Green urban actions / Zelene prakse mest
How is the Urban Agenda for the EU contributing to the green transition
22 October 2020
[Conference report] Cities address climate change through collaboration and knowledge sharing
With the international conference Green Urban Actions on 22 October 2020, IPoP – Institute for Spatial Policy, Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia and the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning of Republic of Slovenia joined the events during the European Week of Regions and Cities.
Speakers from different parts of Europe, including two from Slovenia, agreed that good cooperation between everyone, from citizens to decision-makers, is essential to address climate change properly. Local communities must ensure effective participation of the population, public and private actors, cooperation between sectors and the development of appropriate solutions at local level, while activities at higher levels, regional, national and international, remains very important. They can benefit from the knowledge and experience from other comparable environments. The presented examples opened a number of relevant questions for Slovenian cities and municipalities, such as energy efficiency and social housing, care for clean air through public passenger transport and awareness raising among owners of individual fireplaces and resilience of coastal towns to hazards such as sea level rise, tides and floods, landslides and heat waves that accompany climate change.
More than 100 participants followed the web conference through the Zoom platform. Thank you to all attendees! If you missed the conference, we invite you to read the highlights below and watch the videos.
Aša Rogelj from the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning greeted the participants and presented the expectations of the ministry. She emphasized the important role of cities in the new European perspective and climate change programs, as well as the importance of multilevel action and cooperation, both between cities trough programmes, such as URBACT, but also between countries and between different fields. VIDEO
Urban policies and climate change
Marcelline Bonneau, speaking on behalf of the URBACT programme, highlighted the importance of cities addressing climate change both in terms of their major negative impact on the environment and their power to achieve change. She emphasized that the fight against climate change is apolitical and that anyone could join the movements and actions already under way. Tackling climate change connects us and we all engage constructively, both individuals, NGOs, professionals and politicians. With the help of a survey, she gathered opinions among listeners on who has the most important role in tackling climate change and received confirmation that these are politicians, elected representatives, who therefore play a key role in shaping a common vision. However, participatory methods, such as the URBACT method, must enable the activation of all other actors, which are crucial for the adaptation process to begin immediately. She presented international and European agreements and policies that guide cities in their efforts, as well as examples of good practice from URBACT networks, namely the cultural sector’s efforts to raise awareness in Manchester (C-CHANGE) and organic school meals in Mouans Sartoux (BIOCANTEENS).
Carlos Chocarro presented how the Navarre region, which also has an independent tax system, has focused its energy policy on building rental social housing. They linked the need for energy restructuring and renovation of the building stock to energy poverty, which also led to health problems of the residents, and decided to invest in almost zero-energy rental social housing. This has solved the problem of energy poverty in the long run, as the cost of almost zero-energy housing is up to 90% lower than in conventional housing units. In doing so, they have also made an important contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation. He emphasized that the construction of a large number of flats according to these standards also required appropriate training for the construction sector, spatial planners and engineers, who did not have those skills before.
Innovative and responsible public procurement
Tamar Reay from Preston spoke about public procurement and how we can strengthen local wealth by taking into account the social and environmental aspects of public procurement and thus return the benefits of public procurement to local people, communities and the environment. As an example of investments in which special attention should be paid to environmental impacts, she pointed out construction projects, both new construction and renovation. In Preston, when renovating the market in the city centre, the requirements of monument protection had to be taken into account, and efforts were made to maximize the energy efficiency of the renovated building. However, the environmental footprint of the restoration works themselves, such as the safe removal of hazardous materials and the distances travelled by heavy vehicles, and the potential of such an investment to strengthen the local economy should not be overlooked.
Igor Kos from the WCycle Institute in Maribor presented an innovative circular economy practice initiated by public companies in the Municipality of Maribor, which is now developing into an internationally recognized example of good practice. Maribor already started developing the concept during the preparation of the sustainable urban strategy. The public companies of the Municipality of Maribor first connected their development services, and later established WCycle Institute, a special institution, which deals exclusively with the transition of the city to the circular economy. The institute is extremely successful in obtaining funds through various European Territorial Cooperation programs and has managed to establish itself in Europe. Maribor in particular is an interesting example because the initiative for the transition to the circular economy did not come from the private sector, as is usual elsewhere in Europe, but from the public sector. In recent years, they have managed to make some investments, and above all they are proud of their contribution to strengthening the skills of employees in the founding public companies. At the moment, however, they are focusing on awareness raising of the local population.
