Driving Resilient Decarbonization
The 10th Anniversary Forum of the World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities
May 10th – 11th 2022
Sibelius Hall, Lahti
This has been the WALCC Forum 2022 in Lahti
A summary of the discussions
On the 10th and 11th of May 2022, the World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities brought together a diverse group of speakers and experts to celebrate its 10th Anniversary with a Forum filled with insightful discussions on how to integrate decarbonization and resilience.
The Mayor of Lahti Pekka Timonen opened the Forum by welcoming everyone to the City of Lahti, a forerunner in city decarbonization, the European Green Capital of 2021, and one of the 100 pioneering mission cities chosen by the EU. Lahti uses decarbonization as a means to improve regional competitiveness and attract progressive sustainable companies to the city. Lahti is a leading environmental city in Finland and contributing to this WALCC 10th Anniversary Forum illustrates its ambitions to be at the forefront of decarbonization.
Mikko Puustinen of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment emphasized the potential for sustainable innovation and reduction of carbon handprints as drivers of competitiveness of Finnish companies. The collaboration agreements between cities in Finland and abroad, particularly in China, are crucial to achieving the global green transition. We all face similar challenges and should share common solutions. We must not forget the global nature of the climate crisis.
The WALCC chairs Pasi Mikkonen of Fortum, Peter Lindgren of ABB, and Professor Feiyu Kang of Tsinghua University, all expressed their appreciation of the efforts of the WALCC to promote decarbonization and support international collaboration to speed up the transition towards a carbon-neutral society.
The panel discussions during the first day of the Forum set the scenery for the WALCC to agree upon the focus of the next steps of the association.
The first panel included both a historical overview of what the WALCC has achieved and an attempt to identify the new requirements put on the association as decarbonization must be integrated with resilience due to the new geopolitical situation. The notion of viability advantage (elinvoimaetu) was introduced as a new perspective to be considered when strengthening public-private decarbonization collaboration. The present situation, characterized by increased uncertainty and a need to be adaptive, asks all of us to proactively look for how we better can benefit from our network relationships to forge new partnerships that based on trust can accelerate the needed transformation. How to do this in practice must be decided case by case, considering the context and the availability of resources that can be engaged in the collaboration. One area that requires special attention is mobility, as this will also ask for behavioral changes among urban citizens.
Large corporations must balance their local development activities with the corporate strategy. The present situation with a war that radically has changed the landscape implies that there are significant opportunities for new innovative approaches. At the same time, the public sector is increasing its efforts to guide companies towards a more sustainable development path, with the European Fit for 55 as a leading example.
The war in Ukraine affects industries in different ways, e.g. the plastics and energy sectors in Finland are two sectors, which are greatly impacted by the war. The restrictions on energy imports from Russia will speed up electrification. Cities must take this new reality into consideration when defining their decarbonization roadmaps. Both public and private actors are now more inclined to form longer-term partnerships, instead of just driving the development through short-term projects. Adding the carbon handprint approach to the footprint agenda is an area where Finland is showing the way. As leading cities are experimenting with new collaboration models, the WALCC can support companies and cities by sharing the experiences across application areas and locations.
The panel discussions on the second day focused on how to accelerate the transition through concrete initiatives and projects.
Driving the development from a regional perspective is an intensifying trend, and cities are incentivized e.g. through the EU 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities to orchestrate public-private collaboration more proactively.
The role of cities as enablers or orchestrators must be built on the trust of the citizens in order to successfully initiate longer-term collaboration projects driving decarbonization. As the transformation will organically unfold there is a need to have patience and flexibility when nurturing the collaboration. The energy transition is much easier to carry out than the transformation of the transport sector as the latter also requires behavioral change among citizens. Here it will be important to also engage the younger generation as change drivers.
Three development initiatives, where the WALCC already supports the development, were presented.
The Helsinki Uusimaa region works actively with the European Commission within the Science Meets Regions initiative. Here the ambition is to establish strong collaborative links with similar progressive regions outside Finland. One potential collaboration opportunity is with Region Skåne.
