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BRIEF September 30, 2021

Urban Development Portfolio in Romania

The animation highlights some of the key results of the World Bank Urban Development portfolio in Romania since 2018, and presents the main activities going forward.

World Bank Group

76% of Romanians live in a city or in a suburban area and these areas generate 97% of Romania’s economic output (calculated using the new global methodology for degree of urbanization). Getting urbanization right does not benefit only urban residents and the country’s growth, but also the remaining 24% of the population who should have equal access to opportunities offered by cities, from fast and high-quality transport, to access to education, jobs, healthcare facilities and various venues for leisure activities.   

For decades, Romanian cities have had many things to be proud of. Back in the early 1900s Bucharest, the capital city, was dubbed “Little Paris”, due to the many French influences on local architecture and society, and to its replica of the famous Arc de Triomphe. In central Romania, in the mountains, the small town of Sinaia hosts the first European castle entirely lit by electric current, the Peleș Castle, built in 1888. One year later, Timișoara, located in Western Romania, became the first city in Europe to have electric street lighting.


Today, Bucharest is a growing city that has exceeded the EU average income per capita, and many other secondary cities in the country are becoming hubs of prosperity and innovation. Bucharest and the seven largest metropolitan areas - Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Iași, Ploiești and Timișoara - concentrate 50 percent of Romania’s population and generate 75 percent of firm revenues, according to a World Bank analysis.

Cities are key to Romania’s growth and public authorities play a key role in making its cities thrive. To address the challenges currently faced by Romanian cities, the World Bank has an extensive portfolio on urban development. Since the opening of the Bucharest office in 1991, more than 10 projects have touched upon urban development issues. Other eight advisory services are currently in progress and consist of over 70 individual activities. This work is led in partnership with central and local government and by consulting regularly with key national and international stakeholders. Through its technical assistance, the World Bank aims at helping cities in Romania be more:

  1. Competitive
  2. Green & Resilient
  3. Just & Inclusive
  4. Well-Governed

Going forward, the World Bank continues its work with municipalities across the country to strengthen secondary cities and the Bucharest-Ilfov area, as they altogether drive Romania’s growth. Moreover, it supports the central government in developing Romania’s first Urban Policy to better coordinate development efforts, resources and projects at national level, in order to enhance growth in a more sustainable and inclusive way. 





Alba Iulia Project Prioritization

Developed a pilot project prioritization framework for comprehensive and diverse project lists (as one finds in most local development strategies). The framework was used in the design of the Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020, and by a number of sub-national administrations in Romania.

Brasov Urban Development ProgramUrban development package with a focus on administrative capacity building, integrated urban regeneration interventions, and strengthening the competitiveness and development activities of the municipality and the larger metropolitan area of Brasov.
Cluj County Spatial PlanA set of analyses and tools developed to strengthen the capacity of the County Council of Cluj to elaborate a county spatial plan, respond to real estate market dynamics and use/develop spatial planning tools, and develop a best-practice model for stakeholder coordination and consultation.  

Competitive Cities: Reshaping the Economic Geography of Romania

Applied the “World Development Report 2009” framework in the context of Romania, and this served as a direct input to the National Territorial Development Strategy (

District 5 Urban Development ProgramA set of analyses and urban regeneration guides developed under the Urban Development Program of District 5 of Bucharest.
EU and State Projects Coordination Technical support for the coordination of strategies, programs and prioritization of EU and state-funded infrastructure investments.

Enhanced Spatial Planning as a Precondition for Sustainable Urban Development

Between the centralized planning of the Communist period and the lack of planning of the post-1989 transition years, Romanian cities require better spatial planning tools to address major dysfunctions (e.g. uncontrolled sprawl) and problems (e.g. brownfields). The work proposed a new way of designing and using spatial and territorial planning tools.

Harmonizing State and EU Funded Projects in Romanian RegionsA proposal for a better coordination and harmonization of regional and local public investments in Romania, with a focus on the $10 billion National Local Development Plan (the largest state-budget funded investment program in Romania).
Housing StrategyRomania’s first ever Housing Strategy, with clear proposals for better targeting of public resources and for unlocking private resources to address housing needs and problems in the country.
Ilfov County Development Strategy 2020-2030The Ilfov County Development Strategy 2020-2030 is available together with a Diagnostic Analysis, strategy elaboration-related information and an action plan. 

Improving Energy Efficiency in Romanian Growth Poles

Implemented the World Bank TRACE (Tool for Rapid Assessment of City Energy) tool in the 7 growth poles of Romania, to determine the areas/sectors with the highest benefits from energy efficiency interventions, and with concrete proposals on how these benefits could be achieved.

Improving the quality of regional development investments Efficient and innovative solutions to enhance public infrastructure investments. 

Inputs to the Romania Regional Operational Program 2014-2020

Comprehensive package of proposals, focusing on a wide array of issues – from better support to beneficiaries, to stronger implementation frameworks, and improved project prioritization criteria.

Integrated Strategies for Urban Marginalized Communities

Developed a pilot implementation framework for Community-Led Local Development projects, using the Bank’s CDD framework. The framework was adopted both in the ROP 2014-2020 and the Human Capital Operational Programme 2014-2020 and served as an example for other EU countries.

Local Infrastructure Investment GuidesA comprehensive prioritization framework for local and regional public infrastructure investments undertaken through the National Local Development Plan (PNDL), and with a toolbox for implementing such prioritization frameworks in other countries.

Metropolitan Romania

The report provides a number of recommendations for strengthening metropolitan areas and urban agglomerations for regional and national growth in Romania.

Prioritization of regional development investments Evaluation and prioritization criteria of regional development investment projects.

Romania: Catching-Up Regions

Targeted recommendations for the design of the Sustainable Urban Development approach, for EU-funded operational programmes for the 2014-2020 Programming Period.

Strengthening Growth Poles

Developed a set of recommendations for strengthening the local economies of the main economic engines in Romania, outside Bucharest.

The Integrated Urban Development Strategy for the Ploiesti Growth Pole 2014-2020

Prepared in parallel with a project focused in the design of the Regional Operational Programme (ROP) 2014-2020, this was the first Integrated Urban Development Strategy prepared for accessing EU funds for the 2014-2020 Programming Period under Axis 4 of the ROP 2014-2020 (with dedicated funds for county capitals) , and it served as a model for the other 38 such strategies that were subsequently prepared for the other county capitals in Romania.

Urban and Metropolitan Development in ConstanțaUrban development package with a focus on administrative capacity building, integrated urban regeneration interventions, and strengthening the competitiveness of the metropolitan area of Constanța.