Cities as expertise and innovation hubs
The EU Mission for 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030 has started this year and already entered an active phase with its cities preparing the climate city contracts. The UBC TALKS webinar on 25 October 2022 dived into the topic to see how UBC members selected for the Mission are preparing for acting on it, and to find the available support for all cities striving to decarbonise their operations.
The webinar was opened by the Mission Manager Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General for DG Environment in the European Commission. He explained the goals and process of the Cities Mission and highlighted the opportunities for exchange for participating cities. DDG Child emphasized three key points, which all ambitious cities need to ensure:
devote the necessary resources into the preparation of the climate city contract,
engage stakeholders from the very start and focus on new ways for citizen engagement to make it a collective journey,
give necessary attention to the national networks.
“I believe that the Union of the Baltic Cities is a very natural and positive vector for us to develop these conversations in support of our collective ambitions,"
— Patrick Child, Mission Manager
Following on these messages, UBC members Gävle, Tartu, Umeå, and Liepaja brought the pitches and interventions from their current activities in the Mission process.
The presentation from Gävle, delivered by Elin Frisk, focused on the cooperation levels helping cities in formulating the aims and preparing the implementation process for the Mission. The pitch from Tartu by Kaspar Alev brought up several practical sides in the city that need to be addressed to reach climate neutrality by 2030: technical and social renovation of buildings, increasing the accessibility of the city, and citizen engagement. Presentation of Umeå from Emmy Sundin concretised the steps for the multi-level action and provided an example of a citizen engagement campaign UMECOM launched locally. The intervention from Liepaja by Karlis Beihmanis brought the Baltic Cities Conference to the participants’ attention, as a place where the Baltic States’ cities exchanged on the need to cooperate between the cities. Karlis emphasized how cities on their own can be seen as small players – but through cooperating as the Baltic States, or as UBC member cities, the cities become stronger on the macroregional scale.
Wrapping up the messages and opportunities for cities, Anna Huttunen, climate neutral city advisor from NetZeroCities, presented how this project functions as a Cities Mission platform and what are the tools offered for both the Mission and non-Mission cities with the ambition of becoming climate-neutral. The NetZeroCities Pilot Cities programme was also presented, as a funded programme for all cities to apply for targeting key identified city emissions. The deadline of the Call is extended to 15 November 2022.