3 August 2020

How to institutionalise social innovation in cities for a successful energy transition

Socially innovative policies can foster citizen inclusion and support sustainable urban changes. What sorts of policies can play this dual role? What do local actors need to keep in mind to be effective?

An online seminar opened this discussion back in late-2019, exploring 'Local leadership, or from usual suspects to local heroes - How to work together with your citizens towards a low-carbon society'. It looked into how local governments can help their residents to become “local heroes” within a growing local change-maker constellation, using the prime example of the island of Samsø to showcase the potential of grassroots, bottom-up initiatives.

This conversation was recently reinvigorated in a follow-up online seminar, which explored “Thinking ahead in local policies for successful energy and mobility transitions.”

In particular, this seminar built on the previous discussion by delving into how to implement social innovation for a successful energy transition at various levels of society. Expert speakers included Dr. Giuseppe Pellegrini Masini, postdoctoral fellow at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who provided nine policy recommendations to foster acceptable and people-centred energy transitions. Terry Albronda, a local government representative in Groningen (the Netherlands), shared how citizen involvement in the mobility transition in his city led to fundamental governance changes towards bottom-up (area-oriented) democracy. Dr. Frances Sprei, associate professor at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), provided an overview of holistic approaches to energy transition and provided insights for local policy design. Watch the recording below to learn more:

The objective of this event was to explore key lessons for local governments to support pioneers in their cities, while also acting as key drivers of ambitious energy and mobility transitions.

The SMARTEES project – which organised the online seminar series – will soon launch an online tool based on research guided by the work of the project's pioneering cities and islands. The tool will allow users to choose a scenario that resembles those in their own city, and test out different transition models that would help develop successful policy and decision-making locally. The next project's next online seminar (date to be announced soon) will delve into making use of the tool.

For more information, click here.