Grafting Cities 2024: revealing and empowering cities and citizens

Thanks for joining us in Valencia!


Publication date

July 1, 2024

During the 2024 edition of our annual forum, Grafting Cities, we dedicated two days to tackling climate change with our members, partners and other municipalities. The edition offered many topics for discussion, with a focus on two key issues for our members and European municipalities: resource-wise cities and citizens’ assemblies. We also organised a tailored session on issues faced by our members to have everyone working together on a very concrete challenge.

We are part of nature; we don’t just exist in it. Just as we are part of the world and not only live in it. Fanny Lederlin, keynote speaker and French philosopher.

Better use the resources to improve citizens’ wellbeing

Cities are facing a dual challenge: resources are constrained, and significant inequalities prevent some people from fulfilling their basic needs. In light of this, one solution is to rethink our needs, which means making better use of existing resources. That would also lead to improved public services and increased well-being in cities. This session dedicated to resources-wise cities delved into concrete measures that some European cities are initiating within their municipalities. Four cities — Heidelberg (Germany), Lyon (France), Riga (Latvia), and Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) — presented what a wise use of resources means in terms of water, energy, land, and materials, and how they have begun to implement such measures. Their initiatives included robust policies for public transport, limitations on car usage, energy-saving efforts, the development of sufficiency plans, and the creation of green belts to limit urban sprawl. The implications of these efforts span various sectors, including transportation, buildings, and food.

> More details coming soon in an article focusing on this session only in July.

Make citizens’ voices heard

Where are the citizens on the transition pathways? Their knowledge is precious, and we should tap into it. Claire Roumet, Energy Cities Executive Director

Involving citizens in the decision-making process is a real challenge for municipalities. Local citizens’ Assemblies can have very different formats, sizes and remits. Some are embedded in municipal participation processes, others are one-off events. They all require considerable mobilisation, commitment from the executive and appropriate resources.

During the session dedicated to Citizens’ assemblies, we invited cities with different experiences with citizens’ assemblies and cities willing to set up such assemblies. The city of Bologna, Italy, presented its long experience as a pioneer in setting up such assemblies and gave very concrete examples of its success. Budapest, Hungary, also shared about the 3C success factors “commitment”, “communication”, and “confidence”. This valuable advice led to many discussions among the participants, who shared their own limits and capacities depending on their local context. To illustrate another example of citizens’ assemblies, the Deputy Head of Unit of DG COM of the European Commission presented their experience at the “Future of Europe” conference, where they also organised citizens’ assemblies and shared the many positive lessons learnt from this first experience.

> More details coming soon in an article focusing on this session only in July.

Let’s work together and make it work!

The afternoon of our inspirational day was dedicated to European municipalities and the concrete challenges they face in their municipalities. Seventeen challenges, submitted by fifteen members of our network, were presented to the other participants to gather their experiences and opinions and work together on concrete solutions that can be transferred to any other city facing the same challenge. The challenges covered a wide range of topics, from decarbonisation of heating and cooling, building renovation, engaging citizens in transition projects, and very concrete and technical requirements of a city administration such as public tendering procedures or internal dialogues within the city administration.

The rich dialogues between the participants showcased the importance of exchanging and working hand in hand towards a common goal. This workshop reflects our work over the last 34 years, offering opportunities, tools and resources to tackle climate challenges to our members.

What keeps me positive for the future is the vibrant cooperation system that we have in Europe. Claire Roumet, Energy Cities Executive Director

We are very proud to enter our 35th year of commitment to the energy transition and the climate neutrality of our European cities next year. Our next Annual Forum will not only be dedicated to those who are working every day for a clean Europe but will also celebrate the successes of the past 35 years and the many to come.

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