European cities join forces to tackle climate change
October 28, 2021
Senior staff from two European cities received a virtual tour of Sunderland last week, as part of an initiative encouraging cities to share best practice on tackling climate change.
Senior representatives from Sunderland City Council played host to counterparts from Parma and Vitoria-Gastéiz last week (18-21 Oct) to share research, experience and ways of working towards a greener future.
The visit was facilitated by EUROCITIES, a network of over 200 cities in 38 countries, as part of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy initiative, which brings together local and regional authorities who voluntarily commit to implementing the EU's climate and energy objectives in their territories.
In total, there are five pairs of cities - four with one expert and one learner and one with one expert and two learners - of which Sunderland was chosen by the Covenant as the expert for the sole trio due to its experience of a city-wide partnership approach and its 'ongoing work to tackle climate change as a city.'
Headed up by city council leader Councillor Graeme Miller and council colleagues, the three-day virtual mission saw the three cities discuss topics such as 'how to become a carbon neutral city'; 'the future of public transport' and 'the importance of retrofitting in preserving historic neighbourhoods'.
This saw delegates from the Italian and Spanish cities learn about a number of the city's ongoing green developments, including the recent announcement from Nissan and Envision AESC creating an Electric Vehicle hub and new gigaplant in the city; the city's award-winning 5G pilot and its Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.
Cllr Miller said: "It has been a real pleasure meeting delegates from Parma and Vitoria-Gastéiz this week and giving them a virtual tour of the city.
"Cities the world-over have a responsibility to become carbon neutral and only by working collaboratively can we ensure we're all learning from each other and doing all we can to rise to the challenge of becoming a low-carbon economy.
"Sunderland is an international city and we have a long history of looking to partners in the wider world to learn from their research, experience and ways of working. We continue to cooperate internationally - both as a City Council, and as a wider city partnership - and exchanges such as this will be key to helping us meet the targets of our own Low Carbon Framework.
"Through our membership of the EUROCITIES network we have drawn benefit from participating in discussions, events and projects over the years. It has also brought real opportunities to the city to partner with other members to work on various initiatives and I am really pleased that we have had this opportunity to work with Parma and Vitoria-Gastéiz as part of this project."
Sunderland adopted its Low Carbon Framework in December and recently challenged the city's youngsters to help shape the framework and support the city to plan a route to carbon neutrality.
Meeting for the first time a fortnight ago, the Environmental, Green, Sustainable (EGS) Group brought together representatives from all areas of the city, including from primary and secondary schools, youth groups and Sunderland Youth Council, as well as students from Sunderland College and the University of Sunderland, with the aim of driving down emissions and seeking to make Sunderland carbon neutral by 2040.
After agreeing on a hashtag for the framework - #WearSustainable - two members of the group shared further information about the group's plans at the Sunderland 2030 Shadow Board meeting last Tuesday (19 Oct), chaired by Cllr Graeme Miller, which was also attended by delegates from Parma and Vitoria-Gastéiz.
Cllr Miller added: "I can't think of a more important topic for partners to come together to tackle jointly than climate action. This agenda is a real priority for Sunderland - as reflected in our Low Carbon Framework and the establishing of the city's EGS Group - and it was great to be joined by our counterparts in Parma and Vitoria-Gastéiz to give them more information on our plans and to hear how they're also rising to the challenge."
For more information on the Low Carbon Framework, visit: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/lowcarbon