How cities can lead Europe towards a sustainable future

This is the Antwerp Statement on how cities can lead Europe towards a sustainable future. Join the debate!

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Cities are key drivers for achieving the sustainable development goals. Cities are more than policy implementers: they are innovative policy creators that connect global targets and local communities. Cities are a reflection of our society and of our behaviour toward the future. Cities act like magnets attracting innovation and entrepreneurship. With stronger involvement of cities, progress in the fight against climate change, environment pollution, loss of natural resources and social injustice will be enormous. Poverty, homelessness, unemployment and energy management, have to be top priorities. Cities also need concrete plans to adapt to climate change. We, progressive mayors, policy makers, experts, entrepreneurs and citizens, have come together in Antwerp on 23 November 2017 to discuss the role of cities as progress enablers in achieving the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We thereby commit ourselves to achieve the following goals in the next 10 years:

 

1. To equip city governments with the necessary tools for real influence over EU policy making. For EU and national policy makers, consulting cities remains to a large extent optional, and city government’s inputs are too easily disregarded. Nonetheless, cities are pivotal for achieving the international sustainability commitments EU states have pledged themselves to. That is why urban knowledge should be more systematically included in the design, implementation and review of EU policies. In addition, European cities should work together and share their experiences with cities from all over the world.

 

2. To maximize the full potential of the Urban Agenda and find solutions to common European challenges and objectives. Although the EU’s Urban Agenda was welcomed by European mayors, it has not yet lived up to its full potential. The Urban Agenda should be de-bureaucratised, be more transparent on how the input provided by city officials is included and clear goals for cooperation should be defined. Moreover, the EU and the Member States should do more to facilitate inter-city cooperation and partnerships that pave the way to sustainable economic and social initiatives. This can be done by creating or adapting legal frameworks that remove obstacles created by national borders. Furthermore, European policy analysis should take the city realities of growing inequality into account in order to develop better targeted European policy approaches.

 

3. To use ports as vectors for an efficient and ambitious European green economy. Ports occupy a unique place in global supply chains, which offers opportunities yet unexplored to influence the sustainability of these supply chains. Imports of fossil fuels and raw materials by sea could be gradually replaced by renewable sources and land based secondary materials from the “urban mine”. Depleted oil- and gas fields near European shores could be used for the storage of harmful industrial CO2-emissions. Waste heat from energy intensive port industries has to be harvested in industrial ecosystems and used as heating source for nearby cities via district heating. As multimodal nodes, ports are perfectly suited to bundle and shift goods towards clean and energy efficient modes of transport. The EU should support the role ports have to play in the transition to a fair, climate neutral and circular economy. A revised Alternative Fuels Infrastructure directive should foster the decarbonisation of transport via the supply of alternative fuels and shore-side electricity. An EU wide road-charging scheme has to internalise the environmental and congestion costs of the hinterland freight transport, stimulating innovative logistics and a sustainable modal shift. The ETS-innovation fund needs to support investments in energy cascades (valorising waste heat) and the transport, utilisation and storage of CO2.

 

4. To create a diverse, desegregated urban environment. As cities deal with the transition to a sustainable economy and city environment, it is important that the costs and benefits are distributed fairly between their habitants. Imagining and planning the city of the future should go hand in hand with envisioning better, healthier, more equal and workable living spaces. In an urban context characterized by super-diversity no one should be left behind. We are committed to connect and reconnect city inhabitants separated by different social backgrounds, or due to their different ages, genders, abilities, incomes, migration histories or religion. Sustainable housing, education, jobs, transport, public services, tourism are essential to our vision of Europe’s future.

