JRC Webinar Series

The Future of Cities Webinar Series

#FutureofCities #UrbanFutures #EUcities

Date and time



The Future of Cities report identifies challenges influencing the future of cities in Europe and beyond. It also presents several perspectives from which to look at resolving these issues. It is an initiative of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the science and knowledge service of the European Commission (EC), supported by the Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO).

By taking stock of current knowledge and understanding of city systems, the report highlights potential pitfalls cities should avoid, and defines broad principles they should lean towards. It aims to foster discussion and help policy makers, individual cities and their citizens choose the best way forward.

The main urban challenges identified in the report concern: affordable housing, mobility, the provision of services, social segregation, ageing, climate action, the environmental footprint, and urban health. At the same time, it is illustrates that cities are uniquely equipped to tackle such challenges – the abundance of available physical space, a large and diverse population, a certain level of autonomy, and openness to technological advancements and innovation, to name but a few, may offer ways to relieve the pressures cities face.

With the completion of the stand-alone report, the work continues in the form of the publication of policy briefs, short documents that focus on a single urban issue, bringing together empirical knowledge and policy implications. Recent policy briefs focus on the topics of: EU Cities and Heat Extremes; Homelessness in the EU: Exploring Data and Policy Needs.

In this respect, the Future of Cities report and policy briefs benefit greatly from the collective intelligence put forward by the Members of the EC Community of Practice for Cities (CoP-CITIES). The CoP –CITIES brings together cities, city networks, academia and NGOs to share knowledge and expertise on urban issues, to anticipate potential challenges, and to generate scientific evidence for effective urban policies.

The future of cities is not set in stone and is not easy to predict, but the choices they make now will shape the lives of generations to come. Thus, the main aim is to raise open questions and steer discussions on what the future of cities can, and should be, both within the scientific and policymaker communities.

RSA Europe is pleased to be working with the EU Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) to deliver the 2024 webinar series on the Future of Cities. This series will feature three webinars:

Past Webinars and Links to Recordings

Watch recording here

Presentations from session: Silvia Iodice  Mat Santamouris

EU cities and heat extremes, Thursday 16th May 2024, 10.00-11.00 BST / 11.00-12.00 CEST

Speaker: Silvia Iodice, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Abstract: Heatwaves are one of the most concerning consequences of climate change, with record-breaking temperatures becoming more frequent and intense, and projected to continue. Extreme heat is partic

ularly alarming in cities, where it leads to the Urban Heat Island effect. This effect causes higher local temperatures and urban areas to become hotter than surrounding suburban regions and rural areas. This is connected to the presence of more sealed surfaces and higher density of both people and heat-emitting infrastructures. We need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit climate change. At the same time, we should adapt by diminishing exposure and vulnerability and increasing the overall resilience and adaptive capacity of cities. The deployment of green and blue infrastructures is one of the most effective measures to counteract the urban heat island effect. However, the combination of several strategies adapted to the local circumstances is the most powerful. This policy brief focuses on how to tackle severe heat in cities and provides recommendations, best practices and analytical tools that can be used by local authorities. Policy Brief

Speaker: Mat Santamouris, University of New South Wales, Australia

Abstract: Overheating of the Built Environment is the most documented phenomenon of climate change impacting the human life in many ways. This lecture will present the most recent developments on the magnitude and the characteristics of the urban overheating and the potential synergies with the global climatic change. It will analyse the latest qualitative and quantitative data on the impact of higher urban temperatures on the building’s energy supply and demand, heat related mortality, morbidity and wellbeing, human productivity, survivability of low-income population and environmental quality of cities. It will present and describe the state of the art on the development of innovative mitigation materials, advanced urban greenery, heat dissipation and evaporative techniques, as the main mitigation and adaptation technologies to offset the impact of urban overheating. It will analyse and present the current knowledge on the impact of each mitigation technology on energy, health, environmental quality, urban economy and survivability. Finally, it will present the main future challenges related to urban overheating and proposes a specific research agenda to alleviate and counterbalance its impact on human life.

