STS - conferences, IST2012

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A climate of change: the city of Ghent climate neutral by 2050!
Frank Nevens, Chris Roorda

Last modified: 2012-03-19


In 2007, Ghent  (a 240.000 inhabitants city in Flanders, Belgium) announced the visionary objective to become a climate neutral city by 2050. Therefore, the idea of a ‘climate alliance’ was launched, in which all relevant forces ought to be joined. A guiding process  following the setting of an ‘Urban Transition’ (UTL) started in spring 2011.  

Coached by a ‘T-team’  (city administration collaborators, VITO and DRIFT), a transition arena was established. Its 14 members - connected with the city in diverse ways -  were considered to be frontrunners, i.e. having  the willingness and potential to co-creatively think out-of-the-box, showing a visionary and constructive/collaborative attitude and mindset.

During six arena meetings, the following elements of the envisage transition  were discussed/established:

-          System analysis: what are the relevant assets/topics that should be considered of major importance to understand and describe contemporary Ghent; bearing in mind the general idea of the need (‘sense of urgency’) for change towards climate neutrality and generic sustainable development?

-          Principles of a sustainable Ghent: what are the major chalk lines that are vital for the design of a sustainable city was established (people, planet and profit related)?

-          Vision 2050:  taking into account its assets and the envisaged sustainability principles, how would Ghent look like by 2050?

-          Pathways: with regards to the desired 2050 situation, what are the major ‘turning themes’ to tackle; and what are the strategic headlines to be followed?

-          Actions: can a number of real-life-scale demonstration projects be established to link up the vision with contemporary potential?  

In this contribution, we share the major outcomes of the Ghent UTL process (thus far). We summarize the results related to content (system analysis, vision, pathways…) as well as the ‘lessons learned’ with regards to the co-creative/participatory process; specifically the consequences for the city government will be highlighted.