UBC Sustainable Cities Commission at the UBC XV General Conference in Kaunas, Lithuania

The XV UBC General Conference was held 15-18th October in Kaunas, the historical center of Lithuania, with the topic “Building an inclusive and resident-focused city. The Baltic way”. The conference marked the beginning of a new era for UBC as Mantas Jurgutis, Deputy Mayor of Kaunas, was voted for becoming the president of the UBC. His team of newly elected vice presidents consists of Elina Rantanen (1st Vice-President), Chairperson of Turku City Council, Piotr Grzelak, Deputy Mayor of Gdansk, Vyacheslav Kalganov from the City of St. Petersburg and Jørgen Kristiansen from the City of Kristiansand.

During the UBC Sustainable Cities Commission meeting a new Advisory Board and Co-Chairs were appointed for the period of 2019-2021. Ms Irena Sakaliene from the city of Klaipeda, Mr Per-Arne Nilsson from the city of Malmö and Mr Risto Veivo from the city of Turku will continue their appointment as the Sustainable Cities Commission’s Co-Chairs. The Commission meeting also discussed the commission’s Activity Report from 2017-2019 and approved of the Commission’s Action Plan for 2019-2021.

The workshop on Good practices in UBC Sustainable Cities was co-organized by the UBC Sustainable Cities Commission together with the City of St. Petersburg. In this workshop eight cities shared their best practices and examples of sustainability actions going on in their cities. The presentations included for example Living Street campaigns as temporary mobility actions presented by Steffen Nozon from the City of Rostock and the development of Tamarinden, an energy smart housing area in Örebro, presented by Carinne Lancereau from the City of Örebro.

The workshop on climate change and security risks was realized in cooperation with the UBC Safe Cities Commission and the CASCADE project. Keynote speaker of the workshop, Elena Višnar Malinovská from DG Clima stated: “You can consider yourself lucky if you live in a city not affected by climate change” a message worth remembering for our member cities. Nina Jernberg from CBSS noted that we should focus on being preventive rather than responsive when it comes to disaster risk reduction. Adaptability is about preventing forest fires rather than having the capacity to extinguish them once the forests are already burning. The panel discussion involved city examples from  Gdansk, Jelgava, Kaunas and St. Petersburg.

Besides hosting a Commission meeting and being involved in two workshops the Sustainable Cities Commission organized a networking session where member cities were invited to discuss about ongoing issues and future co-operation interests. A lot of good exchange and discussions and topics were raised including for example up the involvement of SDG’s in cities’ strategies and the conflicting objectives of sustainability and economic growth.

The XVI UBC General Conference will be held in St Petersburg in 2021 – see you there!

Text: Sini Lamoureux