May's Working Group meetings: It's always sunny in sustainability

May was a busy month for POLIS working groups. From discussions on hydrogen to public-private partnerships, we traversed the length and breadth of sustainable urban mobility.

Our working groups are tailored to the needs of our members, addressing the challenges they face when implementing sustainable urban mobility solutions, arriving at solutions designed around their size, structure and local politics. Indeed, this month, we even held our first Regions meeting!

If you missed any of them, here is a quick recap.


Clean Vehicles & Air Quality Working Group talk hydrogen!

Hydrogen is receiving rising attention in Europe and around the world- including the transport sector. While it is seen as a viable alternative to fossil fuels, many questions remain.

The European Union has emphasised the importance of hydrogen in its Green Deal ambitions, forecasting the share of hydrogen in Europe’s energy mix to grow from 2% to 13-14% by 2050. As Europe’s recovery plan calls for renewed focus on clean fuels to support the post COVID-19 restoration, public and private mobility stakeholders are turning their attention to hydrogen.

However, while investments in the fuel are growing, there remains much to be done to harness hydrogen for widespread use. Utilising upcoming opportunities effectively requires understanding the fuel’s benefits, the current (and future) policy landscape, and drawing from those who have begun to trial its usage.

To support POLIS members in this design and deployment process, the Clean Vehicles & Air Quality Working Group met on 4 May to discuss the future of hydrogen, traverse concepts, strategies, available funding and hear members’ stance on the subject.

This truly was the what, where why and how of hydrogen, an incredibly informative event for those who are beginning to trial the fuel in their cities and regions.

It was a fascinating discussion, which prompted many questions from participants, who were keen to find out more about the potential of hydrogen to transform the transport sector and its relationships to electrification options.


Governance & Integration: Public-Private Partnerships

Achieving sustainability goals means building alliances and working together. Both local authorities and private operators are pioneering exciting new mobility services, so how can we pool our resources?

This meeting, held over 2 days (6 & 7 May) provided an incredibly comprehensive exploration of the role of public-private partnerships across urban mobility, addressing the current state of play and how best local authorities and private operators can work together in the future. The four sessions addressed:

  1. Regional approaches to partnerships
  2. Data sharing from micromobility
  3. Filling the gaps in mass transit
  4. The current picture of micromobility

Bringing together local authorities, operators, data analysts and experts from across Europe, these sessions delved into the structure of partnerships, data sharing formats and more- placing public and private stakeholders in direct dialogue with one another.

If there was ever a case study for “breaking out of our silos”… this was it!


Regions: First meeting

The role and importance of regions is often overlooked in our conversations around urban mobility. From Catalonia’s new bus networks to Baden Württemberg’s expansion of human resources for sustainable transport, POLIS member regions have been playing a pivotal role in developing and testing public transport services, active travel infrastructure, e-mobility…the list goes on!

As such, POLIS has begun to establish a Regions Working Group, to bring member regions together to discuss, debate and share the key challenges they are facing in the transition to more sustainable mobility. Undoubtedly, like our cities, regions are heterogenous in nature, varying in geography, resources and politics; yet there are many pressing issues which unite them.

On 12 May, 2021, an initial meeting for the newly formed Regions Working Group met to establish the initial steps towards bringing together POLIS' regional members and defining a way forward for the group. We heard from Baden Württemberg, Catalonia, Flanders and Noord-Brabant on how they are implementing measures on a regional level, exploring how the working group could best serve them going forward.


Horizon Europe: POLIS’ one-stop-mobility-shop

Horizon Europe is the European Commission’s flagship research and innovation funding programme with a budget of €95.5 billion, and POLIS is helping its members along each step of the application process, which includes both a better understanding of the calls and their requirements and the identification of partners and groups.

2021 is set to be an incredibly exciting year from cities and regions participating in Horizon Europe. Europe’s cities are set to play a pivotal role in Horizon Europe framework programme through the Climate-neutral and smart cities mission, which is being established to provide local authorities with the resources to expand their sustainability strategies.

As a result, POLIS is assisting its members in navigating the application process, developing projects and identifying topics for future funding opportunities.

This was a unique opportunity for local authority members to hear from experts in the application process and explore the central themes of this year’s calls.


Electrifying the Curb: POLIS discusses the future of EV charging

Here at POLIS, we firmly believe in cross-disciplinary action. Climate change affects all mobility sectors, and sustainable action can only be achieved with attention to the interconnections between modality. Cycling affects parking, which in turn has repercussions for micromobility… which yes you guessed it… has knock on effects for public transport.

This is why POLIS Parking and Clean Vehicles & Air Quality Working Groups joined for a meeting on 19 May, 2021, to explore the capacity for collective thinking.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are rapidly becoming key parts of the urban modal mix. As demand grows, cities and regions must react with suitable charging infrastructure, and fast!

From Madrid to Amsterdam, cities and regions are rapidly rolling out charging services and domestic charging points are increasingly commonplace across Europe; yet there is much progress to be made. This will be a careful balancing act, integrating new charging technology into the curbside, yet minimising negative effects on public space.

Members heard from leading cities including Trondheim and Rotterdam who shared their approach to scaling up EV infrastructure- as well as industry leaders on current movements in the market.


Traffic Efficiency: ITS, RTTI and CCAM… more than just acronyms!

Data is the primary theme of the Mobility and Traffic Efficiency Working Group meetings which took place this month- and will continue across June.

The EU’s ITS agenda is leading to a raft of new regulations or legislative revisions, which will have increasing implications for POLIS members.  POLIS has been following and engaging in these developments for more than a decade, and has sought to create a dialogue between members and the European Commission. However, navigating these developments is often complex for POLIS members.

The working group held the first of two workshops guiding members through the upcoming revisions and possible repercussions for traffic and transport management, while answering their questions and concerns.

The second event was a chance to explore opportunities presented by POLIS’ membership of the European Partnership on Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility in Europe (CCAM). The partnership was created to advance research and innovation in the field of connected, cooperative and automated mobility in Europe.

CCAM expects to address a number of problem drivers including fragmented research and innovation efforts, insufficient market maturity, lack of awareness and acceptance by citizens and policy makers and limited large scale demonstration and scaling up.

The CCAM partnership will foster and support new mobility concepts, shifting design and development from a driver-centred to mobility-user oriented approach, providing viable alternatives for private vehicle ownership while increasing inclusiveness of mobility.

POLIS Mobility and Traffic Efficiency Working Group met on 25 May to explain the partnership, to discuss POLIS’ role in this partnership and to identify and discuss opportunities for members.

Please note: Our Working Group meetings are open to POLIS members only. For more information regarding membership please contact our Membership Manager, Pasquale Cancellara.