February 2024

Shaping Our Cities: Key Takeaways from the Latest AGORA Dialogue

The DUT partnership organises regular AGORA dialogues, a forum that brings together experts to discuss emerging issues, trends and innovations in urban planning. Explore takeaways from our latest AGORA Dialogue, held on the 30th of January 2023. Participants’ contributions may shape the next DUT funding call, which will be launched in September 2024.


A global opportunity for collaboration and learning

Our latest AGORA was planned across two time zones, attracting and reaching participants based outside Europe. But this isn’t the first time that DUT has expanded its horizons beyond Europe. Already in 2023, Canada and South Korea became part of the DUT call, which meant that participants from these two countries could also collaborate on projects and submit their project proposals to the 2023 call.

On this occasion, the Dialogue hosted participants from Colombia, Egypt, South Africa and Taiwan, among others, who joined online. Our guest speaker, Nicole Arbour, Executive Director of the Belmont Forum, gave some welcoming remarks, introducing her partnership of research founders and encouraging global research efforts.

Discussions were underpinned by our stakeholder consultation results, a survey open for contributions since December 2023. Lena Zeisel, Associate to the in 15-minute City team at DUT, shared first hand insights into the survey, which gathered 261 answers from 34 countries.

These inputs set the direction of our AGORA plenary discussions and breakout sessions on Positive Energy Districts, 15-minute City and Circular Urban Economies. As attendees discussed and refined priorities for the three main themes in DUT, they also took the opportunity to share insights and strategically co-create the DUT programme priorities.


Highlights from our latest AGORA dialogue

Our challenges within the Circular Urban Economies Transition Pathway are diverse, but some highlighted the need to improve water management in our cities and to protect biodiversity.

To preserve biodiversity in our cities, we need to go beyond the creation of recreational areas and may need cities to redevelop existing areas. In this sense, participants saw the value of bringing new perspectives and business opportunities linked to green and blue infrastructure.

The 15-minute City Transition Pathway places a high priority on the mobility of children and young people. However, the focus of research and innovation should go beyond schools and look holistically at children’s mobility needs.

Addressing mobility needs with an intersectional lens is essential to achieve a just and sustainable urban mobility transition. Participants also see the importance of deepening methods for cross-sectoral policy evaluation.

Several key themes emerged from the Positive Energy Districts Pathway, including the need for innovative green financing models and incentives in the face of falling energy costs.

The importance of capacity building and skill development in participatory decision-making within communities is highlighted. Collaboration and private sector involvement are crucial for organized decarbonization, emphasizing implementability and support for ‘beyond project’ mechanisms.

Data-driven decision-making is emphasised, with a focus on relevant indicators and regulatory aspects to ensure privacy-conscious data provision. There is also a consistent commitment to providing incentives to marginalised and vulnerable communities in the energy transition, reflecting a holistic approach to equitable and sustainable PEDs.


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AGORA Strategic Dialogue 2024