EUROCITIES, a pan-European network of major European cities, has unveiled the shortlisted cities for the 2015-edition of its annual Awards competition. Among the nine potential winners is a project conducted by the city of Utrecht, facilitated by Ecofys, aimed at developing a sustainable energy strategy with the help of citizens.
Founded in 1986 by the mayors of six large cities*, EUROCITIES nowadays brings together over 130 of Europe's largest cities and 40 partner cities, that between them govern 130 million citizens across 35 countries. The network’s key objective is to reinforce the important role that local governments should play in politics and economy, a goal that EUROCITIES realises through for instance research, projects, activities and knowledge sharing events.
Every year EUROCITIES organises an internal competition for local governments of European cities. The so-called EUROCITIES Awards recognise outstanding achievement by members in the delivery of local activities or practices which improve the quality of life for citizens. This year the awards relate to 'living cities - sustainable urban growth and quality of life', and entries were invited in three categories: cooperation, innovation and participation**.
Out of dozens of entries the independent jury, made up of representatives from the host cities, EU institutions, academia, an NGO, and the media, selected three entries in each category for the shortlist. With three nominations each, Scotland and the Netherlands lead the pack, an overview:
- Edinburgh – The Edinburgh Guarantee
- Gothenburg: Entrepreneurial Västra Hisingen
- Rotterdam – The Rotterdam Business Case
- Amsterdam – Optimising charging infrastructure
- Milan – Fewer cards, more shared spaces, better quality of life for all
- Oslo –The traffic agent
- Edinburgh – Edinburgh in bloom
- Glasgow – OPEN Glasgow – city data hub
- Utrecht – City talks on sustainable energy: the silent majority speaks
The silent majority speaks
The project in Utrecht, aimed at creating an energy action plan towards a sustainable future by 2030, was supported by Ecofys, a global consulting firm specialised in sustainability and climate change matters. Instead of pushing for a self-created strategy, the city wanted to involve its own citizens throughout the visioning process. Utrecht initially invited 10,000 citizens, chosen at random, to help draw up the city’s journey to carbon neutrality by 2030, and subsequently selected 166 to help set out the transition, together with experts and stakeholders.
Ewald Slingerland and David de Jager, consultants at Ecofys and involved with the energy plan, describe the project as a success. “The collaboration between the team of the municipality and Ecofys was perfect. Given the fact that everyone was well aware of the unique character – and the political risks – of the process the commitment was high. The project team consisted of nearly 20 professionals and 15 Ecofys advisors have contributed to the rounds of discussions and policy setting meetings. There was room for discussion, learning and experimenting.”
The project’s success has not remained unnoticed – the case now stands as one of the three potential winners of the Participation award. The winners per category will be announced at a ceremony on 4 November during EUROCITIES 2015.
* Barcelona, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milan and Rotterdam.
** Cooperation - projects and activities demonstrating collaboration between citizens, businesses, NGOs and local authorities to produce original solutions for more and better jobs, in particular sustainable, quality jobs. Innovation – projects and activities demonstrating innovative ways of achieving modal shift in urban transport, and/or improving the quality of air in urban areas, in particular projects initiated and driven by citizens. Participation – projects and activities involving local authorities, businesses and civil society in developing partnership models to increase quality investments into cities, in particular projects that show effective, long term partnerships.