Conference Report: Integrated Planning and Implementation of Smart and Energy-efficient Solutions in Cities

In December 2019 the Special Session at Smart Sustainable Planning of Cities and Regions 2019 Conference in Bolzano was jointly organized by Urban Europe Research Alliance (UERA), JPI Urban Europe, the SET-Plan Action 3.2 on Positive Energy Districts, the Action Cluster Integrated Planning, Policies and Regulation of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities, SCC-01 project Smarter Together and STARDUST, European energy award, and Tuscan Organisation of Universities and Research for Europe.

Its aim was to bring together a wide range of key stakeholders around integrated planning and implementation of smart and energy-efficient solutions in cities, to discuss not only how efforts to decarbonise cities can be stepped up through wider replication, but also which agenda for research and innovation should be defined to build more collective intelligence and transformative capacity for local governments, under Horizon Europe, national policy agendas and  JPI Urban Europe’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda 2.0.

Some of the key takeaways:

  • Cross-domain working, multidisciplinarity and profound stakeholder engagement are of paramount importance for making districts or cities effectively smarter and more energy-efficient, and Europe provides many excellent examples;
  • A commonly accepted definition and scoping of integrated planning and implementation is still lacking and some key aspects of smart and energy-efficient cities are not yet incorporated, such as urban data as an enabler. A comprehensive definition could facilitate the integration of different concepts and tools in future, enlarging their joint applicability for users as city administrations;
  • To better support local governments, it would also help to make current concepts and tools better accessible for time-pressured city administrations, adapt them towards specific urban situations and contexts, and translate them into specific local processes and procedures;
  • There are still some persistent knowledge and innovation gaps research could address, such as making clear which technologies are when applicable, which stakeholders should be engaged then, and which dilemmas can be expected; or: investigating how to make smart city plans ready for procurement;
  • Next to Horizon Europe and Green Deal funding, ERDF funding will be available for local innovation, while synergies between ten European direct funding programs (including Horizon Europe, Digital Europe and Invest EU and ERDF) will be possible to promote the entire chain from low to high Technology Readiness Level, stimulating not only SME participation but also providing opportunities for researchers and practitioners;
  • The commitment of 100 cities through city contracts as planned by the Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities in Horizon Europe, would mobilize citizens, policies and actors well beyond research and innovation.

Read more in the report from the day here

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 857160.