Climate-KIC kicks off innovation initiative for cities

Comprehensive plan launched to support urban agglomerations as test beds of climate innovation

Climate-KIC, Europe‘s largest climate innovation partnership, will kick off a major initiative to support cities in significantly reducing their CO2 emissions and making them healthier, more resilient and resource efficient to better prepare them for the inevitable effects of climate change. The programme will focus on cities as test beds of systemic climate innovation and places where innovation can be scaled up to deliver significant climate benefits.

The initiative will cover all major aspects of climate mitigation and adaptation, from urban energy, buildings and mobility infrastructure, through closed resource loops for a circular economy and urban food and forestry to the provision of data and finance for urban climate action.

Climate-KIC works with citizens, students, start-ups, corporations, city authorities and cities organisations such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group to comprehensively tackle climate urban challenges at all levels. By 2030 the new programme aims at tripling annual building retrofit rates across Europe, achieving three-fold emission reductions through a shift towards clean mobility as a service, establishing closed resource loops in at least five major city districts, and leveraging an additional USD 500 million per year for climate action in cities.

The initiative was launched at the 2017 Climate innovation Summit in Milan, that brought together more than 400 climate action stakeholders and is organized under the patronage of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, and in collaboration with the City of Milan.

Dr Kirsten Dunlop, CEO Climate-KIC, said at the summit in Milan:

“In order to significantly accelerate climate action, we need to generate different economic models, new ways of doing business, earning money, using materials and resources and living on this planet.”

“Focusing our activities on city ecosystems means that we can use innovation to test drivers of governance, behaviour change, technology and infrastructure, as well as see how they impact each other. By aggregating fragmented efforts, and understanding cities as ecosystems, connected to global value chains, we aim to ensure that climate innovation is joined up, scaled up, able to help us learn and to deliver actions that keep us within the 2˚C global warming threshold.”

Mark Watts, CEO of C40, who joined Climate-KIC for the launch of the initiative, commented:

“This is an incredibly exciting set of announcements from Climate KIC – putting resources exactly where they are needed to catalyse change: cracking the conundrum that great low-carbon projects still struggle to attract investment, and bringing together radical innovators from both public and private sectors to change the pattern of urban development. C40 is delighted to be working with Climate KIC on shaping a clean and prosperous urban future.”

Cities are where more than half of the global population live today, consuming two-thirds of the world’s energy, accounting for over 70 per cent of global CO2 emissions and 50 per cent of global waste. Cities are also highly exposed to climate impacts, with urban heat island effect, increased risk from flooding and sea level rise, unprecedented levels of air pollution and growing social division.

Climate-KIC will realise its three-pronged strategy through a raft of dedicated schemes, spanning amongst others:

Scaling up urban transformation through open innovation

  • In partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, we will present the global Re-inventing Cities programme – soon to be launched in over a dozen major cities worldwide – providing a pioneering framework and tools for cities to transform underutilised sites into beacons of low carbon development and climate resilience.
  • Climate-KIC’s innovation scaling programme, Urban Challenges, will be offered as a service for cities to launch their own challenges – simultaneously stimulating innovators and creating a platform for local start-ups to scale their ideas and secure wider investment. Like the pollution-scrubbing CityTree, now in cities including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong; and vertical aquaponic urban farm, GrowUP, which aims to revolutionise the way we feed people in cities.
  • Innovation starts with citizens and communities. Climathon, our global climate action hackathon and the biggest of its kind in the world, has engaged over 100 cities in 44 countries this year. Innovators, entrepreneurs and big thinkers in cities such as London, Tallinn and Melbourne have pulled all-nighters to work on innovative solutions to climate challenges in their cities.

 Linking cities to global value chains and surrounding landscapes

  • Climate-KIC’s new Loop programme will be launched to see a minimum of five city districts adopt closed loop activity for specific material systems, characterised by zero per cent waste-to-landfill, 100 per cent recycling and waste reuse by 2030. To further accelerate the transition to closed-loop societies, the programme will be supported by the launch of a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) to provide professional education and support.
  • Together with the City of Gothenburg, we have launched new business models for the sustainable management and regeneration of peri-urban natural areas. These integrated landscape solutions hold the potential for greatly improved environmental management, while meeting the pluralistic needs of a growing population. Increased property value, improved aesthetics, recreational and educational opportunities as well as job creation, all improve social cohesion and wellbeing. The Gothenburg example will serve as a blue print for broader roll out in other urban agglomerations.

 Finance and capacity building to support innovation

  • Launched today by Climate-KIC and the South Pole Group, the City Finance Lab will be the first dedicated platform in Europe designed to help cities develop novel financial instruments. These are needed to address the estimated 1 trillion USD funding gap required to ensure that the future urban infrastructure essential to meet our growing needs is low-emission and climate resilient. The initiative will engage cities worldwide in training and capacity building activities – including: project preparation to ensure projects meet the standards of the private investors, the creation of pipeline of creditworthy projects, and match making initiatives between project leaders and investors. The City Finance Lab expects to leverage USD 500 million in additional finance for climate action in cities.
  • Climate-KIC’s city ‘Peer to peer’ network through its Smart Sustainable District programme offers collaboration and learning opportunities for cities to work with from urban agglomerations that have already achieved transformational change.

A full overview of the Climate Innovation Summit, which took place in Milan on 30 October 2017, can be seen here.

 
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