The conference will be an ideal place for governments to share their ideas and experience on the topic of urban sustainability, but it also aims to explore several strategies to make our towns more sustainable, especially on the financial aspect given the fact that new economies are starting to develop. International policies, such as the Sustainable Development Goals or the Urban Agenda for the EU, are often very far from citizens and local politicians. That’s why the conference is a place where both local governments and interested citizens can be engaged and informed about building new initiatives in the framework with a precious bottom up approach.
During the three day conference, over 100 speakers will contribute to the discussion, including Corina Creţu, Commissioner of the Regional Policy in the European Commission; Iñigo Urkullu, Lehendakari (President of the Basque Government) of the Basque Country; Jeb Brugmann, Expert in Urban Sustainability and Planning & Innovation; Ligia Noronha, Director, UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE). The program will consist plenary sessions, breakout sessions, panels, networking opportunities and mobile workshops, followed by a declaration on the current challenge for cities and towns and the needs to focus on and to be implemented on the local level.
More than 1000 participants are expected and, on the wake of the Cop 21, the conference places itself in a valuable position of bringing together local and regional government representatives, European and international institutions, multilateral organisations, members of the research community, business leaders, and civil society. Bilbao will host this flagship European conference after Aalborg (Denmark, 1994 and 2004), Lisbon (Portugal, 1996), Hannover (Germany, 2000), Seville (Spain, 2007), Dunkerque (France, 2010), and Geneva (Switzerland, 2013).
The conference is hosted by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Basque Government, Bizkaia County Council and Bilbao City Council, with the involvement of Udalsarea 21 – Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability, and the support of Araba County Council, Gipuzkoa County Council, Donostia/San Sebastián City Council and Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council.
Those interested in the conference can also win a free participation by the photo contest. In order to be eligible, participants must take a photo of their cities, showing how and why the city is to be considered a sustainability champion, then tweet it @sustain_cities using the hashtag #Basque2016.
Written by Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Verona