9th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns

For the last 25 years, the European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns has offered cities and urban stakeholders a platform for inspiration, action and the commitment to take sustainability to the next level. The conferences call for the acceleration of bottom-up action and change, to ultimately push and accelerate the ambition of global frameworks for sustainability and climate change. Held every three years, the conference is the multi-level interface between the European Union and sustainability action at local level.

Bringing to the forefront ongoing trends, challenges and opportunities, the conference aims to shape the future beyond the status quo. Over the years the conference series has resulted in thought leading political documents that move frameworks and agendas as well as provide guidance and tools for cities driving sustainability for the benefit of their citizens. Following the ground-breaking Aalborg Charter (1994) and the Aalborg Commitments (2004), the 2016 conference led to the Basque Declaration for a socio-cultural, socio-economic and technological transformation.

Mannheim 2020

The world is facing major environmental, economic and social challenges that require a substantial transformation in all aspects of society. By now, societal awareness and a sense of urgency for action on climate change, loss of biodiversity and global resource depletion are widespread. However, implementation of the transformation we need has been sluggish – hampered at global level by zero-sum politics and vested interest economics. Simply put, our current, exclusively growth-based system is not fit for a sustainable future. Our behaviour is contradictory, we want to overcome these challenges, but only few seem willing to go against established routines. We need courageous leadership, who take responsibility to overcome this contradiction.

The vast majority of the world’s population live in urban areas, with 75% of global CO2 emission attributable to cities. As such, local leaders must assume their crucial roles in meeting global goals, while offering a home to their citizens. But the responsibility for collective health and well-being lies not just with local leaders. It lies with decision makers at all levels of government. It lies with the European institutions, business, academia, the research community and last but not least with citizens . We have to change systems, value chains, habits, processes and ourselves.

In 2020, all those that can make change happen will gather in Mannheim. Become part of the transformation and join mayors, local government practitioners, civil society and all other urban stakeholders, business, national governments and European institutions, and help us transform Europe for a secure and sustainable future.