2014 Polis Conference: Polis links cities and regions with national governments and European institutions

Opening Plenary

On the 27th of November, the opening plenary featured in depth presentations from a panel composed of high level policy makers and representatives from the European Commission, the WHO, the local level, academia and the industry. The discussion, moderated by Polis director Karen Vancluysen, was built on strong content and plurality, reflecting how Polis brings together the different relevant actors to develop the answers to the challenges of urban transport today and tomorrow. Resolutely focused on solutions, the presentations brought indications on major trends in society and policy and best practices. The discussion with the audience was an opportunity to develop further some of the suggestions made in the presentations, notably with regards the European Commission’s agenda, the future of automated transport and connectivity, promoting active travel and reducing air pollution.

Building on the concrete solutions and approaches to urban mobility presented in the opening panel, Ana Botella, Mayor of Madrid, outlined some of the many innovative local transport initiatives that the Municipality has developed. From the efficient and extensive network of buses and underground to the new electric bike sharing scheme and clean vehicle promotion notably for taxis, Madrid has much to share. She also stressed the important role Polis has played in Madrid being at the forefront of sustainable urban transport policy and innovation.

Both the Spanish Secretary of State for Transport and the Italian Transport Minister underlined how the national level wants to support cities and regions in implementing innovative urban mobility solutions. Mr. Lupi, representing the Italian Presidency of the Council of EU, emphasised that Polis is an important resource for sharing knowledge. He stressed the importance of connecting transport networks on urban, national and European scales. In this respect the inclusion of urban NODES in the Trans European Transport Network corridors (TEN-T) is essential and offers all funding opportunities.

Closing Plenary

The closing plenary debate, on the 28th of November, was moderated by Nick Lester, Corporate Director from London Councils and ERTRAC Vice-Chairman, and also featured high level representatives from the European Commission and Parliament, the International transport forum and the local level, including the Committee of Regions. One the one hand, the debates centred on how to better coordinate between different actors and different levels of government to achieve the best results and tackle the challenges linked to urban mobility. Panellists discussed how the EU could support cities and regions, both financially and with smart regulation. On the other hand, they also exchanged views on the policy focus to achieve sustainable urban mobility. Accessibility and quality of life were repeatedly mentioned. And all agreed that technologically driven connectivity and its impact on transport planning and operation is one of the great novelties. Cities have to learn to integrate connectivity to benefit from its potential. In this respect, the concept of Smart Cities developed by the European Commission and discussed at the Polis political group meeting on the 28th of November in Madrid could serve as a framework.

Technical Sessions

16 technical sessions were hold covering a range of topics such as active travel, ITS, transport safety, urban freight, mobility planning, parking, electromobility and many more.

The presentations are available for download here: