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Urban green growth could help beat EU crisis: officials

(Xinhua)

13:39, March 23, 2012

COPENHAGEN, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Investing in green urban growth in Europe could help pull the 27-member European Union (EU) out of economic crisis, said high officials at the Fifth Summit of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), which opened here Thursday.

The summit, entitled "The European urban fabric in the 21st century," highlights European cities historic role as centers of creativity and innovation, and their capacity to create new jobs in the green economy.

"We must remember that innovation is made in cities and that a green economy can help cities create new jobs and activities," said CoR President Mercedes Bresso.

"Investing in the green economy can help save energy, materials, water and also money. So, sustainable development is a way to get out of crisis with new ideas and technologies," she told Xinhua in an interview Thursday.

Copenhagen Lord Mayor Frank Jensen, who is hosting the CoR summit, said 85 percent of the EU's gross domestic product (GDP) is generated in its cities, and backed investment in green industries as the way out of the EU's economic crisis.

"We have specific responsibilities: we have to get growth going and create jobs, especially for young people who are suffering high levels of unemployment," he told journalists at the summit.

The ongoing summit aims to adopt a Copenhagen Declaration on the future role of urban development in regions and cities, and on urban sustainable development.

Outcomes will be presented at the UN Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in Brazil, on June 20-22, which the CoR will attend as part of the EU delegation, Bresso said.

Europe has a history of urban overcrowding, but has emerged in recent decades as among the most urbanized places on earth, which also enjoys a high standard of living. As such, Bresso believes developing countries can learn from the European experience.

"I think developing countries should try to define a good size of city, and to try to help the organization of these cities, and that can be a way to avoid environmental problems for the future," she added.

Established in 1994, the CoR is a political assembly providing EU regions and localities with a voice in EU policy and legislation, and must be consulted by the EU Commission on matters affecting regional interests, such as public health and economic cohesion.

Running Thursday to Friday, the fifth CoR summit is attended by Mayors of municipalities and Presidents of regions across Europe. They will share best practices on urban development, and discuss how European cities can reinvent themselves social and economically, through good urban planning.

The CoR has identified Copenhagen as a good model of urban regeneration, that has developed from a center of heavy, energy intensive industries, to one hosting clean-technology and life science clusters, and which aims to become the world's first carbon neutral city by 2025.

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