In Sopot, a small Polish city nestled on the banks of the Baltic Sea, delegates from across Europe gathered to discuss a new approach to planning that enables people and businesses to be mobile in a more sustainable manner.
From 12-13 June 2014, the city played host to the first ever conference on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. The EU-backed conference was attended by a mixture of urban mobility planners, implementers and other stakeholders, and held under the banner of ‘Planning for a liveable city’. The importance of the conference was illustrated by a quote from Mr Siim Kallas, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport: "Addressing the problems of urban mobility is one of the great challenges in transport today."
Plenary sessions complemented workshops during the conference, many of which saw lively debate and discussion. With the full diversity of European regions represented, each with its own mobility issues, political culture and attitudes towards sustainability, the discussion on implementing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) was informative, engaging and wide-reaching.
Topics discussed included European funding opportunities; creating liveable cities through sustainable mobility; the integration of transport, land-use and health planning; and more. Various cities presented their experiences regarding sustainable urban mobility planning, such as the Polish cities of Gdynia and Krakow, who presented on advancing towards a dynamic SUMP. Brno (Czech Republic) outlined their experience with the CIVITAS initiative, whileParkstad Limburg (The Netherlands) discussed the city’s involvement with, amongst others, the Poly-SUMP project. Budapest(Hungary) elucidated how the city’s mobility plan is contributing to liveability, and Milan (Italy) looked at the challenges, strategies and ongoing actions related to their SUMP.
Mircea Enache, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Planning of Bucharest, Romania, and President of EMI Systems in Maryland, USA, spoke with Eltis about the necessity of robust mobility plans: ‘I think it is imperative that cities adopt SUMPs. For one thing, they are a tool for integration. I don’t believe you can achieve much in urban planning, or mobility planning, or even real estate development, if you don’t have an integrated view.’
‘SUMPs do not stop at the transportation and mobility aspects – they go into the quality of life, urban design, pedestrian schemes, non-motorised transportation, and so on.’
The conference enabled participants to exchange ideas and experiences with fellow planners and experts, explore what European projects can offer at the local level, and find out more about the upcoming changes planned for Eltis. This includes hosting the European Platform on Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans as announced by DG MOVE in the Urban Mobility Package in December 2013 to support the further uptake of mobility plans.
The SUMP conference will become an annual event and an important element of the European Platform. In addition to the conferences, the Platform’s other key elements include the soon to be launched Mobility Plans portal (as part of Eltis), a Coordinating Group of EU supported initiatives, and the Platform Secretariat, which is responsible for overall organisation and enquiries.
All presentations from the conference are available online.