07:00 EST
13:00 CET
15:00 Istanbul

RBEC: Urban Shifts – Transformations and Their Narratives

Webinar Virtual

[ A summary of this session exists on the blog: Part One (Intro & Kirsten Dunlop) / Part Two (Leaders Dialogue) ]

Cities play an important role in the economy of countries in Europe and Central Asia (ECA), they provide 70% of GDP and 70% of the growth. They consume 75% of the resources and account for 60-80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. They are at the forefront of addressing systemic risks, like climate and have been at the forefront of the COVD-19 pandemic. The pandemic has most recently surfaced their vulnerability, the need for heightened resilience and is likely to have a long term impact on structural aspects, spatial distribution and organization of our cities. Cities are also at the forefront of addressing issues like climate change, inequality and taking on board new technologies.

Eastern European cities still exhibit physical, social and cultural remnants from the socialist or even pre-socialist past of urban development. They also suffer from a confluence of socio-economic factors. The outmigration of ECA countries, and negative natural population balances have resulted in a strong population decline, affecting in particular economically lagging secondary and small cities. Cities & towns in the region are systemically under-resourced, require deep retrofits, are exposed to some of the highest pollution rates, and suffer from low capacity in public administration & imbalanced development.

In the context of Europe and Central Asia, the question is how to achieve urban transformation, modernization and the associated opportunities as part of the commitment to the Association Agreements and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas, processes which link the region to the European Union. For some states, strategic partnership with the EU could offer a ‘fast-track’ for the acceleration of progress towards transformational social and economic change whilst also ensuring those changes are inclusive. Such partnerships are especially important in light of new risks – whether pandemic like events, climate change, or the fourth industrial revolution.

It is precisely for this reason that urban transformation is at the heart of UNDP’s development work, the new offer on urban change and the new partnership with the European Commission on the roll-out of the portfolio approach at the city level.



This dialogue will build on the emergent practice and body of knowledge around new ways of addressing urban transformation, models and financing mechanisms.

How can UNDP and its partners keep a finger on the pulse, and to continue to adapt and enable transformation?

The purpose of the session will be to:
  • Highlight the new paradigms and holistic models that are emerging around urban transformation, and the role that narratives play in it;
  • Demonstrate through practice how are cities balancing green and blue development, towards climate neutrality;
  • Discuss financing models, new capabilities and partnerships required to address the complex and interdependent nature of the challenges in urban spaces.


 Proposed Format of the Event and Agenda

 The regional dialogue is scheduled for February 22, 2021 between 7-8.15am EST or 1-2.15pm CET.  The moderator for the event is Shada Islam. The provisional agenda is as follows: 

07.00-07.05am Opening and framing – Ms. Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, Regional Director for Europe and CIS (RBEC) 

Setting the stage: introducing the frame for Europe and Central Asia, introducing the speakers 

07.05-07.15am Signals of change: New models of transformation 

  • Kirsten Dunlop – CEO of Climate KIC

Questions to be addressed: What are the new models of urban transformation that are emerging? What are the key enabling conditions & role of policy-makers to support transitioning to more sustainable futures?


07.15-08.10am Leaders’ Dialogue: The art of the possible and new urban futures

  • H.E. Mr. Aureliu Ciocoi, Acting Prime Minister, Republic of Moldova
  • Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator
  • Ms. Fatma Sahin, Mayor of Gaziantep and President of the Union of Municipalities in Turkey
  • Mr. Edin Forto, Prime Minister, Canton of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Dr. Josianne Cutajar, MEP, Member of the European Parliament

Questions to be addressed: What are the key needs experienced at the urban level? How are leaders and mayors building social and environmental resilience in cities, to withhold future shocks? What is the role that multilateral organizations are ready to play to finance long term resilience, renewal capability and transformation?

08.10-08.15 Closing, RBEC Regional Director