Athens' Pilot City Activity: ASCEND - Athens Superblock



The ASCEND pilot activity aims to address key challenges in the local context, focusing on climate commitments and urban sustainability. Athens faces issues such as air and noise pollution, energy poverty, and unequal access to urban amenities, particularly in marginalised communities.

The ASCEND pilot activities, centred around the Superblock approach, seek to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions, promoting eco-mobility, and enhancing resilience in economically disadvantaged areas.

Key barriers include the need for stakeholder engagement, capacity building, and overcoming implementation challenges in a diverse urban landscape. Through inclusive governance and learning mechanisms, ASCEND aims to overcome these barriers and pave the way for a more equitable and sustainable Athens.

Description of Activities

ASCEND is dedicated to advancing climate neutrality and enhancing urban liveability through innovative initiatives targeting energy, transportation, and green spaces inclusively and participatorily. The pilot activities, set in a multicultural neighbourhood in Athens, aims to model large-scale city transitions by actively engaging citizens and stakeholders in a just climate transition.

The ASCEND pilot in Athens focuses on reducing emissions, boosting energy efficiency, promoting sustainable mobility, and enhancing green spaces. Key activities include installing solar panels on schools, developing smart grids, and retrofitting buildings for improved energy efficiency.

The pilot activity will introduce the superblocks model to promote sustainable transport, expand cycling paths, and encourage the use of electric vehicles. Additionally, urban reforestation initiatives will be implemented to increase green spaces.

These efforts aim to create a resilient and sustainable urban environment, aligning with Athens’ Climate Action Plan. By transforming the neighbourhood and engaging the community, ASCEND hopes to set a precedent for broader urban transitions, making cities more liveable and climate-friendly.


To achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, enhance energy efficiency, promote sustainable transportation, and increase green spaces, ultimately advancing Athens towards its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Are the pilot activities building upon or part of a previous and/or existing activity?

The City of Athens has invested in strategic planning towards becoming a resilient city. In this framework, the City has developed a Resilience Strategy, two Climate Action Plans, a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, and a series of other strategic documents. The ASCEND pilot leverages and expands upon several existing activities and initiatives in Athens to enhance urban resilience and climate neutrality. It builds on the work of the Office of Resilience and Sustainability and the City’s participation in international agreements like the Covenant of Mayors. Collaborations with networks such as Eurocities and ICLEI further strengthen its foundation. The pilot addresses energy poverty through the Municipal Energy Poverty Office and aligns with Athens’ commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030 as a Mission city. It complements ongoing projects focused on renewable energy, sustainable mobility, and green space development, including initiatives like REACHOUT for climate resilience, CompAir for air quality monitoring, ARSINOE for innovative climate adaptation, FUSILLI for urban food system transformation, NextGen for circular water systems, and GreenIn Cities for urban greening. This coordinated approach ensures a comprehensive and synergistic advancement of climate action in Athens.

Which emissions domains will the pilot activities address?

  • Consumption of electricity generated for buildings, facilities, and infrastructure

  • Consumption of non-electricity energy for thermal uses in buildings and facilities (e.g., heating, cooking, etc.)

  • All vehicles and transport (mobile energy) 

  • Multi-sector waste management and disposal 

Systemic transformation – levers of change the pilot activities will exploit

  • Governance & Policy

  • Social Innovation

  • Finance & Funding

  • Learning & Capabilities 

  • Data & Digitalisation 

Stakeholder types that the city would like to engage in the pilot activities 

  • Academia  

  • Research Institutions

  • Citizens

  • Public/Private Partnerships

  • Business

  • Local NGO, Associations

  • School community, artists, neighbourhood groups

Transferable features of the pilot activities to a Twin City/ies 

  • An innovative approach to neighbourhood revitalisation through green transformation with participatory methods and data collection based on a bottom-up approach involving civic society and technical institutions.
  • A model for climate neutral neighbourhoods / zones that can be scaled up and replicated in other EU cities.
  • An approach for experimenting with innovative urban regeneration models aiming at energy efficiency, heating and mobility, social innovation and novel urban planning approaches.
  • Feedback mechanisms and reporting systems allowing residents to express their views, fears, hopes, dreams, concerns, and to provide feedback, and report positive and negative impacts as well as solutions and visions.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

Enabling conditions that will support the successful replication of your pilot activities in the Twin City

  • A favourable social and institutional environment to facilitate the design of climate neutral, green, beautiful, low-energy, innovative, inclusive, zero-pollution, high-quality areas to live and thrive.
  • Previous successful experiences that build trust between citizens, technical advisors, and authorities and allow for the creation of a common vision.
  • Accurate mapping and evaluation of problems, obstacles and barriers that need to change to enable the envisaged transformations.
  • A clear regulatory framework for urban participatory regeneration and interventions related to climate mitigation and adaptation projects.
  • Tools to inspire the participation of stakeholders, for example, well-documented procedures, transparent planning, structured dialogue, shared and co-created knowledge.

Access to a range of funding and financing opportunities to create an enabling environment for experimentation

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

What does the city want to learn from Twin City/ies?

  • Integrated planning that overcomes fragmented approaches.
  • Engaging multiple stakeholders in complex urban scale projects.
  • Changing established behaviours and stereotypes on multicultural neighbourhoods.
  • Approaches to breaking up silos and activating citizens and civic actors afraid to participate.
  • Innovative funding tools and preparation for securing resources.
  • Low-cost and fast-track community projects related to sustainable energy, green spaces and sustainable mobility that have a significant impact.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.