Sustainable Urban Development

The last economic and financial crisis has heavily threatened European and other economies around the globe. Also, the Eurozone crisis, the energy and climate change crises, challenges of demographic change with high unemployment rates, and the most recent conflicts in the Ukraine and the near East or the Ebola virus disease in Africa threaten the wealth of our societies in different ways. The inability to predict or rapidly deal with dramatic changes and negative trends in our economies and societies can seriously hamper the wealth and prosperity of the European Union and its Member States as well as the global networks. These societal and economic challenges demonstrate an urgent need for more effective and efficient processes of governance and policymaking, therewith specifically addressing crisis management and economic/welfare impact reduction.

Therefore, investing in the exploitation of innovative information and commu- nication technology (ICT) in the support of good governance and policy modeling has become a major effort of the European Union to position itself and its Member States well in the global digital economy. In this realm, the European Union has laid out clear strategic policy objectives for 2020 in the Europe 2020 strategy1: In a changing world, we want the EU to become a smart, sustainable, and inclusive economy. These three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity, and social cohesion. Concretely, the Union has set five ambitious objectives—on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion, and climate/energy—to be reached by 2020. Along with this, Europe 2020 has established four priority areas—smart growth, sustainable growth, inclusive growth, and later added: A strong and effective system of eco- nomic governance—designed to help Europe emerge from the crisis stronger and to coordinate policy actions between the EU and national levels.

To specifically support European research in strengthening capacities, in overcom- ing fragmented research in the field of policymaking, and in advancing solutions