Expert Voices: Ricardo Cepeda-Márquez, C40 Solid Waste Director
On October 17th, the C40 City of Oslo held an Innovation Evening focused on urban climate leadership as part of the city’s week-long convention Oslo Innovation Week.
Oslo Governing Mayor, Stian Berger-Røsland opened the Innovation Evening keynote address by talking about the city's goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 – and related actions in public transport, street lighting, electric vehicles and waste management, for which it recently gained recognition as a finalist for the C40 & Siemens City Climate Leadership Awards.
Governing Mayor Berger-Røsland was then joined by C40 Solid Waste Director, Ricardo Cepeda-Márquez; Green World City CEO, Sein-Way Tan; and Sustainability and Awareness Expert, Ana Marques for a panel discussion on the urgency of climate actions and the role of smaller cities like Oslo in leading the fight against climate change.
The Role of Smaller Cities
As part of this conversation, C40’s Ricardo Cepeda-Márquez recognised the role of Oslo as an Innovator City in C40 -- an organization that is principally made up megacities. The proven climate leadership of Oslo, and proactive effort to serve as an urban laboratory for innovative solutions mean that it has much to teach larger cities, who can replicate and bring to scale the successful ideas, whilst learning from any experiences – both the positive and the negative. Indeed, Governing Mayor Berger-Røsland pointed out that smaller cities like Oslo are more flexible and nimble than megacities, in part since the systems of a small city can more easily be changed to turning trends -- and at lower cost. Discovering what does not work can sometimes be just as valuable as learning what does, he argued. The panelists agreed that the megacities of the world must accelerate their own climate agenda, because the window of opportunity to limit global warming is getting smaller.
Since joining the C40 network in November 2012, Oslo has been actively participating in the C40 Electric Vehicles network and looks to increase its involvement in C40’s Solid Waste, Transportation and Energy Initiative activities. The city’s current actions to process food waste to generate fuel for public transport vehicles, and to use the energy recovered from solid waste for district heating and cooling will create synergistic interactions between the C40 Initiative areas, inspiring cities to generate new ideas, look further and make larger strides to meet their emission reduction goals.
All of these actions are not driven only for climate reasons. Smart street lighting systems increase road safety; energy recovery from waste reduces reliance on fossil fuels, and avoids landfill disposal; food processing produces soil amendments that replace fertilizers, incentives for electric vehicles improve air quality and accelerate the industry development. All tangible, near-term economic, health or other important “co-benefits” enjoyed by cities taking leading approaches to fight climate change – a key finding of C40 & CDP’s 2013 report Wealthier, Healthier Cities.
Oslo Innovation Week is one of the biggest innovation conventions in Europe, making the Norwegian capital a central meeting place to discuss opportunities and practices for growth and innovation every year in October. This year it was held on 14-18 October, with about 40 different events with a focus on innovation and growth.
To learn more about Oslo Innovation Week, click here.