Taking stock of the main achievements of the #CitiesOfTOMORROW in 2020

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

After more than a year since the project started, we discussed with the pilot #CitiesOfTOMORROW to understand what are their most recent achievements and what are they planning next.

2020 has been a challenging year for local governments. Despite having to cope with the pandemic, TOMORROW’s cities managed to advance towards the development of their 2050 roadmaps in the following areas:

The establishment of a local transition team

A motivated group of people is bringing forward the works in each city. For most pilot cities, a small group of colleagues from different municipality’s departments makes the “core” transition team, while a bigger group made of external local actors such as, civil society organisations, local agencies and companies etc. are kept informed, involved and can contribute to specific meetings.

Brasov decided to create a bigger transition team, to cover the main strategic areas of action, such as transport, energy, waste management etc…You can find more information about it in this article.

Because of the sanitary crisis, all meetings had to be moved online, but this did not prevent successful engagement in some of TOMORROW’s cities!

System analysis

As part of TOMORROW project, pilot cities carried on a system analysis of their context. By analysing their systems, cities can understand the boundaries of their action, the dominant values and behaviours, the relations between the different elements that are part of the “city-ecosystem”, in order to identify challenges and opportunities for change.

For example, Valencia focused the analysis on the local energy system and identified decades’ old dynamics and business models that are too rigid to respond to current needs. Nevertheless, seeds for innovations and disruptive changes are present, mostly brought by citizens and civil society organisation: Energy Communities and collective self-consumption models are emerging; the use of non-motorised, public or shared modes of transport is increasing; green urban areas and orchards are appearing all over the city.

Indeed, thanks to this analysis, all TOMORROW’s pilot cities realised that so much is already happening on their territories. Many activities and projects linked to sustainability transitions are being implemented but they are not yet connected. In order for the transition roadmap to be useful, each city needs to embed all these activities in its development.

Mouscron and Nis linked the work on the roadmap to the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan they have developed and are implementing in the framework of the Covenant of Mayors initiative. They aim at developing a participatory process to engage all city’s departments and external stakeholders, to build a consensus around it and facilitate the implementation.

Actor mapping

Actor mapping activities allowed cities to identify the relevant individuals, groups or organisations to include in the development of the roadmap and to think about the best way to collaborate with them.

Understanding the current system dynamics and the actor networks is a crucial starting point for devising activities to influence sustainable transformation in cities. In order to support cities in the system and actor analysis phase, TOMORROW’s partner DRIFT put together the “Workbook for urban transition makers”, with plenty of tools that can be used for this purpose. Some examples from the analysis done by the pilot cities using the different tools are included.

 For example, Dublin’s energy agency Codema decided to develop a tailored marketing strategy to recruit the stakeholders they identified, to launch awareness-raising activities about the “whys” of the transition and to organise a series of 2050 networking sessions for people to learn and share, but also act for contributing to the energy transition.

Brest Metropole came up with a mobilisation process centred on individual commitments (a “commitment charter” is available for signature), collective commitments through meetings with different coalitions and “proximity actions”, different initiatives run by local associations at neighbourhood level. In November, the transition team officially launched the process with the local elected representatives during their annual event “Climate-Village Declic”.

Development of a work plan for the roadmap

The #CitiesOfTOMORROW developed a work plan, to present the results of the efforts done in the previous areas, but also to detail the concrete steps and resources needed for the development of the transition roadmap. Each city worked on its own plan and all other partners of TOMORROW were able to provide feedbacks.

The plan is a working document that is not meant for publication, but some of the pilot cities' teams offered to make it available to colleagues from other cities willing to embark in a similar journey. Contact us if you want to access some of the work plans!

What’s next?

During 2021, all pilot cities will implement the participatory activities phase. These will allow them to start creating their roadmaps in a collaborative way, collecting inputs and ideas from citizens, organisations and all the other relevant stakeholders identified in the previous phase!