Edit 12 October 2022
by UIA Permanent Secretariat, AEIDL & Eutropian
Integrated development in action!
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Integrated territorial development and the EU policy context

This study focuses on good practices in the integrated territorial approach in the 86 Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) projects financed in the 2014-20 programme period.

The study is part of the overall UIA Knowledge Management Strategy, which emphasises the value of the knowledge generated by these 86 projects to contribute to the definition of the European Urban Initiative value chain. UIA has the aim of inspiring the potential content of actions in the preparation of the urban dimension of Cohesion policy 2021-2027 as regional operational programmes are negotiated and implemented.

UIA integrated development in Action !
Integrated developement in Action ! - UIA report

The European Urban Initiative (EUI) has as its overall objective  to strengthen integrated and participatory approaches to sustainable urban development, and to provide a stronger link to EU policies, and in particular to Cohesion policy and investments in urban areas as part of the funding earmarked for these areas under Article 11 of the ERDF/CF Regulation and beyond. The initiative aims to offer coherent support to cities to overcome the current landscape of manifold initiatives, programmes and instruments in support of cities under Cohesion policy. 

The first edition of UIA offers enormous potential to provide good practices in support of the EUI efforts on capacity building, innovation and knowledge. Therefore, it is important to elucidate the most effective ways to create a better understanding of the UIA projects, make them comprehensible in different European contexts and identify elements that can serve as a basis for capacity building for other cities.

European background

Integrated territorial approaches have been part of the delivery of cohesion policy since 1986 with the advent of the Integrated Mediterranean Programmes. These were followed up by Urban Pilot Projects from 1989-1993 and the two URBAN Community Initiatives from 1994-2006. Over the same period, there were successful efforts to combine ESF and ERDF measures in integrated priorities in some of the Objective 1, 2 and 5b regions with the aim of delivering a more integrated approach.  

In the previous  programming period 2014-20, the Article 7 for Integrated Sustainable Urban Development guaranteed a minimum of 5% of ERDF for integrated sustainable urban development (SUDs). It also introduced new territorial tools, in particular the Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI) and Community-led Local Development (CLLD). For the current programme period the new Article 11 for Integrated SUDs will guarantee a minimum of 8% of ERDF in each Member State. Article 29 of the common provisions Regulation requires that integrated strategies address identified development needs and strategies. Integrated Sustainable Urban Development will be supported by the European Urban Initiative (EUI) which combines capacity building, innovation and knowledge.

The Member States have supported urban actions through a series of policy documents including the two Leipzig Charters in 2007 and 2020 which have emphasised the integrated and participatory approaches as has the New European Bauhaus (see also the Bristol accord, the Urban Acquis, the Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas).The JRC has produced the Handbook of Sustainable Urban Development Strategies which also acts as a reference document for this study.  The JRC handbook and the Leipzig charter are key reference points for this study. For the future the New European Bauhaus offers new opportunity.

Our study

The integrated approach is frequently used as shorthand for integrated territorial development. However, whereas an integrated approach implies the combining or intersection of policy fields, what distinguishes integrated territorial development is its focus on integrated approaches within a territory at a particular scale. The scales most commonly referred to, for example, in the New Leipzig Charter are the neighbourhood, the municipality and the functional urban area. Within the UIA projects the closest approximation to the functional urban area is the metropolitan area, although these are not the same.  In general the UIA projects are focused on smaller territories than Article 7 integrated sustainable urban development approaches. 

There is no widely accepted definition of the principles or dimensions that make up Integrated territorial development. In this report we have used four principles:

  • Place-based approach - defining a territory and methods of analysis of the policy theme in that territory
  • Multi-stakeholder and multi-level partnership - bringing together relevant actors from the territory and in the vertical governance chain in order to integrate cross-sectoral policies 
  • Participative approach - using codesign and empowerment tools for working with citizens and their civil society organisations
  • Cross-sectoral approach - bringing together relevant policy fields to address the problem being tackled in the territory.

These four principles were examined across four project phases: co-design, implementation, evaluation and scaling up.

Research questions were agreed for the four project phases: co-design, implementation, evaluation and scaling-up.

Co-design phase

  • How were the main principles of the integrated approach defined and embedded not only at the level of the single project but more generally in the overall policymaking process?
  • How to create conditions to nurture and develop integrated and innovative solutions? 

Implementation phase

  • What are the concrete implications for urban authorities to deliver complex and bold urban projects taking into account the four principles?

Evaluation phase

  • How can the integrated territorial approach be monitored and evaluated?
  • How did the project assess the added value of the integrated territorial approach? 

Scaling up and transfer phase

  • How can projects be upscaled and develop a long-term sustainability?
  • Will the main urban authority apply the same place-based approach in the future?

Further research questions were defined for each principle within each phase; these are explored in sections 1-4 which deal with each of the four principles, as well as with evaluation and scaling up in sections 5 and 6.

The study is organised around the four main principles that when combined can deliver integrated territorial development. In simple terms, integrated territorial development to a particular challenge combines policies across all relevant sectors on a specific territory or place, by bringing together a multi-level and multi-stakeholder partnership using tools that engage with citizens and users wherever possible. 

Each of the following chapter of the report deals with one of these four principles. In addition, two chapters cover evaluation, scaling-up and transfer of innovative project approaches. In each chapters 1-4 the issues regarding the four principles in integrated territorial development are discussed. Boxes are used to go into greater detail on selected case studies relating to the section. The case studies can be found at the end of the report.


The study team deployed a case study approach and in consultation with UIA PS decided to focus on 12 cases. To select the cases, the study team scored all 86 projects across 9 criteria to identify high- quality projects across the four principles. This produced a long list of 20 projects. 12 were finally selected with attention being given to geographical balance, a good mix of thematic topics, the size of cities, and types of partnerships being addressed.

Hearings with the 12 selected UIA project teams were organised in January 2022 during pathfinder interviews with project coordinators. The hearings themselves were carried out in February and March 2022. Most hearings comprised three different two hour sessions and featured a broad participation from different parts of the partnership. The first session was normally with the projects’ core team. The second with the wider partnership including end beneficiaries where possible and finally the third session dealt with technical and other specific aspects such as evaluation and scaling up.

Overview of the 12 selected case studies that best illustrate the integrated territorial development approach
Overview of the 12 selected case studies that best illustrate the integrated territorial development approach