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ICLEI in Europe News
November 2012 www.iclei-europe.org

Dear Members, Partners and Friends of ICLEI,

We are pleased to send you the latest news on ICLEI in Europe and our partners for urban sustainability!

You can also read these news articles and find more information on the topics at www.iclei-europe.org.

Don't hesitate to send your news and information to

information.services@iclei.org.

  1. Member News
  2. Developing Smart Grids to achieve smart energy solutions explored at Local Renewables 2012
  3. ADWICE conference highlights threats to drinking water posed by climate change
  4. New ICLEI case study: Buses use renewable diesel in Helsinki Region
  5. STA project produces guide to purchasing timber sustainably
  6. Impact of urbanisation on biodiversity and ecosystem services assessed in new publication
  7. Sustainable water management event brings together practitioners and researchers
  8. Experts views heard at district heating and cooling workshop
  9. UK Climate Week aims to inspire sustainable action
  10. Book of the month
  11. Events news
  12. Event calendar

1. ICLEI Member News

ICLEI celebrates 20th anniversary in Freiburg

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the opening of its European Secretariat in Member city Freiburg (Germany), ICLEI invited politicians, researchers and economists to discuss the opportunities and the limits of cities’ contribution to a sustainable future. The event “The 21st century: The century of cities?” took place in Freiburg on 24 October. “The arrival of ICLEI has been wonderful luck for Freiburg and we are happy to have them here”, said Dr. Dieter Salomon, Lord Mayor of Freiburg, “The more local governments team up and learn from each other, the closer we will come to our goal to limit climate change.”

Since 2011, the Earth’s population has risen to over 7 billion people, more than half of which live in cities. At the same time efforts to address the global climate, food, resource and financial crises appear by and large to have stalled. As a result, hopes are increasingly placed on local governments as political actors. But to what extent can cities ensure a high quality of life with a fraction of the resources consumed today? And can cities meet these expectations in times of austerity?

These questions were examined by speakers and panelists such as Prof. Dr. Claudia Kemfert of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Meinhard Miegel of the think tank Denkwerk Zukunft - Foundation for Cultural Renewal. Wolfgang Teubner, Executive Director of ICLEI Europe, said: “If we want a sustainable future, we cannot wait for the international community. Only cities can bring about the necessary developments. The challenges are enormous but if we take them as opportunities, if the framework is right and we learn from each other, many local actions can grow into a powerful movement towards a sustainable future.”

For more information, click here [In German].

2015 European Green Capital award applicants announced

Following in the footsteps of previous ICLEI Member cities, four ICLEI Members have applied to become European Green Capital 2015. Bristol (United Kingdom), Glasgow (United Kingdom), Dublin (Ireland) and Brussels (Belgium) will compete to receive the prestigious title. Kaunas (Lithuania), Kutahya (Turkey), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Bydgoszcz (Poland) are also in the running. The European Green Capital Award is presented to a city at the forefront of environmentally friendly urban living.

EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “This is the sixth year of the European Green Capital Award and it is encouraging to see former applicants reapplying and some cities entering that have not previously participated in the competition. Many EU cities are setting global standards for urban sustainability, with pioneering innovative solutions to environmental challenges, and the Green Capital Award is a unique opportunity for them to share that knowledge with the rest of Europe.”

An international Expert Panel will perform a technical assessment of each entry on the basis of 12 indicators covering climate change and energy performance, sustainable local transport, air quality and more. In addition to inspiring other cities, the winning city will benefit from an increased profile, which will enhance its reputation and attractiveness as a destination for people to visit, work and live in. The winner will be announced in June in 2013 European Green Capital and ICLEI Member city Nantes (France).

For more information, click here.

Sustainability at the core of new Berlin housing project

A new “Green Village” will begin construction in ICLEI Member Berlin (Germany) in early 2013. The housing district will adhere to exacting energy efficiency and sustainability standards, and will house 142 condominiums. The project, said to be inspired by the idea of resource conservation, will feature water-permeable walkways, flat roofs with extensive rooftop vegetation and state-of-the-art waste management.

“Demand for housing concepts that satisfy both the urban lifestyle and the spirit of the times in regard to sustainability is particularly high” said Marc Wiese, Member of the Board of the Berlin-based Sanus AG. “In this sense, energy efficiency measures, from roof-top photovoltaic systems all the way to charging stations in the underground car park, ensure a positive economic and environmental footprint.”

Seven connected buildings will be constructed in the inner court yard, and Rigaer Strasse 19, a former garage that extends to over 6,492 square metres, will be completely redeveloped. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

For more information, click here.

