European Green Cities/Site Development
World Environment Day 2021
Updated: Jun 30, 2021
REIMAGINE. RECREATE. RESTORE.
“This is our moment.
We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature.
Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. Join #GenerationRestoration”
- worldenvironmentday.global 2021
Source: Early Education Zone
Knowing what to do in our challenge to restore planet earth for future generations is not the same as knowing how to do so. Even though we seem to be aware of the steps we need to take, taking the actual steps still remains a great challenge for all. As mentioned by World Environment Day, greening our cities is one of the important tasks we have to do. But how can local municipalities incorporate and realize the right green policies for their city/town?
A general guideline for cities and towns are the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations. Especially goal number 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.
How do you implement concreate policies/strategies for your city/town based on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations?
Step 1: AWARENESS
Awareness helps people understand the impacts of global warming and the consequences it has for themselves, their children and future generations. It has the power to encourage people to act and influence their attitude and behaviour to adapt to climate change related trends and policies.
A way to raise awareness is through campaigns, both digital and physical. Nowadays we all get overloaded with the fast-fashion and consumption campaigns, but municipalities can use the same strategy with spreading climate awareness campaigns. Once people get more confronted with the real damaging consequences of climate change they can feel more encouraged to act. As the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) suggests, it is also important to promote and incorporate climate change impacts in the education system and organize related events that include both the public and private sector.
Step 2: STAKEHOLDER INVOLEMENT
Stakeholder involvement is very important for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to create funds for projects through collective interest. Secondly it provides the opportunity to establish cooperative partnerships, which allows to achieve a greater goal. Thirdly, it enables the mobilization of resources. Fourthly, working together with different parties helps to cover all the relevant steps of, data collection, analyzation, and implementation of green solutions. Lastly, it creates more awareness through community engagement and encourages more people to get involved.
An example on how to get stakeholders involved is the online Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA). This was launched at the Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Peru in 2014, and it is a Climate Action Portal which tracks and summaries induvial and joint actions by non-state and sub-state actors (S. Jetoo, 2019). To date, there are 12,468 stakeholders registered on the site, of which 9378 are cities. This also led to the adaption of the ‘MobiliseYourCity’ program to help 100 cities and 20 developing countries toward implementing sustainable mobility strategies by 2020 (S. Jetoo, 2019).
Besides joining these programs, you can also set up a climate change team within your local municipality who focuses specifically on organizing events that brings stakeholders together and on executing and implementing new green action plans. The European Green City Development Foundation helps municipalities with governance support training on the SDGs, information sharing, and connects you with relevant parties.
Source: European Green Cities Development Foundation
Step 3: MONITOR AND ANALYZE
Monitoring and analysing the current situation gives perspective on the overall picture of local development regarding the SDGs. It paints a picture of what the major problems are and how they influence the specific area.
You can monitor and analyse a current situation by working together with the right stakeholders. The European Green Cities Development Foundation can help to assist with finding the right partners to monitor the current situation.
Step 4: ACTION PLAN
Time for action! In this step the stakeholders from step 3 can work together with relevant parties to make a concrete concept design for the implementation of a green solution based upon the conclusions drawn from step 3. Together with relevant stakeholders the government can then develop concrete implementation strategies and allocate resources accordingly.
A Case Study of Deqing Country, Zhejiang Province, China
To review the effectiveness of the SDGs at national and local levels, China selected its Deqing County as a pilot study area in 2017. This project is one of the first comprehensive measurements in a local context over an entire administrative progress towards achieving the SDGs in both China and the world. Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations appreciated it as “a good practice for implementing and measuring SDGs at local level” (UN SDGs 2018).
The pilot project aimed to set a good example, in measuring the overall progress towards the SDGs. To measure the progress, the United Nations used a Global Indicator Framework (GIF) which is data driven and covers all 17 SDGs and 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda. The results are used to create a concreate Three-Year Action Plan (2019-2022) in order to reach the 2030 SDGs agenda. The pilot project was successful, and the results demonstrated gaps and challenges such as reducing industrial emissions, lessening energy consumption and material consumption and improving public transport convenience. Based on the results, the local government is able to develop concrete implementation strategies and allocate resources accordingly.
Throughout the pilot, different stakeholders were involved, which created more awareness and led to the ability to create an effective action plan for the specific problems. The results of this pilot can be used by local policy-makers to formulate a transformation program and effectively improve the SDGs in the area.
Let’s restore our cities and work towards a sustainable future!
For a complete overview of the case study, you can visit the link below:
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Personal author(s): van Dalen, Ditte