In September, the city of Gdynia (Poland) hosted the CIVITAS Forum Conference, a flagship event of the CIVITAS Forum Network and an important occasion in the field of urban mobility. Already in its 14th year, the conference gathered hundreds of CIVITAS stakeholders from around Europe, all of whom are devoted to developing sustainable urban mobility in their cities.
The three-day conference, held under the theme of Shaping the Mobility of Tomorrow, organised collaborative workshops, state-of-the-art presentations and site visits. It provided a welcome opportunity for cities to discuss and exchange knowledge on urban mobility with European politicians and urban mobility experts.
Opening the conference was Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president responsible for the Energy Union. In his video address, Mr Šefčovič reminded delegates about the communication the Commission released earlier this summer, which described how to make Europe’s transport more sustainable and energy- and resource-efficient in the future. A fundamental element of EU policy, he added, was switching to low-emission mobility and making European cities smarter.
Mr Šefčovič ‘s speech set the tone for the conference, which shortly after started with a plenary session that addressed electric urban transport in the sustainable mobility of tomorrow, and how city-business collaboration could be beneficial for sustainable mobility and sustainable cities. The afternoon saw the first of a series of parallel sessions, focusing, among others, on achievements in sustainable urban mobility planning in Europe, new perspectives of urban freight logistics, monitoring impacts and understanding situations, and the influence of automation on urban mobility.
The next morning, on the second day of the conference, the programme went straight back into parallel sessions. The presentations from a range of stakeholders – among them representatives from cities, the Commission, city networks and research institutes – focused on topics such as inclusive mobility, solutions to mobility poverty, and safe routes to school. Other sessions included presentations on travel behaviour changes, citizen and stakeholder participation, and ITS solutions in urban areas.
Following the popular parallel sessions, delegates had the opportunity to part in a number of informative workshops. The first workshop presented two initiatives on smart urban mobility – EV4SCC and the Smart Mobility Services initiative – during which speakers from DG MOVE presented European funding opportunities for smart cities.
The second workshop was open to Mayors, technical staff from cities, local authorities and other organisations interested in the sustainable urban mobility indicators tool endorsed by the Commission. The third was for those cities open to piloting the European Alternative Fuels Observatory, and the final workshop was hosted the European Cyclists’ Federation to discuss what the EU can do for cycling.
That evening, conference participants boarded a sailing ship to see Magda Kopczynska, the director of innovative and sustainable mobility at the European Commission, present the CIVITAS Awards 2016. The ceremony highlighted the most outstanding solutions, technologies and innovations in sustainable urban development under four different categories: Technical Innovation, Public Participation, CIVITAS City of the Year, and CIVITAS Transformations - a new category created this year to highlight exceptional city transformation in sustainable urban development. The winners were the cities of Rzeszów (Technical Innovation), Bologna (Public Participation), Malaga (CIVITAS City of the Year) and Kraków (CIVITAS Transformations).
On the final day, forum delegates – energised and inspired by the activities of the past days – attended the closing plenary session, which focused on cycling megacities and the international policy context for urban mobility in 2016. And just before the closing addresses – which included a video message from the European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc – the conference discovered the host of next year’s conference. Torres Vedras, one of Portugal’s leading examples of sustainable urban development, was named the winner and will host the next CIVITAS Forum in 2017.
For more information about the CIVITAS Forum 2016 – and to see the presentations and photographs – please visit the CIVITAS website.
Photographs by Karol Stańczak.