We are happy to announce that the Bold City Visions (BCVs) of the Follower Cities (FCs) are officially completed, and we are well on the way to achieving full political approval by each of the cities.
BCVs are ambitious, comprehensive city visions for climate neutrality and serve as an important aspect of the +CityxChange methodology. When dealing with ‘wicked problems’ such as the energy transition, municipalities are often confronted with the challenge of overcoming organizational silos, in which different departments and domains are disconnected and unable to effectively partake in horizontal coordination. By using a framework for integrated strategy development, cities and municipalities can create strategies that support and reinforce each other, ultimately accelerating the pace at which cities are able to reach their goals and visions. The BCVs cover urban, technical, financial, legal and social aspects of the energy transition, and are prepared through a process of open engagement and co-creation with citizens, urban authorities, industry stakeholders, and across municipal units. This extensive process enables holistic, evidence-based decision-making and planning.
Following Lighthouse cities Trondheim (see Deliverable 5.7) and Limerick (see Deliverable 4.7), the +CxC FCs, Alba Iulia, Smolyan, Võru, Písek, and Sestao have used the BCV Framework to design and construct city visions for planning, implementing, replicating and scaling-up to positive energy districts (PEDs) and climate neutral cities by 2050. Situated within the cities’ overarching strategic planning and management processes, as well as the broader context of the Sustainable Development Goals, the BCV process has helped the cities to identify and address key opportunities and actions in becoming smarter and more sustainable.
As outlined in our latest deliverable, D6.2: Bold City Vision 2050 for each FC, each city has determined specific areas of focus and key actions for achieving their Visions by 2050. The city of Smolyan, for example, aims to create a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable city using smart positive energy solutions and digital services to improve the quality of life for and together with its citizens. The BCV for Võru is formulated around the premise of growth, both in terms of supporting new businesses and attracting new residents. This is done by promoting a healthy and sustainable living environment, fostering technological development, and improving community services and smart governance. The other cities have similarly outlined their goals and objectives for achieving climate neutrality, tailoring their approaches to the specific challenges they face.
As a result of problem analyses and feasibility studies conducted during the BCV process, some cities, like Písek, have created SECAPs (Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans), setting climate targets and introducing new forms of energy management. Other cities found it useful to create their BCVs in conjunction with local urban agendas. The Sestao BCV was essentially combined with its Agenda Urbana, in order to reduce redundancy within the political process and increase the chance of getting official approval for the proposed measures. The development of the two documents was opened for citizen participation, resulting in an Action Plan that was unanimously approved across all political parties in the city council’s plenary session at the end of July 2022. Similarly, Alba Iulia has linked multiple strategies to its BCV, including the Smart City Strategy 2021-2023, the Action Plan for Sustainable Energy, and the Integrated Urban Development Strategy 2021-2030.
Through the BCV process, we have gathered numerous learnings and insights that can be applied to similar vision-making processes. To highlight some key takeaways:
- Citizens must be at the heart of the development of such a strategy, in cooperation with other stakeholder groups such as industry actors and urban authorities. It is critical to map stakeholders and partners for collaboration to ensure the vision responds to diverse interests and needs.
- A continuous monitoring process is sometimes more important than the strategy itself. Establish methods for monitoring and evaluation from the start of the development process.
- Visions should be embedded in the larger political context, to better ensure feasibility and relevance, and identify synergies with other strategic urban agendas.
- Explicit alignment with SDGs provides context and weight.
- For the vision to become a reality, the transformation process requires strong leadership and comprehensive financing schemes. Transformation is not a one-off process but rather a constant cycle of information supply and demand that requires a macro “visionary” perspective that is also grounded and operational.
- Identify legal and regulatory obstacles from the onset and create action plans to overcome potential hurdles.
We encourage you to check out the latest deliverable, D6.2: Bold City Vision 2050 for each FC, for more details and the complete BCVs of each city. For an overview of the Bold City Vision Framework, check out D3.1 Framework for Bold City Vision, Guidelines, and Incentive Schemes (SDG City Transition Framework). And be sure to visit our knowledge base for a more detailed overview of everything else our cities have been up to!