Sustainable development is a fundamental principle of the EU and promoting integrated sustainable urban development is a vital part of European Cohesion Policy. The integrated approach implies that various sectors of policies are being coordinated, different actors are broadly involved in policy-making, multi-level dialogue is taking place and daily policy-making is based on a vision and a strategy with proper follow-up mechanisms.
Many EU policy papers, initiatives, funding instruments and working groups like Aalborg Commitments, Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment, Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities 2007, Reference Framework for European Sustainable Cities and URBACT are all aiming at the same goal: promoting an integrated approach as a means for sustainable urban development.
Several tools, practices and structures have been developed to give this work a practical orientation. One of the strongest and most comprehensive of them is the Integrated Management System (IMS). It was firstly developed for Urban Sustainability Management but adjusted later on for Climate Change and for Spatial Planning (with quality of life approach).
Integrated Management System (IMS) for Sustainability and Climate Change
The IMS consists of five major steps repeated in annual cycles. Although the system follows an annual cycle, full revision will be required once per election period. Two cross-cutting elements need to be kept in mind throughout the steps of the cycle: involvement and communication as well as the organisational set-up.
The IMS model can be described as a journey with one step following the other. As a full management system it makes sure that the visions of climate strategies and sustainability programmes are turned into actions.
Integrated spatial planning
Integrated management system (IMS) can help in the establishment of structures used to better link different regional and municipal governing bodies in spatial planning and to facilitate cooperation across sectors and borders.
The IMS is a management cycle that helps take us through common planning and development processes in a more structured way. The various steps of the model enable common development visions and goals to be formulated together with different stakeholders.