In pursuit of the world's most ambitious climate goals, the European Union recognizes the ability and necessity of cities to lead the way. Initiatives such as Smart Cities, the European Green Capital Award, and European Mobility Week highlighting sustainable urban mobility plans, illustrate how urban areas are at the forefront of the global carbon revolution, breaking established structures and dependencies and devising new models for integrated systems. Further, the Covenant of Mayors and C40 Cities demonstrate the viability and value of city-centered international networks in the 21st century.
Similarly in the United States, many of the most innovative climate and environment initiatives are occurring on the municipal level. Houston developed a plan to retrofit its low-income housing to significantly improve energy efficiency. Las Vegas challenged itself to become the US's first net-zero energy, water, and waste municipality. Memphis has had success implementing its joint city-county sustainability strategy. Although these ventures are evidence of great progress, they are often detached from a larger agenda or lacking recent developments in planning strategies, diminishing their potential long-term impacts.
POCACITO in the US will bridge the innovative aspirations of US cities seeking to take a leading role in sustainable urban development with the experiences of select EU cities. The result will be a truly international network of urban agglomerates developing successful strategies of low-carbon development and a transatlantic blueprint for additional cities to engage in sustainable practices, exchange 'next practices', and emerge as leaders in environmentally-sound urban development policies.
POCACITO in the US targets specific cities and key challenges which serve as a common thread between EU and US development priorities: energy efficiency in buildings, sustainable urban mobility, and water management. While each city has its own characteristic set of key challenges, all cities require solutions to the energy, mobility, and water nexus. In order to create workable solutions, we will unite a diverse consortium of participants, including city officials, urban planners, researchers, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and citizens, maximizing learning and implementation potential.
Six EU cities (Barcelona, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Malmö, Milan, Turin) and six US cities (Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Memphis, Minneapolis) will take part in the project, based on their proven commitments to developing sustainable urban initiatives. The core of the project are world café workshops in each of the six US cities during which local actors and representatives from the EU cities will collaborate on approaches to the three key action areas. The workshops will result in a summary report which will inform and motivate subsequent webinars, facilitating continued discussion and problem solving. The webinars will be recorded and available online to the public.
Complementary online platforms extend the reach of POCACITO in the US. A Twitter account is established to deepen and expand the international dialogue of sustainable initiatives. The POCACITO Blog highlights innovative sustainability initiatives wherever they are happening, with special focus on our twelve participating cities, the key thematic focus areas, and the vibrancy of urban cultures.
Publications discussing each of the key strategic issues addressed as well as the benefits of urban transatlantic partnerships in creating the urban strategies for sustainable development in the 21st century will be published at the culmination of POCACITO in the US. These booklets will be available publicly and will serve to inspire further cooperation for the next generation of post-carbon cities.
Join the discussion and keep up to date on the developments of POCACITO in the US by following us on Twitter and reading the POCACITO Blog. Share your ideas and innovations on creating a more vibrant, sustainable urban future.
POCACITO in the US is an initiative of Ecologic Institute in Washington, DC, and is made possible through generous financial support of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States‘s Getting to Know Europe program.