Earlier this month, I was pleased to attend the Metropolitan Solutions event in Hannover, Germany. The central stage of this is organized by ICLEI
, and called the Global Town Hall
. There were many great discussions and presentations from all corners of the globe -- people coming together in a truly global forum to share ideas and innovations. (All discussions and presentations are freely available online
Here are some speakers and ideas that caught my imagination.
George Ferguson (Mayor, Bristol, UK)
- Make Sunday Special: The first Sunday of each month (May to September) the roads in central Bristol would be "opened up for people." Mayor Ferguson made a point of explaining he does not use the term "closing the roads" because it can be seen as negative.
- Youth Mayors: Two youth mayors would be elected annually by other youth (one male, one female) to provide ideas and feedback directly to the Mayor.
- Redevelopment in challenged areas of the city. The city is developing a 70-hectare mixed use "green development" in one of the most challenged areas of the city. Ferguson commented that it would be too easy to do this in the middle class or rich areas. This urban regeneration is important to narrow the gap between rich and poor: "I believe in complexity. I don't think we should make things simple, we should make things complex. It is the complex cities which are the interesting cities."
Burkhard Drescher (Director, InnovationCity Management, Ruhr, Germany)
- InnovationCity, Ruhr, has developed a "bottom up" strategy for sustainable transformation, starting with the citizens.
- In 2013, at the pilot project area in the city of Bottrop (~15,000 buildings), it achieved an energy refurbishment ratio eight times greater than the German average rate (7.82% in Bottrop, compared to ~1% average in Germany).
Hyeok-Jae Jang (Assistant Mayor, Climate and Environment Uni, Seoul, Korea)
- "Energy Guardian Angels." A team of young students recruited by schools to be leaders in the next generation of energy saving. The initial target was to recruit 3,000 students in 2012, and 10,000 in 2013. At the end of 2012 already 9,745 had joined. Based on this success, the new target for 2014 is to expand the Angel Corps to 20,000 in 400 schools.
- Eco-mileage programme. This rewards citizens with "eco-miles" for energy savings (e.g. a ten percent reduction in energy use = 50,000 eco-miles, worth around US$50). The eco-miles can be used to purchase eco-friendly products or get financial support for retrofitting existing buildings. This programme won a UN Public Service award in 2013.
Albert Vendrell Roca (Officer, Barcelona Province, Spain)
- A "Sustainable Energy Action Plan," with associated energy reduction commitments, can be implemented even at a time when funds are scarce.
- Euronet 50/50 programme. This is a European project, coordinated by Barcelona, focused on schools where energy bills are paid by the municipality. Fifty percent of any money saved by a school by reducing energy consumption is given back to the school for its own use. 58 schools participated, of which 70 percent achieved energy savings (on average 10 percent savings, with an average of €2,100 saved per school).
- A programme to rent out the roof area of public buildings to private companies, to generate energy from solar PV. Although the programme was cancelled due to withdrawal of the feed-in tariff incentives, I thought it was still worthy of mention.
This event is still relatively new -- this was only the second year -- but it is growing strongly, and establishing a strong position in the global discussion. ICLEI makes great efforts to ensure there are good representations from the developing parts of the world. This is essential, since this is where the bulk of urban growth will occur in the next decades.
Next year the event will relocate to Berlin, which I believe will make it even more special and a definite must-attend.
— Nick Meeten, Mechanical Engineer; Green Buildings team leader at a water technology company in Germany.