In the beginning of 2023, EUSBSR PA Innovation has launched a new initiative on Collaborative BSR Decarbonization. The initiative brings together BSR cities participating in the EU Mission for climate-neutral and smart cities, and promotes and fasilitates joint climate actions between the cities. The goal is also to promote cross-macro-regional cooperation on climate issues.

One of the key actions of PA Innovation is to support developing Grand Challenge innovation projects. The leadership of the EU in the climate crisis, including the Green Deal, Fit for 55 package and the climate missions (Adaptation to Climate Change and Climate Neutral and Smart Cities) provide an excellent framework on a transnational level for addressing climate related challenges. The climate issues are strongly embedded in the national strategies of all key actors across the region. Decarbonization ambitions have been set locally and nationally as well as within firms.

From the perspective of EUSBSR the approach to address the climate crisis has been primarily from marine environment (Save the Sea), but also from the perspective of distinct substance areas – PA’s Bioeconomy, Transport, Energy, Nutri, Spatial Planning; with clearly defined sustainability actions. However, integrative approaches to systemic cross-sectoral innovations, specifically on city level, are yet missing on strategy level.

The EU ambition regarding international city or regional collaboration is moving towards even stronger collaboration constellations. In addition to the EU Cities Mission, this is also supported by the new EU innovation agenda aiming for a network of collaborating regional innovation valleys. This new direction of EU innovation policy must be strongly included in EUSBSR strategy implementation.

The ambition for PA Innovation is to define relevant value-adding focus areas for city-region level BSR-collaboration. Leading cities, regions, and companies should collaborate in innovation ecosystems, with high ambitions and mission-type approaches. Within BSR there are enough climate and cultural similarities between cities, regions, and countries, which offers BSR a unique opportunity to become a role model for decarbonization.

Topics that should be addressed as part of the mission must emphasize new forms of integration of complementary city and company capabilities:

  • City block - district-level urban planning and communal design;
  • Electrification of mobility and its impact on city energy infrastructure;
  • Fostering communities to undertake circular economy initiatives;
  • Integrating sustainability and resilience regionally;
  • Making climate neutral solutions that are more suitable for the less affluent world.

The “Collaborative BSR Decarbonization” mission entails e.g., the following collaborative aspects:

  • Supporting and leveraging leading cities and regions already in EU missions, regarding issues that they feel natural for BSR-level, city-company collaboration;
  • Strong company/ecosystems dialogue and leading public sector support for design and value-added activities;
  • Connecting with national ministries and innovation agencies around decarbonization, to work on strengthening impact of international mission-related collaboration;
  • Working with universities and students, to access new ideas and insights into challenges;
  • Connecting to relevant projects and programs funded through other sources or other similar networks;
  • Connecting the initiative to key individuals from BSR that are involved in developing and implementing EU climate missions (for instance mission board members) and new initiatives supporting interregional collaboration, including Regional Innovation Valleys and PRI);
  • Promoting to and collaborating with other EU macro-regions;
  • Defining activities and ecosystems with a mission approach, through evolving co-creation;
  • Recruiting leading actors that could support co-creation and implementing the focus area;
  • Identifying relevant concepts and activities to gain added value from the transnational context;
  • Discovering and awareness building of leading capabilities for the BSR-specific mission;
  • Supporting project proposal development to BSR (Interreg) to drive concrete work on missions and EU programs/partnerships (HE, I3, Driving Urban Transitions, Missions), identifying complementarities and added value with these instruments.


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