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News (February, 2017)

 

27 February 2017

22nd Breakfast at Sustainability’s to discuss participatory budgeting for green cities

The City of Wrocław (Poland) and ICLEI will hold the 22nd Breakfast at Sustainability's (B@S) on Monday 13 March 2017 in Brussels (Belgium) on the topic of participatory budgeting and civic crowdfunding for green cities. The session will look at how good ideas can transform cities into better, greener places to live. Most ideas need money to be implemented, but where should the money come from: the city’s budget, individual contributions, user fees, or perhaps national or EU funding?

Other questions to be discussed include: Do we value more the products and services we know the price of? Is it fair for public projects to rely on crowdfunding platforms? Are citizens more willing to share their ideas if the money is already there, like in the case of participatory budgeting? What kind of projects get proposed and funded? Do all ideas really need money to be implemented?

The session will see a lively discussion on how tools such as participatory budgeting and civic crowdfunding can transform urban governance, mobilise local communities and create a new culture of co-creation. The event will be hosted by the Permanent Representation of Poland to Belgium under the patronage of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Brussels. The Mayor of Wrocław Rafal Dutkiewicz and representatives of the European Commission will be present. To register (free of charge), contact Claudia Fantini at: brussels-office@iclei.org by 7 March 2017.

For more information, download the invitation/programme.
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24 February 2017

Transformative Actions Database offers inspiration for cities and regions

The new Sustainable Cities Platform, launched at the Habitat III Conference in Quito (Ecuador) and supported by ICLEI, the Basque Country and the City of Aalborg (Denmark), is showcasing transformative actions being carried out by cities and regions inspired by the Basque Declaration. The platform’s Transformative Action Database aims to inspire others with stories of transformation submitted by cities and organisations that have endorsed the Basque Declaration. Transformative actions involve a variety of stakeholders and follow innovative pathways to achieve inclusiveness and productivity.

Cities, regions and organisations looking for inspiration to implement transformative actions based on the Basque Declaration, designed to create a movement towards more sustainable, healthy and resilient societies, are invited to consult the Transformative Actions Database.

Endorsers of the Basque Declaration - the main outcome of the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns - are encouraged to share their experience with other cities and towns facing similar challenges. Transformative actions can be searched by different criteria, such as topics covered, pathways of the Basque Declaration followed, and country. All actions follow the same structure so that visitors can easily compare them and understand the process followed by the implementers. Further details on the Transformative Action Award, rewarding successful, already running or concluded Transformative Actions, will soon be announced. The call for applications will open in the coming weeks.

To submit an action, click here.
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22 February 2017

UrbanWINS pilot cities meet in Venice to prepare the next steps of the project

Representatives of the UrbanWINS pilot cities – Albano Laziale, Cremona, Pomezia and Turin, in Italy; Leiria, in Portugal; Bucharest, in Romania, and Manresa and Sabadell, in Spain – met in the Italian city of Venice to participate in project workshops focused on strategic urban planning and participatory mechanisms development. The knowledge and the experience gained will be used in the next phases of the UrbanWINS project, aiming at co-creating eco-innovative waste management and prevention strategies.

Cities involved in the project will start identifying the priorities and objectives for reducing resource consumption and waste production at source, with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders. Face-to-face meetings – urban agoras – will take place in each of the cities, and a virtual platform – online agoras – will be available from the UrbanWINS website this spring to encourage discussion and brainstorming.

With the support of experts from the University IUAV of Venice, hosts of the meeting, the UrbanWINS cities explored the connections between actions that are directly related to waste management and actions that can be taken in other sectors but that affect waste production and/or have an impact on the success of waste management practices.

To receive regular updates on UrbanWINS, sign up to the newsletter here.
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21 February 2017

Essen officially takes over title of European Green Capital

The German City of Essen has officially become the European Green Capital 2017, taking over from Ljubljana (Slovenia). The European Green Capital Award rewards efforts and commitment to improving the urban environment, boosting awareness of the need for environmental change at the city level.

Essen will act as role model for sustainable urban development, sharing and promoting best practices that have been tried and tested in the German city. Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “The impressive transformation from coal and steel industry to the greenest city in North Rhine-Westphalia is proof of Essen’s successful structural change.