The Nordic Superblocks as Decarbonization Catalysts initiative, originating from Tampere, aims at engaging additional cities and companies to speed up the decarbonization of buildings and provide new models for collaborative urban planning. The WALCC supports discussions with companies and cities interested in this initiative.
China Southern Power Grid and Tsinghua University have spearheaded the development of the Source-Grid-Load-Storage project, which wants to engage companies interested in working with leading Chinese cities. Synocus actively discusses with Business Finland to leverage this Sino-Finnish decarbonization collaboration opportunity.
The discussions during this WALCC Forum paved the way for a more in-depth dialogue around the concrete projects during the coming weeks and months. There was strong support for intensifying the efforts by the WALCC to drive these discussions. The next opportunity to jointly address these topics face-to-face will be on November 22nd, 2022, at the Old Student House in Helsinki. For more information stay tuned here on our website.
Here are the videos of day one and day two of the WALCC Forum 2022 in Lahti. The videos have chapters for all sessions, so it will be easy to jump to the panel discussion of your choice. A big THANK YOU to all participants and speakers for making these days so insightful and inspiring.
– Below you can still find information about the forum and the program –
Join us in shaping a climate-neutral, resilient Europe!
When the European Union launched its 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities mission on November 25th, 2021, it did not foresee the drastic changes that would take hold of the world in the first months of the new year. Nonetheless, the objectives outlined remain equally relevant and urgent today. With 377 European cities expressing their interest in joining the group of pioneering European cities leading urban decarbonization, it is a great honor for Finland that six Finnish cities qualified to join this distinguished group: Espoo, Helsinki, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Tampere, and Turku. The WALCC is pleased to have all six of these cities represented in our program at the Forum in Lahti.
To drive resilient decarbonization we must be able to adapt while also making decisions in the context of the unfolding new landscape, which will only gradually become clear to us. In such situations, we must decide whom we can trust and how we can work with our trusted partners to secure the best possible future. The notion of resilience means that we must also consider our role as part of the comprehensive security system of Europe. This system must be built on trust. Finland as a role model of trust has here an important role to play.
This new geopolitical context frames the World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities’ annual Forum. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sown uncertainty and tension throughout the world which has far-reaching impacts. This has also influenced the Forum’s program. Driving decarbonization must now be accompanied by securing resilience.
We are pleased to welcome our partners, stakeholders, and new faces to Lahti this spring for a long-overdue opportunity to gather in person and engage in discussion and cooperation in the dynamic environment offered by the WALCC Forum. From the public sector we welcome EU and national government officials as well as city leadership. From the private sector, we are pleased to welcome, in addition to our key partners, speakers from leading companies promoting decarbonization.
This Forum also revives a tradition of engaging academia through not only the institutions and leading professors but also students. The Forum will see the participation of professors and students from leading Finnish universities. Students from these institutions will shape and take part in discussions with leading experts from the worlds of business and governance to bring fresh perspectives on our shared future.
Those interested in contributing to the Forum can contact Jussi Hulkkonen:
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To find out more about each session and the panelists, you can click on the session in this program table
Registration and Coffee
Welcome and program review
Welcome and opening words
|9:05 – 10:05
Cities driving both decarbonization and resilience
The World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities and the new order
Companies supporting urban resilience
Corporations pioneering resilient decarbonization
WALCC as catalyst towards global decarbonization
hybrid concluding discussion
Challenges facing the European energy landscape
|15:00 – 16:00
Cities in a dynamically evolving European context
Co-creating the future of the WALCC
Reception sponsored by the City of Lahti
Lahti, Event Location
Lahti is the leading green city in Finland and a leader of environmental work: Lahti has already abandoned the use of coal and will become a carbon-neutral city by 2025 as the first major city in Finland.
Sibelius Hall is located by the beautiful Lake Vesijärvi. Sibelius Hall is a congress- and concert center that offers diverse services for both consumers and companies.