Green and inclusive: EBRD Green Cities webinar
The EBRD is supporting cities in its region to address the COVID-19 pandemic, while balancing the need to tackle climate change. With more than 60 per cent of people in the EBRD region living in cities, urban centres have been particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis. But how to address a green recovery whilst ensuring citizens’ quality of life, and, in particular, the inclusion of vulnerable groups, women and young people?
An online session organised by the EBRD during the European Week of Regions and Cities brought together mayors, financiers and urban experts to discuss this key topic.
Including everyone in a low-carbon future – whether they are women who might feel threatened using public transport, or coal miners worried about job losses as the transition to less polluting fuel means their mines close - is a crucial part of urban planning, agreed experts who included Warsaw’s Deputy Mayor Justyna Glusman and the European Commission’s Wioletta Dunin-Majewska, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner Ferreira, Cohesion and Reforms.
“Conceptually, we are absolutely convinced that green and inclusion need to go hand in hand. We have a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do that post-Covid. And we have instruments at the EBRD to help cities that want to come with us on this journey,” explained Mattia Romani, EBRD Managing Director - Economics, Policy, Governance.
Reading about recent miners’ protests against closure, he said, “made me realise that if we want to accelerate through a transition to a low-carbon economy we cannot ignore the political economy of inclusion - the fact that you need to bring people with you, you cannot leave people behind. Otherwise simply the transition will not happen and will not happen at the speed at which it must happen.”
The flagship €1.5 billion EBRD Green Cities programme, set up in 2016, now groups 43 cities seeking to improve their infrastructure to create better and greener living conditions for citizens. Cities that become members are helped to produce a tailor-made Green Cities Action Plan that helps them identify and address priority issues for their own citizens.
In a broad-ranging discussion of how Warsaw and the European Commission are structuring their urban priorities to boost equal access to services for all citizens, Romani also noted one on-the-ground EBRD success in boosting gender equality.
“We have started to integrate gender economic inclusion in our green cities work. As cities identify priority action in their Green City Action Plans, not only do we look at their environmental footprint but at specific needs and barriers for women, men, marginalised groups that may face issues in access to services and sustainable infrastructure from transport and water services to utilities, to make sure we don’t leave anyone behind as cities move to a greener more sustainable phase of their lives. Through our investments we want to promote gender-responsive inclusive design particularly of infrastructure projects. For example in Tbilisi Georgia, one of our lead green cities, we’ve been providing training for women to help them become bus drivers. There used to be only one. The EBRD has helped 20 others to pass their driving test and will continue to only provide investment in public transport if training for women is delivered in this sector."
The EU Week of Regions and Cities is an annual four-day event during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance.
To access the EBRD Green Cities: Hand in Hand - Green and Inclusive Recovery webinar recording please click here.