Cities deserve greater recognition – Deputy Leader says

By on 09/09/2011 in News

National governments need to recognise more the contribution cities across Europe are making towards meeting international sustainability goals, according to the Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, the council's lead on climate change and sustainability, is expected to express this view to delegates from cities across the continent at the ICLEI European Convention 2011 in Brussels on Tuesday (September 13).

During the event those in attendance will discuss a range of issues including the economic, social and environmental challenges facing Europe - and the possible solutions.

In his speech to delegates, Cllr Tilsley is expected to say that more recognition needs to be placed on the role of the city, as there tends to be a national focus on solutions despite the fact that most wealth is generated at a city level.

The Europe 2020 strategy, created by the European Union, begins from the premise that the continent's future growth will be “inclusive” as well as “smart” and “sustainable”.

The EU has set five objectives - on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy – to be reached by 2020, with each Member State adopting its own national targets in each of these areas - with “concrete actions at EU and national levels underpinnng the strategy”.

In response, Cllr Tilsley is expected to say: “We all know that Europe is composed of nation states, but those nation states are composed of major cities and their heartlands, and cities create 85 per cent of Europe's GDP.

“We are all linked and 'we are all in this together'. But are we? I believe – and I believe we all agree on this - we are not all in this together.

“Indeed as cities, we are not seen as any kind of player - not even a reserve on the field of play. We are largely excluded from the determination of a successful Europe 2020 with its “smart”, “sustainable” and “inclusive” ambitions.

“And this is in spite of us generating 85 per cent of Europe's GDP. I believe this is a mistake.”

Birmingham Energy Savers, the city council's project to retrofit homes and other buildings with solar panels and other eco-friendly cash-saving measures will be highlighted in Cllr Tilsley's speech as an example of the contribution that cities can play to help Europe overcome its challenges.

Cllr Tilsley is expected to add: “In recognition of the importance of this opportunity to other public bodies, Birmingham City Council has invited other local and public authorities and social landlords to be named in our contract notice.

“As a result, the size of the programme now stands at €1.7bn with the potential to deliver an additional 100,000 homes and 1,000 buildings. The environmental, economic and social benefits made possible through city leadership are major contributions that must not be overlooked.”

Concluding, Cllr Tilsley will call on European leaders to confirm the importance of city leadership as an urgent priority:

“If the European Commission and our nation states don't accept the power that lies within their own cities, then I fear that Europe will continue on its current dangerous economic path,” he will say.

“I believe that as leaders of our cities, we must be more immediate in our conversation with the Commission and our nation states.

“And in this coming Olympic year of 2012, is it not a little perverse, that cities are not specifically included in the Olympian challenge of the Europe 2020 framework - as it does rather look like holding the Olympics without the athletes!”

FULL SPEECH OF THE DEPUTY LEADER

ENDS

Notes to editors

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is an association of over 1220 local government Members who are committed to sustainable development.  Our Members come from 70 different countries and represent more than 569,885,000 people.

ICLEI is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development.

ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. Our basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives.

For more information, visit: http://www.iclei.org/index.php?id=iclei-home

More on the Europe 2020 initiative can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/index_en.htm

For more information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3287

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