Sustainable Cities

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The climate change imperative has put the spotlight on Europe's cities, which are home to 80% of Europeans and consume a disproportionate share of natural resources relative to their surface area. 

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Overview

The European Commission considers cities to be at the heart of EU sustainable development efforts (EurActiv 13/06/07). It January 2006, it launched a 'Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment'. 

The strategy, one of seven thematic strategies in the Commission's 6th Environment Action Programme (6th EAP), is limited in scope since the EU does not have direct competence in urban affairs. Nonetheless, EU sectoral policies in the areas of transport, environment and social affairs can have a significant impact on cities. 

EU ministers responsible for urban and spatial development have also attempted to lay the foundations for a European urban policy with the signature on 24 May 2007 of the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities (EurActiv 24/05/07). And in January 2008, nearly 100 mayors from across Europe signed up to a Commission-backed Covenant of Mayors, which consists of a commitment by the cities' leaders to go beyond the EU's own stated aim of slashing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.

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