Since 2011, Leuven has been at the forefront of European cities committed to the climate with the other cities from the Energy Cities Board. The Belgian city participated in 2013 in the creation of ‘Leuven 2030’, a citizen co-creation platform. It has been sponsoring it ever since. The local NGO promotes the implementation of sustainable projects involving citizen participation.
To recognize its efforts to become 2030-2050 neutral and its citizen governance, Leuven won the European Green Leaf Award in 2018. Since April 2022, the city is one of the ‘100 climate-neutral and smart cities‘ selected by the European Commission. The municipality must therefore achieve its climate targets before 2030.
Leuven 2030 is a non-profit organisation founded in 2013 by 60 members, including the city and committed citizens. The NGO has grown today to a solid organisation with more than 600 members. In the organisation, inhabitants, companies, civil society organisations, knowledge institutions and public authorities are equally represented.
In 2018, Leuven 2030 developed a Roadmap 2025 – 2035 – 2050 with the help of the urban-planning agency and over 70 local experts. Currently, 180 climate initiatives from the 13 programs are ongoing or in sight. They concern housing, mobility, energy (mainly), agriculture and nutrition, nature and consumption etc. They are led by a set of 18 coordinators from the local community.
More than half of the buildings are part of a heritage complex or protected city view. This context makes their renovation quite difficult. Also the access roads are as narrow as historical, thus improving the quality of public transport is difficult. But Leuven is doing different and chose to become one of the 100 European cities to take up the Intelligent Cities Challenge.
Ever since, Leuven 2030 is implementing climate projects with schools. It is organizing as well events such as the annual climate week, the car-free day or the Wereldfeest. Projects are always with an emphasis on awareness of climate issues.
The NGO also promotes an imaginary by projecting what the city could look like in 2030, based on the report of the University of Leuven (2013). The report developed a scenario where emissions were reduced by 67% by 2030 and by 80% by 2050 compared to 2010.
Citizen participation is one of Leuven 2030’s strengths to evolve into a healthy, liveable and climate-neutral city by 2030. The NGO led as example a public consultation on the proposed measures of the new mobility plan (September 2016). In addition, citizens also decide the design of public spaces. 12 people were randomly selected among the 2,000 applicants to chose the design and the architectural firm to be retained.
Sources : Energy Cities’ ‘Democratic transition factory’ report (2019), p.33 ; official website of the local NGO ; Energy Cities’ ‘Local PACTs’ report (2021), p.33 ; Leuven’s official webpage from the Intelligent Cities Challenge
City of Leuven is a member of Energy Cities since 2020
100 000 Inhabitants