CrAFt Cities Session 6 —8 March 2023— recapitulated from the two previous sessions. Judith Borsboom presented the Smart Cities Guidance Package stages 3 and 4 related to the planning and implementation of climate neutrality programmes and projects.
The first two guest speakers of the session were the representatives from the City of Amstelveen. Netherlands, Saskia Zorge, strategy advisor for sustainability, and Patrick Lie, project manager for the energy transition. They presented the city’s plan for energy transition, circular economy and climate adaptation (PLECK) and their Neighbourhood Sustainability Plans.
Amstelveen’s objectives are to become a CO2 emission-free municipal organisation by 2030, an emissions-free city by 2040 and a circular city by 2050. Patrick and Saskia introduced a few of the city’s initiatives to reach their goals. Among them are the energy coaches and the collective purchases of materials—such as solar panels—and webinars to train citizens on reducing energy consumption.The main challenges that Amstelveen is facing regarding the implementation of its energy transition programmes are:
- There is no single best sustainable heating alternative
- The district is too large for a participatory approach
- Determining the citizen participation level
What they have learnt in this process is that:
- Citizens prefer to be presented with a clear plan about what is going to happen
- The best way to motivate citizens to participate is to find collective solutions
- Active participants then become ambassadors of the city programmes
In the second half of the session, Zoya Stoyanova, senior expert in strategic planning, digitalisation and sustainable development at the City of Burgas, Bulgaria, presented the city’s approach to re-valuing urban planning and design for climate neutrality.
The city of Burgas is located on a peninsula with tremendous biodiversity. Therefore the city development presents several challenges, such as the limited expansion of the city to the south and north directions, and how to ensure industrial and economic development while preserving the unique ecosystem and biodiversity of the area.
Burgas’ integrated urban development plan for 2021 -2027 is a holistic cross-domain initiative that seeks to maintain social and distributive justice and pave pathways for policies to integrate the New European Bauhaus principles into urban planning. Some of the reasons why this plan has been so successful so far are because they:
- Apply long-term policies towards achieving a climate-neutral, emission-free city
- Focus on improving the environmental, business and social conditions all at once
- Involve the community in public consultation and the urban design of the area
- Assess the implementation of strategies regularly
- Revise and update the local action plans whenever it’s needed
In the breakout sessions, the participants discussed several related topics, such as how, on paper, the steps for planning and implementing those plans are very relevant and present the ideal process. Still, in practice, this is often challenging. For instance, one of the participant cities faced a planning problem due to EU regulations contradicting the local regulations in the construction process.
Another group discussed pulling in people of different disciplines and perspectives to ensure a diverse co-creation process. And how these types of strategies focus on inclusivity, with efforts towards reaching people of different genders, ages and cultural backgrounds. There is also an emphasis on reaching the residents that live close to any project, seeking to find their wants and needs, and including them in the process to foster a sense of common ownership of the project.
For some cities, it’s easier to start implementing small public projects to showcase what they aim to do at a larger scale than planning for large-scale projects without testing what people’s reactions will be. Involving students and artists has proven to be an excellent way to spark curiosity among citizens and to present the city’s plans in ways which are accessible and easy to understand for everyone.
In general, cities need help understanding how to integrate the New European Bauhaus (NEB) principles into their climate neutrality programmes and projects, as well as how to explain NEB to their stakeholders and citizens.