Chiara Gallani is Deputy Mayor in Padua, Italy. The city is a winner of the 2021 Covenant of Mayors “City in the Spotlight” awards
[Europe Office:] Your city has placed a strong emphasis on adapting to the impact of climate change, with some people even referring to Padua as a 'Resilience Laboratory'. What was the first step the municipality took in this direction, and why?
[Deputy Mayor Gallani:] The municipality of Padua has placed the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change on its political agenda for many years. This is a two-decade journey, which began in 1999 with the approval of the first Municipal Energy Plan and culminated in 2021 with the approval of its SECAP.
Ever since joining the Covenant of Mayors initiative in 2010, the administration has used it as an opportunity to showcase its actions, exchange good practices and share new challenges with like-minded cities across Europe. A further step was taken in 2016 when the 'Resilient Padua guidelines were extended, which was a joint venture with the University of Venice that aimed at building further upon the adaptation plan.
In 2017, the EU-funded LIFE Veneto ADAPT project was launched, with the intention of creating a methodology and the operational tools to encourage cities to adapt to climate change and optimise and improve the capacity of local authorities to respond to extreme events.
Our SECAP involved many actors, both public and private, in its different phases, from analysing the state of the art to identifying the measures and with institutional partners and stakeholders joining forces in the local Agenda 21 process.
What have you identified as the main obstacles to your local climate and energy endeavours?
Padua has been forced to face, on numerous occasions and more frequently in recent years, extreme climatic events such as storms and heat waves, which have caused considerable damage to its citizens, industry, public infrastructure and also the arboreal heritage of the city. The administration acknowledged the challenge of climate change and has sought ways to turn it from a threat into an opportunity, with much work in recent years devoted to bolstering its capacity to mitigate and prevent the impacts of extreme events and making the area less vulnerable to them.
One of the main obstacles to the local climate and energy commitment was the fragmentation of available skills among the different departments of the municipality: many of them deal with this mitigation and adaptation but lack common objectives and true cooperation when it comes to designing new projects and defining the future of the city. That is why the SECAP included a specific action for the establishment of a cross-sectoral working group and an office dedicated to the intersectional topic of adapting to climate change, coordinating the implementation of the measures and approving new partnerships and memoranda of understanding with public and private actors.
Why did you decide to enter the Covenant of Mayors’ City in the Spotlight awards?
Participating in the Covenant of Mayors' award was an opportunity for the administration to place the spotlight on the work done so far and improve the credibility and strength of its plan. Winning this award meant that many local actors and municipal departments came to believe in the importance of this tool and to share common objectives on the basis of a long-term perspective.
How do you see Padua in 2050?
The administration has set itself ambitious goals: to cut its territory's climate-changing emissions by 55% by 2030 and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. It is a challenge that involves the municipality and all local public and private actors, including the citizens themselves. Climate neutrality is a choice that will affect all economic sectors and will target all municipal plans and regulations. Examples include the Urban Plan, the Green Plan and the Urban Plan for Sustainable Mobility, which is in its draft phase and will take aboard and integrate sustainability policies aimed at reducing energy consumption and improving the municipality's resilience.
The plan is divided into 116 actions that cover six themes:
- promoting renewable sources
- the efficiency of the public and private buildings
- the sustainable management of networks and infrastructures
- strengthening soft mobility services and local public transport
- consolidating the low-carbon economy
- planning an inclusive and resilient city.
The goal is challenging. Achieving climate neutrality by 2050 means completely transforming how goods are manufactured and services offered, radically changing consumption choices, living in more efficient homes capable of producing the energy they need through renewable sources, and transportation with a low environmental impact or using intelligent and shared mobility systems. These are all things that the municipal administration is working towards.