Regions, cities aim at greening Europe

Local players to have real seat at the decision-making table

Photo: Maria Koleva Anthoula Ntota and Christos Karkanias.

Over 9,000 local, regional, national and European decision-makers, experts, academia, and people from NGOs came to Brussels to take part at the biggest annual get-together dedicated to regional development - European Week of Regions and Cities. All in all, 400 debates and events put the focus on cohesion, growth and jobs, digital shift, among others. Major concerns for addressing climate emergencies were among the key aspects of the discussions.

At the Agora, one of the networking events attracted audience from different walks of life. It was devoted to the Triple Wood project whose objective is to form a timber building culture throughout the Alpine region. With Europe facing the devastating effects of the ongoing climate change, sustainable forestry and timber buildings are key elements to mitigate these developments and key contributions for “a greener Europe”, as every cubic metre of wood extracts over one ton of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Ludger Dederich, Chair of Wood Construction, University of Applied Forest Sciences Rottenburg, presented the current initiative of the federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg to push for more wooden buildings, investing €17m in spheres such as research, education and raising awareness.

Timber construction should be considered as a craftsmanship, specified Ludger Dederich and suggested new 'perusal' of the timber houses built in the European cities 400-500 years ago.

At a stand nearby, Anthoula Ntota and Christos Karkanias are promoting best practices under CESME Interreg Europea project, supporting SME inclusion in the circular economy. One of the good practices is of PAM Consult from Bulgaria. The company used marine transport containers to build a hostel for students from the specialised sports school in Sofia. The buildings are extremely energy efficient and can be made much faster than the traditional constructions.

During this year's opening debate, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, stressed that EU cohesion policy must continue to be the centrepiece of the EU as it gives regions and cities the investment they need to respond to issues such as climate change, social inclusion and inequalities. He insisted that alongside stable investment, the EU must urgently redefine the way its laws are made by allowing local and regional governments, who are responsible for delivering 70% EU laws, to be given a real seat at the EU decision-making table.

EP Vice-President Klara Dobrev stated that for politicians it has always been a dilemma of how to reconcile their short-term political interests with genuine long-term objectives. She pointed out that new game-changers entered the scene - young, energetic and enthusiastic, and “they are aware of the threat arising from climate change”.

Elzbieta Bienkowska, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said that the new cohesion policy must continue to empower regions and cities, who are at the forefront of a sustainable Europe, ensuring we are ready to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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