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The Asia Urbs Programme is one of decentralised (city-to-city) co-operation with elements of technical and economic co-operation, capacity building, partnership development, good governance, and poverty alleviation. Pilot projects are co-funded by the Programme and encouraged to exchange information and experience through networking and Asia Urbs Seminars. In this way, the Programme aims to promote the lessons learned from mature pilot projects and to initiate the development of new urban partnership projects. There is also scope for replicating successful projects, and promoting South-South co-operation. Click here for information about the structure or background of the Programme.

The Programme awards grants (co-funding) to local governments for studies, or development or information-sharing projects; and it encourages networking between these projects for sharing knowledge and experience in urban issues.

Areas of Co-operation
The project proposals submitted for funding should fall into one or more of the four broad Areas of Co-operation. These cover most aspects of urban life and municipal planning. However, the project should always be well targeted and benefit the local community either directly or by strengthening the capacity of the local authority.

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Only local governments may apply for a grant and only if they have formed a partnership of at least two local governments from the EU and at least one from Asia. Other, non-governmental, organisations may be included in a project proposal but as only Associated Partners.

It is the responsibility of the local governments and other organisations to find their international Partners to form a Partnership before applying to the Asia Urbs Programme. However, there is a self-help an Asia Urbs Partner Search Database which may be freely used.

Once a year there will be a Call for Proposals from the Asia Urbs Programme with at least one deadline; grant applications should be submitted within the timeframes given. See How to Apply.

Through a series of seminars and informal networking, young and mature projects are given the opportunity to learn from each other. Some seminars are devoted to establishing this networking activity and others are directed towards sharing more technical information and discussing issues pertinent to urban development, especially in Asia. For more information see Events section of this website.
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Asia Urbs is especially aimed to encourage local governments to join forces, share experience and knowledge, and effect a project in conjunction with civil society organisations. This open partnership approach brings a greater chance of involving the local communities in improving their urban environment, contributes to the sustainability of the activities, and improves understanding between people and organisations at a local as well as an international level.

The Programme objectives are:
  • to provide co-funding to local government partnerships to undertake urban development projects
  • to encourage the networking of these projects to share knowledge and experience
However, the ultimate goals are to provide capacity building for Local Government, to involve Civil Society in decision-making, and to encourage an approach to urban management in a sustainable way - environmentally, socially, and economically.
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The Programme was launched in 1998 with a budget for project funding of  26.2 million for a planned duration of three years. In 2001 the European Commission extended the duration to 2005 and China was added to the list of eligible countries. By May 2002, out of the original budget of  26.2 million available for grant awards,  18.6 million had been committed to 50 projects. In 2003, a Fourth Call for Proposals was launched and an additional   6 million made available, bringing the funding available for use in 2003 to   10 million.
Strategic design
The Asia Urbs Programme was established by the European Union as an instrument of decentralised co-operation (city-to-city) (EU) in 1998. Its formulation followed the New EU Strategy Toward Asia released by the European Commission in 1994 where the main objectives were to promote mutual understanding between Asia and Europe, to support the alleviation of poverty, and to develop economic partnerships. (This strategy was revised and updated in 2001 as Europe and Asia: A Strategic Framework for Enhanced Partnerships).
It also developed in the wake of the Rio Summit in 1992 where international recognition was given to the need for civil society and local authorities to work closely together in the creation of effective policies and programmes for sustainable development. Known as 'Local Agenda 21' this recognition lead to fresh initiatives at a local level. (Some results of the global progress of local activities under LA21 can be found at: The Asia Urbs Programme has been designed to be able to support similar initiatives.
The future
The Asia Urbs Programme is currently undergoing an Evaluation exercise to help determine its future and the design of a possible 'Phase II'. The Fourth and final Call for Proposals under Phase I, was launched in February and applications will be received for two deadlines in 2003.

