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Poland launches the Urban Agenda to support sustainable cities

Poland announced its new Urban Agenda, aimed at improving the quality of life of residents and supporting cities in their transition towards sustainability and climate neutrality.

Cities are a particularly sensitive area, serving as a focal point for all the most pressing environmental challenges of our times. In particular, Poland has a high level of urbanisation, with 60.06 per cent – or 23.3 million people – of the country’s total population living in urban areas and cities as of 2018.

“Heatwaves and urban heat islands, heavy rainfall and the resulting flash floods, hurricane winds: these are the threats we have to face,” said the Minister of Climate Michał Kurtyka at the launching event of the Urban Agenda. “Thus, increasing our resilience to climate change is a challenge of utmost importance, which will determine the safety and the quality of life of the city dwellers, while creating an opportunity and potential for more sustainable development. The pursuit of climate neutrality requires us to go back to the drawing board when it comes to the functioning of our cities.”

For several years, Poland has been undertaking intensive measures to support the sustainable and pro-climate transition of cities. Under the slogan Let’s feel the climate, the Polish government worked with 44 of the country’s most populous cities to increase their resistance to climate change.

“We not only support good planning at a local level, but we also provide specific financial instruments to support urban policy,” Mr Kurtyka added. “In recent years, cities have received several hundred million złotys for the implementation of projects concerning rainwater management and development of urban greenery from both the national budget and EU funds, which we earmarked accordingly. All of this resulted in specific projects being carried out in cities, which brought about a marked improvement of safety and comfort of the life of their residents, in particular when it comes to rainwater management.”

The Urban Agenda of the Minister of Climate aims at expanding the activities and measures, which have been carried out to date, as well as at integrating and adjusting the tools accordingly so as to increase their effectiveness and efficiency.

Four are the key points of the Urban Agenda: highlighting best practices, that will culminate in the organisation of the Climate City contest with an award for the best project aimed at protecting the city and adapting it to climate change; launching additional support tools, including a competition for green and blue urban infrastructure and additional financing for urban investments. Furthermore, the Agenda will focus on simplify the regulations and the existing programmes and work out specific solutions.

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