ICLEI Member signs Durban Commitment

Ville de Grande-Synthe (France) has become the latest signatory to the Durban Commitment on protecting and enhancing biodiversity at the local level. Mayor Damien Carême signed the prestigious commitment in a ceremony held during the 2es Assises Nationales de la Biodiversité, which was hosted by the first French Capital of Biodiversity, ICLEI Member Ville de Grande-Synthe from 26 - 28 September 2012. Ville de Grande-Synthe joins more than 45 other local authorities from around the world to sign this international accord, written by the 21 original Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB) Pioneer cities: an accord written by local governments for local governments.

By signing the Durban Commitment Ville de Grande-Synthe acknowledges accountability and responsibility for the health and well-being of its community through protecting, sustainably utilising and managing its biodiversity, and recognising the role of biodiversity as the foundation of our existence. At the ceremony Mayor Carême said that despite the industrial legacies of the past, Grande-Synthe remains dedicated to the innovative and continuous improvement of biodiversity management.

The 2es Assises Nationales de la Biodiversité attracted over 800 participants and 100 speakers, with special guest Mr. Pierre Rabhi, an honoured French writer, farmer and environmentalist. The successful attendance of the conference was a testament to the considerable interest of French cities and their citizens to sustainable urban biodiversity management. ICLEI Brussels Representative, Peter Defranceschi welcomed Grande-Synthe as the latest signatory to this important accord for urban biodiversity.

For more information, click here.

2. Developing Smart Grids to achieve smart energy solutions explored at Local Renewables 2012

Combining local renewable energy with more efficient energy use in smart grids for electricity, heating and cooling will bring massive environmental and socio-economic benefits. Innovation such as using Information and communications technology (ICT) will support acceleration of this process. Smart grids – which include intelligent and communicating networks - promise to improve energy efficiency, reliability and security in generating, integrating, and distributing various energy resources. This will improve quality of life and boost competitiveness of communities.

From 25 - 26 October at the Local Renewables 2012 Conference, governmental policy makers, energy experts, urban and regional planners, and researchers from 19 countries convened in the city of Freiburg (Germany). They explored how to successfully develop smart grids and move forward with smart solutions. Dr. Dieter Salomon, Mayor of the host city of Freiburg, pointed out the prominent role of cities and towns in climate protection and the need for local support from all government levels. "Smart grids are green revolution enablers and cities are pioneers of this revolution" said Christine Lins, REN21 Executive Secretary, a message that was seconded by Ludwig Karg, Head of E-Energy Ancillary Research at B.A.U.M Consult GmbH who also stated that there is a need for a more unified definition of “smart grids”, making it a wider, more inclusive concept.

Conference participants discussed and learned about beacon projects from across Europe, showcasing planning approaches, grid security and reliability, energy efficiency, user service experience and awareness raising, as well as distributed power source integration. It was concluded that sharing of lessons learned and knowledge gathered is needed. Further, better cooperation among the various stakeholders – also from the heating and cooling sectors, as well as end-users - are required to enable long term planning and lead to meaningful investments.

For more information, click here.

3. ADWICE conference highlights threats to drinking water posed by climate change

The project “Adapting Drinking Water resources to the Impacts of Climate change in Europe” (ADWICE) held a Stakeholder Exchange Conference on 2 October 2012 in ICLEI Member Brussels (Belgium), to gain feedback on the project’s draft results on the potential effects of climate change on drinking water resources across the EU. Representatives of the European Water Partnership (EWP), European Commission (EC), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Brussels Regional Parliament were among the various scientific researchers, local and national government policy-makers and representatives of European institutions that attended the event.

Experts stated that the negative impacts of climate change on drinking water may be more severe and occur sooner than previously thought. The need for more accurate data to better assess these impacts was highlighted. It was also concluded that due to its integral importance, water can no longer be considered in its own sector, but must be considered in terms of energy, industry and agricultural production, among other sectors.

Francesca Greco of UNESCO spoke of the need for strong institutional and political will to facilitate discussion and decision making, and advocated the setting up of a map of global ‘political’ water scarcity (in addition to physical and economic factors). Mercè Rius i Serra, Deputy for the Environment, Diputació de Barcelona (Spain) and ICLEI European Regional Executive Committee member, highlighted the role of cities and the need for holistic local adaptation planning. The overall aim of the project is to assist with better future planning in terms of European drinking water.

For more information, click here.

4. New ICLEI case study: Buses use renewable diesel in Helsinki Region

The world’s largest field test on renewable diesel fuel was recently initiated by Helsinki Regional Transport Authority and its partners, including the Helsinki Metropolitan area and several smaller communities, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen, Kerava, Kirkkonummi and Sipoo in Finland, that are also part of ICLEI’s climate campaign. Together they are reducing transport emissions in support of the Finnish target of reaching a 20 percent share of biofuel usage in the transport sector by 2020, and to decrease traffic and increase public transport use.

