The 9th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns, the flagship European conference on local sustainable development, took place last week from 30 September till 2 October.
The conference addressed the socio-economic and socio-cultural challenges associated with accelerating the transformation to sustainability and climate neutrality. It took a decentralised and bottom-up perspective that begins by identifying cities and regions as key actors towards urban transformation processes. The conference also called for increased ambition of European and global frameworks for sustainability and climate change, with a particular focus this year on the European Green Deal.
Over 1,500 representatives from local and regional governments, European and international institutions, multilateral organisations, members of the research community, private sector and civil society took part in the event. Amongst them also Kerstin Kleinhans, environmental engineer and PlastiCity researcher at the Laboratory for Circular Process Engineering (LCPE) at Ghent University.
Kerstin spoke at the Solution Session "Plastic, construction and bio-waste: too valuable to waste" hosted by BioVoices and PlastiCircle. Cities around Europe are piloting and implementing solutions to become more circular. Plastic, construction and bio-waste are three of the waste streams that cities are seeking to reduce or reuse due to their environmental impact and socio-economic value.
The session explored the experiences of three cities that have got down to the job. What have they done? What did they learn? It centered around the questions:
- What approaches are different cities taking to tackle plastic, construction and bio-waste?
- Which levers do cities have to effectively close these materials loops?
- Can material innovations make cities more circular?
- How to turn challenges into opportunities?
- Can their solutions be replicated elsewhere?
Also at the conference, ICLEI launched the European Circular Cities Declaration. This declaration is designed to help accelerate the transition from a linear to a circular economy in Europe, thereby creating a resource-efficient, low-carbon and socially responsible society.
It aims to:
- Allow local and regional governments across Europe to communicate their commitment to supporting the circular transition
- Provide a shared vision of what a “circular city” is
- Underline the critical role which local and regional governments need to play in making this transition happen
- Establish a network of committed organisations to share their experiences, challenges and successes
The Declaration has been developed by a broad partnership of stakeholders to ensure that the vision and commitments contained are ambitious, yet achievable, and reflect the needs of all. The City of Ghent is one of the founding signatories.