The opinion is based on a referral from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.
This opinion aims to highlight the role of European local and regional authorities in global initiatives tackling climate change - integrating the outcomes of recent and on-going Smart City, Smart Rural Areas and sustainable development activities in Europe.
Rapporteur Andries Gryffroy has been active throughout many events to highlight the conclusions of the opinion on "Smart cities: new challenges for a just transition toward climate neutrality - how to implement the SDGs in real life?" such as for example:
closing remarks "3rd city to city event of the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme" on 21st of November in Brussels
during his participation to several side events at the UNFCCC COP 25 in Madrid in December 2019
during his participation in the Tenth session of the IRENA Assembly on the 10th of January 2020
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- recalls the importance of supporting climate objectives at the regional or city level, both when they are imposed directly as well as when they are derived from climate objectives at a higher level, with sound technical and scientific local transition paths towards the set objectives;
- highlights that next to the importance of imposing objectives, there is also a need to elaborate the necessary concrete measures, and the accompanying monitoring of these measures, so adjustments can be made as required. Setting up learning networks with others and with knowledge centres will improve this "learning process" of objectives versus measures;
- considers open data in standard formats to be a key tool to support the creation and development of smart cities and stresses that, along with these, the provision of "open components" (i.e. open API) will function as a significant building block for generating and multiplying smart city solutions at a higher speed and with higher flexibility;
- highlights the importance of bridging the digital gap and upskilling citizens to ensure smart communities do not segregate vulnerable citizens and to avoid any kind of social exclusion; also believes that it is important to promote energy efficiency and innovative technologies in social housing in order to combat energy poverty;
- highlights the potential of local zones where flexible and innovative regulatory tools or alternatives to regulation can be tested in a real world urban context, which can enable the exploration, and possible subsequent implementation, of sustainable innovations (e.g. in the housing domain); the city as "a learning machine" facilitates social learning and enables cooperation that can reduce social risks;
- highlights the importance of decentralisation in the fiscal domain, in order to facilitate the improved embedding of regional and (large) urban climate-oriented fiscal measures in the local context;
- points out that "smart water" solutions are of growing importance as a component of a complete smart cities policy aimed at climate-sustainable solutions;
- welcomes the frontrunner experience of some smart communities already moving towards circular economy solutions for buildings, mobility, products, waste management and in the planning and management of their territories and encourages the European Commission to further promote this aspect for all smart communities. These contributions will play a significant role in achieving the SDGs;