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News (September, 2017)

 

28 September 2017

Transformative Action Award shortlist announced

Four finalists for the Transformative Actions Awards have been announced. The award, funded by the Basque Country and the City of Aalborg (Denmark), rewards current or concluded Transformative Actions that address the three pathways of the Basque Declaration: Socio-cultural transformation, socio-economic transformation, and technological transformation.

The shortlisted candidates are Zaragoza (Spain), for their project on turning citizens into “city makers” by putting their ideas into action; Mannheim (Germany), for their project on making energy and climate measures more visible; Udaltalde 21 Nerbioi-Ibaizabal (Spain), for their project on creating a common sustainability agenda in neighbouring municipalities; and Nilüfer (Turkey), whose project focused on using neighbourhood committees to increase civic engagement.

The winners will be announced and the award presented at a ceremony at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels (Belgium) on 22 November. The finalists were chosen after extensive deliberations of a jury comprised of Arantza Acha (Director, UNESCO Etxea Spain); Thomas Kastrup-Larsen (Mayor of Aalborg, Denmark); Wolfgang Teubner (Regional Director, ICLEI European Secretariat); and Cor Lamers (Mayor of Schiedam, Netherlands and Chair of ENVE Commission).

Speaking about the importance of the Transformative Action Awards, jury member Arantza Acha said: “The Transformative Action Award showcases bold and innovative examples of how to transform our societies to achieve multidimensional sustainability in line with the Basque Declaration”. The Mayor of Aalborg, Thomas Kastrup-Larsen, also described The Transformative Actions Award as “a fantastic way of highlighting exemplary approaches to sustainability issues. All submissions showed truly inspiring solutions to the challenges we are facing and I urge everyone to study them closer.”

For more information on the shortlisted candidates, visit the sustainable cities website.
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28 September 2017

Cyclists encouraged to help make Brussels more bike friendly

A new project in Brussels (Belgium) is giving citizens a chance to influence cycling infrastructure within the Belgian capital: and all with the push of a button.

"PING if you care", which started in May, enables bike riders to mark unsafe traffic situations, or unsatisfactory cycling infrastructure that they encounter. This is done by pressing the PING button, a wireless Bluetooth-enabled device that can be attached to bikes or clothing. The button then sends the data to an app via Bluetooth.

Once the cyclist has reached their destination, the various PING points that they have designated are visible on an overview of their route. Each marked spot can then be assigned to different categories, including road surface, traffic lights, sight lines, and infrastructural design.

All of the routes covered are visualised on a heat map of Brussels, whilst cyclists can also leave comments regarding what they experience.

1,000 people are involved in the pilot. At the end of its duration, all of the information gathered will be analysed and presented to the city of Brussels. This is designed to serve as a clear guide for city authorities with regards to future cycling investments in the city.

The project is the brainchild of Mobiel 21 and Bike Citizens. If successful, it is hoped that the approach can be replicated in other cities.

For more information, visit Eltis.
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27 September 2017

Warsaw Recycling Days see residents swap rubbish for plants

During the Warsaw Recycling Days, residents of all districts in the Polish capital were able to swap rubbish - such as electronic waste, plastic, metal, paper, glass and batteries - for shrub, flower and herb seedlings.

Through the event, which took place on 13 May, 30 thousand plants were exchanged for over 24 tonnes of segregated waste. The event also saw residents collect in excess of 62 tonnes of electronic waste and around 6 tonnes of batteries. This marks a significant increase from last year's event, which saw 47 tonnes of electronic waste collected.

The Warsaw Recycling Days is an annual event aimed at promoting environmentally friendly attitudes and showing the residents of Warsaw that recycling is an opportunity for the balanced management of limited resources.

For more information, click here.
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27 September 2017

Bristol annual event returns to explore the health and sustainability of the city

This October will see the return of Bristol’s (United Kingdom) annual Healthy City Week. Taking place from 7 – 14, the week-long event will run a series of discussions, lectures and workshops exploring the health and sustainability of the city. The event aims to create and deepen conversations around some of the major health and sustainability challenges the city faces.

