Introducing the CIVITAS Initiative

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Are you new to the CIVITAS Initiative? Or do you want to better understand how it fits within the sustainable urban mobility landscape? We sat down with Andreas Piller of coordinating partner, ICLEI Europe, to break down some of the details and better understand the bigger picture and ultimate purpose of CIVITAS.

Let’s take a step back - what exactly is CIVITAS? What is its background and purpose?

CIVITAS is a network of 370+ cities and local authorities committed to sustainable urban mobility. Our consortium of 8 partner organisations leads the initiative and supports the Community with a wide range of services, to amplify the state-of-the-art transport work being done in cities across Europe so practitioners can easily find the most useful solutions to reapply to their own local contexts.

CIVITAS is a ‘what’ and a ‘who’ – it is practitioners in hundreds of communities, the impactful work they are doing, and the lessons they are sharing, and it is us as coordinators helping to foster that knowledge exchange to transform cities and towns vis-à-vis sustainable urban mobility.

The European Commission has funded CIVITAS since its beginning in 2002 (now within Horizon Europe), with the aim of helping the EU achieve its ambitious mobility and transport goals.

What is the CIVITAS Community?

The Community covers the CIVITAS member cities,  EU-funded urban mobility projects, the CIVINETs (national and regional networks that serve as ambassadors to the local level) and the Policy Advisory Committee, which acts like an advisory board.

How does CIVITAS contribute to the EU’s aims of a climate-neutral Europe?

CIVITAS is funded by the ‘Climate, Energy & Mobility’ cluster of Horizon Europe - the EU’s flagship programme for research and innovation. The ultimate aim of this cluster is to achieve climate neutrality in Europe by 2050 by accelerating the green and digital transitions. Within this cluster, six so-called destinations are set; dedicated packages of actions indicating the specific direction and ultimate point of arrival for projects supported by Horizon Europe. CIVITAS relates directly to three of these destinations, which address themes such as transforming road transport to zero-emission, advancing services and solutions for personal mobility and urban freight and logistics, and engaging and empowering citizens in the transition to climate neutrality.

CIVITAS also supports the EU’s Cities Mission to achieve 100 climate-neutral cities by 2030, which are acting as experimentation and innovation hubs to enable all European cities to follow.

What does CIVITAS actually do?

There are currently twenty active CIVITAS projects – plus more than a dozen others we engage with – testing ideas related to strengthening public transport, reallocating street space for people, deploying new mobility services, on-demand urban logistics, and much more. Each project works with partners from multiple cities (typically ranging from three to twelve), each of whom are implementing forward-thinking mobility measures that others can learn from. The CIVITAS coordination and support team is the hub in the wheel that connects all of them. We monitor progress, extract key findings, and communicate the lessons learned from their work; this can, for example, take the shape of a success stories publication on behalf of the community. The team enhances operational structures, improves collaboration within the CIVITAS Community and contributes to European Commission mobility events such as the up-coming Urban Mobility Days. It enables replication via enhanced learning and transfer programmes, site visits and coordination meetings within dedicated groups based on thematic clusters (e.g. urban public space design) or on topics such as communication or evaluation. The CIVITAS platform provides an open-source resource space for solution-specific learning and skills development that responds to the needs of practitioners in diverse communities.

Through this work, CIVITAS prevents projects and cities from working in silos; rather it creates synergies within the Community, creating an enhanced ‘community of practice’. It also works side-by-side in cooperation with related mobility initiatives outside of the CIVITAS Community.

What is new from CIVITAS?

We recently kicked-off a brand new 4-year cycle of the CIVITAS Initiative. The secretariat partners from the previous cycle have stayed put, keeping the knowledge, but we have welcomed two additional partners to the team – EUROCITIES and EIT Urban Mobility - giving the team some new impetus and fresh perspectives.

Author: ICLEI Europe

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of CINEA. Neither the European Union nor CINEA can be held responsible for them.

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