National Urban Policy: Europe and North America
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National Urban Policy: Europe and North America Report

The purpose of this report is to assess the development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of national urban policy in Europe and North America. Surveying the experience of countries throughout this region, and highlighting both minor and major case studies, the report emphasizes the diversity of national urban policy characteristics on a regional level, but also identifies certain key regional characteristics. They include: a strong commitment to developing urban policy at national level; the widespread existence of national and regional development plans; an emphasis on balanced regional development, sometimes including restraint on growth of major cities; revitalization of urban areas as a recurrent goal; the frequent encountering of challenges in implementation, resulting in some cases in a perceived lack of impact; and the effects of government retrenchment and austerity in restraining innovation in urban policy.

Also evident among those countries that are member states of the European Union (EU), is the general influence of the EU on development of urban policy in the region through for instance various directives and the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities. This influence is complemented by the broader importance of policy learning in cross border contexts. At the same time, weight must also be given to the influence of particular historical and political circumstances in varying states. Case studies have demonstrated the importance of these variables.

In reviewing the regional overview and case studies, and considering all of these variations, the report’s conclusions reinforce the need, in any case where NUP is being contemplated, for a period of patient building of political will.

The report is part of a series of five regional reports assessing the state of national urban policies that complement the Global State of National Urban Policies Report, conducted in collaboration between UN-Habitat and the OECD. These studies are timely, as they follow up on Habitat III and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, and accompany the Second International Conference on National Urban Policy, to be held in Paris, France in May 2017.