The field test was a part of the three and a half year project “OPTIBIO”, a public-private partnership demonstrating the benefits of using advanced renewable diesel in place of fossil fuel in city buses. The aim was to test and demonstrate the feasibility of using Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO) for city buses in terms of achieving reduced local emissions, improved air quality, and reduced dependence on imported fossil fuels. 300 Buses were used as the test fleet. On average, emissions were reduced between 10 percent to 80 percent, depending on the pollutant tested.

Tests showed that HVO can be used as a “drop-in” substitute fuel, meaning that it can be distributed using existing refueling infrastructure, and can be a total fossil fuel replacement for both old and new vehicles. Considering that buses are vital to public transport systems and have a long lifespan, the switch to non-fossil fuels makes sense for municipal transport. The Helsinki case study is an interesting example of different stakeholders cooperating to find an innovative solution.

To view the case study, click here.

5. STA project produces guide to purchasing timber sustainably

The new Sustainable Timber Action (STA) project guide for European Public authorities, Buying Sustainable Timber: A guide for public purchasers in Europe, provides procurement guidelines and support on sourcing timber sustainably and socially responsibly. It contains text and criteria for legally sound tenders for a variety of timber products which can be directly used.

The guide covers the basics of sustainable timber procurement but also offers help for procurers who want to address social and ethical issues along the supply chain more strongly. A straightforward procurement model is also offered in the guide, with text which can be directly inserted into tendering documents.

Means to support other policy objectives, such as supporting small timber businesses in Europe and awareness raising activities on sustainable timber and fair trade, are also examined. The guide is now available in English and will soon be published in Romanian, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Estonian and German.

To view the guide, click here.

6. Impact of urbanisation on biodiversity and ecosystem services assessed in new publication

During the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP11) the first of a two part global assessment of the impact of urbanisation on biodiversity and ecosystem services was presented by ICLEI, the CBD Secretariat, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC). Titled “the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO) – Action and Policy”, the document will be followed in 2013 by a more extensive publication, containing scientific analyses and assessments.

Drawing on contributions from more than 120 scientists worldwide, the CBO states that over 60 percent of the land projected to become urban by 2030 has yet to be built. This presents challenges but also major opportunities to greatly improve global urban development towards sustainability. Possibilities lie in the promotion of low-carbon, resource-efficient solutions that can reduce adverse effects on biodiversity and improve quality of life. The CBO also demonstrates how sub-national and local authorities can play a central role in achieving Biodiversity Targets.

The Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (URBES) project, of which ICLEI is a partner, is an excellent example of international cooperation to bridge the knowledge gap on the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being. The URBES project partners have made key contributions to several chapters of the CBO project, including in the forthcoming publication, thereby translating science into action.

For more information, click here.

7. Sustainable water management event brings together practitioners and researchers

Sustainable Water management practitioners will have the chance to meet researchers operating within European Framework Programs at an event held in the Kongresszentrum Karlsruhe (Germany) on 22 November. The side event ‘European Innovation for Sustainable Water Management: Users meet Researchers’ is organised in the framework of the WaterDiss2.0 project and is part of the integrated water resource management (IWRM) conference 2012.

Practitioners can better inform themselves about innovation created through European scientific research, while researchers can ensure that potential users are familiar with their research, and that their products are used and implemented. The side event also aims at building synergies across topics and EU projects and enhancing knowledge brokerage in the area of water research. Registration for the event is available online.

The event brings together researchers of FP projects, policy-makers and users to discuss current needs and how to meet them. After a short introductory session, discussions in smaller groups according to topic clusters will take place. Participants can learn key facts about the project output and discuss directly with the project coordinator on how the output could be applied.

For more information, click here.

8. Experts views heard at district heating and cooling workshop

Heating and cooling accounts for almost half of the final energy consumption in Europe. Local governments have a clear role to play in this area through their engagement in local climate and energy action. To achieve a reduction in consumption, municipalities must use their overview of local interests and potential and shape their Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) to positively influence community district heating and cooling (DHC). Local governments are ideally placed to link stakeholders in this regard.

The potential of DHC systems was explored at a workshop held in ICLEI Member Brussels (Belgium), “The DHC Next Generation”, organised through the DHC+ Technology Platform. The workshop outlined how to apply available knowledge by giving cities and other relevant regional stakeholders the tools and contacts they need to increase the use of renewables, optimise resource efficiency, and achieve CO2 reductions in energy services.

A special focus was on smart communities. Maryke van Staden from ICLEI Europe shared city perspectives. The RESCUE project - an Intelligent Energy Europe co-funded project - was also presented. This project focuses on developing and offering guidance on the pre-feasibility of district cooling, exploring when it will make sense to conduct a feasibility study.

For more information, click here.

