Article by Pauline Bonino, Ensie

On October 13th 2021, in the framework of the JustGreen project, ENSIE organised with ICLEI Europe a session during the European Regions Week on “Clean and resilient cities and a social economy for a green and just transition”. This session was moderated by Holger Robrecht, Deputy Regional Director Sustainable Resources, Climate and Resilience at ICLEI who started by presenting the partners and the ENSIE #BuyResponsible campaign.

The session was composed of three parts. In the first one, two municipalities taking part in the Green City Accord, Lille and Gdynia, presented the policies they put in place to make their cities greener. Audrey Linkenheld First Deputy Mayor at the City of Lille, France, started by presenting her city and the main issues they faced such as the lack of green spaces, the need to improve air quality and waste management and how they are working to overcome them. Katarzyna Gruszecka-Spychała, Deputy Mayor for Economy, City of Gdynia, Poland, followed her and presented how the city of Gdynia implemented a participatory approach with its citizens to find solutions to implement the Green City Accord.

In the second part, three experts, Patrick Ten Brink from the European Environmental Bureau, Lina Liakou from the Resilient City Network and Pauline Bonino from ENSIE reacted to the presentations and shared their opinions on the implementation of a green and just transition.

In the third part, testimonies from cities from all over Europe were broadcasted, starting with a live testimonial from Augusto Lima from Vila Nova de Familicao, Portugal, who presented the work done by its municipality and the JustGreen project on the social aspects of the Green Transition. He was followed by five video testimonies: City of Mozzo, Italy; Terézváros Municipality, Hungary; Świętochłowice Municipality, Poland; City of Malmö, Sweden; City of Zaragoza, Spain and City of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.

The webinar closed with final remarks by Patrick ten Brink, who questioned how those initiatives, such as the Green City Accord, could help break mental barriers towards the transition. He underlined that the further cities are developing circular economy, the more citizens can see the results, get on board, and support the work done by the city.

Pauline Bonino concluded by underlying the importance of the social economy in the green transition to ensure its inclusiveness. The importance of the social economy is often left aside even though it is acknowledged as a pioneer in EU legislative texts. She noted that a report is currently prepared by the OECD and the European Commission on “Supporting the social economy’s contribution to the circular economy for a green and inclusive transition” that will be published soon.