1. ICLEI Member News
Essen officially takes over title of European Green Capital
The German City of Essen has officially become the European Green Capital 2017, taking over from Ljubljana (Slovenia). The European Green Capital Award rewards efforts and commitment to improving the urban environment, boosting awareness of the need for environmental change at the city level.
Essen will act as role model for sustainable urban development, sharing and promoting best practices that have been tried and tested in the German city. Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: “The impressive transformation from coal and steel industry to the greenest city in North Rhine-Westphalia is proof of Essen’s successful structural change.
“Great progress in environmental sustainability required vision, good governance, strong leadership and citizens’ involvement. I look forward to Essen’s programme of activities, and I wish Mayor Kufen, his team, and the people of Essen the very best.”
For more information, visit Eltis.
Image copyright: Wikipedia by Stefan Baguette, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5
Lappeenranta is the latest city to join ICLEI
The Finnish city of Lappeenranta has joined ICLEI to strengthen its already impressive sustainability activities. The city achieved its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2020 in 2014, recording a decrease of 38 percent compared to 1990 levels.
Lappeenranta is particularly advanced in the field of sustainable energy, and is one of Finland's largest users of bioenergy. The city boasts seven windmills, producing enough energy to heat around 3,600 homes. A local hydrogen plant additionally creates energy, leaving only water as an emission.
In the field of transport, the city strongly encourages citizens to opt for low-carbon forms of mobility. Lappeenranta spent 1.5 million euros on upgrading cycling lanes in 2015, leading to its designation as cycling city of the year in Finland. With a recycling rate of over 90 percent, investments in green technology, and one of the world's most sustainable university campuses, the small city is well positioned as a champion of sustainability.
For more information, visit the city website.
Image copyright: Wikipedia by "Japsi2", licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Concerns and optimism expressed by citizens at Rome Smartathon
In Casa della Cittá, a glass building that physically represents the transparency between the City of Rome and its citizens, Romans gathered on 21 January 2017 to take part in Italy‘s first Smartathon. Citizens discussed the future of the smarticipate platform, sharing their concerns, ideas and needs with the project consortium. As with other Smartathons, opinions were varied, ranging from the sceptical to the favourable.
After a series of presentations outlining smarticipate and the intended use of the smarticipate platform, attendees broke into four groups to discuss in greater detail. Among the most prominent concerns was the idea that technology cannot replace human interaction, and that at some point automation must give way to person-to-person contact.
Data privacy was also expressed as an issue, while others worried that certain users could hijack the planning process to push their ideas above all else, tarnishing the cooperative spirit in which the smarticipate platform is intended to be used. The outcome of the discussions will be used to further refine the smarticipate platform, tweaking it from a technical and governance standpoint.
For more information, visit the smarticipate website.
Image copyright: Flickr by "Bert Kaufmann", licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0