Katowice (Poland)

Katowice is a unique city located in the heart of Upper-Silesia and Zagłębie Metropolis, with approximately 300 thousand inhabitants. In 2018, the City hosted the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Katowice has extensive experience in levelling the effects of long-term environmental degradation and environmental indicators point to impressive improvements in environmental conditions there.

While the city was once associated with mining and industry, locals have transformed the region into a place of new possibilities for innovative businesses and culture to flourish. The new headquarters of the Silesian Museum, NOSPR (Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra) and the International Congress Centre in the vicinity of the legendary "Saucer'' bring prestige to the city, attracting both locals and tourists to its centre. The region strives to become a leader in innovation and technologies and utilises these technologies in impressive ways towards its environmental goals.

Sustainability focus: making sustainability 'app'ealing

Katowice is taking an innovative approach to address vital issues such as biodiversity, air quality, and public space among others. Since 2018, the City has used apps and digital campaigns to facilitate civic engagement. The City has mobilised local residents to work together for a sustainable Katowice, an initiative known as the KATOresident project.

Through apps such as the wCOP drzewo <tree> and NaprawmyTo.pl <Let'sFixit.pl> app, residents can suggest places to plant new trees and report identified problems  - ranging from the need for new traffic signs, to maintenance needed to sidewalks - which they would like the City to address. To date, the City has experienced impressive results, including: the planting of 1000 trees, the repair of over 16,000 structural defects across the city, and increases in the amount and quality of urban green space.

Both these applications focus on giving residents the tools needed to be part of green solutions. Close cooperation and mutual trust ultimately leads to positive long-term outcomes. Great emphasis is placed on transparency and the ability for residents to provide input and create changes. Input from residents results in tangible influence on shared spaces. A prominent example of such a transformation of space can be seen in Katowice’s recent efforts to transform a former coal mining area into a Culture Zone. The initiative was a success and is an excellent example for other cities to emulate in the future.

In recognition of their work, the City was awarded the 2020 Transformative Action Award – a European urban sustainability award given to cities, regions, or civil society organisations who use the pathways of the Basque Declaration to transform their societies. The award of 10,000 euros can be used to further city sustainability projects.

Katowice plans to use the prize money to develop an urban gardening and farming project to encourage residents to establish community gardens. These gardens would then be implemented into local communities with simple guides on ways residents can provide local residents with advice on how they can set up their own gardens and farms.

The City’s participatory approach to sustainable initiatives has resulted in great success in its capacity to create and evaluate further projects. To this end, the City created two teams to supervise their apps and allocated ambassadors for the KATOresident project. The most active hold the honoured title of “KATOresident of the year” (among those awarded, a university lecturer, journalist and camera operator). KATO ambassadors regularly host neighbourhood cleanups, care for planted trees, and set up activist groups all while using the innovative apps. Ambassadors use social media to reach a wider audience with their message. Katowice´s participatory and tech driven approach to sustainability serves as an inspiration for other cities hoping to inspire green initiatives.


The need to knows

  • Host of COP24 (UNFCCC Climate Change Conference)
  • Katowice will host the World Urban Forum (WUF11) in 2022
  • Climate change adaptation plan for the period to 2030
  • Katowice's Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP) aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% compared to the base year 1990
  • Katowice’s Climate Commission deals with mitigation and adaptation to climate change and co-creates information policy of the city.
  • The Driving Change Together declaration, created during COP 24 in Katowice, concerns the partnership for the development of electromobility. Katowice is at the forefront of cities with the largest infrastructure in Poland - currently the city has implemented 58 public charging stations (124 charging points) dedicated to electric cars.
  • Four park & ​​ride centres, launched periodically from 2018, are becoming an incentive to use public transport
  • Katowice has 150 km of  bicycle-friendly routes. The city has 83 bicycle stations available to residents and expects to build 150 more.
  • Katowice consists of 47 percent  green areas, 39.5 percent of which are forests


    • Signatory of the Basque Declaration since July 2020
    • Signatory of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy since April 2019
    • Winner of the 2020 Transformative Action AwardFirst place in Forbes magazine ranking (2018) for its pro ecological actions
    • Finalist of the Innovations in Politics 2020 competition in the ecology category
    • The KATOresident project was awarded with a distinction by the Polish Press Agency in a competition entitled “Innovative Local Government.”



    What the city has to say

    “Cities and their sustainable development concerns us all.

    Despite geographical and cultural differences the challenges faced by cities around the world are similar. According to estimates, more than 60% of the world’s population lives in cities. We work, run businesses, use services and enjoy culture in cities. The friendlier, better organised and greener they are, the more our quality of life will increase. Development and improvement of urban transport, restoring formerly degraded green areas to the city, taking into account ecological issues in design and reconstruction of city installations… All this helps to prevent climate catastrophe in real terms.

    Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice

    ICLEI and Katowice

    Katowice has been an ICLEI Member since 8 January 2019. Deputy Mayor Mariusz Skiba sits on the ICLEI Regional Executive Committee for Europe.


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      All images courtesy of Katowice.