The project wants to increase capacities of cities and networks in Greece, Croatia, and Portugal to engage citizens on energy and climate issues. By blocking streets for motorized traffic, Living Streets turns streets into social hubs and uses the space to bring citizens and local climate projects together. Thus, citizens can direct their feedback at the climate projects while experiencing the potential of a car-free city at the same time. In turn, policy makers experience the positive impact of citizen participation on policy implementation.
“Living Streets” follows a twofold goal: first, to enable networks and cities on citizen engagement in climate and energy issues, connecting actors from Greece, Croatia, and Portugal. Second, to impact local spatial planning and mobility policies through feedback gathered from citizens at “living streets” sites: selected streets that are closed to motorized traffic for certain time periods over 1-2 months, where citizens can try-out a car-free lifestyle and be in touch with local climate and energy projects. Over a two-year period, the project will implement several measures that support the achievement of the goals.
Cyclist on street in city center; photo: unsplash.com/Cosmin Serban
For the goal of capacity building, “Living Streets” will conduct one workshop for local authorities (LAs), civil society organizations, and networks and associations from Greece, Croatia and Portugal. This will include a site visit to Ghent, the Belgian city which pioneered the Living Streets concept. In addition to this central workshop, the project will organize a total of 6 local capacity building workshops, 2 in each participating country. In order to support the implementation of Living Streets, the project will create a public call for Living Streets in each target country, whereby cities and civil society organizations can submit projects. At least 6 cities – two per country – will be selected to implement the Living Streets.
Motorcycle parked at the roadside in front of colourful houses and street; photo: unsplash.com/Sara Darcaj
At the end of the two-year project cycle, a final event will be organized that allows participants from all target countries to come together and share their successes, challenges, and learnings with each other.
Currently, streets constitute about 20 to 30 per cent of any metropolitan area. While they gradually became designated to cars, streets should rather be perceived as municipalities’ essential social and economic hubs, where people come together to form a living community. Living Streets realizes the vision of an environment where streets are for people, not for cars. By doing so, the project also highlights shortcomings of traditional urban planning policies, where mobility policies are centered around cars, streets are designed in hierarchical top-to-bottom processes that disregard citizens’ experience, and individual planning departments do not cooperate with each other. Importantly, by creating a space where citizens can articulate their opinion on projects, Living Streets also fills a capacity gap that has been noted to be prevalent in all 3 target countries: local authorities have neither the know-how nor the tools to engage citizens in planning and decision-making. The lessons learnt will feed into new municipal policies on how to facilitate local bottom-up initiatives in urban planning and sustainable mobility.
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The European Climate Initiative (EUKI):
This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.