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CLIMASUM Study Tour to Slovenia: From Green Vision to International Recognition

Diversifying the Journey: A Taste of Graz

The study trip wasn’t just dedicated to Slovenian cities – we took the opportunity to diversify the train ride by enriching our experience in another city and starting our study trip with a short stop in Graz, Austria. Hosted by the City of Graz’s Transport Planning Department, we discovered their impressive pedestrian and cycling infrastructure initiatives. With a cycling modal split of 20.3% and plans to invest €100 million in cycling infrastructure this decade, Graz served as an exceptional example of sustainable mobility. Despite the rainy weather, we saw the implementation of some of these measures on the spot, and after a short tour of the city center, we headed to Slovenia.

Ljubljana: A Green Transformation

Our journey continued at Ljubljana’s Town Hall, whereVita Kontić Bezjak from the Department for Sustainable Mobility of the City of Ljubljana welcomed us on behalf of the City, together with the co-organizing partners, representatives of ODRAZ. Vita Kontić Bezjak showcased the city’s remarkable progress over the past few years, from a green vision to international recognition in sustainable mobility and plans for the future. Matej Prapotnik, the cycling mayor of Ljubljana, followed up with a presentation entitled „Copenhagenize Ljubljana, Ljubljananize Prague,“ emphasizing the importance of attractive infrastructure and positive communication and effective policy advocacy for cycling. Gregor Stekalčić from the Ministry of Infrastructure provided an overview from the national level and insights on the master plan for cycling development in the region.

Taking advantage of Ljubljana’s BicikeLJ public bike system, we embarked on a cycling tour guided by Janez Koželj, an avid cyclist, former deputy mayor of the City of Ljubljana, and chief architect. We witnessed the city center’s transformation from a car-oriented into a pedestrian-friendly area with interconnected cycling infrastructure. A walking tour further showcased Ljubljana’s historical context and other mobility measures.

Maribor: Workshop and Well-connected Cycle Paths

In Maribor, the workshop „Innovative approach to sustainable mobility“ took place, co-organized by ODRAZ, the City of Maribor, and REGEA. The workshop commenced with an address by the Mayor of Maribor, setting the tone for a day filled with insightful presentations. Dorotea Rebernik and Mateja Bitenc from the City of Maribor shared examples of sustainable urban mobility and investment projects, some of which we later explored during an afternoon city tour. In the subsequent sessions, our focus shifted toward innovation. Uroš Pivk from RIDANGO shed light on the smooth operation of electric vehicles and the significance of data in electromobility management. Petra Grgasović from the EIT Urban Mobility RIS Hub Croatia presented funding options for cities to test innovations before committing to investments. The workshop’s highlight was the „pitch session,“ where several European start-ups captivated us with their innovative solutions – from Bikademy and Urban Monkeys to Gepek, DISPO MARKET, SED Station, Wikimove, and SKANAUTO. During the interactive segment, participants were tasked with identifying the challenges faced by their respective cities and finding suitable tools from the presented start-ups to address them effectively. We ended the information-packed day with a walking tour around Maribor and locations with various interesting mobility innovations implemented: pedestrian zones and innovative pedestrian crossings, tactile markings for blind and partially sighted people, pedestrian-friendly traffic lights, conversion of parking spaces into social spaces parklet, Kiss&Ride, etc.

Our exploration of Maribor’s sustainable infrastructure continued the following day with presentations on cycling infrastructure and implemented projects. Additionally, we experienced the city’s cycling infrastructure firsthand using the Mbajk public bicycle system. We also encountered Maribor’s new electric buses, offering fast charging capabilities and operating on the busiest line, number 6. A ride along this line led us to the renowned Maribor ski resort, Pohorje.

Empowered by Knowledge and Inspiration

The study tour provided invaluable knowledge, practical experiences, and networking opportunities. As evident from their positive feedback, participants left with renewed motivation to promote sustainable mobility in their cities.

„We greatly enjoyed the study tour! Slovenian hosts and your colleagues from Croatia provided a very interesting program. Their solutions for cycling and the calming of urban centers are well ahead of the curve compared to Czech Republic cities and especially ours. It is great that you’re organizing such activities, and we will be pleased to hear about other planned events of this type.“

Participant-feedback about the CLIMASUM Study Tour to Slovenia

„I want to thank you for a very well-organized study trip. It was very beneficial, and I believe we will be able to implement a lot of the knowledge, examples of good practice, and suggestions we received in cities in Slovakia.“

Participant-feedback about the CLIMASUM Study Tour to Slovenia

„The event was very well organized, and I commend the organizers.“

Participant-feedback about the CLIMASUM Study Tour to Slovenia

South-East Europe’s first climate champions crowned

The award winners at a glance:

Saving energy with plays and quizzes: the Centre for Development and Support (CRP) organised investments in greener school buildings in its Smart Schools 2 project in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia, as well as creative educational measures such as a play, a quiz around energy efficiency and a big energy-saving school competition.