Chair: Ellissavet Bargianni, Chief Heat Officer, Greece

Elissavet Bargianni is the head of Athens’ Resilience and Sustainability Department, where she has worked since 2018.  Her work for the city of Athens includes updating the Athens Climate Action Plan (2022) and participating in the EIB Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF) programme for the creation of four high-impact green and blue infrastructure city projects. Bargianni initiated feasibility and landscape studies of various public spaces of Athens, introduced methodology for new tree avenues, initiated GIS mapping and tree inventory for the National Garden and the city while at the Design Department of the Municipality’s Urban Nature Directorate.


Watch the recording here

Presentations from session: Aris Alvanos  Paola Proietti

There was limited time for Q&A at the end of webinar, if you wished to ask questions to any of the speakers, please click on their name below to send an email.

Homelessness in the EU: Exploring data and policy needs, Thursday 6th June 2024, 13.00-14.00 BST / 14.00-15.00 CEST

Abstract: The policy brief deals with the different faces of homelessness and explores the need for specific data and accompanying policies to address the phenomenon. It concludes that monitoring homelessness provides a basis for appropriate policy intervention. It is important to consider how different measurement techniques are likely to under- or over-represent various subgroups experiencing homelessness (e.g. women, youth or migrants). The smaller share of women in official homelessness statistics can be partly explained by differences in how homelessness is experienced by women, relative to men; how it is defined in official statistics; and how it is measured. In addition, the brief

explores forms of support to tackle youth homelessness that should take into account their specific needs, offer education and training opportunities, and focus on emotional development. Finally, the brief discusses the housing first approach that works under a person-centred approach and gives individuals a high degree of choice and control. It provides tailored support that addresses not only housing stability, but also other areas of life that may need attention.

The policy brief is based on contributions from the OECD, Eurocities, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) and academia.  This webinar is particularly relevant for policymakers, social service providers, non-governmental organizations, researchers, and anyone interested in developing effective strategies to address homelessness. Policy Brief

Agenda of the session


Moderator: Lewis Dijkstra, JRC

  • Q & A

Watch the recording here

Presentation from Patrizia Sulis

Inclusive cities fit for crises and long-term challenges, Thursday 20th June 2024, 14.00-15.00 BST / 15.00-16.00 CEST

Abstract: In a time defined by high urbanisation rates and looming or existing crises, it is critical to understand how cities can turn into places of resilience and strength, rather than become centres of vulnerabilities. Cities face several challenges today, starting from the unpredictability of climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how the magnitude and duration of disruptions are difficult to predict, challenging traditional risk-based management approaches to cope with crises. In this respect, resilience science has been taken up as it highlights the intricate, complex, and interdependent nature of urban systems. While a strict universal definition of resilience is lacking, it generally refers to the capacity to anticipate, withstand, adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses, such as natural disasters, economic downturns, public health crises, and social turmoil.

Very often, novel crises and emergencies tend to highlight and reveal long-existing, underlying problems. To increase resilience in an all-encompassing way, cities should focus on the deep-seated structural issues that hinder their capacity to adapt and thrive, such as inequality. In many urban areas, socioeconomic disparities are ingrained, with marginalised communities suffering most from crises. This policy brief is aimed at urban/local policymakers and stresses the need to consider inclusiveness in urban resilience. It discusses two (of the many) urban challenges that are periodically highlighted and exacerbated by new crises, such as energy poverty and service accessibility. The brief also offers some practical suggestions to develop an inclusive approach to a wider array of challenges derived from the programme Inclusive Climate Action Rotterdam. Policy brief.

Agenda of the Session

  • Welcome and introduction by Chair - Alessia Calafiore, University of Edinburgh
  • JRC Presenting the policy brief - Patrizia Sulis, JRC
  • Panel session with the policy brief's authors


    • Daniel Hogendoorn, City of Amsterdam
    • Juliana Gonçalves, TU Delft
    • Patrizia Sulis, JRC
    • Trivik Verma, TU Delft
  • Q&A & Conclusion


To view recordings from the 2023 Future of Cities webinar series, please click here.

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