Laura Walin presented how Helsinki has become one of the European cities that boasts good air quality. Their main causes of poor air quality in the city are narrow traffic corridors, dust on the roads in the spring months that remains after winter sanding and individual fireplaces. The challenges were addressed by a combination of soft and hard measures. They have produced a user-friendly map of air quality, while the university has developed a route planning application so that the residents can avoid areas with poorer air quality. Awareness raising on sustainable use of small fireplaces has been addressed by educating chimney sweeps, who now, as ambassadors, advise people on how to reduce their impact on the environment. They are also aware of the negative impact of traffic emissions and want to reduce them, among other things, by increasing the share of electric buses in the city’s fleet.
Helsinki Air Quality Plan 2017-2024 an overview of successful measures, presentation in .pdf
Stefania Manca explained that Genoa, due to its location on the coastal part of northern Italy with its mountains in the hinterland, faces many dangers posed by climate change. These hazards include floods during heavy rains, landslides, heat waves and others. In order to acquire new knowledge and skills, they decided to coordinate the Partnership for Climate adaptation of the Urban Agenda for the EU. With this knowledge, they designed a resilience strategy and an action plan. She emphasized that the strategy connects everything they are already doing in the city and leads existing programs and actors to common goals. Among the examples of measures, she pointed out the project where they want to restore the area of the former barracks with nature based solutions. This project is in cooperation with the European Investment Bank, which will analyze costs and opportunities and show decision-makers that such investments are worthwhile. Their starting point in this case was that it was worthwhile to present the positive economic consequences of successfully adapting to climate change. They also invest a lot in communication and learning, as they believe that all actors, both officials and citizens, experts and decision-makers, need to speak the same language.
Sustainable use of land and nature-based solutions
Sanja Jerković emphasized that the wider urban area of Zagreb has many natural features and is extremely green. The picture is slightly different in the more densely built-up areas in the center and around it. Therefore, the city has decided to include green infrastructure and other sustainable solutions in the reconstruction of degraded areas. They prepared a development strategy for the wider urban area, in which they set out a vision and goals for better management of land and natural resources. They produced an urban atlas of degraded areas and identified areas for green revitalization. She presented some examples of revitalization projects, such as the Badel and Gradelj projects, ideas for measures along the Sava River and the revitalization of the Černomerec stream.
Sustainable use of land and nature based solutions in city of Zagreb, presentation in .pdf
Matej Gojčič presented the preparation of the regional integrated transport strategy. The Ljubljana urban region, which consists of 24 municipalities, faces a large share of car use for everyday mobility, while public transport does not follow the demand. A lot has been done before they started the process, from various analyzes and studies to sustainable urban mobility plans of individual municipalities. In contrast to municipal strategies, the regional strategies have shown that in the process they need to pay more attention to stakeholder cooperation and the involvement of national actors. The first positive changes since the adoption of the strategy are already visible. Several P + R have been built across the region, some public transport lines have been extended, and new long-distance cycling connections are also planned. They tried to transfer the experience gained drafting the regional strategy to the Urban Mobility partnership of the Urban Agenda for the EU, where they advocated the importance of developing integrated transport strategies for smaller urban centers, so that mobility can be planned from source to the region and beyond.
Celostna prometna strategija Ljubljanske urbane regije, presentation in .pdf
Speakers as well as participants agreed that the accumulation of knowledge and experience is extremely important to tackle climate change. Politicians, officials, the private sector and the public, everyone has to speak the same language in order to contribute their part. The conclusions of the conference will be used by the ministry in preparation for Slovenia’s presidency of the EU Council in 2021.
