COP21 has demonstrated the pivotal role played by cities in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Beyond technology progress and roll out in urban contexts, the solution lies in governance and societal changes. For such reforms to take place locally, the right framework needs to be set up at national and European level. The 2050 Post Carbon Cities of Tomorrow (POCACITO) Roadmap puts forward key guidance, as the result of a two-year consultation process with stakeholders in Brussels and from targeted cities.
Further to a comprehensive outline of the policy context and challenges, the POCACITO Roadmap formulates 11 recommendations, 5 of which targeting national and EU institutions, with the remainder aimed at local elected representatives themselves.
Adopting an integrated approach, the report finds, is a key driver for progress among local administrations. In other words, city sectoral departments should be encouraged to join efforts towards a common vision and investment decisions should be based on a life-cycle approach.
Such a vision ought to be the result of an inclusive back-casting exercise in collaboration with all the local stakeholders. In parallel, education and awareness-raising are highlighted, considering that “the way businesses and social interactions are undertaken is to a large extent dependant on social norms and perceptions.” In addition, local policy makers and officials are encouraged to engage in capacity building initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors and develop city infrastructure services that are open, affordable and inclusive. Last but not least, the report encourages local authorities to think mobility differently, with more functional districts better integrated with nature.
At European and national level, the report calls for cities to be better involved in policy making, notably the EU Energy Union strategy and legislative package. Representatives of cities should be formally appointed to influence UN, EU and national decisions. In light with the subsidiarity principle, the EU should also support the process of allocating the relevant competences to cities to best address the challenges facing them. More specifically, a recommendation encourages the EU institutions to strengthen the Energy Efficiency Directive with stronger measures and clearer guidelines, and refine the strategy for a circular economy.
Finally, the last two recommendations centre on developing a database of statistics specially dedicated to cities - to better monitor the impact of measures and long term goals - and ramp up research efforts on territorial economics and the link between climate, energy and local development policies at the city level.
Case studies cities involved in the project and discussions included Barcelona, Copenhagen, Malmö, Istanbul, Litoměřice, Milan, Turin, Rostock and Zagreb.
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Photo credit: Dublin, Dave Morris, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0