Last week, C40 staff and partners attended Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona and showcased innovative approaches to climate action across transportation, energy and urban planning.

Staff members led sessions on C40’s Reinventing Cities competitions — the professional session explored common challenges and tools for sustainable urban regeneration, looked at public-private collaborations, and highlighted exemplary zero-carbon and inclusive urban projects. The youth session, co-moderated by C40 and Microsoft, featured the ideas emerging from C40’s Schools and Students Reinventing Cities urban design competitions and discussed how leaders and city networks can further engage youth to design innovative climate interventions.

Session leads also shared updates on the 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy (24/7 CFE) for Cities programme, an initiative launched by C40 and Google last year. Three cities — Copenhagen, Paris and eThekwini — shared the findings of the piloting work they have done to explore how to decarbonise their electricity use every hour of the day, every day of the year.

Read more from our staff members and partners who were on the ground:

Director of Urban Planning and Design, C40

“The “15-minute city” has extended the conversation on urban planning beyond traditional circles. Today, it might be a turning point. Across the world, mayors, planners and architects are changing the way they plan and design cities. C40 was the first global organisation to collaborate with Carlos Moreno and support this agenda. We are now playing a central role in helping cities to turn the concept into reality and create green and thriving neighbourhoods for all.

“I have been amazed by the leadership of the Mayor of Milan and the Governor of Santiago who are not only paving the way for sustainable design in their cities but are also calling on other Mayors to join forces with them to grow this global momentum. I have been also inspired by the vision of the future generation of designers and planners at the Youth Reinventing Cities session and by the many academics and creative businesses I met who are contributing to this critical agenda.”

Head of Zero Emission Areas and Vehicles, C40

“When it comes to urban transportation policies, it is usually not one single approach but the combination of many that have the power to utterly transform the way we live and move in cities. C40 is supporting cities in amalgamating policies focused on implementing Clean Air Zones, promoting vehicle electrification, and prioritising sustainable modes of transport to create more livable, healthier, cleaner, safer and more equitable cities.

“C40 is increasing its participation in the Barcelona Smart Cities Expo World Congress year after year, and 2023’s edition saw the largest representation to date. From the buildings, to the energy, the urban planning, and the transportation sectors, C40 is becoming a stronger ally for cities and partners who are looking at us to help them accelerate effective and equitable climate action.”

Senior Manager for Clean Energy, C40

“Cities have once again demonstrated that they are leading the energy transition and that they are already taking accelerated action to phase out fossil fuels. By adopting a groundbreaking 24/7 Carbon Free Energy approach, Paris, Copenhagen and eThekwini are showing that innovation is not only a matter of technologies, but also of policies, strategies and processes.

“Paris, Copenhagen and eThekwini have all insisted on the importance of thinking about energy supply and demand in a holistic way – a real paradigm shift for urban energy systems decarbonisation. They have all pointed at energy efficiency and strengthening demand-side flexibility as essential steps towards 24/7 CFE. Their ambition is high – but they need others – solutions providers, utilities, large consumers, national governments – to support them on their journey.”

Worldwide Director of Critical Infrastructure, Microsoft
Headshot of Jeremy Goldberg, Worldwide Director of Critical Infrastructure, Microsoft

“Through our Minecraft Edu programmes, Microsoft is thrilled to collaborate with C40 to empower youth to reshape cities with novel climate solutions. In our Schools Reinventing Cities programme, students are not only educated about climate action in their cities but also equipped with essential skills like creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking. As they navigate a virtual representation of their cities, students conceptualise and design innovative solutions and then present them to city leaders.

“During Smart City Expo World Congress 2023, I had the privilege of engaging with leaders from C40, Rotterdam, and Barcelona, as well as a student participating in C40’s Students Reinventing Cities competition. Together, we explored the pivotal role of collaboration between youth and city governments in creating greener, fairer cities. The tangible and forward-thinking solutions students proposed left me impressed. Their solutions not only chart a meaningful path to improvements, they also inspire city leaders to action.”

Solutions Lead, Environmental Insights Explorer, Google
Anna Williams, Solutions Lead, Environmental insights Explorer, Google,

“Google is working to accelerate the transition to a carbon-free future, both within our own operations with ambitious goals like 24/7 CFE, and by driving larger systems change with scalable solutions like the Environmental Insights Explorer – a tool that supports cities around the world to make data-driven, actionable climate planning decisions.

“I enjoyed meeting with our partners in Paris and Copenhagen to learn about the results they’ve seen from being part of the 24/7 CFE for Cities Programme. It was great to hear how the programme made them think differently about system planning while also showcasing the importance of collaboration to achieve the vision we share to build cleaner and more sustainable cities.

“We’re excited to welcome eThekwini – the newest participant in the programme – and look forward to their insights and collaboration as we continue developing innovative, scalable approaches to decarbonise energy in cities around the world.”

IKEA Catalunya Sustainability Leader
Headshot of Susanna Kamph, IKEA Catalunya Sustainability Leader

“At IKEA we want to have a positive impact on people and the planet, we aim to be a truly circular business by 2030. To encourage responsible consumption and circularity, at IKEA Barcelona we lead many initiatives that provide spaces to recycle and extend product life, like auctions where our customers can sell their unwanted IKEA furniture. In addition, to improve accessibility to housing and empower youth, we are developing Impulse Homes; a new form of housing, designed by young design students with sustainable principles at the core.

“We know that to make a positive impact we cannot do it alone, cities play a key role in tackling the climate crisis. The Expo highlighted many positive examples and demonstrated what cities together with C40 are doing to improve the quality of life in cities and raise climate action. IKEA took part in an inspiring panel discussion on Reinventing Cities, showcasing sustainable and inclusive urban regeneration projects with experts from C40 and the private sector.”

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