European cities convened in Espoo to tackle sustainability challenges

13.3.2023 8.49
A group photo of the participants taken on the second day of the event.

Based on the results, policy recommendations on cities’ sustainability work will be presented to the European Commission.

The Alliance project held workshops in Espoo on 8–9 February 2023, where representatives from European cities and local stakeholders discussed ways to put the EU’s Green Deal into practice through Local Green Deals. Around 30 people from six different European countries participated in the workshops.

Sustainable development: the new normal

On the first day, the participants focused on how residents and the civil society can become more actively involved in sustainable development cooperation.

The workshop was organised in the new Lippulaiva Library. Participants learned about the circular economy solutions used in the interior of the library and about the library’s active efforts to increase resident participation. The day’s agenda also included a speech by a resident representative and presentations on the Tapiolan Honka basketball team’s Carbon-Neutral Honka project and on resident participation work in the cities of Valencia and Ghent. The workshop sought answers to the challenges faced by cities, such as how to increase the appeal of circular economy services and the inclusiveness of sustainable development and how to bring sustainable development to the mainstream and make it “the new normal”.

Sustainable development commitments in cooperation with businesses

During the second day, the focus was on the perspective of businesses. Participants visited the premises of Aalto Design Factory and learned about innovation-promoting activities. The City of Espoo gave a presentation, which dealt with sustainable development cooperation in the construction of business ecosystems, the development commitment for the Kera district, and the city’s co-creation model. Participants also learned about the sustainability work of Espoon Asunnot, the Italian municipality of Vicchio, and the Danish city of Aalborg.

During the workshop section of the day, participants discussed ways to make joint sustainability commitments with companies. Ideas were exchanged on the roles and gains of different operators and the implementation and follow-up of the commitments. Participants felt that businesses and cities must share a common vision and language, as well as an understanding of the different ways in which organisations operate. However, a one-fits-all solution for making sustainability commitments was deemed unrealistic.

Alliance project promotes peer learning between cities

The City of Espoo is involved in the EU-funded Alliance project(external link), which aims to promote cities’ sustainability work at the local level and to enable the exchange of information and peer learning in sustainability themes between cities. The Alliance project aims to implement the European Green Deal and deliver sustainable change in cities through Local Green Deals. The project is coordinated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

As part of the Alliance project, each city organises a Knowledge Exchange Sprint event. The event held in Espoo on 8–9 February 2023 was the second in the series. Based on the results, policy recommendations on cities’ sustainability work will be presented to the European Commission.

The Alliance project supports the City of Espoo’s climate goals and the implementation of the Sustainable Espoo programme, for example through sharing good practices developed in Espoo. In addition, we can also learn from other European pioneering cities and their methods for promoting sustainable development.

  • Sustainability