How EIT Climate-KIC’s work supports the future European citizens want

“An unprecedented exercise of transnational democracy entailing the participation of randomly selected citizens,” the Conference on the Future of Europe was set up in 2021 to give European citizens a platform to discuss and contribute to the debate about the future of Europe. On 9 May 2022, a report on the final outcome of the Conference, including 49 proposals, was presented to the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission. The section “Climate change and the environment” includes six proposals, which EIT Climate-KIC start-ups, programmes and projects are already helping to address.

On 10 March 2021, European Parliament President David Sassoli, Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa, on behalf of the Council of the EU, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed the Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe, pledging to allow—by way of a “citizens-focused, bottom-up exercise”—Europeans to have a say on what they expect from the European Union and have a greater role in shaping its future.

After months of deliberations, the Conference Plenary adopted 49 proposals, which include over 300 measures on how to achieve them. The proposals are organised according to nine topics: A stronger economy, social justice and jobs; Education, culture, youth and sport; Digital transformation; European democracy; Values and rights, rule of law, security; Climate change, environment; Health; EU in the world; and Migration. There was a total of 43,734 contributions on 16,274 ideas recorded on the multilingual digital platform during the whole of the consultation. 

“The Conference on the Future of Europe has been an unprecedented, democratic and innovative exercise which has shown citizens’ eagerness to participate in policy debates. We can see in the report that tackling climate change and environmental issues are key priorities for European citizens,” said Elléa Lhermite, EU Affairs Project Officer, EIT Climate-KIC. “For EIT Climate-KIC, it is of paramount importance to create the links between decision-makers and the public around climate action. That’s why citizen engagement is at the heart of our Deep Demonstration programme, our large-scale projects to catalyse fast decarbonisation and drive adaptation and resilience.”

Six proposals were included under the report section “Climate change and the environment.”

Proposals one and two: Agriculture, food production, biodiversity and ecosystems, pollution

Objectives: 

  • Safe, sustainable, just, climate responsible, and affordable production of food, respecting sustainability principles, the environment, safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems, while ensuring food security
  • Protect and restore biodiversity, the landscape and oceans, and eliminate pollution

EIT Climate-KIC has assisted start-ups such as Ÿnsect and MonitorFish with its Accelerator and Master School respectively. Ÿnsect manufactures insect products used to make sustainable pet food, as well as ingredients for aquaculture and plants. MonitorFish offers fish farming companies an AI-powered fish farm management software that guides them through automatic fish growth analytics, smart alerting and reporting services to reduce fish loss.

EIT Climate-KIC’s Climate Smart Forest Economy Programme (CSFEP), which seeks to balance forest conservation, regeneration and production to enhance climate, social, and economic benefits, was recently adopted by the Glasgow City Region within a regional initiative. Over the years, EIT Climate-KIC has striven to conserve and enhance biodiversity through several initiatives.

 

Proposals three and four: Climate change, energy, transport

Objectives:

  • Enhance European energy security, and achieve the EU’s energy independence while ensuring a just transition, and providing Europeans with sufficient, affordable and sustainable energy. Tackle climate change, with the EU playing a role of global leader in sustainable energy policy, and respecting the global climate goals
  • Provide high quality, modern, green, and safe infrastructure, ensuring connectivity, including of rural and island regions, in particular through affordable public transport

Recently, the European Commission selected 100 European cities to join its Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities. The cities selected for this Mission will receive comprehensive support from the NetZeroCities programme, led by EIT Climate-KIC, to help them decarbonise including through clean mobility, energy efficiency and green urban planning. European cities like Leuven, Madrid, Amsterdam, Milan and Edinburgh have already joined EIT Climate-KIC’s Healthy, Clean Cities Deep Demonstration, a programme that helps cities innovate on mobility, waste, energy, health, the built environment and more using a unique system change methodology.

EIT Climate-KIC has also supported numerous innovations on energy such as Naked Energy’s solar technologies, SolarisKit’s solar water heaters, Solum’s solar paving, Zolar’s household solar installation kits and Brill Power’s battery management technologies.

 

Proposal five: Sustainable consumption, packaging and production

Objective: 

  • Enhance the use and management of materials within the EU in order to become more circular, more autonomous, and less dependent. Build a circular economy by promoting sustainable EU products and production. Ensure all products placed on the EU market comply with common EU environmental standards

EIT Climate-KIC’s Circular, Regenerative Economies Deep Demonstration, which has been adopted by the Government of Slovenia, as well as the Government of Ireland, aims to decarbonise production and waste flows through the integration of circularity. The Circularity Thinking training programme recently launched to assist stakeholders and practitioners of the Slovenian Deep Demonstration.

The LOOP-Ports project, led by the Fundación Valenciaport and funded by EIT Climate-KIC, seeks to facilitate the transition to a more circular economy in the port sector, whereby products, materials and resources are maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the waste generation is minimised.

EIT Climate-KIC also supports circular economy start-ups, like Lixea, which has invented a process that uses novel, low-cost and environmentally-friendly solvents known as ionic liquids to convert waste wood, agricultural by-products and sustainably-grown biomass into high-quality intermediates for sustainable chemicals, materials and fuels.

Proposal six: Information, awareness, dialogue and life-style

Objective:

  • Foster knowledge, awareness, education, and dialogues on environment, climate change, energy use, and sustainability

Climate Outreach’s #TalkingClimate Handbook, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, asserts that having conversations about climate change in our daily lives plays a huge role in creating social change. The Handbook is an evidence-based and practical guide to help citizens have those conversations. It was recommended by the website of the film Don’t Look Up.

Supported by EIT Climate-KIC, the New European Bauhaus engages with the public on shaping beautiful, sustainable, and inclusive ways of living. EIT Climate-KIC recently selected four cleantech start-ups to be part of the EIT Community Booster – Scaling Up New European Bauhaus Ventures.

Museums Facing Extinction is a programme designed by EIT Climate-KIC and We Are Museums seeking to use the power of museums as trusted cultural institutions to help foster a climate-resilient future.

 

The report on the final outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe is available online.

Read the full report

 
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