Demonstrating systemic urban development for circular and regenerative cities

Cities struggle in their transition to implement a full circular economy model incorporating regenerative practices. There is a clear need for cities to become circular in order to alter urban consumption patterns and value chains, and to stimulate innovation, business opportunities, and job creation in both established and newly created sectors. New, more flexible systemic urban planning instruments enabling the design and implementation of circular urban processes would make urban and peri-urban areas regenerative and facilitate their adaptation to emerging economic, social and environmental challenges.


Actions should demonstrate how cities can be transformed into centres of circular innovation and stimulate regenerative practices in both urban and peri-urban areas (including the surrounding industrial areas and commercial ports).

Actions should develop and implement innovative urban planning approaches and instruments (e.g. dynamic and semantic 3D real time flexible geospatial data and planning tools, innovative governance and legislation enabling new practices, design approaches, business models, etc.) to support and guide the transition towards circular and regenerative cities in terms of their built environment, public space, urban spatial use and programming. They should demonstrate innovative solutions for closing the loop of urban material and resource flows within the nexus of water, energy, food, air, ecosystem services, soil, biomass, waste/wastewater, recyclables and materials and for supporting an increase in the regenerative capacity of the city while limiting pollution of the environment, for example by reducing the emissions of air pollutants. At the same time, these solutions should ensure sound management of trade-offs and synergies among and across sectors. They should include ways of sustainably reusing and (mixed-use) reprogramming of existing buildings, open spaces and (infra)structures. The action should actively involve public authorities, societal stakeholders and community-based partners such as city-makers, urban (fab-) labs, urban planners, (urban) designers, cultural & creative organisations, and start-ups in close collaboration with the cities to find practical and durable solutions.

In addition actions should develop and implement innovative local governance structures and networks to enhance circular economy innovation in the urban fabric and help prioritise flexible implementation of urban space programming for circular initiatives. Actions should enable the continuous monitoring and optimisation of “urban metabolic” processes and rapid management interventions, where needed, deploying new indicators enabling easy assessment, comparison and sharing of best practice on the ground as well as digital solutions comprising networks of sensors, big data, geo-localisation, observational programmes such as Copernicus and GEOSS, satellite navigation and positioning services offered by EGNOS/Galileo, and citizens’ observatories.

Actions are expected to establish long-term sustainable data platforms securing open, consistent data on the impacts of the deployed approaches, and to ensure interoperability of relevant data infrastructures for effective communication, public consultation, and exchange of experiences.

An interdisciplinary approach, including the participation of applied natural sciences, social sciences and humanities disciplines (such as behavioural economics, gender studies, urban planning and governance) is considered crucial to properly address the complex challenges of this topic.

Proposals should pay attention to the special call conditions for this topic.

To enhance the impact and promote upscaling and replication of these solutions, actions should engage in substantial networking and training activities to disseminate their experience, knowledge and deployment practices to cities that are planning to design and implement similar solutions in a successive phase beyond the duration of the project. To enhance impact, cooperation and synergies with the activities undertaken within the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy initiative, and in particular the regional component for Europe(supported by the EC) should be sought where appropriate.

Furthermore, actions should envisage resources for clustering with other ongoing and future projects on sustainable cities through nature-based solutions funded under the 'Smart and Sustainable Cities' call in part 17 of the 2016-2017 Work Programme as well as under the topics SC5-20-2019 and SC5-14-2019 of this Work Programme. They should also ensure that there will be no duplication with work undertaken by relevant projects funded under the topic 'CO-CREATION-02-2016 - User-driven innovation: value creation through design-enabled innovation'.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • measurable reduction of materials, natural resource consumption and environmental footprint in urban and peri-urban areas;
  • measurable increase of the regenerative capacity of urban and peri-urban areas due to a measurable increase in material and natural resource creation in cities, as well as increased productivity through maximisation of (multi)-functional use and programming of urban spaces;
  • set of social behavioural, economic, environmental performance and geospatial indicators to monitor and assess the urban and peri-urban circularity and regenerative capacity;
  • local governance innovation in response to the needs and concerns of stakeholders and the affected public as well as boosted creativity and entrepreneurship related to circularity and regenerative processes;
  • the implementation of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan with a direct link to the urban fabric (built and public space), and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda's commitment to transition to a circular economy.

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • Clean Energy
  • Socio-economic science and humanities
  • Gender
  • Open Science
  • RRI
Date de candidature
Sciences sociales : Démographie, Economie, Sciences environnementales, Identités, genre et sexualités, Géographie, Science politique, Sociologie
Humanités : Anthropologie & Ethnologie