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Polis is expanding its outreach beyond Europe and a formal structure has been set up within the network to enhance global cooperation – the Polis Global Platform. A number of activities have already taken place while several others are planned ahead.
The 2015 Polis conference marked the launch of the ‘Polis Global Platform'. Over the last years, Polis has been gradually increasing its activities on international outreach. Rapid urbanisation is a major global trend which is expected to further accelerate over the next decades. The numbers are well-known: more than 60% of the world’s population is projected to live in cities by 2030, and 90% of the growth is going to take place in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Transport, and in particular issues related to car-dependency, traffic congestion, traffic safety, and air quality, belong to the core challenges of the urbanization trend.
Polis should not miss out on the opportunity to learn from its peers around the world and share its own expertise. There is no equivalent to Polis on the global level yet, and creating it now has the potential to assure Polis a leading or pioneering role in fostering global cooperation on urban mobility. At the same time, Polis will be keeping its clear profile as a specialised excellence network for cities wishing to work on innovative and sustainable urban transport solutions.
In order to efficiently manage global activities, the “Polis global platform” was created, a new dedicated working platform inside the current Polis structure, similar to the existing working groups. While other working groups are content-related, the Polis global platform will function with a different logic, focusing instead on the form of cooperation.
Polis’ global activities would serve the purpose of enhancing and (partly) managing existing activities, e.g. through organising work visits and managing delegations. Several Polis members are already active on the global level through bilateral partnerships and cooperation. “Polis global platform” will give the possibility for cities and regions from outside Europe to join Polis as associate members. Polis’ first non-European member is the city of São Paulo in Brazil.
The main involvement of Polis on the global stage so far has been within the framework of the SOLUTIONS project. SOLUTIONS explores and fosters the uptake of sustainable urban mobility solutions in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Mediterranean. The aim is to continue the support to the take-up cities and further facilitate exchange among all SOLUTIONS cities (Leading, Take-up and Training) and other cities, also beyond the duration and scope of the project.
An International cooperation session was organised at the Polis conference and the conference hosted as well a session on “EU‐China Cooperation on Sustainable Development with Special Focus on Smart Cities”.
This week, Polis will be participating in the Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21) as a speaker and for networking purposes. COP21 is the world's biggest high-level meeting on climate change, which takes place from 30 November until 11 December 2015 in Paris. Polis’ Secretary General Karen Vancluysen will attend the official ‘Transport Thematic Action Day’ on 3 December together with the mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb. The Transport Day will contribute to the development of a Road Map for action on Transport and Climate Change that lays out a pathway for a potential transport development. Alongside that, Polis’ Secretary General will also be part of a number of other events, such as the EU flagship event organised by European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc.
Finally, Polis Secretary General Karen Vancluysen was selected as member of the US Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Transportation Issues in Major Cities. She will attend the TRB conference in Washington in January 2016. Polis has also become a partner of the Urban Electric Mobility Initiative (UEMI) set up by the UN-Habitat and the SOLUTIONS project.