INVITATION AND AGENDA
Join us on 22 October 2020 at the virtual conference Green urban actions: How is the Urban Agenda for the EU contributing to the green transition. We will get to know the cities that have successfully responded to climate change. Together with representatives of Slovenian and other European cities we will discuss how cities can adapt and respond to climate change and change the quality of life of their inhabitants and communities.
Climate change, even in the current pandemic crisis, remains one of the main challenges of our time. The urgency of action is highlighted by several international agreements, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Efforts are being made through the European Green Agreement and the Just Transition Mechanism with the goal to become climate neutral by 2050.
The importance of a green transition is also supported by the priority areas of the EU Cohesion policy after 2020, according to which Europe should become smarter, greener, more connected, more social and closer to its citizens. Under this principle, 6% of the European Regional Development Fund will be reserved for cities and urban areas, which will enable sustainable development at the local level to be autonomously directed by local governments.
Sustainable urban development is outlined in the 2016 Urban Agenda for the EU and after the adoption of which, partnerships were gradually formed in individual areas. In a precedent of voluntary participation, cities, the Member States, the European Commission and other European institutions, as well as civil society organizations, experts and other stakeholders jointly prepared action plans to implement the urban agenda.
The role of cities in partnerships is extremely important, as we know that cities, municipalities and local governments are at the forefront of the fight against climate change, to respond quickly to crisis and to test innovative approaches.
Many cities, already facing challenges in the local environment, have developed exciting solutions that can inspire other European cities in a fair green transition.
Following the example of the European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN), we will focus on partnerships that have a strong environmental focus, a.k.a. the green core, namely energy transition, innovative and responsible public procurement, air quality, circular economy, climate adaptation, sustainable land use, and urban mobility.
These partnerships emphasize the growing role of cities in responding to the climate and environmental crisis by changing patterns of production, consumption and operation. Green partnerships recognize and emphasize the need for cooperation to reduce the environmental impact of urban areas while improving the quality of life and strength of communities.
At the event, we will have an opportunity to listen to the representatives of cities across Europe, who will bring us closer to the content created in the action plans of the Urban Agenda for the EU through the presentations of innovative solutions they have introduced in their local environment.
This will be one of the preparatory events for Slovenia in the run-up to the Presidency in 2021 eventually leading to concrete recommendations for ministers on how to implement those actions dealing with regulatory obstacles faced by cities when trying to reach sustainable goals.
The event will be bilingual – in Slovene and English with simultaneous interpretation.
*Participants will receive an access link no later than a day before the event.
URBAN POLICIES AND CLIMATE CHANGE
EU urban policy is not only closely linked to, but also derived from, environmental policy. In our efforts to reduce our environmental impacts we must not forget the key role played by cities and local communities.
Marcelline Bonneau, URBACT, Resilia Solutions
Taking sustainability as a baseline and adopted paradigm, Marcelline Bonneau provides research, analytical and experimentation services to support the societal transition. Leadership, governance, urban planning, integrated approaches, empowerment are some of the transversal approaches she investigates. She is working with public authorities and local initiatives. She seeks to link theory and practices, grassroots activities and strategic ones, the local and EU levels. She is a URBACT Programme Expert, expert to UIA projects (for Antwerp & Lille) and the Community Manager for the REGIO Communities of Practitioners. She has published on paper and online, moderates and contributes to podcasts, videos, webinars, workshops and conferences.
Navarra is known for its efforts in the field of energy efficiency, especially large investments in energy-efficient rental social housing. For that they also obtained a loan from the European Investment Bank.
Carlos Chocarro, Navarra NASUVINSA
Carlos Chocarro is a senior Urban Architect with ten years of experience developing architectural projects and twenty years working in Mobility, Logistics and Transport in NASUVINSA, a regional public body of the Government of Navarre (Spain). He currently works on promoting sustainable transport and energy transition projects and is member of the Partnership on Energy Transition of the Urban Agenda for the EU.
INNOVATIVE AND RESPONSIBLE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT
For a decade, Preston has been consciously strengthening local wealth by channeling public funds into the local economy through smart public procurement. Around Europe it is already known as the Preston Model, which is being transferred to other cities under the URBACT program.