Debate



Last August, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (US Senate) introduced the “Accountable Capitalism Act”. The legislation is intended to restore the idea that giant (American) corporations should consider the interests of all major corporate stakeholders ( employees, customers and the community and shareholders), not only shareholders, in company decisions. The Act provides: – Very large American corporations must obtain a federal charter as a “United States corporation,” which obligates company directors to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders; – The boards of United States corporations must include substantial employee participation (no fewer than 40% of its directors must be selected by the corporation’s employees); – Sales of company shares by the directors and officers of United States corporations are restricted; – United States corporations must obtain shareholder and Board approval for all political expenditures; – A United States corporation that engages in repeated and egregious illegal conduct may have its charter revoked. The principle of “maximisation of shareholder value” adopted in the 1980s is damaging not only society at large, but corporations the adopt it as well; this due to a too low percentage of profits reinvested in the company to foster its growth. This is true not only in the USA but also in Europe; should we think to introduce a legislation similar to the Accountable Capitalism Act also in Europe? References: https://www.warren.senate.gov/download/accountable-capitalism-act-one-pager https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/3348/text

1 week, 2 days ago in Sustainable Future
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Cities are, right now, part of the problem in adressing climate change. Cities consume 2/3 of the world’s energy and are responsible for 70% of global CO2 emissions. In order to build a sustainable future, cities need to become part of the solution. There is so much that needs to be done, we need to increase the use of renewable energy(wind, solar etc), upgrade the energy efficiency in buildings, transit to electric vehicles with lithium-air batteries, support community farms(intensive farming has a negative impact in global warming). Cities need to do this but they can’t do it alone; these changes are necessary but expensive. And this is where the European Union is important. The EU has the dimension, funds and power to push for this transition by creating a Green New Deal. A Green New Deal would build a sustainable and more green future in Europe but also solve the problems of chronical unemployment. With all the problems that unfair trade policies create to Blue-Collar Working class; green collar jobs are the alternative ! They can’t be shipped overseas and many of them can’t be replaced by technology in the near future. We will need green building architects, solar energy engineers, eletricians who install solar panels, worker’s that insulate older buildings and many other jobs of low, medium and high skill that need to be here in Europe! I’m optimistic about these changes, after all, cities are the magnet for innovation, entrepeneurship and development and the combination in a partnership with businesses and the European Union we will build a more susteinable future.

1 year ago in Sustainable Future
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We all know that Shenzhen and Northern China, in general, is already on a next level when it comes to urban planning, smart cities, blockchain, IoT networks, and machine autonomy powered by sophisticated AI. In fact, Shenzhen has taken technological advancement so far that if you’re trying to trespass a road, facial recognition software established in every traffic light will recognize you and send you an sms with your fine to pay. No traffic police, no conversations, no human interference at all. If you’re insisting on trespassing and/or disobey the advanced system in other ways, your digital profile gets “damaged” and in some cases, you lose social abilities, like the ability to vote, or even get a house loan. I won’t say that this is good or bad, it is necessary. But, we could find a better arrangement of how to introduce technological advancement to the common public. So in this case, before asking people to pay fines to the machinery, we first must let the machinery to reward people for their contribution to the city and its standards. An example discussed recently with an ex Ethereum developer, is rewarding people for recycling. Many countries already reward citizens for recycling plastic, glass bottles and other trash. What if we establish a standard European protocol, where EU member counties should use smart recycling bins, with IoT connectivity, being able to tell who is throwing away what, and in what quantity, and reward him accordingly. At the same time, the bin will be able to store data and sense its storage capabilities, interfering with the respective recycling agency to ensure maximum efficiency. For example, recycling trucks wouldn’t have to visit the bins every day, but instead, should visit only bins that are nearly full, as their monitored by the IoT network. Other use-cases could include air pollution levels depending on the car model, house energy plan a citizen uses etc. If you’re updated, you get a reward, if you’re damaging the environment because you’re stuck in your ’82 Mazda or your oil-powered heating system, you not only won’t be rewarded but in extreme cases, you should be fined. Note that this has nothing to do with UBI, but it is strictly meant to be a “reward” and not an income. With City Points, an EU citizen could buy food, groceries, and other basic materials. The citizen could use the points in exchange for a trip to another EU country and even be able to spend his City Points there. So if I am stuck in Amsterdam for a day, I could use my city points gathered from Thessaloniki to buy a cup of coffee and some breakfast while I am waiting for the plane. City Points won’t be legitimate to use as a currency, neither you could buy a house or a car with CP, no matter how many points you have. Would love to hear from you and discuss this topic. Originally posted at: https://ec.europa.eu/futurium/en/comment/8495#comment-8495

