Cities provide us with opportunities to improve access to resources and services, as well as options in socio-economic, cultural, and environmental fields. However, the urgent need to address climate breakdown and water scarcity has brought the issue of climate change to the forefront of discussions during the final day of the Brussels Urban Summit. Mayors from prominent cities such as Athens, Ghent, Montevideo, Paris, and Stockholm gathered to share measures and radical solutions they are implementing to combat climate change in their respective urban areas.
Leo Van Broeck, president of the Climate Expert Committee of the Brussels Region, emphasized that good urbanization is the most crucial step cities can take. Contrary to common misconceptions, cities provide safety and resilience. During the COVID-19 pandemic, rural areas experienced up to 90% higher incidence rates compared to cities. Recognizing this, cities are stepping up to lead the charge against climate change.
Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris shared how the city is leveraging the upcoming Olympic Games as a catalyst for transforming the urban landscape. Paris has presented its candidacy with a clear goal of utilizing the games as a tool for social transformation. Priorities include revitalizing the Seine River and improving the impoverished northern district of Saint-Denis. Paris has even granted the Seine River a legal status to protect it from future harm and ensure quick recovery from potential contamination.
Karin Wanngård, mayor of Stockholm, presented steps taken by Stockholm to combat climate change. The city has been integrating climate change solutions into the fabric of the city. Efforts to eliminate fossil fuels and transition to electric transportation are well underway. Furthermore, the city is implementing carbon capture and storage techniques to offset its emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
Coming from Athens, Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis spoke passionately about the city’s ongoing efforts to reduce car dependency and create more liveable spaces. Athens is dedicated to expanding green areas, ensuring sufficient water supply, and monitoring the impact of climate change through the appointment of a Chief Heat Officer.
The Summit’s second panel featured best practices of radical solutions to address the impact of climate change. Mayor Carolina Cosse of Montevideo highlighted the city’s initiatives to clean and reclaim river borders, creating more public space for its residents. Similarly, Mayor Mathias De Clercq of Ghent emphasized the importance of recycling, presenting an innovative brick made from 63% recycled municipal waste aggregates—a shining example of the circular economy in action.
By taking decisive action and implementing transformative measures, cities are leading the charge in combating climate change.