Healthy City Week enables individuals and organisations from across Bristol to come together, exchange ideas and explore the intersections between health and the environmental sustainability of the city.

The varied programme of events includes: a community conversation on sustainability, activities on urban air quality, a public lecture focusing on the health impacts of air quality, a workshop on embedding nature in healthcare, a smart energy showcase, and much more.

The event is organized by Bristol Green Capital Partnership and is supported by Bristol Health Partners.

For more information and to download the programme, visit the website.
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26 September 2017

An interview with Iñaki Arriola, Minister for the Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing of the Basque Country

A year ago, the Basque Country hosted the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns. What has the legacy of that conference been in the Basque Country?

The choice to hold the event in the Basque Country was an important recognition of the work of the Basque authorities in recent years. It highlighted the benefits of our inter-institutional coordination model, showcasing its capacity to integrate different tiers of governance: municipal, provincial, and regional.

We were enthusiastic about holding the conference, and saw it as an affirmation of the way in which our institutions cooperated with different segments of society. It was also an excellent opportunity for Basque municipalities to showcase their achievements, and to learn more about new sustainability projects and ideas.

The conference left a lasting legacy, which is best exemplified by the approval of the "Basque Declaration". This document is the roadmap for European cities and towns to understand how transformation towards an inclusive and liveable Europe can be implemented.

We should not forget that the Basque Declaration came at a crucial moment internationally, as it followed the approval of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement. The document includes a translation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into 10 local areas, which is a hugely important step.

Europe is facing problems in progressing towards a more inclusive and sustainable society. The launch of the Transformative Action Award seeks to showcase inspirational transformative experiences. What do you believe is the role of municipalities and regions in this area?

I think that setting up the award is a way to put the Basque Declaration into practice. I am convinced that it will prove to be a tool not only for cities to commit to innovative sustainability strategies, but to generate models that can be repeated by other municipalities.

Municipalities and regions play a fundamental role. The ultimate goal of all authorities is to serve the people; local and regional institutions are the governance level closest to the people. As has been seen with climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions must be driven across all levels. Adaptation must be managed from the local level, as the consequences occur at that scale.

The comprehensive concept of sustainability is best observed at the local level. The size of the action is not the most important aspect, but rather its impact in improving economic, environmental, and social conditions. In this sense, the size of the municipality is irrelevant.

Do you believe that it is important for cities to work in a network and share solutions and initiatives?

Without a doubt. One example is Udalsarea 21 - the Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability, which has been running for 15 years and has just approved its Strategic Plan 2020. As I said previously, this initiative was one of the primary reasons that the Basque Country held the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns. Udalsarea 21 represents a comprehensive vision of sustainability.

ICLEI is important as a place to share experiences and identify projects, as well as an interlocutor with the European institutions, helping local and regional governments to obtain economic support for local transformation. Working in a network is based on shared leadership, setting benchmarks, and driving progress, which is an ongoing learning process.

What are the main lines of work in terms of sustainable development in the Basque Country?

The Basque Country is firmly committed to international sustainable development strategies. National strategies are also essential, such as the IV Environmental Framework Programme of the Basque Country 2020, which sets out the environmental policy of our Autonomous Community. This programme is one of the 15 strategic plans that make up the core of the Basque Government commitments, and which appear in the “Euskadi 2020: Progressing in Sustainable Human Development” programme. The IV Environmental Framework Programme directly impacts 10 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Other key actions in this area are the "Climate Change Strategy of the Basque Country - KLIMA2050", which was selected during the COP21 climate summit in Paris by the Transformative Actions Programme as one of the 24 best international projects for achieving a resilient and low-carbon territory. The Waste Prevention and Management Plan 2020 focuses on achieving a circular economy, while the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 aims to conserve the environment.

Is the general public aware of the work being done by the Basque Government?

I believe that the general public is aware of the environmental work being carried out by all Basque authorities, and particularly the Basque Government. A recent study indicated that, for the first time, 100 percent of Basque citizens agreed on the need to protect the environment. It is a matter of great concern, and that has much to do with the awareness-raising work that we are carrying out.

