Future of Cities: New Urban Policy Landscapes in Europe

Emily MoirAuthors: Greg Clark, Chair of JLL Cities Research Center, with Emily Moir

In this series of blogs and the essay, The future of cities: what is the global agenda?, we explore the future of cities. In this post, we look at new policies and plans being made by Polish and Norwegian governments in relation to their cities’ futures.  

In March 2014, the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Development presented a new draft National Urban Policy Krajowa Polityka Miejska. The Polish National Urban Policy looks ahead to 2020 and considers the future of the nation’s cities. The policy aims to strengthen the capacity of cities in Poland to generate sustainable growth, new jobs and improved quality of life. It represents the Polish government’s first attempt to fit public policies to the needs and opportunities of cities.[i]

The objective of the New Urban Policy is to create cities which are “competitive, strong, integrated, cohesive and sustainable and efficient ”. It focuses on ten key themes related to Polish cities’ biggest challenges: spatial development; social engagement; transport and urban mobility; low-emission economy and energy efficiency; urban revitalisation; investment policy; economic development; environmental protection and adaptation to climate change; demography; and management of urban areas.[ii] The draft recognizes the need to invest in capacity building at the local government level, outlining plans for the Infrastructure Ministry to create knowledge centres for use by local urban policy-makers.[iii] It also suggests appropriate policies for local authorities, for example emphasising a preference towards brownfield investment over suburbanization.


The draft Polish National Urban Policy is currently being subjected to internal and public consultation and is expected to be presented for adoption by the Council of Ministers this year.  Sri Lanka, Australia and Uganda are amongst several other nations which have also drafted or adopted national urban policies.

Meanwhile, other national governments are adopting different approaches to future city planning. Cities of the Future is a collaborative project between the Norwegian Government and the 13 largest cities in Norway which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the cities more liveable. The programme ran from 2008 – 2014 and involved the cities of Oslo, Bærum, Drammen, Sarpsborg, Fredrikstad, Porsgrunn, Skien, Kristiansand, Sandnes, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø. Together, their inhabitants represent almost half of the population of Norway.[iv] The participating cities each developed action plans, working together with the government and neighbouring local and regional authorities, industry, businesses, organisations and the general public. These action plans function as binding agreements between the government and the cities, detailing their commitments around land-use and transport, energy and buildings, consumption and waste and climate change adaptation.[v]

The Cities of the Future programme envisioned a future in which Norway’s cities are compact, comprising densely built urban areas which favour walking and cycling instead of using cars, and which have fewer roads but more parks and green space. The programme aims to make better use of available resources, and develop effective measures to encourage greener cities. It seeks to help city municipalities to share their climate friendly city development ideas with each other and with the business sector, the regions and the national government. The programme emphasises that if it is to be successful, co-operation is required from a number of different stakeholders:

  • From the business sector to make green products commonplace.
  • From the government to avoid building workplaces where there is no tram or bus.
  • From citizens, so that cities are built where people want to live. [vi]

Although their methods of future city planning differ, the challenges which the Norwegian and Polish governments are seeking to address (environmental sustainability, low carbon economy, public transport) are strikingly similar.


[i] Poland: National Urban Policy in Progress
[ii] Results and insight of the CircUse Project
[iii] Poland: National Urban Policy in Progress
[iv] Cities of the Future
[v] The Participating Cities
[vi] Cities of the Future

About the Author

Greg Clark has spent more than two decades putting his passion for cities to good use, by advising and mentoring global cities, firms and institutions. He has worked with over 100 cities around the world and holds senior advisory roles at international bodies including the OECD, Brookings Institution, ULI, and the Future Cities Catapult. A prolific author, Greg has published ten books to date on cities and investment practices, with three more in the pipeline for 2016-17. And as Chairman of The Business of Cities research and intelligence group, Greg leads a small high calibre team that advises and reports on global trends and changes in cities. In his academic life Greg is Hon Prof of City Leadership at UCL and co-chairman of the UCL City Leadership initiative, Visiting Professor at Strathclyde University, and Global Fellow at LSE Cities. He has received international awards for his work from cities as far afield as Barcelona, Brisbane, London, and Toronto and in 2016, Greg was honoured by HM Queen Elizabeth II with a CBE for his services to city and regional economic development. Meanwhile, outside of the day jobs, Greg is an avid tennis player, wine enthusiast, and lifelong follower of Arsenal FC.

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