The annual EURA conference has been and, hopefully, will continue to be the ‘heartbeat’ and meeting point for our organisation and urban researchers committed to international exchange. Therefore, it was with deep disappointment we had to cancel the Oslo conference in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic The conference was still implemented a year later as a smaller but rather successful online event. We experienced how online sharing of research and networking could function even though it was not possible to gather in person. However, at this year’s conference in Milan we want to meet.
The aim of the Oslo conference was to re-examine the roles that cities take in coping with contemporary challenges and contradictions, and through our contributions discuss how we approach these contradictions to shape urban futures. This topic is still highly relevant.
At the same time as the world experiences serious climate change, we have to cope with two other crises that are dramatically changing urban life. The unpredicted pandemic, and its continuing and shifting turns, have spurred national and urban authorities to impose severe restrictions on their populations with unexpected implications for urban and regional developments. The war in Ukraine imposes new unforeseen trials, first and foremost on the Ukrainian people, but also on Europe. The millions of refugees are one of the most important tasks that European cities have to cope with, from the moment the Ukrainians cross the borders.
There is a red line connecting the focus on contradictions shaping urban futures that we discussed at the Oslo conference to the themes of fragility and antifragility that will shape our exchanges at the EURA Conference in Milan on 16-18 June.
From their different points of departure, the global climate change crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Russian-Ukrainian war highlight how taken for granted ways of doing things can be confronted by unforeseen, unwanted, and ongoing events that can be difficult to control. Together, these developments have exacerbated the role of uncertainty and risk in our societies, accelerating and challenging dynamics that were already at play.
Post-pandemic recovery plans and the ongoing war in Europe are having a major impact on cities and, inevitably, they lay down new challenges for all EURA members. Our research agendas need, somehow, to adapt to these new uncertainties. The new and unexperienced European reality is forcing us to pose new questions for our research themes and reassess conceptual frames to make sense of the emerging urban world through our research. In this context, international, academic, multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary urban research and debate is needed more than ever.
The EURA 2022 Conference in Milan is planned as a face-to-face event. The ambition is to develop our network through sharing of research, discussing and socializing with other dedicated urban researchers. The need for networking, conversations, dialogues, debates, and discourses are critically important, even more in these difficult times, reminding us that the objective of EURA – since it was founded in 1997 – is to play an active part in shaping urban agendas through our research, no matter how hard and complex, and no matter in what way we have to adjust to challenging times.