4 months, 2 weeks ago in Sustainable Future
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Every day, we face situations that can worsen the quality of every day life of citizens, especially those in Eastern Europe. The political and economic situation in countries such as Romania and Bulgaria is largely due to bad governance, tax and economic measures that are not in line with what should be implemented to make these countries “stand up”. Every day in Romania, the prices increase, the taxes and prices are rising, the rents are very high, so founding of a family and a home have become a luxury, that many of the citizens of this country do not afford. On the other hand, working in slavery in Romania, wages are very low, according to the demands of every day life. For many of the Romanian people, spending a holiday is a luxury they can not afford. So low is the standard of living that many of the citizens of this country just live for the next day. Currently, the Romanian works to pay its rates and “keep it up until next month”. These were and are the political programs in our country that have succeeded in destroying the country and degrading the citizens’ living conditions. The purchasing power is very low, the salary level, too. Therefore, there is a clear disproportion between the asking price and the purchasing power, demand and supply are inversely proportional, and hence a whole causal chain that destroys the economy. The interest rate in Romania is growing sharply quarterly. Many Romanian people emigrate, as they see themselves overcome by the economic and social difficulties they face in their country, others have two jobs to cope with their debt payments. Personally, I think it would be appropriate to make a change at the level of the European Union with regard to fiscal measures. It is necessary to improve the economy and this can only be done through measures and programs imposed by the European Union itself, which will lead to a concrete and coherent improvement result. I believe that it should be enforced at the level of all countries that are part of the European Union, that the salary level is the same, regardless of their geographical position. Moreover, it would be appropriate to unify the legislation on sustainable economic and fiscal measures that will lead to economic and social progress.

7 months, 3 weeks ago in Sustainable Future
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Currently, the acute shortage of jobs affects the economic and social situation in the entire European Community. Labor shortages are increasing , especially among young people, who are most affected by this situation. The graduate rate is disproportionate in terms of the number of jobs and qualifications required on the labor market. the problem is to balance the scale among young people who are looking for a job , but not only. Including the consequences arising from this situation are aimed at: salary level, paid hours, quantity/quality rapport, in countries like Romania, for example, is disproportionate to the other European Union countries. Other issues requiring attention are: improving the living standard among the population , the discrepancy between the workforce and pensions that must be paid out of “our money”, lack of effective and concrete control of public money in some countries where the level of corruption is growing and affects ourselves directly, the ordinary citizens. There are many young people with fewer opportunities who are forced to leave their own country, leave their families and their children to find a better living beyond the borders of their country. More than that, in terms of their work arms , they have already began to be replaced by robots. Automation will put a monopoly on manufacturing work. From here, the labor force will be serious raised, which be compulsorily complimented by ultra-performing machines and technology. They will do what man did not do practically, arms are replaced by state-of- the art technology, will overcome production activity both in terms of quantity and quality. The European Community and the Member states will slowly have to adopt measures and countermeasures to: lack workforce, improving the quality of life in all its aspects, developing cohesion measures that do not seriously affect t5he standard of living of citizens and by which the economy is rectified.

9 months ago in Sustainable Future
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The Antwerp Statement is a very important step forward in recognising the essential role of cities in paving the way for a sustainable future in Europe. Despite the statement accurately includes ports as vectors for such model of development, I find that the full potential for cities to play a key role in developing nature-based solutions to climate change is unexploited. I would add a paragraph on the importance of cities in developing adaptation plans to cope with climate change impacts and be at the forefront of the new Europe that protects. Climate risk affects people in Europe unevenly, both in geographic and economic terms. Central, Eastern and Southern European Member States are more vulnerable to climate-related disasters. On the other hand, those sectors of society with less resources available (such as low-income households, young farmers or SMEs) are also more vulnerable to potential economic losses. As climate-related disasters become more frequent and more severe, insurance to protect assets and properties become less affordable for these sectors. Using urban planning and transformation to develop nature-based solutions to climate impacts is a key element of this attempt to protect those vulnerable groups and minimise geographic and socioeconomic inequalities. Cities would therefore need better, simpler and more transparent access to EU funds in order to develop capacity to draft adaptation and resilience plans, complemented with capital-raising plans to fund those reforms needed. Such plans would inform EU Member States at the time of developing national plans and build a bottom-up, resilient Europe that protects its citizens.

1 year, 1 month ago in Sustainable Future
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