Geneva (2013)

At the 7th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns, delegates discussed how cities can drive a transition towards sustainability in the face of the current economic, environmental and social crises. As global policy processes have largely failed to put the world on the track to sustainability, hopes are increasingly placed on local and regional actors. However, as cities across Europe are struggling with austerity measures, can they meet the challenge to drive such a transition?

Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director of ICLEI Europe said that “the notion that social and environmental concerns need to be put on hold until the economic crisis has been solved fails to recognise the linkages between these. There are huge opportunities to strengthen the local economy through sustainable investments. There is enormous potential for economic benefits through smart spending for example on improving the energy performance of buildings, better water resource management and adapting cities to the impacts of climate change.”

Sandrine Salerno, Vice-Mayor of the City of Geneva, added: “These local solutions can be implemented through public-private and public-public partnerships. We also need to strengthen the social economy and choose sustainable investment strategies. In this spirit, Geneva 2013 has brought together representatives from all levels of government to build a strong local and regional foundation for the sustainable development of our societies in Europe and beyond. Geneva as a centre of humanism, multilateralism, peace and international solidarity has provided a symbolic location”.

Against this backdrop, the conference saw the launch of the European Sustainable Cities Platform. The online information hub brings together a number of topics and initiatives dealing with urban sustainability and will encourage international collaboration and drive exchange on sustainable local solutions.

Download the Conference report



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