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BRIEF September 30, 2021

Urban Development Portfolio in Romania

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. 






Cluj-Napoca Urban Development ProgramThe Integrated Urban Development Strategy (IUDS) for the Municipality of Cluj-Napoca and its Metropolitan Area (CMA) is the main strategic planning document in the above-mentioned territories for the 2021-2030 period. Basically, it reunites under the umbrella of a common vision for development, as agreed and assumed by all the relevant actors from the local ecosystem (administration, academic environment, business environment, non-governmental environment, and the civil society, etc.), the next year's intervention priorities in all the areas, from mobility, urbanregeneration, digitalization, education, health or inclusion to local and metropolitan governance. 
Bucharest Urban Development ProgramUrban development Program is focusing om: (a) strengthen its capacity for strategic planning, capital investment planning and management; (b) implement urban development and regeneration programs, (c) accelerate seismic risk reduction program and, (d) improve urban mobility.

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. 

The Romanian Urban Policy is designed to advise on the vision of a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient urban development in line with the EU’s Urban Agenda. It represents a common agenda of the public authorities at central and local levels in order to improve the urban development framework, by providing a set of coherent measures and by coordination and correlation of the sectoral fields and of various stakeholders.

The Urban Policy sets forth the following directions that the national authorities shall approach, namely: a) green and resilient urban development; b) competitive and productive; c) just and inclusive; d) well-governed cities.


Craiova Integrated Urban Development Strategy (SIDU)

Suceava Integrated Urban Development Strategy (SIDU)

Targu Secuiesc Integrated Urban Development Strategy (SIDU)

Simeria Integrated Urban Development Strategy (SIDU)

The Integrated Urban Development Strategy establishes the vision and strategic objectives for medium and long term, determining clear directions of actions and the portfolio of projects allocated to the multiannual financial exercise.
Background research and analysis for the Romania Urban PolicyAn analysis of existent strategic, legislative and planning documents, identifying the principles, objectives, measures and best practice models therein which are relevant for urban development.
Indicators for the Romania Urban PolicyIndicators processed or obtained using one or more of the mentioned sources, such as: National Institute of Statistics, TEMPO On-Line, eDemos, Territorial Observatory, national agencies, line ministries, local administrations, data collected from urban dwellers, academic institutions and other relevant.
Inputs to the Romania Urban PolicyThe Romanian National Urban Policy (RNUP) proposes 5 priority objectives, which are aligned with the four Leipzig Charter goals and the centrality of the spatial scale. These 5-priority objectives shall become the five directions taken at the national level to guide the sustainable urban transformation of Romanian cities and towns.
Establishment of Dialogue and Technical Support for the Romania Urban Policy A nationwide implementation of activities planned under the EU Urban Agenda partnerships to bring together representatives of central/regional/county public administration of towns and associations to facilitate dialogue between various administrative levels to exchange best practices that capitalize on their experience participating in informal cooperation activities on urban development.
Tools for the Implementation of the Urban Policy Urban Policy implementation mechanisms: Urban Policy implementation guide for each defined urban area category; a methodology for the development and management of public services at the metropolitan/FUA level; a methodology for the identification and demarcation of FUAs and metropolitan areas; a methodology on strategic planning, prioritization, implementation and monitoring of public investment projects in urban areas; and a guide on the nationwide implementation of the EU Urban Agenda activities.