Hosted by the city of Burgos (Spain) from 25 to 27 September, the CIVITAS Forum was attended by some 300 representatives from local and regional authorities as well as officials from four Directorate Generals of the European Commission and representatives from the Intelligent Energy Europe Agency.
After the publication of the Mid-Term Review of the White Paper on Transport in June 2006 and the announcement of a Green Paper on Urban Transport, this Forum was a perfect occasion to start a very productive exchange of views between all institutional actors. Cities and stakeholders had the possibility to get together during ‘Rendez-vous’ sessions to discuss future potential cooperation in order to improve their transport systems. There was also the opportunity during ‘Roundtables’ to freely discuss concrete transport issues amongst small groups of participants. ‘From doing more to doing better’ was the general framework that accompanied the various plenary sessions, roundtables and workshop sessions. Participants were presented with successful transport strategies from all over Europe, such as the famous Stockholm’s congestion charging scheme, United Kingdoms workplace travel planning schemes or Spanish cycling schemes, as well as some insight on public transport priorities in China and other transport solutions implemented in America. The plenary sessions provided the participants with a clear international dimension of urban transport challenges and solutions, with presentations from Europe, China, the United States and Canada. Win-win transportation solutions were presented to the audience covering the successful outcomes that can be reached through the implementation of pricing schemes as well as giving specific advice on how to reduce dependence on imported oil by focussing on compressed natural gases, liquefied petroleum gases and other biofuels. While some presentations were based on practical and specific transport measures, others highlighted the broader picture. Ms. Mary Crass from the ECMT (European Conference of Ministers for Transport) reminded the audience of the difficulties of applying innovative transport measures because of poor policy integration or unsupportive legal framework. She also gave several hints of what national governments could do in order to facilitate the implementation of transport measures at local level. Mr. Todd Litman from Victoria Transport Policy Institute in Canada, highlighted the problem of market distortions that impedes the creation of win-win transport solutions. Within the framework of the CIVITAS Forum, eight workshops and nine roundtables were organised. These addressed concrete matters covering a wide range of mobility issues from urban freight and public participation to demand management strategies. Roundtables provided the delegates with a unique networking opportunity to meet colleagues from a range of cities and enabled them to discuss key issues of importance to cities relating to the transport and mobility agenda. The number of participants to these sessions were restricted in order to ensure an active participation from attendees and the sessions were facilitated by moderators with an extensive knowledge in the respective subjects. Participants actively shared their views and experiences on different topics such as equity in urban transportation, urban freight, public private partnerships and transport challenges for new member states. Regular workshops were held in parallel to the roundtables, hosted by key speakers on specific transport matters. Each session was attended by around 50 people having a clear interest in learning more about the projects held in the CIVITAS I and II cities. In addition to this ambitious programme, an informal EU funding session was organised. Representatives from the European Commission’s Regional Policy, Information Society, Research and Energy and Transport Directorate Generals as well as the Intelligent Energy Europe Agency, were present to inform the participants about the various funding programmes available and to respond to their concerns and views. This session was highly appreciated and focused on the 7th Framework programme, STEER and the future of CIVITAS.One of the main conclusions of the CIVITAS Forum 2006 was that a sustainable and efficient European mobility policy requires an integrated strategy that will provide a win-win situation for all players. The participants should envisage the development of a sustainable urban transport policy which takes into account more and more the users’ needs and the increasing environmental challenges. While practitioners attended workshops and roundtables dealing with the practical side of transport on Wednesday 27 September, politicians were invited to attend a closed session that was aimed at identifying the main policy priorities related to transport challenges faced in Europe. They delivered valuable inputs for policy recommendations, especially describing cities’ needs as regards the forthcoming Green paper on Urban Transport. These recommendations will be gathered in the CIVITAS Statement that will be available in the weeks to come.