“Great progress in environmental sustainability required vision, good governance, strong leadership and citizens’ involvement. I look forward to Essen’s programme of activities, and I wish Mayor Kufen, his team, and the people of Essen the very best.”

For more information, visit Eltis.
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20 February 2017

Lappeenranta is the latest city to join ICLEI

The Finnish city of Lappeenranta has joined ICLEI to strengthen its already impressive sustainability activities. The city achieved its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2020 in 2014, recording a decrease of 38 percent compared to 1990 levels.

Lappeenranta is particularly advanced in the field of sustainable energy, and is one of Finland's largest users of bioenergy. The city boasts seven windmills, producing enough energy to heat around 3,600 homes. A local hydrogen plant additionally creates energy, leaving only water as an emission.

In the field of transport, the city strongly encourages citizens to opt for low-carbon forms of mobility. Lappeenranta spent 1.5 million euros on upgrading cycling lanes in 2015, leading to its designation as cycling city of the year in Finland. With a recycling rate of over 90 percent, investments in green technology, and one of the world's most sustainable university campuses, the small city is well positioned as a champion of sustainability.

For more information, visit the city website.
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16 February 2017

Registration now open for 4th European Conference on SUMPs

The registration for the European Conference for Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, which is taking place in Dubrovnik (Croatia) on 29-30 March 2017, is now open. The conference is the principal annual event enabling an international community of practitioners, policy makers, city staff and academics from across Europe to come together to debate key issues, highlight developments in mobility planning and exchange ideas and experience.

Four years after the publication of the European Commission’s Urban Mobility Package (2013) and related SUMP Guidelines (2014), there is now a large and expanding network of cities committed to preparing and implementing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. This includes cities and institutions involved in various EU projects and initiatives, designed to drive forward mobility planning research, practice and innovation.

The continuous development of cities and associated population growth, congestion and pollution has pushed sustainable urban mobility up the agenda. The need for more sustainable, intelligent and integrative planning processes as a way of dealing with these challenges and identifying an appropriate set of policies has been widely recognised. Based on these considerations, the theme for this years’ conference is Intelligent Planning for Sustainable Mobility. A free training session will be held on the Urban Transport Roadmaps online scenario building tool on 28 March in Dubrovnik. To register for this event, click here.

For more information, visit eltis.org/sump2017 or see the draft conference programme.
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14 February 2017

European Covenant of Mayors Board launched to steer ambitious cities

The European Commission’s Covenant of Mayors held its first political board meeting on 10 February at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels (Belgium) in the presence of European Commission Vice- President Maroš Šefčovič, former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, Member of the European Parliament Claude Turmes and European Committee of the Regions Vice-President Karl-Heinz Lambertz. The launch of the European Covenant of Mayors Board reaffirms the initiative as a unique political movement steered by mayors.

“There is no choice to be less ambitious or to be less involved. The only answer is to let cities play a bigger role in political commitments, especially here in Europe. The role of this policy board is to represent this leadership and to be a clear voice for cities and their ambitions,” said Vice-Mayor of Växjö (Sweden) and ICLEI Europe REXCom Member Asa Karlsson Björkmarker, speaking at the event. The European Covenant of Mayors Board is also linked to the board of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, the world’s largest coalition of cities and local governments leading the fight against climate change.

"The EU Covenant of Mayors is definitely one of Europe's major success stories. It shows that when mayors share a vision of a low-carbon future and roll up their sleeves, things get done. Never before have so many cities joined forces, eager to inspire each other and committed to collectively taking the path to a low-carbon future. Setting up a board of mayors will strengthen the EU Covenant's impact even more, in Europe as well as globally, through the Global Covenant of Mayors," said European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.

For more information, visit covenantofmayors.eu.
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10 February 2017

Action plan aims to recycle or reuse 70 percent of plastic globally

A new action plan has been released that if implemented would see 70 percent of plastic packaging reused and recycled globally. Already the plan, laid out in the report The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing action, has been endorsed by more than 40 industry leaders. The report was produced by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The plan additionally calls for the remaining 30 percent of plastics to be redesigned. A transitions strategy outlines how plastics design could better facilitate recycling and re-use, such as through replacing single-use plastic bags with reusable alternatives. Without a redesign, warns the report, plastics will continue to clog up land-fill sites or require incineration.

