Mission Cities are embarking on a remarkable journey to reach climate neutrality by 2030. But a growing group of Climate Neutral City Advisors are making sure that they aren’t doing so alone.
As the key contact point for Mission Cities, Climate Neutral City Advisors are a central part of the process of co-designing local roadmaps to climate neutrality by 2030 through Climate City Contracts. Together the City Advisors represent a wealth of experience in working directly with cities, which will come in handy as they work to connect cities and advise them as they commit to, implement, and invest in climate action.
This will be no small task: with more than 100 Mission Cities, each City Advisor is responsible for connecting the dots between people, expertise, and resources, such as the ones available on the NetZeroCities Portal. The City Advisors have begun by conducting a Support Needs Assessment Process (SNAP) with the cities, to get a better grasp of where cities most need support and advice. This role is also poised to grow – once the Pilot Cities are selected, City Advisors will help them to kick off participatory approaches and innovative governance methods as well as forge new paths to finance the transition.
In this article, we will introduce each of the Climate Neutral City Advisors, and the diverse range of experiences they bring into their work with each Mission City.
Meet the team!
Jane is no stranger to working on strategy, innovation and transformation, with more than 30 years of experience partnering up with cities, local governments, utilities, non-profits, and other stakeholders to deliver multidisciplinary projects. Jane specialises in bringing design thinking into projects, as well as conducting analysis and bolstering engagement and participation.
“Cities are at the forefront of tackling unprecedented challenges in the face of the climate emergency. The Climate Neutral and Smart Cities Mission is a fantastic way for us all work together to reach for an ambitious target and transform our cities – through collaboration and sharing, creativity, and innovation.”
Ed Synnott has worked in urban affairs for more than 30 years, across the UK, EU, and Australasia. Whether on the side of strategy, innovation, or energy and climate analysis, Ed’s past involvement in city-scale initiatives speaks to a familiarity with the challenges cities face, and the changes needed to spark a climate transition.
“Gone are the days of ‘experts’ sitting in darkened rooms beavering away on complex emissions reductions plans for cities. We are all really in this together, and that means we have to find a way of bringing forth change as a truly collective process”.
An environmental engineer by training, Francisco brings years of experience in sustainable energy management, including the implementation of sustainable energy policies at the city scale. Francisco is also well-versed in national and EU-level environmental policies, having worked for more than a decade as a project manager and EU funding advisor with Lisboa E-Nova, Lisbon’s Energy and Environment Agency.
Vlatka Berlan Vlahek
Vlatka brings to the City Advisor cohort expertise in urban development, regeneration, and the practicalities of an urban energy transition. Having worked as an urban and business advisor, Vlatka is well-prepared to act as a guide for Mission Cities as they build and implement their Climate City Contracts – a process that will also draw on Vlatka’s experience with community-based sustainable development.
Julie is uniquely well-versed in EU Research & Innovation policy, having worked on Horizon 2020 projects on sustainable cities, nature-based solutions, and climate. Building on this experience, as well as in local energy planning in and with French cities, Julie will work alongside Mission Cities as they create and put their climate commitments into action.
Most recently working at the intersection of urbanism and technology, Keira is an urban planner with extensive experience in large-scale urban development projects and multidimensional spatial analyses. Keira’s keen interest in confronting major urban challenges and building resilient, livable communities bolsters the systemic approach embodied by the Cities Mission.
Anna joined the CA team after working several years in a city administration. Anna has a strong background in sustainable mobility and has worked on developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs), building the ecosystem, implementing and measuring their results. Anna is a keen advocate for cycling (the future of transport in cities) and has also worked on environmental governance from a participatory standpoint, working to improve communication efforts and citizen engagement in past roles.
“Having a background of working the last years in a city administration helps me to step into the shoes of the colleagues in cities. I am familiar having those battles and hard discussions and know that even if it is sometimes hard, it is worth it.”
Jakob is a believer in co-creation in “making the way for radical innovation,” a crucial element to the systemic and social innovation needed in the climate transition. Jakob’s background in energy, open innovation, buildings, and urban development is complemented by his interest in building partnerships and networks for the purposes of sustainable development.
Nilofer is an urban planner whose experience working on projects in urban resilience and adaptation, water, and energy is strengthened by a focus on inclusive and participatory development. Already well-versed in working with interdisciplinary teams at the city level, Nilofer’s approach to capacity building and engagement strengthens the mandate of Mission Cities as they take a community-wide approach to a climate-neutral transition.
“I have witnessed first-hand how inclusion of diverse groups in climate action planning can not only break barriers and prejudices but also lead to the co-creation of innovative solutions and uncover the co-benefits of the transition.”
Building on a background in economics, Alvaro has worked with cities for more than 10 years as they advance their social, economic, and environmental goals. Whether on the project management side, or in strategy and program development, Alvaro has worked on many facets of projects that touch on urban resilience, water, and disaster risk reduction. Alvaro has worked in a diverse range of contexts, with experience across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe – which informs the way that Mission Cities will be supported in developing their own approaches to climate neutrality.
“This mission is an opportunity that can help cities to transition into a sustainable future, but also is essential to inspire an urban transformation that we want to see around the world.”
Trained as an architect and urban designer, Svea has worked with cities across Southern and Central Europe for 15 years to achieve their goals in sustainable urban development. From buildings to energy, circular economy to transportation, Svea has expertise in a wide array of topics relevant to cities as they map out their journey to climate neutrality.
During his time as Deputy Mayor in the City of Eeklo, Belgium, Bob gained more than a decade of experience spearheading local initiatives and navigating the practical aspects of making city projects happen — including wind power, heating and solar projects. With foundations in political science and geography, Bob’s work has included the development of democratic governance models and effective stakeholder engagement.
“Like any other, the proof of the Climate pie will be in the eating. Only when solutions allow to translate the global story into local narratives of how the needed transition can lower energy prices, how it can help local businesses, improve the liveability of cities and lever people out of poverty, our Mission can succeed.”
Elena Patatouka has a background in architectural engineering and a PhD in urban planning. The last fifteen years she has been working as a Senior Project Manager and Researcher in the field of innovative cities, using advanced quantitative and qualitative techniques that build bridges among academia, industry and policy. She has delivered high-end applied work sampling experience and lessons learnt across multiple European urban centres in urban mobility, sustainable urbanism, energy systems, co-creation and urban finance.
“The Climate Neutral and Smart Cities Mission is a great opportunity to think at the European and global level and act locally at the city level, aiming to improve the everyday life of the citizens and especially the vulnerable social groups, not by a process created for them, but by a process created by them.”
City Advisors are already a crucial part of the systemic change that cities will undergo as part of the Cities Mission. Each of them brings to the Cities Mission not only a unique perspective on climate neutrality, but also a passion for making cities better places to work, live, and play along the way.