Solar energy through crowdfunding: the Croatian town of Križevci inaugurated a fully crowdfunded solar power plant in 2018. Located on the roof of a business centre, it has an output of 30 kilowatt hours and saves around 11 tonnes of CO2 per year. The solar energy generated is used to power the business centre and the surplus is fed into the grid.

Learning about the climate: the Slovenian-Hungarian project “Sustainaware” promotes climate literacy among young people and offers teaching materials on climate protection for out-of-school use.

Comeback for sand dunes: the “GO2” project team is rehabilitating sand dunes in the estuary of the Buna River on the Albanian-Montenegrin border. The planting of native species at the mouth of the river where it flows into the Mediterranean near the Albanian municipality of Velipoje is intended to protect the dunes from further erosion.

Insects as food for animals and humans: this project from Kosovo explores how insects can be cultivated on a large scale as a source of protein. It primarily targets local agriculture in order to decentralise market participation: in this way the project team aims to initiate a public discourse on the future of food production.

Two other organisations received special awards: one as a good example of transnational cooperation in the Western Balkans, the other for eco-social management.

Networking and advocacy for a green economy: NAGE is being implemented by a consortium of rural networks in the Western Balkans through the Balkan Rural Development Network (BRDN). The project supports the development goals of the BRDN and strengthens the network in the region. It promotes civic participation, networking and the green economy by providing evidence-based policy solutions. The Rural Development Network in Northern Macedonia was the lead partner, while the Rural Development Network in Montenegro was one of the project partners.

Innovative products made from textile waste: Humana Nova is a non-profit, eco-social enterprise that produces high-quality, innovative products from recycled textile waste and ecological materials for the domestic and foreign markets. It promotes employment for people with disabilities and other marginalised social groups and invests all its profits in business development, new jobs and local community development.

Jury votes

Sabrija Čadro, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Agriculture and Food, University of Sarajevo:

Nikola Biliškov, Senior Research Associate, Dept. of Chemistry, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Croatia: “It was a pleasure to participate in this process and learn about the interesting projects.”

„We can all act locally, for a positive global result. Such good practice projects implemented in certain communities represent a kind of beacon for positive change. There should surely be more of them!”

Valbona Gogu, Head of Section at the Albanian Ministry of Tourism and Environment: “We can learn on a daily basis from every single project proposal, even though it may not necessarily be declared the winner. It is worth mentioning that a good environmental project proposal can serve as the basis for creating a broader concept that can perhaps be further developed in the future.”

Kora Rösler, Specialist Advisor for the European Climate Initiative Funding Programme: “Change must also come from the bottom up. We are happy to see these seemingly small-scale initiatives dream big and go out there with a ‘we can do this’ mindset. We need more of this enthusiasm and feel privileged to have the opportunity to select just a few of the many ambitious and excellent projects.”

Helen Lückge, Advisor to the Alpine Climate Board: “From my experience with the Alpine Climate Board and our current discussions on how to build new partnerships for ambitious climate action, I was eager to get closer insights into projects and experiences in the Balkan region. And it was indeed great to see the wide range of activities competing for the award of the Climate Bridges project.”

About Climate Bridges

The Climate Bridges project strengthens cooperation for transnational climate protection in the Western Balkans, from Croatia via Bosnia & Herzegovina to Albania. Together with other NGOs, CIPRA Lab is setting up a network platform for this purpose. The project partners are the Urban Research Institute (URI) from Albania, the Centre for Energy, Environment and Resources (CENER 21) from Bosnia & Herzegovina and the Association Green Istria from Croatia. The project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). In 2023, Climate Bridges is planning a field trip to Austria. It is intended to promote the exchange of experience between the pilot municipalities (Pula/HR, Elbasan/AL, Novo-Sarajevo, BiH), civil society from South-East Europe and the Alpine region – on topics such as transnational climate policy and climate protection in the context of urban development.

This release and print-ready photographs are available for downloading from http://www.cipra.org/en/press/press-releases

Further information: Paula Duske, Project Manager at CIPRA International Lab, paula.duske@cipra.org

CIPRA, for a good life in the Alps
CIPRA, the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps, is a non-governmental umbrella organisation with national representatives and one regional representative in seven Alpine countries. It represents more than 100 associations and organisations. CIPRA works towards achieving sustainable development in the Alps; it also strives to preserve the natural and cultural heritage, maintain regional diversity, and bring about solutions to cross-border problems in the Alpine region. www.cipra.org