Bologna (Italy)

Bologna is the capital of Emilia-Romagna, a region in northern Italy. The city has around 380,000 inhabitants, with a metropolitan area population of over 1 million. The development of small and medium industry has led to the area becoming one of the richest in Italy, resulting in the “Emilian model” of development being popularised. In addition, the city houses the oldest European University,  the University of Bologna. With more than 80,000 enrolled students, it is the engine of the local knowledge economy.

Bologna has a long history of envisaging environmental criteria as a fundamental part of its city development plans, with urban sustainability being one of the key focus points. In 2008, the Municipality of Bologna signed the Covenant of Mayors and in 2014 it joined the Covenant initiative on adaptation to climate change “Mayors Adapt”. The city’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) and the Local Adaptation Plan to climate change have also been approved.

Sustainability focus: BoCaM – Bologna Carbon Market

The BoCaM project has put in place a voluntary carbon credits market within the territory of the city of Bologna. The market is developed at municipal level, enabling the public administration to upload the credits generated by projects and policies with a focus on environmental sustainability. Private companies can buy credits to offset their CO2 emissions.

The city has committed itself to reach an official certification of the credits stemming from the use of bike lanes during the period 2009 to 2015. 

The estimation of emissions results from data gathered through regular monitoring of bicycle traffic flow, which made it possible to quantify the number of bikes travelling on a daily basis, to check trends and to assess the overall effect of stimulus policies applied by the city council. Thanks to the monitoring and the generation of carbon credits, Bologna achieved a saving of 10,593 tons of CO2.

The certification by an accredited third party enabled the inclusion of the credits into a trading platform named "eco2care". 

Companies interested in purchasing credits need to sign a Public-Private Partnership agreement with the municipality, prior to engaging in trading platform activities. The first pilot company to use the project has been sports car-manufacturer Lamborghini S.p.A. 

Every credit has an established value of 10 euros. The amount derived from the sale is used to initiate actions in the local area dealing with sustainability, urban greening, and the funding of new projects. 

The need to knows

  • Bologna approved its environmental budget (ecobudget) in 2003
  • Bicycle lane coverage has reached 163 km
  • Bologna increased separated waste collection by 55 percent between 2005 and 2015
  • Water consumption was reduced by 16 percent between 2005 and 2015
  • The Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan aims to reduce car use by 20 percent by 2020
  • The Sustainable Energy Action Plan Reduce aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2020
  • Bologna has established an International Sustainability & Food Award


  • Bologna is a signatory of the Aalborg charter
  • Bologna is a signatory of the Aalborg commitments
  • Bologna is a signatory of Urban-LEDS cities
  • Bologna is a signatory of the Covenant of Mayors
  • Bologna is a signatory of the Compact of Mayors
  • Bologna is a signatory of Mayors Adapt
  • Bologna won the 2011 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award
  • Bologna won the 7th edition of the Klimaenergy Award
  • Finalist of the Mayors Challenge, run by  Bloomberg Philanthropies

What the city has to say

“The city of Bologna has suffered in recent years from the impacts of climate change: each year local newspapers record more and more incidents and damage caused by heavy rain, landslides, floods and heat waves. The frequency and increasing intensity of these phenomena have convinced us that it was necessary to initiate a serious and systematic policy of prevention to 'adapt' our habitat to a climate that has changed and that is expected, in the coming years, to evolve further.

With our Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) the city has taken, together with its local partners, the European commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

Currently we have achieved a reduction of 12.4 percent. To achieve the goal, the improvement of energy efficiency in buildings will be decisive and major investments in this field have already been done. We have recorded much stronger reductions in the mobility sector where we reached a 38 percent reduction.

The desire to limit the impacts of climate change is also born out through the LIFE + BLUE AP project, which has helped the City Council to design and approve an Adaptation Plan.”


Mr. Virginio Merola, Mayor of Bologna

ICLEI and Bologna

Bologna is a Founding Member of ICLEI. Bologna is also Ambassador of ICLEI’s GreenClimateCities Europe programme, and has participated at Cities for Climate Protection Campaign (CCP) agenda+ - The Local Sustainability Leaders Network.



Bologna municipality [ 1 ], [ 2 ]; BOCAM; BLUE AP project; SEAP; Urban Center Bologna 

Photographs provided courtesy of the city.