Umeå's Climate roadmap 2030 – A pathway to follow

Umeå's Climate roadmap 2030 – A pathway to follow

Group photo with Umeå representatives planing the local activities within the Cities Mission

In April 2022, the European Commission announced that Umeå was one of the 112 cities selected for the EU-mission for 100 climate neutral and smart cities by 2030. This was an achievement that builds on the long-time work for sustainable development in Umeå municipality. The city’s overall growth vision is: To grow with social, ecological, cultural, and economic sustainability, on the path to becoming 200 000 citizens by the year 2050. Umeå's ambition is also to be carbon neutral in 2030.

One key factor is that Umeå municipality is integrating holistic targets like climate neutrality, social sustainability, and gender equality in the comprehensive plan. This enables the city to plan for the future and create conditions for a high quality of life for all citizens, and with that the conditions for a healthy and growing city. But the transition must be inclusive for all, and we need to address today’s power structures and behaviors in order to succeed.

When Umeå received the announcement in 2022, Deputy Mayor Janet Ågren, chair of the planning committee in the Umeå municipality said:

"This gives us better conditions to take the next big step in the transition, together with business, universities, and civil society. This work is crucial so that it will be possible to live well in a sustainably growing Umeå."

Collaboration is key to succeeding and Umeå has really taken the next step since April last year. With the support from Viable Cities, the Swedish innovation program for climate neutral and sustainable cities we have continued to develop the Swedish climate city contract 2030 that is signed with six national agencies and 23 municipalities. The core message is to break the silo structure of governance and foster a new form of dialogue between local level and national governance. It is a transformative process that is revised every year in December, with new commitments.

View on the Umeå waterfront

Photo: Fredrik Larsson

Involve the local ecosystem and taking the next step

In December 2022, forty stakeholders from all sectors signed an agreement to join Umeå Climate roadmap 2030. The city of Umeå is coordinating the work but is also one of the signatories. It is important to stress that the city administration is committed to reaching climate neutrality and that collaboration is a necessity. Other stakeholders that have signed come from a long range of sectors e.g., construction, housing, energy, industry, architects, hotel and restaurants and forestry.

These key actors will now move forward, making concrete actions for example, increase sustainable mobility and transport, electrification, circular and energy-efficient construction, less plastic in the waste and sustainable food. The process involves both citizens, businesses, academia, and other public organizations.

This is also what Umeå's application to NetZeroCities Pilot cities program is all about. Umeå is one of 52 cities that in February 2023 was selected to the Pilot cities program that will start in May. The pilot project will work with the Climate roadmap, to support the stakeholders to build testbeds and concrete actions. We will implement an innovation methodology, and a knowledge center for innovation and education. This will help us break the barriers of organizational lock-ins and the risk of suboptimization. To really make a systemic transformation we will need to rethink how we are running our organizations, budgeting, policies etc. It will require a lot of work, but we are convinced that it is the right way to go, and that it will bring a higher value in the end.

Citizens need to be in the center and be empowered to act and support the transition. We will host several events in an innovation program that we call UMECOM. It is a method that we have developed during the last year to facilitate ideas to implementation. This will be one of our tools to foster a culture where everyone can get involved and be part of Umeå's sustainable growth.

"I really want to say a big thank you to all actors and citizens in Umeå, who are pushing every day so that we can reduce our climate footprint and create an even more sustainable Umeå! It is when we all help each other and work in the same direction that we really can succeed in the transition, from companies, municipalities and regions to associations and civil society. And it is thanks to their amazing work that we now have this opportunity," says Deputy Mayor Janet Ågren (S), chair of the planning committee.

For us, sustainability is part of our identity and soul, so when you visit us, we want you to see, feel and live it too.


Author: Philip Näslund, Strategic Development Officer
Municipality of Umeå