Learning out loud

First published in FORESIGHT.

Connecting the public, private and knowledge sectors so regions can innovate together and learn from each other at every stage of the process is vital to ramp up climate action and the energy transition, says Kirsten Dunlop Chief Executive Officer at Climate-KIC, a European knowledge and innovation community.

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the world’s leading climate scientists advising governments, makes stark reading. We are not on track. Preventing catastrophic climate change and achieving the “well below 2°C” Paris climate agreement target requires a speed of decarbonisation at least six times faster than anything the global community has achieved so far. If we are too slow global temperature rises as fast as we need to, Europe must achieve net zero carbon emissions by the mid-2030s. A child born in Europe today will need to leave school living a net zero carbon life. This can only be achieved if regions and cities have the support and financial backing to innovate together and find solutions to decarbonise and develop sustainably.

The launch of the IPCC report coincided with the European Week of Cities and Regions, bringing together leaders from across Europe to “showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs”. Discussions around the 2021-2027 EU budget, the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework, formed the backdrop to the event, where it was noticeable that only 10 per cent of the programme was focused on climate, energy, environment or mobility.

The Commission foresees that in the next EU budget, 35 per cent of the Horizon Europe innovation budget and 25 per cent of the cohesion budget, aimed at boosting the economies of poorer EU member states, should be spent on delivering Europe’s commitments under the Paris agreement. EIT Climate-KIC and our 350 strong partnership would argue for a much more ambitious provision if we are to break the cycle of underachievement to date.

The lack of focus on climate and energy at last week’s event also suggests most European cities and regions have not yet fully realised climate action as an opportunity to catalyse investment to meet climate and sustainable development goals. The global economy needs an estimated $26 trillion by 2030 if efforts to prevent the worst impacts of climate change are to be scaled up in time. If Europe is serious about this — and about achieving green and equitable pan-European economic development — cities and regions need support to turn climate challenges into opportunities.

Continuing to work through gradual, incremental changes will not be enough. We need a fundamental transformation of regional economic, social and financial systems to trigger exponential change in decarbonisation rates and strengthen climate resilience. This means leaps forward in energy efficiency, in the clean electrification of energy, transport and industry, in recycling rates, radical changes in how we use and design materials, and how we manage our forests, farmland and wetlands.

Lack of capacity

This is unfamiliar territory for many cities and regions, which often lack the policy, financial and implementation tools to translate ambition into action. Few have the capacity to encourage innovation since this tends to be a national, sectoral or corporate competence.

Climate action, so far, has neglected the regional context, with Europe’s governance structures prioritising European, member state or city action. Further, regional funding via the EU’s structural funds has tended to focus on the status quo in terms of energy supplies. There has also been little acknowledgement that central-eastern and southern Europe is most at risk from the impacts of climate change, yet most innovation and economic capacity is concentrated in northwestern Europe.

Cities have fared better in placing themselves closer to the centre of the climate debate. But much of this, and the harnessing of funds to act, has served larger cities. Most of Europe’s urban population, however, lives in smaller cities and towns co-existing in more complex regional geospatial, economic and social contexts.

Connecting the public, private and knowledge sectors across regions to innovate together in a trusted open context is vital to redress these imbalances. We are developing a pan-European network of start-up accelerators to support the creation of new businesses, to build innovation capacity and help translate the transition needs of cities and regions into demand-led challenges, which result in innovative solutions. Building on a Nordic Open Innovation pilot, EIT Climate-KIC this year extended its urban challenge to Sofia, Bulgaria which suffers from some of the poorest air quality in Europe. This led to a shared bike scheme in the city. Our Climathon, which we will host on 26-27 October, has evolved into a global movement of cities involving their citizens in solving climate challenges. This year it will focus on air pollution, the circular economy and sustainable mobility.

We believe that agile, multi-faceted open innovation will help regions move beyond linear, sector-level interventions and help leaders target the right leverage points to decarbonise whole systems and make them more resilient. We want to bring together policy, finance and implementation communities to create conditions locally to develop portfolios of initiatives that can be developed, tested and modified in a design-led experimental circular, rather than sequential, fashion.