"The plan puts innovation at the heart of a strategy that could shift the entire system while unlocking a billion dollar business opportunity. Alignment along value chains and between the public and private sector is key to this," said Dominic Waughray of the World Economic Forum.

For more information, visit ellenmacarthurfoundation.org
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7 February 2017

Concerns and optimism expressed by citizens at Rome Smartathon

In Casa della Cittá, a glass building that physically represents the transparency between the City of Rome and its citizens, Romans gathered on 21 January 2017 to take part in Italy‘s first Smartathon. Warming sunlight filled the exhibition space as citizens discussed the future of the smarticipate platform, sharing their concerns, ideas and needs with the project consortium. The enthusiasm was palpable; despite being a Saturday, the discussion ran beyond the scheduled finish time. As with other Smartathons, opinions were varied, ranging from the sceptical to the favourable.

After a series of presentations outlining smarticipate and the intended use of the smarticipate platform, attendees broke into four groups to discuss in greater detail. Among the most prominent concerns was the idea that technology cannot replace human interaction, and that at some point automation must give way to person-to-person contact.

Data privacy was also expressed as an issue, while others worried that certain users could hijack the planning process to push their ideas above all else, tarnishing the cooperative spirit in which the smarticipate platform is intended to be used. The outcome of the discussions will be used to further refine the smarticipate platform, tweaking it from a technical and governance standpoint.

For more information, visit the smarticipate website.
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6 February 2017

Amsterdam Water Week invites submission of case studies

A major conference on European water has issued a call for solutions and real life cases on the topic of transitioning to a circular and resilient water environment in high density areas. The Amsterdam International Water Week conference will take place from 30 October - 3 November 2017 under the title 'Water... and nine billion people'.

Experts in the water sector are encouraged to submit their solutions, insights, innovations and best practices. The conference - which is open to cities, industries, regions, countries, and institutions - aims to match real-life problems to solutions, and to partner attendees to reach their goals.

Solutions can take a variety of shapes, from a game changing innovation to new financial or governance models, while cases can focus on topics such as specific water challenges, industries wishing to reduce their water footprint, or regions aiming to increase agricultural yield with less water. The call for cases and solutions is available online. Deadline for submission is 31 March 2017.

For more information, visit the website.
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2 February 2017

SPP Regions project encourages regional networks to join

New and established regional procurement networks looking to gain access to useful resources and networking opportunities are invited to join the EU-funded SPP Regions project. By joining the project, procurers will be put in touch with other networks from across Europe, allowing them to learn from others’ experience of implementing sustainable and innovative procurement and to share their own.

All regional networks that include municipalities working together on sustainable public procurement (SPP) and public procurement of innovation (PPI) are encouraged to join. New members will be alongside the seven European regional networks that are already working closely with the project. SPP Regions offers support with developing networks, assistance with sustainable tendering, access to specialist workshops and webinars and mentoring from existing SPP Regions Networks.

Regional networks are extremely helpful in developing a successful sustainable procurement strategy, as they allow public authorities to learn from others’ good practice. They also enable procurers to develop a regional supply base, increase influence through joint market engagement and benefit from economies of scale through joint procurement.

For more information, visit www.sppregions.eu. If you are interested in joining SPP Regions as a regional network, contact: info@sppregions.eu
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1 February 2017

Want a SUMP in your city but don’t have the expertise or tools?

Three new EU-funded mobility projects have launched a survey to help them understand cities’ needs and barriers when trying to develop Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs). A SUMP is a strategic plan that aims to create an urban transport system for all citizens that improves safety and security, reduces air and noise pollution, greenhouse gases and energy consumption, and boosts the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the transport of people and goods.

The three new CIVITAS projects – PROSPERITY, SUITS and SUMPs-Up - hope the survey will gather valuable insights to enable them to design training courses, tools and guidance to help cities develop high-quality SUMPs. City representatives that complete the survey before Tuesday 28 February 2017 will get priority for the projects’ training and support activities, and have a chance to win up to €600 towards travel and accommodation costs for the 4th European Conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in Dubrovnik (Croatia).

‘This survey will gather crucial details on what’s holding back or driving forward urban mobility planning in cities across Europe. It will enable our experts to create high-quality products and services that local authorities can use to develop SUMPs,’ said Cristina Garzillo, the SUMPs-Up project co-ordinator.

To take part in the survey, click here.
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