Project Holder: Auroville's Future
In partnership with: Municipality of Cologne ; Municipality of Venice
Approved by the European Union under the Asia Urbs Programme.
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Total Budget:
Eur 732,728.00
Contribution by European Community:
Eur 471,284.00
Total Contribution by Partners:
Eur 261,444.00
- Contribution by Auroville:
Eur 130,328.00
- Contribution by Venice:
Eur 68,500.00
- Contribution by Cologne:
Eur 62,616.00
Project Duration:
2 years
Starting Date:
10th April 2001
The project will create an Auroville Municipal Management Facility consisting of a building, equipment and human resources where the activities of the present urban and regional development services of Auroville can be integrated, co-ordinated and enhanced in a more effective way. The project is subdivided into several activities of researches, communication and exchanges, training, and direct action upon municipal and town planning services. All the actions are unified under a common vision aiming at the growth of Auroville and at the diffusion in the region of the experience, of the know-how and the capacity acquired. The different activities of the project can be grouped into the following sections:

The place will constitute a centre for exchange of experiences and communication between Indian and Europeans experts, technicians, administrators and students involved in the sustainable development of cities. It will have a fully equipped conference room, a multimedia centre cum library with documentation on town planning, urban challenges in India, Asia and the world and offices for the planning/development urban services. Construction of the building will be completed in one year's time from the commencement of the project. The Centre will undertake the following activities:

I. A program of several workshops with the participation of foreign experts from Cologne and Venice, especially addressed to district and civic officers from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Members of other organisations working in the area will attend the workshops also. One of these workshops will be held in Cologne. The topics for the workshops will be:
- Innovative waste management
- Innovative water management
- Innovative energy planning at municipal level
- Innovative traffic management and alternative transport
- Innovative town planning


II. The Center will provide facilities and documentation for individual researches (Indian and European students) on topics related to urbanisation, sustainable growth of cities and the diffusion of appropriate technologies in city development.

III. A purse will be arranged for an Indian student to prepare a thesis on matters related to urban sustainable development and appropriate technologies.

IV. An exhibition will be held in Venice dedicated to activities undertaken by Auroville under Asia-Urbs.

V. Publications and exhibitions will be made as a support to the workshops and the other activities of the project and as part of outreach, diffusion and dissemination activities.


In order to ensure a better co-ordination of the municipal services and also to provide a point of reference for the area, the head-office of the main utilities will be hosted in the same building of the centre for urban development. The municipal services will undertake the following activities:
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I. Town Planning: One detailed Auroville Master Plan will be produced at the end of the program and will include many indications and inputs received during the various activities undertaken with this proposal. The master plan will be elaborated also with the collaboration of experts sent by the partners and with the participation of Indian consultant town planners and architects hired for two years.

II. Energy: Preparation of a Municipal Energy Plan (After evaluation of the present pattern of energy consumption) with recommendations at town planning level to improve grid performances and to promote a more diffused consumption of renewable energy.

III. Preparation of a Master Plan for Future Installation of Low Tension and High Tension Lines cum pre-feasibility study for the installation of an electrical sub-station.

IV. Training: 10 young people of the nearby region will be trained every year as electricians. Some of the trainees will be employed by the Auroville Electrical Service.


V. Solar Energy: Auroville will display and demonstrate solar systems in various centres and in nearby villages and public buildings. It is forecasted to provide demonstrations to 1,000 people in about two years. The demonstrations will be followed by training programs.

VI. Training: 10 training programs of one month each for 10 local students as well as students sent by other organisations from other parts of India will be undertaken.

VII. Urban watershed management: A pre-feasibility study will be prepared in collaboration with international consultants on the proposed plans for water management in Auroville.

VIII. Waste Water management: A plan for the installation of various decentralised treatment plants for the treatment of wastewater will be undertaken. The Center for Urban Development studies will be equipped with one of these plants as a demonstration unit.


IX. Water and Environmental Monitoring: The laboratory of the Auroville Water Service will be upgraded with new equipment, including one Gas Chromatograph and two Global Positioning System (GSP) rover units which will enable locating with accuracy each spot which has been sampled, thus allowing the creation of a computer model to understand the progress of the pollution. The lab will be equipped also with an atomic absorption spectrophotometer to be used mainly for soil analysis. The laboratory is planning to undertake an extensive program of monitoring activities in Auroville and the surrounding villages for pollution control in soil, water and food, that will include: Analysis of 250 samples of water per month collected over an area 120 sqkm corresponding to 70 per cent of the local water supply, 100 analyses per month of milk and dairy products, food samples, fruits, vegetables and locally processed and packed food, and 150 soil tests per month on pesticides contamination, chemically hazardous waste, PCB phenols, heavy metals, etc.


