Around a hundred people, among which several representatives of local authorities from different European countries, international experts in the energy and mobility sectors and citizens, five thematic talks, and a round table: this is, in numbers, the final report on the international conference “New trends in urban energy and mobility planning”, organized by SIMPLA in Trieste, at Area Science Park, on November 28th. The event has been an important public opportunity for people to meet and debate, and it offered participants a rich and interesting programme.
Dimitri Dello Buono, Chief of the Technical Secretariat of the Italian Minister of Infrastructures and Transport, talked about sustainable urban mobility policies in Italy.
The reference regulatory framework and guidelines for the drafting and approval of SUMPs in Italy are the centerpiece of Dello Buono’s presentation. To learn more about the topic, watch the video and download the presentation.
Tom Rye, professor at the Edinburgh Napier University and partner of the European project Civitas Prosperity, discussed about the evolution and new trends in urban mobility planning.
Since September 2016, Civitas Prosperity has been going around Europe supporting both local and national authorities in the development of sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMPs). But what is a SUMP in practice? Why is it needed? What are the skills and capacities needed for its development and implementation? These are only a few of the questions Rye – director of the Transport Research Institute (TRI) of the Edinburgh Napier University and partner in Civitas Prosperity – answers to in his presentation, also providing concrete examples of SUMP experiences. To learn more about the topic, watch the video and download the presentation.
Michele Sansoni from EASME, the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of the European Commission, intervened as well. EASME manages several EU programmes, among which programmes in the fields of environment, climate action and energy. Sansoni provided an overview on the opportunities available at European level to promote energy efficiency in European regions and cities.
The EU has decided to strive for very ambitious energy and environmental sustainability targets for the coming decades. The challenge that Member States face is also an economic one. Moving from an assessment of the annual investments needed to reach EU energy goals, Sansoni’s presentation reports on a number of opportunities aimed at providing support to work in the right direction. Diverse instruments from the EC Horizon 2020 funding programme for research and innovation are discussed. To learn more about the topic, watch the video and download the presentation.
The conference also provided participants with the opportunity to focus on the challenges European cities will deal with in the coming decade. And what are the main ones? SIMPLA asked participants to answer this question. Traffic congestion, air pollution, dealing with extreme weather events, accessibility to services, and roads’ safety&security turned out to be the main issues in the foreground in the future of cities.
Indeed, climate change is a key factor to be taken into due account in urban planning. This was the topic discussed by Francesco Musco, professor at the IUAV University of Venice.
Climate change will increasingly impact on the way we manage and plan our cities. How urban and sector-based planning can contribute to adapt to climate change is one of the main fields of Musco’s research and a key topic of his presentation. To learn more about that, watch the video.
The importance of collaboration and joint work for the achievement of remarkable, common goals arose from this background, as also the core message of SIMPLA: harmonization is key in planning the energy and mobility agendas. This goal is concretely achievable by means of a clear and effective methodology: SIMPLA. In the concluding session of the conference talks, SIMPLA coordinator Fabio Tomasi remarked all this.
Technical experts and politicians who deal with urban planning are in front of an increasingly complex scenario, in which diverse interests and needs are intertwined. In the last three years, SIMPLA has been working on tuning and opening up diverse levels and instruments of planning to relations. The SIMPLA approach, its results and challenges are the topic of Tomasi’s presentation. To learn more about that, watch the video and download the presentation.
The appreciation of the topics presented and discussed by the invited speakers and by SIMPLA project partners during the round table was high: on a 0 - 5 scale, 63% of the participants assigned the maximum to their level of satisfaction; 27% assigned a 4; 7% a 3; only 3% a 2. Overall, the event was very successful. For participants, the conference represented a unique environment in which they could share and compare their actual experiences in the fulfillment of SIMPLA's goal, namely the harmonization of sustainable energy and mobility plans of cities and urban areas.
«It is a very good opportunity to be together with other peers from all over Europe and understand how they achieved this important goal» said Florin Andronescu, representative of the Alba Local Energy Agency in Romania.
Planning – and harmonizing – is not something written in a paper, it’s a process
This is the key message of the day and beyond. Indeed, the conference was the top of three events dedicated to energy and mobility planning.
On November 26th, the meeting of SIMPLA experts and 12 European organizations selected last summer by a call (here is the news) to replicate the SIMPLA methodology in their countries opened the three days of work. The event was a training session for replicating organizations, with many talks in agenda. Luca Mercatelli and Stefano Alessandrini from Area Science Park provided replicating organizations' representatives with practical information, and discussed examples of cities that have already been trying to harmonize their planning activities for the improvement of their citizens’ quality of life. The sharing of this know-how is key to promote the replication of the harmonization approach. Astghine Pasoyan of the Armenian Energy Saving Foundation, one of the 12 replicating organizations, commented on this: «Being here has been very important for us because a lot of the experiences from cities that have adopted the SIMPLA approach have been groundbreaking because a lot of initiatives of the European cities on how they promote different goals can provide a breakthrough in how we work with the cities in Armenia».
To learn more about the topics of that day, download the presentations:
Towards the mutual exchange of experiences and learning
A key point has been the creation of the conditions for both disseminating the results obtained by the local authorities involved in the project and sharing different approaches, experiences and solutions. To this aim, the meeting held on November 27th with the representatives of local authorities has been designed to let participants exchange ideas and solutions to be applied in the near future. The participants had the opportunity to discuss several topics that are essential to the success of the harmonization process: energy management in public buildings; 'Mobility-as-a-Service' in small and medium-sized cities; promoting active mobility (i.e. walking and cycling); how to make city centres car-free and ready for electric vehicles; and finally data collection for energy and mobility monitoring. Working in focus groups, the representatives of local authorities were able to bring about examples and stories.
The project coordinator Fabio Tomasi reported on this: «It was an occasion to discuss critical issues for those involved in city planning, to exchange ideas and experiences, to promote active cooperation. There was a clear sense of cooperation, since we work on common problems but in different contexts».
To learn more about that day, download:
The SIMPLA guidelines for successful harmonization
Last but not least, at the end of this important experience the recent release of the last version of the 'SIMPLA guidelines for the harmonization of energy and mobility planning' was announced. This resource is available for download here. It represents a key tool and the outcome of a process that has entailed extensive consultations in the territories of the SIMPLA partnership. Following step-by-step SIMPLA's methodology for the plans' update and improvement, other actors will be able to develop harmonized strategies for energy and mobility planning, in a broader vision of sustainable urban development.