Cities have long been engaged in the development of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) aimed at meeting the mobility needs of residents and businesses, with a focus on enhancing quality of life while prioritising people and users over vehicles. Integral to the formulation of SUMPs are the active involvement of residents and stakeholders and the harmonisation of policies across various sectors, such as energy and climate.
Unconventional thinking and innovative methodology appear to hold the key to resolving many of the challenges currently confronting us. In the context of urban mobility, this principle remains paramount.
The webinar "Joint Planning through SUMPs and SECAPs Towards Zero-Emission Mobility in Cities" featured insights from Neri Di Volo and Alan O’Brien of the European Investment Bank (EIB), shedding light on the reasons behind current developments in sustainable urban mobility and outlining the future steps to be taken. According to EIB experts, the successful execution of a SUMP should be built upon a three-step foundation:
- Transition towards environmentally friendly objectives
- Comprehensive planning
Regrettably, many cities have concentrated their efforts primarily on the initial two stages, neglecting the critical planning dimension.
SUMPs were initially conceived without a strong focus on climate mitigation. It wasn't until 2018, following the Paris Agreement, that Member States commenced the development of their National Energy and Climate Plans. It was from this point onward that SUMPs began to integrate energy and emission reduction strategies. However, a common oversight identified by EIB experts is the absence of an initial evaluation of the technical feasibility of these targets. For instance, there was insufficient consideration of the relationship between the electrification of bus fleets and a city's energy grid.
Alan O’Brien from EIB-JASPERS noted: “If you close one street in a city, it may not affect the most immediate streets. Nevertheless, if one looks at it from a metropolitan perspective, the effects of closing a street can be much bigger than initially imagined".
Bologna's approach to sustainable urban mobility planning serves as a noteworthy example, encompassing not just the city itself but the entire metropolitan area, driven by the recognition that addressing key challenges and achieving primary goals required a regional focus. Coordinating with 54 other municipalities, led by the Metropolitan authority, involved considerable efforts in fostering collaboration among politicians, scientists, and technical offices, engaging over 7,000 individuals through online surveys, stakeholder groups, and collaborative meetings.
Since 2018, Budapest has actively worked to align the SUMP and SECAP (Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, emphasising the importance of planning projects and investment programs. Additionally, Budapest's SECAP includes measures to improve transport efficiency, such as upgrading infrastructure, promoting eco-friendly transportation, enhancing public transit, and introducing integrated digital mobility solutions.
For those interested, the webinar can be rewatched here, and additional information on sustainable mobility can be found in our publication, "Policy Options to Reduce Emissions from the Mobility Sector: Inspiring Examples and Learning Opportunities".
Original article published by eu-mayors.ec.europa.eu on 20 October 2023.
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