Tamar Reay, Preston
Tamar Reay has worked at the Preston City Council for more than 15 years in a variety of roles around economic development and policy including funding (both management and delivery), policy advice and support for its implementation. She is also involved in the Council’s wider Community Wealth Building agenda and represents Preston on the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement. Currently, she is the Project Lead for Making Spend Matter, a URBACT European-funded project, focusing on the use of spend analysis as an evidence tool to enhance the impact of procurement on cities and communities.
Maribor was one of the first cities to embark on the transition to a circular economy, not only in Slovenia but also in the EU. The plans are being implemented step by step, now also through an institute set up for this purpose.
Igor Kos, WCYCLE Maribor
Igor Kos is a consultant at the WCYCLE Institute in Maribor. His long-time passion is Circular Economy: He works with the specific goal of further developing the Circular Economy business model for the City of Maribor. Igor was involved in the preparation of the Strategy for the transition to Circular Economy for the City of Maribor, which was approved by the City Council in June 2018. He collaborated in the preparation of the Roadmap for Transition to Circular Economy of Slovenia. He is a member of the EU Urban Agenda Partnership for Circular Economy.
Helsinki is one of the most ambitious and active European cities in the field of air quality. The city has established itself as the frontrunner being the coordinator of the Air quality partnership of the Urban Agenda for the EU.
Laura Walin, Helsinki
Laura Walin recently took over as a Head of Unit Environmental Protection for the City of Helsinki. Before that, she worked in the European Chemical Agency for 12 years, latest as the Team Leader for Regulatory Support. She has also worked in fields of science communication and academic research. Ms Walin holds two doctoral degrees, in evolutionary ecology and law, as well as a Master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Helsinki.
Genoa is aware of its vulnerability to climate change and is taking an active approach to reducing climate change impact and adapting to it. A strong motivation for progress in this area has also led them to play a leading role in the Climate Adaptation Partnership of the Urban Agenda for the EU.
Stefania Manca, Genoa
Stefania Manca holds a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Genoa, specializing in Smart City – Territorial Economic Planning and Development. She has been employed at the Municipality of Genoa since 2011. In January 2020 she was officially appointed as the Resilience Manager of the city of Genoa. Since 2017 she has been engaged as the Coordinator of the Climate Adaptation Partnership of the Urban Agenda for the EU. Her areas of interest are sustainable development, multi-level governance policies and actions, resilience at 360°, adaptation to climate change, as well as local, national and international networking, urban, territorial, shared and participatory planning.
SUSTAINABLE USE OF LAND AND NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS
In recent years, Zagreb has been stepping up its efforts in the field of sustainable land use. They combine the repurposing of degraded areas within the city with sustainable solutions for adapting to climate change.
Sanja Jerković, Zagreb
Sanja Jerković is a Head of City of Zagreb City Office for Strategic Planning and Development of the City since December 2016. She studied architecture on IUAV Venezia, postgraduate study in the Technical University Delft. She worked at Architectural University IUAV Venetia, Faculty of Architecture University of Zagreb and Faculty of Architecture Technical University Delft as well as in architectural biros AG Planum Ltd. and Masa project Ltd. She also worked as an expert architect focused on the urban development themes, residential architecture, infrastructure and underground architecture. She was an executive director and coordinator of numerous national and international expert conferences and congresses.
Municipalities of the Ljubljana urban region are aware of the importance of transport and spatial planning at the regional level. It can successfully bridge the gap between local challenges and needs and strategies at national and European level.
Matej Gojčič, RRA LUR
Matej Gojčič, Deputy Director of the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region, is an architect with many years of experience in the field of spatial, transport and development planning. Work experiences include the preparation of development plans for the Ljubljana urban region, various expert materials for spatial planning at the regional level, preparation of national spatial plans, planning and supervision of airports, sustainable urban and regional mobility plans, GIS, management and coordination of projects co-financed by EU funds, and cooperation with various stakeholders at local, national and international levels.
The conference is organized by the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning of the Republic of Slovenia, IPoP – Institute for Spatial Policy and the Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia. It is a side event of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2020.
Author of graphics: Darja Klančar, Darka