The USUDS Project was an initiative of MedCities that brought together Mediterranean cities interested in building and developing urban sustainable development strategies. The project started in October 2011 and ran until October 2014. This project has evolved into a strategic working line of the MedCities Network.
The project was funded by the 1st call of standard projects of the program ENPI-CBC-MED, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID), Diputació de Barcelona, the Municipality of Barcelona and the Hariri Foundation as well as by its members. The Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona, acting as the General Secretariat of MedCities, was the project leader.
The creation of urban sustainable development strategies (UDS, also called City Development Strategies - CDS) in the Mediterranean region has gathered momentum in recent years because it is a powerful tool to promote growth, stability and development. CDS also reinforce decentralisation processes, and contributes to the consolidation of good practises in government. By enhancing the role of local authorities and fostering participation, CDS contribute to the consolidation of democratic transition processes, balancing territorial development and empowering citizens.
The Mediterranean region has become a region essentially urbanized. Most of the population lives in cities and this trend will continue, if not increase, in the coming years.
This fast urban growth has led to significant imbalances and dysfunctions at multiple levels: territorial, economic, social and environmental. In this context, the preparation of strategic plans for sustainable medium and long-term urban development of cities and their metropolitan regions is a growing need. This would allow effectively meet the challenges created by changes in the production and consumption system and the spatial extension of the area that is functionally urban.
In recent years, several Mediterranean cities have been putting together efforts in order to share knowledge and expertise and guarantee the promotion of new city development strategies and their implementation. Based on horizontal cooperation and networking, USUDS fostered best-practices sharing and joint cooperation to promote cities capacity to design and implement their plans for the future.
The Conference on Urban Development Strategies in the Mediterranean which took place in Barcelona, 14th-15th March 2011, organized by MedCities and relevant Spanish and international institutions, was a milestone in this respect. The cooperative approach of this network and its explicit willingness to generate positive synergies with other stakeholders working in the region sought to guarantee that all efforts are efficiently distributed in order to achieve the common goal to empower and promote Mediterranean cities in the new era the region is facing.