Dunkirk's Pilot City Activity: Net-Zero Urban-Industrial Growth (NZUIG)

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Background

Greater Dunkirk, a major port contributing 20% of France’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions, is striving to become a climate-neutral city without sacrificing economic development. Rising emissions from industrial processes, urban mobility, energy generation, and buildings highlight the urgent need for a shift from the current scenario. Greater Dunkirk plans to revitalise its industrial sector to attract clean energy manufacturing, creating 16,000 jobs by 2030 while improving the environment and quality of life, and reducing emissions from mobility, housing, and energy.

The Net-Zero Urban-Industrial Growth project starts with the recognition that mobility is central to Greater Dunkirk’s green transition. This involves connecting workplaces with residential areas and integrating housing, biodiversity corridors, and energy infrastructure within urban development. Challenges include societal acceptance of alternative mobility, urban densification, future living environments, transportation efficiency and availability, access to transport modes, real-time information for smooth mobility, and coordination with work schedules. Resident concerns also focus on risks of inadequate government intervention, the need for new housing, rising costs including energy prices, preserving agriculture and biodiversity in a constrained development area, and the attractiveness of Greater Dunkirk to new employees.

Description of Activities

The pilot has the following core activities:

  • Revolutionise urban mobility services, favouring collective transport and active commuting over traditional parking infrastructures and solo-driving for Verkor’s employees, emphasising deployment synergies from innovative technologies to enhance the city’s collective mobility fleet – supported by Greater Dunkirk’s governance, including dialogue and collaboration between mobility stakeholders.
  • Test a new solution for vacant housing units, to put them back into the market, aligning them with modern needs and bolstering community revitalisation, including testing a new supporting policy to give financial incentives to owners of vacant houses to help them renovate the house for energy efficiency.
  • Plan the industrial heat network with GPMD and partners, repurposing waste heat as part of this process, diversifying the city’s energy profile, and remodelling the heat network master plan along with implementing a new fair pricing policy to bring a solution combining climate-neutrality and societal acceptance.
  • Reinforce blue-green corridors for soft mobility including creating cycle pathways, landscape continuity, biodiversity and carbon sequestration– and planting new trees and hedges.

Objective

Net-zero Urban-industrial Growth (NZUIG) aims to inspire and provide concrete solutions for other European cities—large industrial and port hubs, but also a broader swathe of urban areas seeking to reconcile new growth and climate neutrality - by taking a cross sectoral approach to implementing the scale up of the demonstrator centred around the Verkor e-car batteries factory incorporating a revolutionised approach to mobility, nature-based solutions, industrial waste heat reutilisation and innovative housing solutions into the project.

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

Previous Key activities that feed into this pilot include:

  • DK’Plus Urban Mobility Project – the complete restructuring of the public bus transport network to improve its service, efficiency, and reliability.
  • Intercommunal Urban Planning – a new integrated urban planning and systemic approach, including a SUMP and a Local Housing Plan.
  • Eco-Habitat – providing comprehensive, free technical and financial audits and advice for home energy efficiency and on accessing finance using the available national financial levers.
  • “Dunkerque l’énergie créative” – a dynamic reflection and action Greater Dunkirk-led platform that fuses diverse stakeholder insights for carbon-neutral reindustrialisation.
  • Citizen renewable energy in Dunkirk (DK’Watt) – to create a citizen photovoltaic power plant to ensure the energy independence for the local population.bioD Consultancy – nationally distinctive, bioD advises public and private actors on environmental assessments and contributes to the regional biodiversity observatory.
  • The «Tree Everywhere» initiative (in Téteghem-Coudekerque-Village) – Promoting sustainable reforestation of the territory.
  • GPMD’s Natural Heritage Strategy: Reflecting “Tree Everywhere,” GPMD’s initiative aims to harness agricultural spaces near Craywick for ecological benefits.
  • Eco-Initiative Service – a tool for citizen participation.

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) 

  • ​Industrial process emissions 

  • Land use (including agriculture, forestry, and other land uses) 

Systemic transformation – levers of change the pilot activities will exploit

  • Technology/Infrastructure  

  • Governance & Policy

  • Social Innovation

  • Learning & Capabilities 

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

  • Academia  

  • Research Institutions

  • Citizens

  • Public/Private Partnerships

  • Business

  • Large Utility and Mobility Companies

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

  • A blueprint for transforming industrial-urban areas and promoting industrial resurgence – reigniting economic and industrial vitality.
  • Systemic changes linked to car use (within Greater Dunkirk boundaries).
  • Economic development and citizen/employees’ satisfaction: how to balance the advantages for both.

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

  • Public transport solution/adaptation, fast and easy to use – infrastructure + economic support
  • Public/private partnership – governance
  • Citizen involvement

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

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

  • How to reconcile industrial development with climate neutrality
  • Strategy of setting up innovative industries which considers the challenges of economic and industrial transition as a priority regional interest
  • Viewing our blueprint as a keystone for industrial redevelopment strategies
  • Developing housing that meets the challenges of adaptability/mitigation and construction adaptation to life changes
  • Creation of Natural Compensation and Restoration Sites (development of soft mobility solution, limit land use in order to preserve agricultural activity while addressing biodiversity challenges and more)

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.