In fact, society is increasingly in favour of environmental concern being translated into specific actions and commitments, which points towards a hopeful future. This allows us to address objectives such as: fighting climate change, driving the circular economy, reducing waste, protecting biodiversity, and strengthening our commitment to sustainable development goals.

I should stress here that young people are increasingly committed to living a sustainable lifestyle. The data shows that two thirds of young Basques regularly separate household waste and that over half limit water consumption, travel on public transport, or use their own bags when shopping. These are details that point towards a more sustainable future.

The transformation of the Basque Country to a sustainable and circular economy model was presented during the European Membership Assembly in May. What role will public-private partnerships play in that transformation?

We want public-private partnerships to play an important role. That is the only way to ensure real and positive results. One important example is the Basque Ecodesign Centre, an initiative where the Basque Government works with the most advanced companies in the Basque Country and industrial sectors to implement ecodesign and product eco-innovation.

The Basque Government will continue to work on this line of cooperation with different stakeholders in society. In the Basque Country, industry has gone from representing 30 percent of GDP to 23.5 percent. Our economy is more diversified, but what has really made the difference is the transformation of the industrial sector, which is now efficient in its resource consumption and more environmentally respectful.

The numbers back up this change of model, as the environmental sector generates around EUR 3.6 billion a year. The activity of eco-industries accounts for 5.3 percent of our GDP and we have over 1,200 companies with environmental certifications. In fact, around 50 percent of the companies certified in ecodesign in Spain are Basque.
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25 September 2017

Survey launched on health effects of blue spaces in urban areas

In recent years, the correlation between urban green spaces and positive health has been well established. The EU-funded BlueHealth project, which is comprised of nine partners from across Europe, is examining the health effects of living near blue spaces, such as canals, lakes and rivers.

As part of the project a criteria will be produced that can be used in a decision support tool for local actors on planning and integrating blue spaces in cities.

To ensure the needs and interests of urban practitioners are met, the project is calling on all local authorities and local actors involved in urban planning decision-making to participate in a mini-survey on blue health, providing their views on blue spaces in cities and what aspects should be considered.

The survey is accessible until the end of September. To share your views use the password: bh and click here.

For more information, visit the BlueHealth website.
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21 September 2017

Webinar to present how to participate in Urban Water Agenda 2030 consultation

With the new Urban Water Agenda 2030 (UWA2030) initiative, the European Commission is joining forces with local governments, including their water utilities, to promote sustainable water management in cities.

EUROCITIES and ICLEI, on behalf of the European Commission, are running an online consultation to ensure that relevant stakeholders in the urban water sector have a say in the development of the UWA2030.

This consultation is based on the first version of the UWA2030 strategy, which has been developed in close collaboration with a core group of cities. The current version suggests that cities can voluntarily commit themselves to actions in five strategic directions: at local, river basin, European Union, and global level, with the fifth direction highlighting direct exchanges between local governments as an essential mechanism for making an impact on the ground.

A webinar will be held on 21 September 2017 from 15.00 - 16.00 [CEST] that will offer guidance on completing the online consultation. The public consultation is open until 9 October 2017.

To take part in the webinar, contact water@iclei.org or click here.
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20 September 2017

EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK 2017 breaks participation record

The 2017 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign has set a new record for participation, with 2,478 cities from 50 countries officially taking part. Throughout the week, which takes place from 16 - 22 September each year, towns and cities are encouraged to present sustainable mobility alternatives to local residents, allowing them to experience the benefits of car-free travel.

The European Commission launched the 16th EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK at a ceremony in Brussels (Belgium). Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “Shared mobility is a smart and innovative emerging model of transportation, with the potential to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads: for example, for each shared car, 15 private cars are off the road. But it's not only about cars; we are witnessing a real spurt of shared bike systems in cities and towns across the EU. We need to ensure that the future of urban mobility is both shared and sustainable."

The theme of the 2017 campaign was ‘Clean, shared and intelligent mobility’, with the call-to-action ‘Sharing gets you further’.

