“Križevci as a city tailored to people and nature, as a city of comfortable living, attractive to young people and families, resistant to crisis situations and climate change. A city that meets its needs for food and energy on its own, where life is safe and people do good jobs. Križevci, a city from which one does not move out but one that attracts new residents.”
Due to this vision of the city, Križevci has been part of the European initiative “Future cities of South East Europe” since mid-2019, together with much larger cities, some of which are the capitals of their countries – Sarajevo. , Skopje, Maribor and Nis. What all cities have in common is a shared vision of the future, and that is the transformation of these cities into one of the best locations to live, work and visit in Europe by 2025.
All of them are part of a much larger process of urban transformation conducted by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Climate-KIC) called Deep Demonstration, which is designed to address multiple societal challenges in the context of climate change in an integrated way and through a systems approach. The goal is to create a network of 100 climate-neutral cities by 2030.
Why cities? Because most of the population lives in cities. Economic activity, life, mobility, housing – everything takes place in cities that consume resources, create at the same time a large amount of carbon emissions and pollution, but also many opportunities for change for the better. Cities and citizens are key drivers of these changes for the better.
With this, Križevci, along with the cities of Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Krakow, Madrid, Milan, Vienna, etc., has become one of the 15 most important cities-laboratories in Europe that will receive professional assistance and initial funding of up to about 7 million kuna in three years, for the transformation of the city into a sustainable and climate-neutral city, the city in which we want our children to live.
What does this mean for Križevci?
This is not a typical project, but a long-term process of transformation of the city that we are starting together. The goal is to provide citizens with the foundations of a good life in the areas of housing, health care, education, mobility, energy, food, water, green public spaces, general security and good employment opportunities by 2025.
The project works together with the city on several levels:
- at the strategic level of planning,
- to involve and ensure citizen participation through digital and other tools and workshops,
- on projects that contribute to achieving the vision of the city – energy independent, resilient to crises and climate change, resources that are fairly shared and available to all citizens
- on the formation of an investment plan to provide funding for projects leading to the vision.
- This process coincided with this year’s process of drafting a new City Development Strategy until 2030, which is an excellent opportunity to involve all stakeholders in development and change in the city – from entrepreneurs, youth, educational and cultural institutions to citizens’ associations, agricultural producers and the public and service sectors.
- Precisely with the aim of involving a wider range of stakeholders in the development of the Strategy, during 2020 the project team in cooperation with partners from the city will conduct a series of consultation events in digital format, but also live when allowed due to the epidemiological situation caused by coronavirus.
- The first such digital event was the challenge “Križevci today for tomorrow” conducted in the format of online hackathon from 7th to 8th of April, and already the next was held from 9th to 10th of May organized by the City Youth Council to collect and develop youth ideas as a contribution to the development of the vision and Strategy of the city.
- Several more digital and physical public events and guided workshops are planned to get better acquainted with the vision of the city’s development and the development of ideas and steps leading to the realization of the vision. Thus, the process will be closer to the citizens and specific groups and enable their contribution to the Strategy and vision of the city, which will be incorporated into the content created through working groups.
- By the end of June, the digital platform “Consul” for active involvement of citizens will be launched. The platform allows citizens to discuss topics that are important to them, to propose projects that they want to improve life in the city, but also to comment and vote on all presented ideas and projects and promote them through digital media; they will be able to vote on city proposals or participate in polls, and they will also be able to participate in public consultations on proposals for new regulations. All in one place, interactively and visually clear.
Another important moment from the European level, and that is the EU Green Plan and the EU’s commitment to a climate-neutral society and economy, coincided with the vision of the city, and that is Križevci, as an energy independent city. Križevci is moving towards the implementation of 100% renewable energy from the sun and geothermal sources by 2030 and the involvement of citizens in this transition. This is how the Križevci sunroofs, financed with the help of citizens, continue. Solarization of roofs, a larger photovoltaic power plant and the use of geothermal energy for the needs of the city are being prepared. KLIK – Križevci Climate Innovation Laboratory was established as the main assistant to the city and citizens in the development and implementation of these sustainable energy projects.
One of the ways to help realize the city’s vision, which the project implements, is the Eco District model – a model of urban development that develops neighborhoods in the city so that the equality of all who live and work in the community, resilience to shocks and stresses are at the heart of every decision. encountered and climate protection. This is how collaborative or collaborative, participatory management is formed.
To achieve the vision, it needs to be operationalized, so we are working on bringing together all existing and planned projects, ideas and activities to connect in a single capital investment plan for city development, ie. to form a portfolio of projects that will contribute to the vision of the city, but also climate neutrality.
Who are the partners:
- The city of Križevci is a city with a vision and initiative
- ZEZ is the project holder as an EIT Climate KIC partner
- Through the project, a team “YES team” was formed, which manages the project, but also has extended members who are important for managing the development of the city, and these are entrepreneurs, associations, institutions, citizens and others.
- For the purpose of the city’s energy transition, the local energy cooperative KLIK (or Križevci Climate Innovation Laboratory) was established, which this year has the support of the project, but aims to develop and become independent and become an important factor in the city’s energy transition.
- Križevci will thus become a leader among small towns in Europe (with less than 50,000 inhabitants) and show how and in what way even small towns can fight climate change.