Cluj-Napoca Urban Safety Lab 2023: Addressing Gender Violence in the Urban Landscape

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25.11.2023 / Publications

Editors:  Lev Fejes, Silvia Chakarova, Stefan Cibian

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    The urban landscape is the backdrop against which the everyday lives of most of citizens unfold. However, it is not a neutral space in which citizens go about their business, but rather an influential factor, as both the built and the natural environment of a city play a decisive role in how citizens interact with one another and in their quality of life overall.

    Furthermore, SDG 11 aims to make “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. One of these aspects in particular, namely ‘safe’, is a paramount element, as without the basic needs of safety satisfied, one cannot talk about inclusiveness, resilience, or sustainability. So, what exactly is a safe city? IFSEC Global defines safe cities as those that proactively reduce urban crime such as antisocial behavior, street robbery and burglaries through a mixture of policing, technology deployment, and offender management”.

    Based on the above reasoning, since the built and natural environment plays a significant role, urban space management should be added to the mixture. What role does the environment play in crime? In order to understand the role that the urban environment plays in the development of a safe city, one needs to look at the ‘chemistry for crime’. Felson and Cohen’s1 routine activities theory (1979) proposes a model of crime causation that states that most predatory crime is caused by the suitability of the target to be overcome by a motivated likely offender in the absence of anyone to stop it (i.e. capable guardian). When these 3 ingredients meet, the opportunity for crime arises. This is affected by the patterns of activity comprising everyday life (i.e., routine activities such as going to school, work, etc.), in the sense that offenders engage in criminal activities en route to or during their regular activities.

    This report is focused on the ‘place’, the urban environment, and on what various ‘place managers’ can do to shape the urban environment in such a way that it does not turn into ‘fortressing’. The report was generated at the Cluj Urban Safety Lab. The lab convened actors from 4 countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, USA) with diverse backgrounds2 who had the willingness and the ability to contribute to the analysis of how the built and natural environment affects (enables or inhibits) gender violence in the city of Cluj-Napoca, Romania and to propose solutions.


    1. Cohen, L. E., & Felson, M. (1979). Social Change and Crime Rate Trends: A Routine Activity Approach. American Sociological Review, 44(4), 588–608.
    2. City administration (Romania); Regional administration (Germany); Social Science Research; Academia; Architecture and urban planning & design (Romania, Bulgaria); Social sector (A wide range of topic-focused NGOs from human rights to gender-based programming); Arts; Strategy (Romania and US); Urban planning; Urban systems; Journalism; Policy; Human rights/LGBTQA+.

    We are grateful to all participants and to the challenge holders for their engagement and substantive contributions. 

    Contributors and Acknowledgements: 

    Adina MoldanCluj-Napoca City Hall, Alexandra ColumbanACTEDO, Cristina GallegosBosch Alumni Network, Delia Fluieraș – Cluj-Napoca City Hall, Isabella PirlogeaPATRIR, István Deák – Bosch Alumni Network, Marina Constantinoiu – Bosch Alumni Network, Mihai RacuFaculty of Architecture and Urban Design, Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Norina Herki – PATRIR, Nurhan Redzheb – Bosch Alumni Network, Ovidiu-Hristu Condurache – Bosch Alumni Network, Sonja Broy – Bosch Alumni Network, Bogdana NeamțuFaculty of Political, Adminsitrative and Communication Sciences, Babes-Bolyai University, Cristina Labo – NiZNAiU`, Mădălina Mocan – Platforma ProTect.

    Departments: Policy Analysis and Outreach Department, Research Department, Center on Global Affairs and Post Development, Society, Crisis, and Resilience Program.

    Regions:  Romania, Europe, Global

    Themes: Philanthropy and Community Development, Civil Society, Democracy, and Democratization, Sustainable Development Goals