This year’s EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK encouraged people to use shared forms of transportation such as bicycle and car sharing. Europe is the leader in shared mobility solutions and the value of transactions in shared mobility in Europe was estimated at €5.1 billion in 2015. It is expected to exceed €100 billion in 2025. Sharing transportation not only helps people save money, but also support the EU's goals of achieving a low-emission economy.

Every year, local authorities that have made significant efforts to promote sustainable urban mobility during the campaign, can apply for the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award until 23 October 2017.

In 2017, for the first time, small municipalities will have their own category within the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award. This means that two awards will be presented: one for municipalities with less than 50,000 inhabitants and one for municipalities with 50,000 inhabitants or more.

Local authorities can also apply for the Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP Award) until 3 November 2017. The SUMP Award rewards the development of a mobility plan addressing the diverse transport needs of people and businesses.

For more information, visit the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK website.
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19 September 2017

Brussels conference to explore setting standards for the smart city

Many cities are unfamiliar with the benefits of adopting voluntary standards and are unsure of how to get involved in the standardisation system. This conference, on 19 October in Brussels (Belgium), will bring cities and standardisers together to discuss the value of standardisation and to debate priorities and needs for cities in their journey to become smarter and more sustainable.

The intensive one-day event will see representatives of local communities, city authorities, and city professionals; representatives of smart city projects; policy makers; and other relevant stakeholders explore solutions for smart cities in their roll out of suitable infrastructures, services, systems, devices, equipment and more.

The results of the debates will feed into the CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Sector Forum on 'Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities', which acts as the advisory and coordinating body for European standardisation activities in this field.

For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
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15 September 2017

2017 Procura+ Awards finalists announced

Six finalists for the 2017 Procura+ Awards have been announced, representing outstanding sustainable and innovation procurements carried out in Europe. All six are competing across three award categories: 'Sustainable Procurement of the Year', 'Innovation Procurement of the Year’, and 'Tender Procedure of the Year'.

The finalists are ATC Torino (Home Territory Agency of Central Piedmont, Italy) for building energy performance solutions; the Netherlands Institute for Safety for sustainable fire service clothing; Hyvinkää Municipality (Finland), for its eco-labelled pre-school building; Public Health Wales (UK) for remanufacture of office furnishings; City of Lahti (Finland) for asphalt from waste roofing materials; and Ministry of Defence Netherlands for procurement of textiles from recycled fibres.

The winners will be announced and the awards presented as part of the Third Major eafip Event on Innovation Procurement in Tallinn (Estonia) on 17 October. The finalists were chosen after extensive deliberations of a jury comprised of procurement experts Philippe le Quement (DG Growth), Maria Pagel Fray and Casper Marott (City of Copenhagen, Denmark), Paula Trindade (LNEG), Floris den Boer (PIANOo), and Philipp Tepper (ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability).

Jury member Philippe le Quement said: “We were incredibly impressed by the quality of applications to this year’s awards and it was a real pleasure to learn more about the impressive strides being taken across Europe in innovative and sustainable procurement.”

The category 'Innovation Procurement of the Year' acknowledges PPI and public authorities as launch customers, while 'Sustainable Procurement of the Year' rewards the outstanding environmental, social and economic impacts of a procurement. 'Tender Procedure of the Year' recognises exceptional approaches to sustainable and innovation procurement.

Initiated and co-ordinated by ICLEI, Procura+ is a network of European public authorities and regions that connect, exchange and act on sustainable and innovation procurement.

For more information on the finalists, visit the Procura+ website.
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7 September 2017

Circular and Innovation Procurement to be highlighted at Estonian EU Presidency events

The Estonian Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2017 will host two major European procurement conferences from 17-19 October in Tallinn (Estonia), highlighting Circular Procurement and Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI). Since the first Circular Procurement Congress in April 2016 the topic of the transition to a Circular Economy has enjoyed increased focus at the EU level, resulting in a growing number of projects and initiatives involving local governments and the mainstreaming of the Circular Procurement concept.

