Opinion: EU Missions and the importance of Climate Neutral and Smart Cities: the case of Kozani

By Yannis Fallas, CluBE

“EU Missions are a new way to bring concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges. They have ambitious goals and will deliver concrete results by 2030. The EU Missions are part of the Horizon Europe research and innovation program for the years 2021-2027, tackling five major challenges: Adaptation to Climate Change, Cancer, Ocean and Waters, Soil and Climate Neutral and Smart Cities.

“We are hereby focusing on the latter, taking into consideration the following:

  • 75% of EU citizens live in urban areas
  • Global urban areas consume more than 65% of the world’s energy
  • 70% of CO2 worldwide emissions are due to urban areas

“European cities can play a substantial role in contributing to the EU Green Deal target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030; this practically means that they can offer a better environment for their citizens. Since climate mitigation is heavily dependent on urban action, the EU will support cities to accelerate their green and digital transformation.

“After an open call, the European Commission has selected the first 100 Cities to form a Living Lab that will test and validate a range of methods to accelerate the transition to a cleaner future. The lessons learnt will then be transferred to other EU cities to be implemented by 2050.

“Therefore, the Climate Neutral and Smart Cities EU Mission provides the right direction to where the first 100 cities should aim with the first goal being inclusiveness; meaning cities should get everyone involved (from National, Regional and Local level, Public, Private and NGO sector). Then, the 100 cities will develop a Climate Action plan that will lead them to climate neutrality and smartness by 2030. Finally, this plan must be implemented by 2030, mobilising all the necessary human, financial, technical, legal and any other resources necessary to carry out such a multidimensional scope.

“We, at CluBE, are proud that the city of Kozani, which we supported in developing its proposal, is among the first 100 selected Climate Neutral and Smart Cities!

“One of Kozani’s recent features has been its involvement in the fossil industry, part of the lignite power production ecosystem, which is now changing fast, as the country shifts towards a greener future. The city had already started to take measures towards climate neutrality in 2010. De-lignification, de-carbonisation, a transition to a greener energy economic model that will be bult upon Sustainable Development, Green Transition, Digital Transformation, Circular Economy and protection of biodiversity are major goals that the whole region of Western Macedonia is trying to accomplish by 2030.

“The main focus of the Kozani Climate Neutrality Plan will centre around the following fields:

  • Urban transformation
  • Energy generation
  • Management of resources
  • Circular economy
  • Digital Transformation

Accompanied by the transversal themes of:

  • Sustainable entrepreneurship
  • Agriculture
  • Financing opportunities
  • Social resilience

“It is an honour for Kozani to be part of something so innovative and important but also a reward for the efforts of the people, the city, CluBE and everyone involved. As an example, we have recently organised the Climate Neutral Week, which encompassed many activities with stakeholders and society in general. The aim of all these actions is to achieve a safer and more resilient environment so that the next generations can have a better place to live and thrive – thus reverting the current brain drain trend, into a positive brain gain mentality!

“In practical terms, all of this means that Kozani will be among the preferred partners for proposals in Horizon Europe, where consortia will aim to test various tools, techniques and methodologies at city level. In such a case, do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to introduce you to our beautiful Greek city!”

Yannis Fallas is the Director of CluBE, member of the Regional Research and Innovation Council of the Region of Western Macedonia and member of the Board of Greenovate! Europe.



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