No one organisation or country has the resources to meet the climate challenge alone. We expect that future EU budgets will acknowledge this and reward new ways of working where we learn out loud — where new technologies, business models, policy and funding experiments are available for others to see and learn from at all stages of their development, and that the best are scaled up across Europe as fast as possible.

 
Location
Related Goal
Goal 12: Foster bankable green assets in cities
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs

The peer-to-peer learning platform for governments, Apolitical, included EIT...

Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs
In The News
New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture

Supported by EIT Climate-KIC and developed by its partner...

New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

EIT Climate-KIC will be taking part in the Climate...

EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021
In The News
Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards ...

A total of 140 teams of citizen finalists applied...

Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards 2020
In The News
Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation

Joe Biden will be sworn in today as 46th...

Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition

It is no secret that to tackle climate change...

EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition
In The News
New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction

This week marks the launch of NoMuWood.com, an EIT...

New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction
In The News
European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action

On Wednesday 16 December, the European Commission is launching...

European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action
In The News
“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melissa Capcha. Five years on...

“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris
In The News
“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Gopal Kumar Mohoto. Five years...

“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”
In The News
“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz. Five years...

“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”
In The News
COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Kit England. Five years on...

COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”
In The News
COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melani Furlan. Five years on...

COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”
In The News
A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas

The SaferPlaces project, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has created...

A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas
In The News
Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region

The Glasgow City Region uses arts as a means...

Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region
In The News
Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition

EIT Climate-KIC, EIT RawMaterials, EIT Digital, EIT Food, EIT...

Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy

The World Circular Economy Forum brings together business leaders,...

EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy
In The News
Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery

Over 4,500 citizens from around the world will join...

Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery
In The News
Transformative climate action and COP26: Join our webinar

Are you working to deliver transformative change for a...

Transformative climate action and COP26: Join our webinar
In The News
Madrid, Amsterdam and Milan: Three cities putting citizen participation at the...

The Extinction Rebellion or Fridays for Future global actions...

Madrid, Amsterdam and Milan: Three cities putting citizen participation at the heart of climate action
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC selected to become a member of the European Circular Economy S...

EIT Climate-KIC circular economy expert, Cliona Howie, will join...

EIT Climate-KIC selected to become a member of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform
In The News
Partnering with EIT Climate-KIC on the New Accelerator: Call for Expressions o...

We are looking for new and existing EIT Climate-KIC...

Partnering with EIT Climate-KIC on the New Accelerator: Call for Expressions of Interest
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC leads collective efforts to accelerate Madrid’s transition t...

A cross- KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) initiative is...

EIT Climate-KIC leads collective efforts to accelerate Madrid’s transition towards carbon neutrality
In The News
The Human Capital project is the EU educational sector’s answer to robots ta...

Supported by the European Institute of Technology (EIT) and...

The Human Capital project is the EU educational sector’s answer to robots taking over jobs—and AI has a role to play
In The News
New online magazine Branch explores the sustainability of the internet

This week saw the launch of Branch magazine, a...

New online magazine Branch explores the sustainability of the internet
In The News
Four EIT Climate-KIC innovators nominated for EIT Awards

Four EIT Climate-KIC innovators have been nominated to win...

Four EIT Climate-KIC innovators nominated for EIT Awards
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC selected to advise European Commission on sustainable finance

The newly created EU Platform on Sustainable Finance brings...

EIT Climate-KIC selected to advise European Commission on sustainable finance
In The News
bound4blue’s innovative wingsail technology gathers recognition across Europe

Cristina Aleixendri, Co-founder and COO of the Spanish start-up...

bound4blue’s innovative wingsail technology gathers recognition across Europe
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and Glasgow City Region join forces, helping the region innova...

Home to one third of Scotland’s population and provider...

EIT Climate-KIC and Glasgow City Region join forces, helping the region innovate to become climate resilient
In The News
Cassetex from Bangladesh, Sosei from Uruguay and Carbon Craft Design from Indi...

More than 3,000 entrepreneurs from 56 countries participated in...

Cassetex from Bangladesh, Sosei from Uruguay and Carbon Craft Design from India win the seventh edition of ClimateLaunchpad