The Antwerp Statement is a very important step forward in recognising the essential role of cities in paving the way for a sustainable future in Europe.
Despite the statement accurately includes ports as vectors for such model of development, I find that the full potential for cities to play a key role in developing nature-based solutions to climate change is unexploited. I would add a paragraph on the importance of cities in developing adaptation plans to cope with climate change impacts and be at the forefront of the new Europe that protects.
Climate risk affects people in Europe unevenly, both in geographic and economic terms. Central, Eastern and Southern European Member States are more vulnerable to climate-related disasters. On the other hand, those sectors of society with less resources available (such as low-income households, young farmers or SMEs) are also more vulnerable to potential economic losses. As climate-related disasters become more frequent and more severe, insurance to protect assets and properties become less affordable for these sectors.
Using urban planning and transformation to develop nature-based solutions to climate impacts is a key element of this attempt to protect those vulnerable groups and minimise geographic and socioeconomic inequalities. Cities would therefore need better, simpler and more transparent access to EU funds in order to develop capacity to draft adaptation and resilience plans, complemented with capital-raising plans to fund those reforms needed. Such plans would inform EU Member States at the time of developing national plans and build a bottom-up, resilient Europe that protects its citizens.