Thessaloniki's Pilot City Activity: ReGenWesT -Thessaloniki West Center Green Deal

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Background

The Thessaloniki pilot activity is building on one of its Climate City Contract’s emblematic interventions for the creation of climate neutral districts. The district under investigation is one of the main quarters in the city centre.

Thessaloniki’s public transport system is about to embrace the metro, and the physical changes derived from its operation from 2024 will not only transform the current transport network, but also cause subsequent transformation across all aspects of local society, including urban land uses, environmental, economic, and social transformation.

The district faces major challenges of urban, mobility, and social disruption, discrepancies and devaluation, and because of the fragmentations caused by the multi-year metro construction works.

The project takes an urban planning approach that aims to maximise and upgrade accessibility and use of Nature-based Solutions within the area to bring different land uses together. Specific barriers to be addressed by the pilot include:

  • Lack of a comprehensive and structural governance model for mobility to cover public authorities and private stakeholders alike.
  • Lack of planning fit-for-purpose for public-private collaborations.
  • Lack of consolidated data required for integrated redevelopments to be verified at planning stage.
  • Lack of concrete policy measures to mitigate the effects of gentrification.
  • Citizens’ private car dependency.

Description of Activities

Thessaloniki’s pilot activity is articulated around three thematic axes (A, B, and C) and a horizontal one (D) that supports participation, co-design, and governance.

(A) Multimodal Mobility Hub Upgrade: data-driven decision-making for innovative multimodal mobility infrastructure, smart mobility, and urban logistics solutions.

(B) Urban regeneration with Nature-based Solutions (NBS) for carbon neutrality: investigating the implementation challenges of urban regeneration with NBS that contribute to climate neutrality.

(C) Just transition for social cohesion: gentrification mitigation and concerns with the disproportionate effects urban regeneration can have in an area where protection against social and housing exclusion is starkly lacking.

(D) Towards a Local Green Deal: an overarching strategy, framework, and methodology for the engagement process to co-develop a reflexive multi-stakeholder governance model.

In principle, the mobility pilot activities have as main outputs the deployment of data-driven innovative approaches in:

  • decision making and synergy with public transport and traffic management operations
  • introduction of new mobility services and smart solutions
  • technology and digitalisation adoption (test beds, data spaces, dashboards)
  • engagement of actors in the quadruple helix
  • collaborative business modelling
  • sensemaking actions

The urban regeneration pilot activities have as main outputs:

  • masterplan of green infrastructure and NBS in the pilot district
  • rain gardens and emissions reduction at an elementary school
  • environmental monitoring system, mapping and monitoring the district’s natural ecosystem

Objective

To develop a Local Green Deal through facilitating holistic and multi-level engagement as a reflexive governance model to unlock the pathways to address climate change impacts by focusing on enhancing sustainable mobility, integrated urban regeneration, and just transition for social cohesion.

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

The Municipality of Thessaloniki participates in the 100 Intelligent City Challenge (ICC) as a Core City and in the Digital City Challenge. Both the launch and implementation of the Thessaloniki Resilient Strategy have built up the city’s overarching vision of becoming a resilient city that relies on digital transformation, its human capital, and institutions to boost economic growth and improve quality of life.

The municipality has held a 100 Resilient Cities-led Colab in Thessaloniki in 2018, an exchange between experts, city managers, and local stakeholders to identify a set of recommendations on how to leverage the upcoming metro infrastructure into multiple resilient benefits.

More than 300 R&I projects have been implemented in the last seven years for Thessaloniki in various research fields, including Interreg Europe 2050CliMobcity, Horizon Europe projects MOMENTUM, CUTLER, and UP2030, which are currently being implemented (2023-2025). Complementary mobility-focused activities through the UPPER and SYNCHROMODE projects and around the urban logistics DISCO project have also been implemented.

Which emissions domains will the pilot activities address?

  • All vehicles and transport (mobile energy) 

  • Multi-sector waste management and disposal 

  • 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

  • Democracy/Participation

  • 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

  • Other: Multi-level governance

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

  • A modular approach to integrating green technologies, policy innovation, governance, and community engagement.
  • Advanced traffic management systems and infrastructural modifications.
  • District Local Green Deal as a reflexive governance model with integrated actions and multi-level engagement.
  • Learning Programme (to include sensemaking in real-life conditions – District Green Deal CoLab)
  • Nature-based solutions actions including:
    • renovation masterplan for green infrastructure in the pilot district to incorporate renewable energy sources,
    • guidelines for NBS application in the local context to increase emissions offsetting,
    • guidelines for designing to reduce urban heat islands,
    • sequestration through tree planting.
  • Environmental Monitoring System including: 
    • identification of data sources and methods for monitoring natural ecosystems in urban districts,
    • web application for environmental monitoring, including monitoring fields, indicators and tools for visualising indicators’ changes over time and regression-based correlations between them.
  • Gentrification mitigation model as a comprehensive report on policy processes for social protection measures, considering gender and accessibility-based inclusivity, the protection of ethnic and cultural diversity, and ensuring the retention of socio-economic social mix and intergenerational justice, aiming for functional zero homelessness by 2030.

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

Successfully replicating pilot activities in the Twin City requires a multi-faceted approach, including enabling conditions across various domains such as

  • Project management skills: strong project management capabilities to oversee the replication process effectively,
  • Continuous feedback loops: mechanisms for continuous feedback and learning to make necessary adjustments,
  • Documentation and reporting: comprehensive documentation of the pilot project’s processes, successes, and challenges,
  • Impact assessment: regular impact assessments to measure the outcomes and benefits of the project,
  • Performance metrics: clear and measurable performance metrics to evaluate the success of the project,
  • Technical and scientific expertise: availability of technical expertise in areas relevant to the pilot project,
  • Good communication and mentorship skills: effective and continuous communication, mentoring and knowledge exchange skills to build capacity.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

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

  • Multimodal Mobility Hub Upgrade procedure through a data-driven decision-making and smart urban logistics solutions. 2
  • Adapting Nature-based Solutions in the local context/ecosystem with a place-based approach.
  • Modular approach of integrating urban regeneration, policy innovation, governance and community engagement.
  • District Green Deal as a reflexive governance model with multi-level stakeholders and local communities’ engagement.
  • Gentrification mitigation policy making.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.