The event was the finish line after twenty months of teamwork on a project dedicated to drive the shift in energy model and help achieve climate neutrality, with four European cities: Viladecans (Spain), the lead partner, and Seraing (Belgium), Nagykanizsa (Hungary) and Trikala (Greece), the transfer partners.
The session on 18 October gathered the project coordinators to work in the investment proposals, fine tuning the plans and sharing good examples from other UTM plans. And also gave political representatives of the project’s partner cities the chance to visit places demonstrating the successful implementation of the pillars of the Vilawatt project in Viladecans: the Vilawatt information office, the three demo-renovated buildings in the Montserratina neighbourhood, the Vilawatt currency and Vilawatt 2.0, which plans to build the first shared power facility at Escola Enxaneta-Institut Josefina Castellví i Piulachs.
The open session on 19 October, also streamed online, which gathered almost one hundred people, was titled “Changing the energy model in small & medium cities for climate neutrality”. It featured authorities from the four cities taking part in Vilawatt-UTM, who highlighted the project’s impact and how citizen involvement has been key throughout the process, as it is a project that depends not only on the will of the authorities but on making society aware of the need to work together for the common, shared energy project.
After the welcome by Viladecans authorities led by Mayor Carles Ruiz, the session was kicked off by Francisco Doblas, researcher and director of the Earth Sciences Department at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, with a keynote speech on research and climate change.
Then, Kristijan Radojcic of the URBACT Secretariat shared the upcoming URBACT projects that will be working towards sustainable city development. He also shared more about their foundation and spirit, which is to unite ambition, inspiration and motivation with the support of guidance and advice from URBACT experts.
A brief presentation of the Vilawatt project as implemented in Viladecans preceded the presentation, by the city’s coordinators, of the project results and the Plans they have worked on in the last months. Ongoing learning and exchange allowed each partner city to develop a project based on the Vilawatt innovative action in a way that suits the particularities of each of them, with a tailor-made transfer.
Finally, two panels closed the event. A first one with local authorities from the Vilawatt-UTM cities, who shared their vision and the main challenges ahead to achieve the goals set in the project, and the second with institutions and experts (Donal O'Herlihy, URBACT expert, Alba del Campo, Journalist and advisor on energy transition at the local level, Marta Morera Director of the Catalan Intitut of Energy (ICAEN), Assen Gasharov, Senior Expert in Energy Efficiency and Advisory from the European Investment Bank, moderated by Carles Ferreiro, Director of Business and Innovation Services in Viladecans), who shared their knowledge on key Vilawatt topics, such as energy communities, the need of a just transition, the involvement of citizens in the change of the energy model and the support available for cities who are engaged in energy and climate strategies.
As a conclusion, panellists agreed that one of the most important aspects, beyond the legal and technical issues that ensure the project success, is the social aspect. Cities are best placed in getting society involved in the project and this is essential to achieve future sustainability goals that are the foundation of energy transition projects.
Jordi Mazón, deputy mayor for the Ecological Transition in Viladecans, brought the event to a close, highlighting how working together has been key to the successful transfer of the Vilawatt project.
Watch the video here !📽