SOLUTIONS city partnerships take shape at Barcelona workshop

The “Fostering Sustainable Urban Mobility Solutions” Expert-Group Meeting, jointly organised by UN Habitat, Barcelona City Council and the SOLUTIONS project, was held in Barcelona from 24 – 25 April 2014. The meeting had the two-fold aim of advancing the global agenda on sustainable urban mobility by taking into account the experience and municipal best practice from the cities and experts present, and using these to inform the development of a broader “roadmap” for the implementation of transport solutions. The 70 person group was comprised of experts from national, regional and municipal governments, international organisations and academia, including numerous SOLUTIONS consortium partners and cities. All participants were ready to contribute, share their experience from the first year of the project and eager to advance with the next steps.

A global agenda: fostering sustainable urban mobility solutions

During the first part of the meeting participants affirmed their commitment to encourage the uptake of successful mobility solutions and to contribute to the deliberations and preparations for the Climate Summit in September 2014, and beyond. The meeting built upon similar events hosted by UN Habitat in New York, Berlin, Helsinki, Warsaw, Singapore, Medellin and other cities. During the meetings in Barcelona, the group examined various innovative and sustainable solutions in public transport, urban planning and street design, clean vehicles, and inter-modal transport. 

Given the impacts from the transport sector on air quality, noise pollution, climate change and health, the need for a shift towards sustainable mobility modes like public transport, walking and cycling was re-emphasized as essential ingredients for sustainable urban mobility. E-mobility and cleaner technologies were also at center-stage during the workshop. The SOLUTIONS project and cities along with other participating organisations, such as the International Transport Forum, International Energy Agency and Michelin showed their support to the proposed UN initiative “Action Platform on Urban Electric Mobility’ which seeks to provide a platform for industry, cities and financial institutions to come up with commitments to increase the share of electric vehicles in the vehicle fleet.

In the context of rapid urbanization globally, managing growing travel demand in cities requires a collaborative and integrated approach to sustainable urban development, especially linking urban land use planning and transport planning. This was highlighted by UN Habitat’s Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, who emphasised that “no specific sustainable transportation solution is independent of the urban solution".

First SOLUTIONS action phase: twinning cities

In the spirit of sharing experiences to identify appropriate and effective solutions, the project's partner cities engaged in a twinning exercise between the leading and take-up cities. The five SOLUTIONS take-up cities presented an overview of each city’s transport system, the pressing issues related to urban transport in their city, as well as current plans and their expectations. In turn, the five SOLUTIONS leading cities presented their experiences, best-practice examples and lessons learned. During the interactive match-making session which followed, major challenges and opportunities in each city were mapped and compatibilities identified. As a final outcome, five city pairs were formed. These pairs will work together on common/related problems and those solutions identified by the project as priorities

SOLUTIONS twinning between Leading cities and Take-up cities: 

       Bremen, Germany --  Belo-Horizonte, Brazil
       Barcelona, Spain --  Guiyang, China
       Budapest, Hungary --  Kocaeli, Turkey
       Hangzhou, China --  Kochin, India
       Curitiba, Brazil -- Leon, Mexico

SOLUTIONS’s participant cities were pleased with the results of the workshop and the engagement that it produced. “Belo Horizonte has been provided with a great opportunity through the match with a German city that prioritizes policies for non-motorized transport. The exchange will enable Belo Horizonte to learn from the expertise of the Germans for technical implementation of best practices in clean transportation and urban mobility planning," commented Magdala Arioli, Transport & Climate Projects Coordinator from EMBARQ Brasil, speaking on behalf of the Brazilian city.

From now on, each SOLUTIONS city team (a city pair along with experts from the project) will work together to propose mobility solutions and catalyze their implementation. The cities will visit their partners as part of a feasibility study of the proposed solutions. At least two or three visits between the city pairs are planned over the lifetime of the project, with the first visit to be scheduled within next six months. Olga Mara Prestes, Urban Mobility Manager for Curitiba (Brazil) is enthusiastic about the possibilities of exchange between the SOLUTIONS city teams: “I believe that there is a recipe for each city, and there is a combination of several different solutions for each city!”

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