Pilot Cities receive additional, dedicated support during the implementation of their innovative work. The support provided includes capacity building, specialist expert support in the domain of their pilot focus area(s), peer learning opportunities, and a programme of learning and ‘sensemaking’.
The first cohort of 53 cities began their 25 pilot activities in the summer of 2023, and more will enter the programme in the second and third cohorts in 2024. Each cohort goes through the programme together – as a whole group and also in focussed learning clusters – providing a space for exchange and collective learning.
With a range of approaches from testing innovative mechanisms to finance their city’s climate transition to setting up and experimenting with energy communities, Pilot Cities are rolling up their sleeves and stepping outside their ‘business as usual’ approach. And they are doing so not only to develop innovate transition pathways, but also to acquire the right skills, collaborative partnerships, and knowledge to ramp up their transition to climate neutrality by 2030 – the fast-approaching target most of these cities have committed to reaching.
“We are helping cities to tackle systems change head-on, by investing in their efforts to learn and build capabilities while working on leading-edge innovations. This critical effort is essential for Mission Cities to achieve climate neutrality.” – says Thomas Osdoba, Programme Director for NetZeroCities.
The approach taken by Pilot Cities varies based on the unique combination of local needs, priorities and other cultural and contextual nuances. The diversity of approaches emphasises the unique ability each city has to take ownership and influence their own path within the Programme. Galway, for example, will focus on retrofitting private homes in a decarbonisation area, with interventions at three levels: advising citizens, capacity building in the workforce, and engaging decision-making bodies to create more attractive conditions (i.e. cheaper loans) for retrofits. Meanwhile Polish cities are working together to develop retrofitting digital solutions that will be scalable to other cities in Poland and beyond.
Other Pilot Cities, such as Liberec and Guimarães, are setting up energy communities to test out a range of solutions in specific areas, from transport and energy consumption in buildings to improved waste management. The Swedish city of Uppsala is leveraging the Pilot Cities Programme to focus on the local circular economy by improving material flows, especially in the building sector. Part of their plan includes increasing the use of reusable materials in construction and setting up a marketplace for such materials.