“An opportunity to build back better”

17 March 2021

Cities and the property sector must join forces to ensure investment in sustainable social infrastructure such as affordable housing, education and healthcare, Eurocities President Dario Nardella has told real estate leaders.

Speaking at the online MIPIM Leaders’ Perspectives Summit,  Nardella, Mayor of Florence, said that the Coronavirus pandemic has offered an opportunity to “build back better”, pointing to a need to close the widening gap on infrastructure investment in Europe.

“Even prior to the pandemic, the gap in social infrastructure investment was €142 billion per year,” said Nardella. “There is a real risk this gap might grow. We now have the chance to turn this crisis into an opportunity to build back better.”

Green, digital and social

Highlighting examples from Eurocities member cities, Nardella stressed the need for investments in affordable housing, education and healthcare infrastructure. Cities such as Berlin, Florence and Lyon have adopted a Housing First approach that has seen a massive increase in social housing construction.

“Investments in the green and digital transformation must go hand in hand with social investment. It is vital to boost investment from national and EU level in local social infrastructure. As mayors, we are also committing our local investments to this purpose,” said Nardella.

Sixty-five Eurocities members have pledged to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, pulling together financing for social investment worth over €14.5 billion as part of the InclusiveCities4all initiative.

Meeting climate targets

Nardella also touched on the role of housing to meet emissions reductions targets, telling the session that circular construction methods and a “mind shift” in building and renovation habits will help achieve climate goals set out in the European Green Deal.

He added: “We must join forces to deliver our goals of a fair, inclusive and sustainable recovery, leaving no-one behind.”

MIPIM is a conference hosted by Reed MIDEM that brings together key figures in international real estate and the property sector. The Leaders’ Perspectives Summit, from March 16-18, saw interventions from high-level property managers, CEOs and political figures.

Eurocities Secretary General, Anna Lisa Boni, said: “Right now, many of our cities across Europe are facing severe budget shortfalls. That’s why it is crucial, at events like MIPM, to share innovative tried and tested examples and understand how we can work better with businesses and others to overcome some of these challenges.”