Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC)


European cities are the driving forces of the economy and of innovation, but they are also the homes of environmental and social challenges.

Nowadays, local representatives and practitioners have to consider various dimensions of urban life – environment, economy, social affairs and governance – in an integrated way when implementing public projects. For example, plans concerning urban renewal must be combined with measures promoting economic development, social inclusion and environmental protection. This approach includes the development of strong partnerships between local citizens, civil society, the local economy and the various levels of government.

The Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC)
The Reference Framework for Sustainable Cities (RFSC) is an online toolkit ( for local European authorities that are involved in or are willing to start a process of integrated and sustainable urban development. The main objective of the toolkit is to enhance the dialogue within a city and with peer cities tackling the same issues all across Europe.

Based on a checklist of 25 questions and a large database of indicators, the toolkit offers practical support to:
  • Develop an urban strategy or project which takes into account all fields of sustainable urban development;
  • Check the ongoing strategies or projects in a given city and inform about the interactions (positive or negative) of the different policy sectors;
  • Monitor the progress of a strategy over a certain period of time.

Moreover, the toolkit offers access to different forms of exchange and support (training sessions, peer learning with other cities, showcase catalogue).

The toolkit was designed by and for cities, and can be used at various scales - from the neighbourhood level to the wider metropolitan level. It is free of charge and does not require any specific commitment from the cities. It is now available in 17 languages.

What is CEMR's role in the project?

CEMR has been involved in the development of the RFSC from its beginning in 2008. It is now a member of the RFSC Consortium together with Platform 31 (lead partner) and ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability. The Consortium's role is to disseminate and promote the toolkit. It is financed by the European Commission Directorate General for Regional policy for a two-year period. CEMR in particular is responsible for the RFSC's helpdesk and secretariat.  

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