For the first time in history, more than 50% of the world’s population now live in urban areas. By 2050, about 70% of people are likely to be city dwellers, compared with less than 30% in 1950 (UN Population Division, 2010). Coupled with the impact of climate change, this period of unprecedented urban growth is creating enormous environmental challenges for European cities from the loss of urban biodiversity.
With this figure forecast to rise, the demand for increasingly scarce natural resources continues to escalate. Cities consume 75% of the world’s natural resources, 80% of the global energy supply and produce approximately 75% of the global carbon emissions.
In this scenario the TURAS project was born in 2011 with the aim of enable European cities and the surrounding rural areas to build resilience in the face of significant sustainability challenges. TURAS brought urban communities and businesses together with local authorities and researchers to enable adaptive governance, collaborative decision-making and behavioural change in order to facilitate local authorities and communities in the transition process. Partners from 16 countries researched, demonstrated and disseminated transition strategies and scenarios to enable European cities and their rural interfaces to build vitally-needed resilience.
11 European cities (Brussels, Dublin, London, Rome, Sofia, Ljubljana, Nottingham, Malaga, Rotterdam, Stuttgart and Aalborg) were involved in the pilot studies of TURAS. They addressed issues such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, natural resource shortage, urban sprawl, green infrastructure, short-circuit economies and community participation in areas such as temporary usage of derelict sites and buildings. Each city focused on a particular strand of research before coming together at the end of the five years with an integrated approach to urban resilience and sustainability. In Malaga, for example, the urban solid waste management practices of the city were evaluated by BIOAZUL according to the Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) concept.