NZC was present at one of the leading international events on smart and sustainable cities
“Cities will need to adopt a systemic and innovative approach to overcome the obstacles on the path to climate neutrality by 2030” was one of the key reflections shared during the Smart City Expo World Congress sessions in which NZC participated. The project was present at SCEWC from 15 to 17 November as part of the European Smart Cities and Communities joint presence of projects under the umbrella of the European Commission. Scalable Cities Secretariat and Smart Cities Marketplace brought together 30 European initiatives and projects, including NetZeroCities, that are developing innovative solutions to help cities spearhead climate action.
One of the benefits of being at the Smart City Expo World Congress was the opportunity to hear from, talk to, and integrate learnings from cities’ smart-focused projects as well as those with a climate neutral focus. Bringing greater alignment across these streams is key to integrated success. Our team members on the ground were keen to do this and more across the three days of discussions that brought together over 20 000 visitors, 800 exhibitors and more than 400 speakers to reflect and exchange views on the task of building the cities of the future.
At the European Smart Cities and Communities joint booth, NetZeroCities led the session “Climate Neutral by 2030: European Cities are on a Mission!” that featured a roundtable discussion with city representatives from Helsinborg, Liepaja, Ioannina and Angers, moderated by Thomas Osdoba, NZC coordinator. The session was kicked off by Patrick Child, EU Cities Mission Manager, who stressed the key role cities play in helping make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050:
Cities are important players in the global fight against climate change as they consume over 65% of the world’s energy and account for 60 to 80% of global CO2 emissions. In Europe cities take up only 4% of the land area but they are home to 75% of our citizens. Cities are indispensable partners therefore as they are the level closest to the citizens and at the forefront of events.
Then, Mission Cities representatives exchanged on the challenges they face in their cities and what they are doing to find solutions to reach climate neutrality by 2030. Bringing all stakeholders on board and engaging them well in the Climate City Contract process, simplifying processes to move forward faster and having access to more financial and human resources were some of the points raised by cities.
On 17 November, NetZeroCities representatives participated in two Agora sessions. Thomas Osdoba spoke at the “Road to the Moon: the city neutrality challenges” session, together with Lisa Enarsson, Project Manager at the City of Stockholm, and Anna Lisa Boni, Deputy Mayor in Bologna. Alvaro Soldevila, from Resilient Cities Network & NetZeroCities, facilitated the discussion that revolved around how cities are working in the EU Cities Mission, the barriers encountered and the necessary steps to be taken to achieve the ambitious objective of net zero emissions by 2030. Thomas Osdoba emphasised that the ultimate goal is to help all cities reach climate neutrality and for that, investing in innovation and learning will be key.
NetZeroCities also participated in the session “How do we reach climate neutrality in cities by 2030”, represented by Ed Synnott, Climate-Neutral Cities Advisor at EUROCITIES. The session brough together H2020 SCC projects (ATELIER, SPARCS, +CityxChange, RESPONSE, Pocityf) together with Scalable Cities, Smart Cities Marketplace, AI4Cities, Net Zero Cities and the CrAFt project to talk about the solutions and financing cities need to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions within eight years. Ed Synnott reminded the audience that reaching climate neutrality is a journey through transversal levers: investment, support around knowledge and learning, social innovation and citizen engagement. NetZeroCities, as the EU Cities Mission Platform, is taking all these aspects into account to create the right conditions and ensure the necessary tools and support so that cities can lead decarbonisation efforts.
The last session NetZeroCities participated in focused on innovation. Speakers from European Smart Cities and Communities projects working on solutions to make EU cities more sustainable shared their views on what innovation meant to them. “A lot of the innovation cities will need to undertake to reach climate neutrality needs to happen in a more integrative way” was one of the thoughts shared by Thomas Osdoba, NZC Programme Director.
The Smart City Expo World Congress was also the occasion for NetZeroCities representatives to interact with event attendees, including cities representatives, industry members, and other European initiatives and projects.