is an effective tool to achieve social cohesion and integration in cities and urban regions. Healthy, affordable housing that is geared to the needs of the inhabitants can contribute to increasing the attractiveness of neighbourhoods and thus the stability of these neighbourhoods, not only for young people, but also for older people.

In order to pursue a sensible urban development policy, it is necessary to identify the signs of decline in certain neighbourhoods, take them seriously and take action against them as soon as possible. This also saves costs. To reverse such a negative trend, on the other hand, much more money has to be spent on intervention at the right time.

We need to give a perspective and give support and preventive measures to the inhabitants of the affected neighbourhoods. In order to find the best solution for each deprived urban area, active participation of the inhabitants and an intensification of the dialogue between politicians, inhabitants and economic actors are indispensable.

In this context, we consider the following strategies to be of primary importance for deprived urban neighbourhoods, and they should form an integral part of integrated urban development policy.

There is a direct correlation between economic activities and investments on the one hand, and high quality urban facilities, a good built environment and a modern and efficient infrastructure on the other. For this reason, it is necessary to bring the building stock in deprived urban areas into line with the requirements of architectural quality, comfort and energy efficiency. Improving the quality standards of new buildings, existing residential buildings and especially large prefabricated buildings as well as dilapidated old buildings will offer significant opportunities to increase energy efficiency within the EU and thus a prospect of progress in climate protection. In order to ensure the sustainability of the investments made in the improvement of urban qualities, these investments will have to be integrated into a long-term development project which should, among other things, also cover future public and private investments.

Approaches to stabilizing the situation in deprived neighbourhoods should also focus on the economic forces at work there. Economic and labour market policies geared to spatial development are suitable instruments for this purpose. The creation and consolidation of jobs and support for the establishment of new companies should be the main objective. The prospects for access to the local labour market should above all be improved by providing qualifications that meet the needs of the demand. Similarly, greater use should be made of employment and training opportunities within the ethnic economies. The European Union, the Member States and the cities are called upon to improve the conditions and to develop the necessary instruments to strengthen the local economy and thus also the local labour markets. In doing so, they should especially promote socio-economic institutions and encourage the provision of services close to the citizens.

Improving local education and training as part of an active policy for children and young people is a central part of efforts to improve the situation in deprived areas. It is important to provide and improve training in deprived areas that meets the needs and shortcomings of the children and young people living there. A policy for children and young people that focuses on improving the social environment should help to improve the prospects for participation of children and young people living in these areas, to strengthen their ability to live the kind of life they want and to ensure equal opportunities in a sustainable way.

Many deprived urban neighbourhoods face additional constraints due to poor transport connections and unhealthy environmental conditions, which diminish the quality of these areas as centres of life and living. The provision of a high-quality, affordable public transport system strengthens the right to mobility and accessibility of the inhabitants of these areas. To remedy this situation, it will be necessary to focus transport planning and management in these areas more strongly on reducing the negative impact of transport on the environment. Transport should be organised in such a way as to better integrate these urban areas into the urban and regional fabric. These measures should also be supported by a network of pedestrian and cycle routes.

The more we succeed in stabilising the economic situation of deprived urban areas, in ensuring their social integration and in enhancing their transport and design quality, the more we will increase the chances of our cities remaining places of social progress, growth and innovation in the long term.

We emphasise the following imperatives:

Urban development policy must be anchored at national level. Urban development policy must be anchored at the national level, and must give new impetus to the search for innovative solutions. Our cities need room for manoeuvre to enable them to carry out their municipal tasks in a responsible manner. They also need a solid financial basis in the long term. Therefore, it is important that the Member States can use the European Structural Funds to develop and finance large-scale integrated urban development programmes. The mobilisation of funds should be oriented as closely as possible to the existing difficulties and possibilities, while taking into account the specific opportunities and problems that exist at the level of the Member States. Local administrations should develop the necessary skills for the implementation of integrated urban development policy, as such capacities are still lacking.

The new EU initiatives - JESSICA and JEREMIE - offer promising possibilities to enhance the effectiveness of traditional funding sources at national and European level to promote urban development and the development of small and medium enterprises. These initiatives should rely on financial engineering instruments to mobilise private capital for integrated urban development concepts.

At the national level, all ministries will have to take better account of the fact that cities play an important role in achieving objectives at the national, regional and municipal levels, and that their policy measures have an impact on cities. It will be necessary to better coordinate and combine the efforts of the different ministries active in or influencing the field of urban development.

We stress the importance of a systematic and structured exchange of experience and knowledge in the field of sustainable urban development. We ask the European Commission to present the results of this exchange of good practice at a conference based on the principles of the Leipzig Charter and organised in the framework of the Regions for Economic Change initiative. At the same time, a European platform is of great importance in order to make better use of this exchange of experience with regard to good practice, statistics, benchmarking studies, evaluations, expertise and all other research in the urban sector, which will support the relevant actors in urban development at all levels and in all areas. In the future, we will also support and intensify the exchange of knowledge and experience at local, regional, national and European level between policy makers, practitioners and the scientific community in order to strengthen the urban dimension of the

The aim is to strengthen the urban dimension of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, the Lisbon Strategy and the European Employment Strategy.

Europe needs strong cities and regions to live in.