X. Auroville Urban Greenwork: The Auroville Greenwork Service will undertake the following activities for the greening of Auroville city area:

XI. Plantation of 13 acres of parks, 9 acres of green corridors and 4.5 km of avenue trees.

XII. Development of 3,000 sqm of catchment's ponds, 10,000 ms. of bunding and 700 cbm of check-dams.

XIII. Setting up a green city service nurseries, garden equipment and personnel for the development of green areas in the city and the region.

XIV. Training: 15 people per year, during two years will be trained in gardening and urban landscaping.

Project Title:

(IND - 2 - 18)
 The project web site:
Project Holder:
Auroville's Future
In partnership with:

Approved by the European Commission on 3rd July 2001
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Total Budget:
Eur 636,138
Contribution by European Community:
Eur 413,490
Total Contribution by Partners:
Auroville, Venice, Paris and Treviso:
Eur 222,648
Project Duration:
12 months
Starting Date:
1st October 2001

The scope of the project is to provide a base and opportunities for sharing experiences of best practices in the field of sustainable urban management and cultural human integration to Asia-Urbs winners and other European and Indian cities. Its purpose is to increase the capacity of interactions and networking between European and Indian cities and to start a system of information and exchange among them. The project will target Asia-Urbs winners, other EU cities, Indian metropolitan cities, middle-size Indian towns, NGOs and Indian professional association. The activities of the project are grouped under the following three main areas:
  • A Conference will be organized in Auroville where a selected delegation of Asia-Urbs project holders, Indian and EU cities, NGOs and Professional association will be invited. The total attendance to this conference is planned to be about 60 delegates. The conference will focus on Sustainable Urban Development and Cultural and Human Integration. The conference will spread over three days, plus two more days that will be dedicated to individual (bi-lateral) meetings between participants in order to discuss issues of common interest and/or to site visits.
    Each city delegate will present a paper on the issues related to the main theme of the conference and where their cities have a special concern or made a relevant progress. There will be also overview papers on:
    • Settlement Development in a Sustainable Environment
    • Integral choices for sustainable development through Human Collaboration
    • Urban/Rural integrated planning - Innovations and techniques
    • Urban/Rural integrated design perspectives for the New Millennium
    • Integrating eco-friendly practices in infrastructure planning and management
    • Information system for sustainable development
    • Community participation and social integration in planning and development
    • Administration and implementation mechanisms for sustainable development
    • Partnership for better human understanding.
  • Establishment of a secretariat as the coordination of all the activities and as a reference and contact for all the target groups. It will be a first nucleus of a City networking service centre for Indian and EU cities. The secretariat will also assist to the targeted cities in presenting their own issues, project writing etc. It will undertake training activities for networking and project preparation also for local youth, NGOs and CBOs and local government officers.
  • Preparation and dissemination of a Data Base of EU cities as an information and consultation tool available to Indian and South-Asian cities interested to decentralized cooperation. The database will include only a selected number of EU cities with interest in cooperation with developing countries.
  • Preparation and dissemination of a Data Base of Indian cities with a selected and representative sample of Indian cities, offering a picture of urban conditions and issues.
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  • Presentation of the project to the press in Paris, Venice and India in order to make a presentation of the project. In India there will be at least three press conferences (in Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai).
  • Design, preparation, installation & maintenance of a Web-site dedicated to the project.
  • Roving exhibition displaying the best practices in Asia and Europe in the field of Urban Sustainable Development and cultural and human integration. The exhibition will consist of 20-24 panels and will be supported also by a catalogue, audio-visual and multimedia material. The exhibitions will be held in Paris, Venice, Treviso, Auroville and at least in three other Indian cities during the duration of the project.
  • Three Newsletters will be issued by-monthly, reporting the progress of the project. These newsletters will be circulated to a mailing list of government officers, Embassies & consulates, government institutions, NGOs, Universities, Research Centres, professional associations, publishers/magazines in India, & Cities, city associations, Urban researches institutions, Urban & municipal agencies, Universities and other institutions in Europe.
  • A brochure with the proceedings of the conferences has been published in 1000 copies and distributed to participants, indirect target groups, recipient of newsletters and some public and university libraries in India and in Europe.
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