NEUTRALPATH partners gathered in Zaragoza (Spain) to share updates on the first 9 months of the project, carry out strategic joint activities, and plan the next steps.
From October 4th to October 8th, Zaragoza, one of the lighthouse cities of NEUTRALPATH, was the background for a tight agenda of events involving project partners.
Miguel Ángel García Fuentes – NEUTRALPATH project coordinator, kicked off the meeting by stating the meaning of the location, as Zaragoza has been committed to climate neutrality for more than 10 years. He then added: “Sustainability is not just about environment and climate neutrality, but also about equitable and accessible solutions. We must pave the way toward climate neutrality for and with people. Together, we are a force that can drive change”.
Besides the operative sessions dedicated to reviewing the status of NEUTRALPATH activities, the meeting included fruitful collaborative activities and insightful discussions.
“Citizen and Stakeholder Engagement for Positive and Clean-Energy Districts and Climate Neutrality” – Workshop
According to a survey conducted by EUROCITIES at the beginning of the year, climate change is the first concern of European Majors.
The workshop, organized by EUROCITIES, saw the intervention of NetZeroCities along with other Positive Energy District (PED) fellow projects (POCITYF, ATELIER, SPARCs, oPEN Lab, and ASCEND). The representatives shared their experiences and reflections, highlighting how collaborative, transparent, and innovative approaches are key to achieving climate neutrality. In particular:
- The journey towards climate neutrality is a continuous learning process, encompassing every aspect of urban growth and development. Collaboration is key.
- Engaging citizens and stakeholders can be a challenging path, but openness and transparency are essential.
- Drawing from prior coalitions is essential to explore core issues with the support of stakeholders who are already committed to the cause.
- While social Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential for monitoring engagement progress, qualitative assessments are equally important.
- Integrating citizens and stakeholders into the governance structure for managing PEDs empowers them to actively participate actively and have a voice in decision-making.
- Successful citizen and stakeholder engagement requires innovative governance models, transcending siloed approaches within public administration.
“The case of Zaragoza: Context and challenges on urban policy towards Climate Neutrality and multi-level governance” – Policy Dialogue
The dialogue session, organized by EUROCITIES, set the scene for inter-city collaboration at the policy level among NEUTRALPATH cities and with the Cities Mission platform, projects, and relevant actors at the EU level.
The session revolved around Zaragoza. A representative from Climate-KIC presented the Collaboration Platform for Climate Neutrality of Spanish Cities (CitiES 2030 Platform). The platform represents a collaborative tool among governments and key stakeholders, showcasing multi-level and multi-stakeholder governance across seven Spanish cities, including Zaragoza.
The main takeaways from the session were:
- Cities can’t achieve climate neutrality by acting alone or in breakdown silos.
- Cities need to involve different stakeholders in a people-centric, co-designed, iterative process.
- Cities need a multi-stakeholder infrastructure to coordinate multilevel actions at the city, national and European levels.
- Climate neutrality requires a reciprocal commitment between cities and all stakeholders.
Project partners collaborated during several workshops focused on technical topics:
- Evaluation framework and KPIs for positive energy balance and PCED performance assessment. Partners, guided by DEMIR, started discussing a new reference framework for PCEDs considering different perspectives, such as energy, mobility and ICT, economy, and society. The objective is to create a framework that could be applied not only within NEUTRALPATH but also by other projects.
- Evaluation of the emissions based on international standards. The workshop conducted by DEMIR stressed the challenges related to Scope 3 evaluation, as it considers the emissions that occur outside the city boundaries as a result of activities that take place within the city boundaries. Partners presented their current practices to evaluate emissions, discussed the KPIs that should be monitored to evaluate Scope 3 in the PCEDs and how the framework should be standardised across the 5 cities.
- Climate-City Contracts (CCC). The workshop conducted by CARTIF provided an update on the CCC development at the NetZeroCities and City Mission level. NEUTRALPATH cities discussed the formalisation of their commitments towards climate neutrality. CIRCE presented the process Zaragoza carried out to develop its CCC, which was awarded the EU Mission Label; while Dresden and Istanbul presented their plans for developing the CCCs, taking into consideration their contexts, needs and challenges. Despite Vantaa and Ghent are not mission cities, they showed the benefits and challenges of replicating NEUTRALPATH actions in their contexts, too.
Finally, a technical visit was organized at the local partner ARIÑO DUGLASS plant, to better know the technical solutions under development. Their work is aimed at developing a special solar coating for window glasses to be used in energy-efficient buildings.