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Empowering mayors to build sustainable and smart cities through Urban Learning Center 

Mayors play a critical role in shaping the economic, social, and environmental landscape of their cities. With rapid urbanization and the increasing demand for sustainable and smart cities, Mayors need to be equipped with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions that will benefit their communities in the long run. To this end, the Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) network has launched the Urban Learning Center (ULC), an initiative that aims to provide capacity-building and knowledge-sharing opportunities for municipalities. 

The ULC is an ecosystem that encompasses various programs and learning opportunities, knowledge management, and stakeholder engagement for the M4EG network. It seeks to help Mayors and their teams transform their cities with a focus on green and digital transitions, foresight, social and community listening, sensemaking, adaptive, and agile management. The ULC is envisioned as a platform for cooperation and learning among its members to support the development of sustainable, inclusive, and smart cities. 

The ULC aims to benefit around 350 local authorities over four years, offering training, capacity development, and knowledge exchange activities. At least 50 local authorities will be supported in developing Local Economic Development Plans based on the Mayors for Economic Growth methodology (more about the journey). 

Smart City course to be created among other learning modules

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United Nations Development Programme meeting in Istanbul, Turkey

Different learning modules that will be created within the project provide valuable knowledge, starting from Foundation and continued by Local Economic Development Plan 2.0 (LEDP); Transition, and Financing. These courses will be developed for mayors, municipal staff, and other stakeholders who seek to learn and implement best practices for urban development. The Foundation course is an introductory course, while the others delve deeper into local economic development plans, green transitions, and smart cities. 

Luiza Schuch de Azambuja, an Early Stage Researcher at FinEst Centre, and PhD student at Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance at TalTech, is part of the Urban Learning Center project. Her main role in the project is to support the development of the content for ULC.    

The FinEst Centre will be responsible for creating the content of the Smart City Module inside the Foundation course. Additionally, the Centre is developing a full Smart City course. By the end of May, it will be ready to be reviewed by the United Nations Development Progamme (UNDP) and translated into six languages. Launch of the course is planned for the second semester of 2023.


The Smart City course will be tailored to cities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. It will cover topics such as smart cities and related concepts, the importance of innovation, urban planning, partnerships, smart city governance, monitoring, and assessment of smart city initiatives. 

ULC aims to support economic growth and the well-being of communities 

The M4EG Facility operates through "Broad" and "Deep" actions. The Broad actions focus on strengthening the capabilities of local governments in designing and financing regional development, while the Deep actions focus on creating demonstration interventions and supporting local governments in attracting diverse investment for local development. 


The ULC is a significant contribution to the M4EG initiative, offering Mayors and municipal staff an opportunity to gain insights into best practices for urban development. By equipping Mayors with the knowledge and skills to build sustainable and smart cities, the ULC aims to support economic growth and the well-being of communities. 

Urban Learning Centre was launched in December 2022 by the European Union and United Nations Development Programme, partnering with FinEst Centre of Smart Cities, Arup, and Climate KIC.   

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