Mobility, a key challenge for climate-neutral European cities
5 min read

Mobility, a key challenge for climate-neutral European cities

Zabala Innovation participates in the SENATOR project, which seeks to make urban logistics sustainable and will test its effectiveness in Zaragoza and Dublin

Working to make urban mobility sustainable is increasingly necessary to improve the quality of life in cities. Almost 70% of EU citizens live in urban areas, where they live with the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from transport, noise pollution and road traffic.

However, more and more cities and initiatives are supporting the reduction of these effects and are committed to smart and sustainable urban mobility. They aim to make mobility a driving force for the creation of climate-neutral cities.

Senator project is an example of it, in which Zabala Innovation participates. It is an initiative that aims to make cities sustainable through logistics and urban planning solutions.

This European project (which started in 2020 and will end in 2024) is developing a platform that will optimise goods delivery services in urban areas. It will act as a control tower for last mile logistics operations by facilitating collaboration between citizens, carriers, logistics operators and municipalities (who manage urban space).

Senator’s platform will use real-time information and artificial intelligence to make order delivery routes more efficient.

The initiative will test its effectiveness in the real world, in Zaragoza and Dublin, which will function as Senator Urban Living Labs. Zabala Innovation is working closely with Zaragoza City Council and Dublin City Council within the consortium to make the cities and their citizens the protagonists of the Senator experimentation, which will allow innovative ideas to be evaluated in real-life situations.

These are also two of the cities that have been selected to participate in the mission of the 100 climate neutral cities for 2030.

Climate neutral cities for 2030

Within the Horizon Europe programme, the European Commission launched the EU Missions with the aim of transforming and improving life in European cities. One of these missions, Smart and Climate Neutral Cities, aims to support 100 European cities in their systemic transformation towards climate neutrality by 2030, turning them into centres of experimentation and innovation.

Zaragoza and Dublin, which are part of the Senator consortium and will test the project in their cities, have been selected among the 377 cities that applied.

The cities that will participate in the mission to achieve climate neutrality by 2023 are:

‘Mission of Cities’ has a budget of more than €350 million until 2024. Cities selected to participate will receive different funding opportunities and support through a coordination network, which will foster learning and exchange of experiences between cities. Other benefits will include support for citizens’ participation in decision-making, planning strategies, key reforms and investments, and visibility, which will bring increased political profile and attractiveness for investment and skilled workers.

To achieve climate neutrality, furthermore, accelerating the transition to clean energy and renewable energy deployment will be crucial. Thus, an important role for cities is foreseen in the new REpowerEU, a joint European action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy.

The European Commission has set up a new Task Force within its Directorate-General for Energy to support the EU Energy Platform and implement the REPowerEU objective.

The new Task Force will consist of three units reporting to the newly appointed deputy director general, Matthew Baldwin, until now responsible for the 100 climate neutral cities mission. It will also report to the Director General for Energy, Ditte Juul Jørgensen, and under the political supervision of Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.

Cities as Living Labs

Zaragoza and Dublin will operate as Urban Living Labs in Senator, spaces that facilitate experimentation and can be defined as a user-centred, interactive and open innovation ecosystem. They integrate simultaneous research and innovation processes in the framework of a partnership between the public and private sectors and the population.

In these Living Labs, research is user-centred, so stakeholder participation is essential. To this end, Zabala Innovation is developing co-creation strategies to involve stakeholders and discover emerging scenarios, uses and behaviours. It is also evaluating the social impact of this new approach.

In addition, Zabala Innovation, as responsible for Dissemination and Communication, implements strategies to transmit the messages to the different target audiences of the project -among which are the citizens- promoting the knowledge and acceptance of the project.

Civitas: the network of cities with sustainable urban mobility

The Senator project is part of the Civitas initiative, a programme that helps the European Commission to achieve its mobility and transport objectives, and in turn those of the European Green Deal. It does so by acting as a network of cities dedicated to sustainable urban mobility.

Since its launch in 2002, Civitas has driven research and innovation in sustainable urban mobility and has enabled local authorities to develop, test and implement measures through different projects such as Senator.

Through the organisation of the Civitas Forum, which Zabala Innovation attended in its last edition, Civitas offers the opportunity to listen to cities, people and projects that drive innovation in smart, inclusive and sustainable mobility. It is also an event to exchange and connect with city representatives, policy makers, industry professionals, urban planners, NGOs and academics.

Zabala Innovation’s specialisation in energy and mobility

Zabala Innovation has been working for years with projects and initiatives related to cities, mobility and transport. In fact, it has an area of specialisation in energy and sustainable mobility, key sectors for the European economy and for achieving a greener Europe.

Other European projects and initiatives in the energy, mobility, transport and cities sector in which Zabala Innovation participates or has participated are:

  • Market Place of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (2014-2016): a space for collaboration and networking that is part of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC).
  • BRIDGE: a European Commission initiative that brings together the smart grids, energy storage, islands and digitalisation projects of Horizon 2020. BRIDGE fosters continuous knowledge exchange between projects, allowing them to present conclusions and recommendations on the future exploitation of results.
  • European Technology & Innovation Platforms (ETIPs): were created by the European Commission in the framework of the new Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) of the Integrated Roadmap, bringing together a multitude of stakeholders and experts from the energy sector. The SNET ETIP aims to ensure that European research and innovation provide all energy customers and market players with confidence in optimally integrated networks, systems and markets.
  • STARDUST project: aims to test solutions to increase overall energy efficiency and improve the quality of life in lighthouse cities (Pamplona – Spain, Tampere – Finland and Trento – Italy) and follower cities (Derry – UK, Kozani – Greece and Litomerice – Czech Republic), as well as to stimulate the local economy and generate new business models. This will be achieved by applying the “smart city” concept: integrating the most advanced information and communication technologies, connectivity and the Internet of Things in the construction, energy and electric mobility sectors.
  • REPLICATE project: its objective is to build a sustainable city business model to promote the transition to a smart city. Through this project, it will be possible to accelerate the deployment of innovative technologies and organisational and economic solutions to increase resource and energy efficiency, improve the sustainability of urban transport and drastically reduce the greenhouse effect in urban areas.
  • ATELIER project: a smart city project demonstrating Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) in 8 European cities with sustainability and carbon neutrality as guiding ambitions. Amsterdam and Bilbao are the lighthouse cities and Bratislava, Budapest, Copenhagen, Krakow, Matosinhos and Riga are the cities that will replicate and adapt the project’s successful solutions.

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