Cities and businesses work to bridge gaps at Metropolitan Solutions 2015

25 May 2015, Berlin, Germany: Metropolitan Solutions 2015 in Berlin provided an opportunity for cities and businesses to look to the future, and both took full advantage, with a range of exciting tools, platforms and projects on display.

The opening day focused on China, with delegations from the cities of Chengdu, Zhangjiakou, Huailai, Yantai, Haimen and Yixing discussing the challenges and opportunities resulting from China’s rapid urbanization at ICLEI’s Sustainable Urban China conference. Speakers emphasized how China’s development meant that new models were required, with businesses challenged to develop and implement solutions at a greater speed. Pedro Pires de Miranda of Siemens spoke on the future of connecting smart buildings with a smart grid, and on the increased risks from climate change in an urbanized world.

Chinese participants also expressed their desire to learn from countries that had begun to focus on sustainability and climate change at an earlier stage. Speakers included Aixing Han (Deputy Director General, Department of Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Science and Technology, Beijing, China), Chengkui Yang (Deputy Secretary-General, Zhangjiakou Municipal People's Government, China) and Mingxing Chu (Deputy Mayor, Haimen Municipal People’s Government, China). Representatives from Bonn (Germany), Chengdu (China) and Staffordshire County Council (UK) participated in a panel on city partnerships and furthering exchanges.

Organizer Roman Mendle commented: “What we saw at the conference was recognition that China faces both new and longstanding challenges. Businesses in particular can bring their expertise to bear on familiar problems for cities. We were delighted to see companies like Siemens presenting tools that will help Chinese and other cities move towards fully intelligent, integrated infrastructure. However, it is important to ensure that smart cities position people at the center and promote sustainable development.”

The need for integration in its many forms was a running theme of ICLEI’s Lounge Talks – informal roundtable discussions and presentations that brought together experts on a range of topics. From Stockholm’s GrowSmarter project to Cisco’s ecosystem of solutions providers, participants consistently highlighted the need for city governments and businesses to look at sustainability from a holistic perspective. Speakers also emphasized the need for long-term planning with a clear focus. Cities like Copenhagen are using the tools and services provided by businesses to implement such long-term plans and are seeing the rewards, with cleaner air, improved infrastructure and increased employment.

To strengthen city-business connections, ICLEI announced that its Solutions Gateway is now open to the private sector. The Solutions Gateway is an online platform that offers tailor-made packages of solutions for local governments following a low-carbon path. Companies will now be able to enter their products and solutions into the platform, giving them exposure to and contact with cities that are working on sustainability challenges. Participants at Metropolitan Solutions noted that best practices, like the use of Doppelmayr’s Cable Cars to reduce journey times and emissions, must be shared as quickly as possible. The Solutions Gateway will greatly accelerate this process.

ICLEI was also delighted to welcome European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc to the ICLEI Lounge. A range of transportation start-ups presented their projects and initiatives to the Commissioner, in a session designed to bridge the gap between original ideas and political decision-makers.

The Lounge Talks gathered representatives from small and large enterprises, and also from ICLEI’s partner organizations: the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and CSR Europe. Innovation City Management presented the experience of Bottrop, which was one of the case studies in the study “Innovative City-Business Collaboration: Emerging Good Practice to Enhance Sustainable Development”, recently launched by ICLEI and the WBCSD. This experience was shared and discussed with representatives from the city of Warsaw.

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Media contact

Katrina Borromeo
ICLEI Head of Communications
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ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability is the world’s leading network of over 1,000 cities, towns and metropolises committed to building a sustainable future. By helping our Members to make their cities and regions sustainable, low-carbon, resilient, ecomobile, biodiverse, resource-efficient and productive, healthy and happy, with a green economy and smart infrastructure, we impact over 20% of the world's urban population. www.iclei.org

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