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Future Cities of South East Europe: How far we have come

Starting back in 2019, we had a mission to make Skopje a better place to live, work and visit by 2025, together with more than 15 partners – cities, local organizations, and advisor networks as part of this initiative co-funded by EIT Climate-KIC.

What have we done so far, and what are the next steps to be taken – we’ll tell you in this blog post.

The Cities of South East Europe face many environmental challenges that require cooperation between all stakeholders in order to overcome them and achieve tangible and lifelong results.

Air pollution, poor infrastructure, inefficient public service delivery, emigration, and diminishing trust in public institutions – all these are linked together in reinforcing negative patterns that make it even harder to solve the causes and impacts of climate change. At the same time, this is a region with amazing potential.

We worked towards meeting our goals of bringing air quality in our cities to within WHO – World Health Organization recommended limits by 2023, achieving circular and net-zero gas emission economies by 2030, reducing year-on-year the impacts of heat and flooding on our communities, as well as ensuring that by 2025 all members of our community have equable access to the fundamentals of wellbeing.

Through the Future Cities of South East Europe initiative, in 2021/22 the cities of Maribor, Sarajevo, Križevci, Niš, and our city of Skopje were working to deliver on a mission to make these cities into some of the best possible places in Europe to live, work and visit by 2025.

What goals have we achieved through the first two years of collaboration?

In the first two years, several significant outcomes were achieved through the Future Cities initiative in South East Europe:

– A model for a new governance structure  – YES Team was designed, paving the way for more efficient and inclusive decision-making processes.

– Furthermore, an experimental Impact investment portfolio was developed for the City of Skopje, showcasing the potential for sustainable and impactful investments in the region.

– We helped establish a thriving community learning platform – to support and promote knowledge sharing and collaboration among citizens.

– The development of the Platform for collective visioning, “Zelen Glas,” provided a space for citizens to actively participate in shaping the future of their city.

– An Economic Case for the Decarbonisation of Skopje was developed, outlining the economic benefits and opportunities associated with transitioning towards a low-carbon economy.

– To support local governments, the “New funding opportunities and impact on the municipalities” guide was created, highlighting ways to develop impactful investment portfolios.

– A collection of Citizens’ visions for Skopje was compiled, capturing the aspirations and desires of the community.

– A comprehensive Summary of achievements, challenges, and priorities for the future development of the City of Skopje was also prepared, guiding further progress in the region.

Achievements in 2021/2022

Although it was a real challenge, we are proud of the achievements we have made in the most challenging times of recent history.

Some of the outcomes of this initiative and collaboration were:

– Developing a guide for the design of the project portfolio and prioritization based on the learnings from 2020

– Finalizing the model for Local Government Impact (green) Investment developed in 2020 with the City of Skopje after its testing during the portfolio development process, and initiating discussion in regard to its adoption by other municipalities

– Further development of 2-3 actions from the portfolio of projects with the highest potential for implementation in the next period, by finalizing their Project Information Forms and working to attract capital for implementation

Designing a service offer for local governments in relation to the process conveyed in 2020/21 for the development and prioritization of an impact investment portfolio for the City of Skopje.

Designing and developing one pilot model / financial instrument for supporting the transition to RES – Renewable Energy Sources

– Developing 2-3 actions proposal from the portfolio of projects with the highest potential for implementation in 2022-24

What was our approach during implementing the strategies and working towards meeting the set goals?

Finding a way to achieve our mission required our communities to (re)learn how to work together toward critical shared outcomes as this need goes well beyond traditional political dynamics and relationships towards a more holistic approach with new models of governance. We had to experiment with various forms of collaboration and establish diverse working relationships and structures within our communities. Additionally, we focused on identifying suitable financial models and instruments to support the implementation of necessary initiatives.

This project is co-funded by EIT Climate-KIC.

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