The event underscored the importance of local governments and civil society’s role in realising a strong and just EU Green Deal
Nearly 500 European policymakers, community-led initiatives, scientists and civil society organisations came together this week to contribute to the policy event “Making the European Green Deal Strong and Real: Harnessing the power of community-led initiatives and local governments,” co-organised by ECOLISE, ICLEI Europe and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The event underscored the importance of local governments’ and civil society’s role in realising a strong and just EU Green Deal.
Building on discussions initiated at the Beyond Growth Conference in May, community-led initiatives and local governments offered exclusive insights at this week’s event on how they are tackling issues related to sustainability and climate, in addition to building support for the European Green Deal through Local Green Deals. For example, in Wrocław (Poland) collaboration between the local government and citizens is localising the EU Farm to Fork strategy – with support from ICLEI Europe's FairLocalGreenDeals project.
Tom Meeuws, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp (Belgium) and member of ICLEI’s Regional Executive Committee pointed out that, when discussing the potential of partnership between municipalities and community-led initiatives, it is important to expand our vision of what a ‘community’ is beyond formalised organisations like ecovillages:
“One of the most important and diverse communities in a city is the community of people that live together in one apartment block.”
In addition, a representative from the Liège Food Belt pointed to how collaboration between community groups and municipalities in the Liège region, supported by EU funding programmes, is bringing about more sustainable systems:
“You have a community-led initiative that was supported first by a local government, then a regional government, then by the European Union,” confirms Christian Jonet, Liège Food Belt Coordinator (Belgium).
The untapped potential of communities and citizens in helping achieve the European Green Deal is immense, according to Felix Creutzig, Scientific Coordinator of the Climate Change Center, and Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC's 6th Assessment Report:
“Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes of lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”
This week’s event launched the Time for Collective Action Manifesto, designed based on a consultation process including 400 people from more than 130 organisations. It also introduced a background paper on “Towards a Just Transition: what does this really mean for cities and towns?”, for which ICLEI Europe’s Justice, Equity and Democracy team read, compared, and contrasted some of the key literature to determine the definitions, principles, opportunities, and key messages that guide our understanding of a “just transition”.
With the European Parliament elections approaching, ICLEI Europe continues to advocate for the development and implementation of Local Green Deals that actively engage citizens and community members in defining sustainable lifestyles and societies. Translating the European Green Deal into local action is essential to the success of Europe’s climate ambitions.