A Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities
Horizon Europe will incorporate, as a new element, research and innovation missions. One of the five mission areas is Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities, which aims to support 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate neutrality by 2030. The mission aims to create a bottom-up approach towards achieving climate neutrality supported by a Climate City Contract, which requires the participation of the entire local ecosystem and support from all governance levels.
The task of the Mission Board, consisting of 15 experts, was to develop, together with stakeholders and citizens, the research and innovation activities that would contribute to the mission. The Mission Assembly, in which ERRIN is represented, aimed to provide an additional pool of ideas, knowledge and expertise to the mission. The final report of the Mission Board was handed over to the European Commission in September 2020, and the Implementation Plan for the mission was published in September 2021.
Led by the Smart Cities working group, ERRIN has taken an active role in shaping the Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities. We provided our first input to the Mission Board members before the discussion paper was published at the end of 2019 highlighting the Mission Board's proposals.
In January 2020, the key elements of the mission were further discussed in a Smart Cities working group meeting dedicated to the subject. The Smart Cities, Transport, Energy and Climate Change working group leaders continued to work on the ERRIN contribution and invited the wider ERRIN membership to share their feedback on the mission. This work resulted in an ERRIN contribution, which provided recommendations in relation to the ambitions, financing, selection process and set up of the mission and made practical suggestions on its implementation.
After the release of the interim report of the Mission Board for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities in June 2020, ERRIN developed an input document to the interim report and the Green Deal call 1.2 on socially innovative cities.
The final report of the Mission Board was handed over to the European Commission at the European Research & Innovation Days in September 2020. Since then, the Smart Cities working group has continued the policy dialogue with the Mission Manager and the Mission Secretariat, and organised a working group meeting to discuss the state of play of the mission's Implementation Plan with the European Commission in April 2021. Following this dialogue, ERRIN developed an input document to the mission's Implementation Plan. The comments focus on the specific objectives of the mission and its added value, and highlight some key elements related to the mission implementation process - the Expressions of Interest and the Climate City Contract.
Some of the key elements highlighted by ERRIN include:
The ecosystem approach. This approach supports the inclusion and collaboration of all actors at local level, including administrations, the private sector, knowledge providers and, most notably, the citizens. The local administrations cannot reach climate neutrality alone but can rather take a facilitator role and ensure the involvement of industry, academia and civil society towards a common goal.
The flexible definition of a city. The mission should ensure that everyone who is ready to commit to the ambition of climate neutrality can participate. The participation should not be hindered by the size of a town/city/region, but rather encourage the inclusion of everybody - from small towns to larger metropolitan areas and regions.
The elements of the Climate City Contract. The Contract should include a clearly outlined roadmap with the actions that need to be implemented to reach the target; a well-defined business plan/financial concept ensuring that the actions can be financed and implemented; a governance roadmap highlighting how each actor group is collaborating and contributing; and clustering with other cities/regions on a European level based on similar conditions and joint interests, ensuring mutual learning and replication.
The Call for Expressions of Interest to join the Cities Mission will open in November. ERRIN will contribute to several key project activities within the NetZeroCities project and work closely with its members to support them in their work towards climate-neutrality.