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 McLaughlin 

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 

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”. 


Francisco Gonçalves 

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 Delcroix  

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.  




Keira Webster  

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 Huttunen 

Anna joined the City Advisor 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 Stolt  

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 Tajuddin  

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.” 


Alvaro Soldevila 

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.” 


Svea Heinemann 

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. 




Bob D’Haeseleer 

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.” 



Anna Sokolowska

Anna is an expert in retrofitting neighbourhoods to achieve net zero, specifically PLAN ZERO – an association of dedicated city practitioners with municipal experience. Anna has initiated and led urban transformation programmes, including “Zielone Polesie” – a 200 ha central city neighbourhood in Lodz, involving a variety of sectors (urban design, mobility, green networks, increasing sustainability, public transport, community engagement, etc). Anna is also a future-oriented urban designer with interest in science, complex systems, building a culture of cooperation.

We are at the pivotal decade in human history*; the key issue is getting the emissions numbers down. There isn’t one universal solution or path towards net zero for the complex systems that cities are, and with the rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable future – we have to act fast and learn as we go. Having a consortium this prepared for tackling an unprecedented crisis on a systemic level makes me believe that for each individual city – it’s figureoutable.”

*according to the IPCC reports.


Justyna Wieczorkiewicz-Molendo

Justyna is an expert in supporting cities in their transformation to becoming sustainable and resilient cities as a former advisor to Polish cities and local government partnerships in projects of the Association of Polish Cities. With strong experience in European funds and consultancy for local cities, Justyna has led and implemented the funding mechanism for the city of Wrocław.

“The world is currently experiencing painful climate change, and its effects are determining our daily lives. This should further strengthen our conviction that we need to take action to reduce the scale of its impact. Cities are an incredible space for confronting climate problems and showing that with community involvement the impossible becomes possible. Together we can do more.”


Gabriela Uchoa

Gabriela is an Urban Planner with more than 10 years’ experience within different levels of government, working to support cities with the implementation of urban and climate resilience strategies. Gabriela has held a variety of positions in urban and strategic planning, sustainable development, and climate resilience within International Organisations.

Together, we’re crafting a collective narrative of change, innovation, and transformative action, shaping urban futures that inspire and lead the charge towards climate neutrality.



Deniz Celik Bulgurlu

With a background in urban planning and architecture, Deniz is an urbanist with deep-seated experience in driving positive impact for sustainable cities working across sectors from academia as an instructor for urban informatics to non-profits as a researcher for circular economy and sustainable cities to local governments as an international projects coordinator for smart cities.

While the 2030 deadline is a very ambitious target, it drives immediate actions to real-time constraints and prevents business as usual and procrastination. With NetZeroCities we will push limits on building necessary enforcements, standards, strategies, and actions that will go beyond climate buzzwords. Targets bind society together to find where action is needed, and we need to orchestrate every actor’s aspect into this systemic change for a liveable future for all.


Joanna Komperda

Joanna has an extensive background in European Research and Innovation (R&I) policy domains, including crucial areas such as climate, biodiversity, environment, and agriculture. Joanna has experience in Polish funding authorities, European research networks by monitoring EU policy, stimulating the R&I community’s participation in the EU framework programmes and connecting future international partners across Europe. Joanna has been actively involved in developing and implementing several annual thematic joint calls for research initiated by two prominent European networks: JPI Urban Europe and Era-Net BiodivERsA.

“Each city is unique and has its own distinctive approach towards achieving climate neutrality. Being so diverse, over 100 European cities will guide Europe towards sustainable transformation and the assurance of comfortable living for all. NetZeroCities experts, each possessing a unique set of skills and knowledge, come together like pieces of a puzzle to help cities meet their goals. Diversity is our strength!”


Sozvin Al Youssef

Sozvin has a strong background in the field of urban climate resilience, specialising in local capacity building, governance, and policy innovation for urban climate adaptation across different regions of the world including South America, Europe, North Africa, and Asia Pacific. Sozvin has extensive academic and research experience in strategic planning for urban climate resilience.

”The EU Cities Mission, along with the NetZeroCities diverse partners consortium, provides a vital support for cities to drive collective, and innovative action, and address immense economic, financial, and technical  gaps many cities in Europe face in the fight against climate change. I strongly believe this project is not only impactful at the European level but also globally, inspiring new governance approaches for a green and equitable transition.”


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.  

The City Advisor team at the Mission in Progress: Climate Neutral and Smart Cities Conference 2023, Brussels