The Conference on Innovation Procurement, hosted by eafip on 17-18 October, will host the 2017 edition of the Procura+ Awards for Sustainable Innovation and Procurement. The conference will bring together policy makers, public procurers and innovators to discuss major ICT-related innovation procurement initiatives across Europe.

The Circular Procurement Congress will address the key developments and current initiatives in Circular Procurement through presentations from the Estonian Government and the European Commission and ICLEI, as well as Procura+ network participants Rijkswaterstaat and Aalborg (Denmark). The event, taking place on 18-19 October, will have 'Market Lounge' group discussions and conclude with a keynote address by David Peck from the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability (CfS).

A Circular Procurement Interest Group has been established by the Procura+ European Sustainable Procurement Network, coordinated by ICLEI, to foster discussion and exchange on the topic among cities, local governments and regional networks. The Interest Group is currently open to new members and is focused on seeking to identify product and service groups to pilot circular procurement projects, incorporate non-conventional business models within tenders, and engaging markets to deliver products based on circular economy principles.

Mark Hidson, Global Director of ICLEI's Sustainable Procurement Centre and speaker at the Circular Procurement Congress, said:

"Using Circular Economy methodology in the context of public procurement has significant potential as a means to achieve social and environmental goals with impact across all European cities and regions. Public procurement represents 19% of European GDP, giving public authorities the leverage to be at the heart of the transition from the linear 'make, use, dispose' economy to a sustainable, circular model."

Online registration is available for the Conference on Innovation Procurement and the Circular Procurement Congress.

For more information and to join the Procura+ Circular Procurement Interest Group, contact procurement@iclei.org.
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5 September 2017

Heat Roadmap Europe 4 takes centre stage at Copenhagen energy and district heating conference

In Europe, there is a clear, long-term objective to decarbonise the energy system, but it is currently unclear how this will be achieved in the heating and cooling sector. A huge variety of tools and methods is currently applied to support the transition and develop efficient strategies and policies. The Heat Roadmap Europe 4 (HRE4) project aims to provide new capacity and skills for lead-users in the heating and cooling sector by developing the data, tools, methodologies, and results necessary to manage the sector’s transition.

An HRE4 project workshop will take place Monday 11 September (13:00-15:30, at the BLOX HUB), preceding the 3rd International Conference on Smart Energy Systems and 4th Generation District Heating (4DH). On this occasion, experts on heating and cooling system analyses from various ongoing (EU and beyond) H2020 research and innovations projects will exchange experiences, lessons learned and ways forward with regard to heating and cooling focused energy system analyses. The workshop aims at both: getting a better understanding of today's state of the art, as well as identifying promising ways forward to improve existing tools and methods. The scope includes assessments for individual cities or districts, as well as country- or EU-wide studies. It comprises sector-specific and system-wide approaches, bottom-up as well as top-down studies, etc.

Furthermore, the latest version of the Pan-European Thermal Atlas 4, Peta 4.2 will be launched on Tuesday, 12 September (17:00) at the 4DH conference. Immediately afterwards participants will have the opportunity to learn even more about Peta 4.2 and try it out for themselves at the Peta Stand, hosted by ICLEI. The Stand will also be available on Wednesday.

For more information about the events and registration, visit the conference website.
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1 September 2017

PPI4Waste project to host Brussels procurement conference

The PPI4Waste project will host its final conference, "Feedback and opportunities for public procurement of innovation in the waste sector", on 12 September in Brussels (Belgium). The purpose of the conference is to share the principal findings of the research, networking and training activities implemented during the project's lifetime to help increase the uptake of innovative waste solutions.

The one-day conference will have two main sessions. The first session will present the main findings of the PPI4Waste project and how public procurement of innovation (PPI) can be experimented and stimulated in the field of waste management. It will be followed by an afternoon session exploring synergies between procurers and projects on innovative solutions. A full programme and participant registration will be available shortly.

PPI4Waste is a three-year Horizon 2020 project involving eight partners, which explores how innovative public procurement can be a key instrument in galvanising the market in order to foster sustainability, preserving and recycling material resources.

For more information and to register, visit the PPI4Waste website.
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EMAS at ICLEI