Way Forward on Decarbonising Urban Mobility in South-East Europe

Integrating urban mobility measures into city strategic planning in South-East Europe

Countries in South-East Europe face obstacles when moving towards with sustainable mobility practices and overall decarbonization of their transport systems. In particular, city administrations face challenges in integrating sustainable transport and urban mobility into the municipal strategic documents of energy and climate planning, and recently, addressing these concerns has become one of their priorities.  

Learning about new technologies and applications in Berlin

Jointly, municipal representatives from the South-East Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey) participated in-person at the Transport and Climate Change Week in Berlin from May 10 to 13, 2022.  

With the aim of learning more about European best practices, all participants visited EUREF Campus in Berlin to experience firsthand efforts of EUREF Campus on developing an real life laboratory for the shift to clean energy and future mobility, with themed discussions with ‘ubitricity’ and ‘Inno2Grid’. It was a great opportunity to learn about the application of new models and technologies through practical examples. 

While participating in the Transport and Climate Change Week Berlin programme, participants attended discussion on ‘Common Challenges, Joint Solutions – Multilateralism for climate action in transport’ lead by ‘AGORA Verkehrswende’. Followed by a fishbowl discussion on ‘Setting Policy Direction for the Freight Transport Sector’, presentation on ‘Global Impulses for Sustainable Mobility set up by ‘Correspondents Club’ and finally a discussion on ‘Shaping net-zero cities with active and public transport’ with the ‘MobiliseYourCity Partnership’. Overall, an overly rich experience shared and discussed amongst regional practitioners.  

South-East Europe Day at #TransportWeek2022

According to the participants’ feedback, the exchange of experiences reached its peak on the final day dedicated to the presentation of their urban mobility experiences, namely the ‘South-East Europe Conference Day’ – a regional city exchange and panel discussion with the subject of ‘Integrated energy, transport and climate planning’ organised by Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy, Transport and Climate Protection (ORF ETC). 

While the first part of the programme was important to set the scene, strengthen the regional cohesion and approach on initially technical solutions that could potentially be contextualized from EUREF Campus experience, and more of the policy driven changes and expectations discussed from Berlin Conference Day programme agenda, the second part was entirely attributed to the regional approaches and developments. So, the South-East Europe Conference Day took place on the May 13, 2022, an all-day hybrid event with global reach on participation.   

©GIZ Transport and Climate Change Week 2022, photo by ThomasEcke

The event was initiated by a discussion on European city approaches, such as urban mobility measures in Berlin presented by Martin Lutz (Head of Air Quality Management, Berlin City Environmental Administration) and Energy and climate planning at local level presented by Matej Gojčić (Deputy Director for Development, Development Agency of Ljubljana Urban Region in Slovenia). The discussion then followed with Fabio Tomasi (Projects Development Unit Manager, Innovation and Projects Institute, AREA SCIENCE PARK, Italy) who shared experience on ‘Harmonization of energy and sustainable urban mobility planning (SECAP & SUMP).  

A regional panel discussion was set up with special invitees such as Anuela Ristani (Deputy Mayor Municipality of Tirana), Mira Radenović (Member of the City Council, City of Novi Sad, Serbia), Ayşen Erdincler, Head of working group for SECAP preparation, Director of the Environmental protection department of the Istanbul metropolitan municipality, Turkey), Maia Tskhvaradze (Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia), Sylwia Słomiak (Foundation Forum Energii, Poland) and Fabio Tomasi (AREA SCIENCE PARK, Italy). 

A vibrant mix of themes, speakers, presenters and panelists provided the foundation for an enthusiastic and collaborative atmosphere throughout the day. A respectable regional city exchange and panel discussion took place, that outlined the critical views on current state of affairs and a craving hopes for a collective way forward in decarbonization agenda. 

Regional cohesion and sharing of best practices

Overall, there was a consensus that integration horizontally and vertically in terms of decision making, policy development as well as various themes of strategic planning are a must. Additionally, regional cohesion and sharing of best experiences needs to be put in practice to avoid the repetitive ‘reinventing of the wheel’ approach. 

A quote from the presenter Matej Gojičič illustrates best one of the regional priorities and needs:

The railway system should be the backbone of public transport in the region. To achieve this, you need integration of public transport. (…) Improvement of the railway system is something we have to do first.

Matej Gojičič, Development Agency of Ljubljana Urban Region (Slovenia), Deputy Director for Development

According to Martin Lutz “increased involvement of stakeholders and civil society is essential to ensure strong coherence between the different planning activities.” In conclusion, a quote from Anuela Ristani highlighted the importance of having the right mindset to decarbonisation of urban mobility:

How you picture future of your city is important and you should ask yourself whether such picture has traffic as the main element of your work or does it have quality of life in focus.

Anuela Ristani, Municipaltiy of Tirana, Deputy Mayor

The Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy, Transport and Climate Protection (ORF-ETC) focuses on developing regional capabilities in planning and implementing decarbonisation measures in the energy, climate and transport sectors. The project is co-funded by the European Union and the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Under the name “EU4 Energy Transition: Covenant of Mayors in the Western Balkans and Turkey”, the European Union has been co-funding the ORF-ETC since 2021. In Turkey, the “EU4Energy Transition” project is funded by the EU and implemented by the Lithuanian Central Project Management Agency (CPMA).


Milenka Knežević, Sarajevo

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