9. UK Climate Week aims to inspire sustainable action

Britain’s biggest climate change campaign, Climate Week, takes place from 4 - 10 March 2013 and will showcase practical solutions to climate change from each section of British society. The week aims to highlight the many positive steps being taken throughout the UK to create a secure and sustainable future, as well as inspire further action. Participants in the week come from a variety of sectors, including business, local governments, third level organisations, schools, religious bodies and more.

Supported by ICLEI Europe, the 2013 edition will place a special emphasis on food, encouraging participants to reduce their diet’s carbon footprint through consuming less meat and dairy products, reducing leftovers and using seasonal produce. Events and activities being planned include conferences, competitions, exhibitions, launches, bike rides, film screenings, open days and debates. UK inhabitants can organise their own events and register them online.

In 2012, Climate Week saw more than half a million people take part in over 3,000 events, making it the island’s biggest ever environmental occasion. The UK is one of the target countries of the Covenant capaCITY project, where smaller communities in particular are being mobilised to intensify their local climate and sustainable energy activities. The aims of Climate Week also align with the aims of ICLEI’s Green Climate Cities initiative, which sees cities take voluntary climate action in order to become energy-efficient, low-carbon and resilient to the effects of climate change.

For more information, click here.

10. Book of the month


Visualizing Climate Change


The book Visualizing Climate Change introduces the idea of using various media tools to help visualising abstract and scientific concepts such as climate change. The book argues that our understanding of  climate change is disconnected from our present day lives and that we need to draw it closer to our own realities by localizing the challenges and making them more visible.

It elaborates on the significance of exposing the effects of climate change, explaining how it impacts our communities, and clearing any current misinterpretations. The book provides hands-on guidance on how to communicate climate change in the most effective way by making use of visual media, and highlights practical solutions both for mitigation and adaptation. It also gives examples on visual tools from street signs to video games, 3D projections, and “before-and-after” pictures on urban planning for practitioners working in the field of climate change to build awareness as well as to spur action.

By emphasizing the principle of “knowing, seeing and acting” the book seeks to deliver the message that only with the right language - using narrative story telling based in reality - will we be successful in engaging our communities around the world to act on climate change.

S. R.J. Sheppard, Visualizing Climate Change: A Guide to Visual Communication of Climate Change and Developing Local Solutions, Routledge, 2012

11. Events news


Geneva 2013 to contribute to finding lasting solutions to financial, social and environmental crises


The programme for the largest event on sustainable development in Europe, the 7th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns - A green and socially responsible economy: a solution in times of crisis?, has now been released. Designed to maximise opportunities for the expected 1,000 participants to network, exchange and discuss, the programme features a mixture of plenary sessions and interactive breakout sessions. Taking place in Geneva (Switzerland) from 17 – 19 April, the conference will focus on governance and finance for sustainable development.

Breakout sessions will examine a diverse range of sustainability topics, such as low carbon communities, sustainable procurement, climate change adaptation, sustainable urban mobility and more.  The Palais des Nations (United Nations Office in Geneva and European headquarters) will see a high-level political session for mayors only. The session will facilitate the exchange of good practices and innovative institutional mechanisms among local and regional leaders involved in sustainable development initiatives.

A number of high profile speakers have already been confirmed, including representatives from local and national governments, the UN and European institutions, business, science institutes and research and development organisations from across Europe. Participants will have the chance to explore sustainability in all areas of public administration and identify effective institutional mechanisms to tackle the current financial, social and environmental crises. Registration for the conference is available online. More conference details are outlined in the second announcement.

For more information, click here.

12. Event calendar


7th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns
17 – 19 April 2013, Geneva (Switzerland)


Feedback? Questions? Let us know! If you have any further questions, would like to give feedback on ICLEI's work in Europe or would like to be taken off this mailing list, contact us at: information.services@iclei.org


The ICLEI in Europe newsletter is produced by the European Secretariat of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. Copies are available on request. Editor: Sean Carroll, Ciara Leonard (responsible).

Comments and questions are welcome - please write to Sean Carroll at information.services@iclei.org, Leopoldring 3, 79098 Freiburg, Germany,Tel: +49-761/36 89 2-0, www.iclei-europe.org.


ICLEI is a membership organisation of local governments and their associations. To date more than 1,000 municipalities and municipal associations of all sizes from around the world have made a unique commitment to sustainable development by joining ICLEI. They support the work of ICLEI through their membership fees as well as through their experience and creativity in the development and implementation of projects and campaigns to address the globe's biggest problems. Within the organisation they are part of a network of peers that can profit from each other's knowledge. For membership information please have a look at our website or contact: membership.services@iclei.org.


Copyright 2012 ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH, Freiburg, Germany. All rights reserved.

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