Sustainable local production key to solving economic crisis

Geneva, Switzerland, 19 April 2013 – At the biggest conference on sustainable development in Europe, delegates discussed how cities can drive a transition towards sustainability in the face of the current economic, environmental and social crises. As global policy processes have largely failed to put the world on the track to sustainability, hopes are increasingly placed on local and regional actors. However, as cities across Europe are struggling with austerity measures, can they meet the challenge to drive such a transition? Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director of ICLEI Europe says, “The notion that social and environmental concerns need to be put on hold until the economic crisis has been solved fails to
recognise the linkages between these.

There are huge opportunities to strengthen the local economy through sustainable investments. There is enormous potential for economic benefits through smart spending for example on improving the energy performance of buildings, better water resource management and adapting cities to the impacts of climate change.” Yet, to drive a transition towards sustainability, cities need to start producing their supplies locally to a larger extent than today. Mr. Teubner explains, “Local production of renewable energy and food will not only reduce the ecological footprint but the value created will also benefit the local economy. Instead of spending money on energy from fossil fuels, cities that take control over their energy production will benefit economically, while creating green jobs for citizens.” Sandrine Salerno, Vice-Mayor of the City of Geneva, adds, “These local solutions can be implemented through public-private and public-public partnerships. We also need to strengthen the social economy and choose sustainable investment strategies. In this spirit, Geneva 2013 has brought together representatives from all levels of government to build a strong local and regional foundation for the sustainable development of our societies in Europe and beyond. Geneva as a centre of humanism, multilateralism, peace and international solidarity has provided a symbolic location”. Against this backdrop, the conference saw the launch of the European Sustainable Cities Platform. The online information hub brings together a number of topics and initiatives dealing with urban sustainability and will encourage international collaboration and drive exchange on sustainable local solutions.

The 7th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns was generously hosted by the City of Geneva and its partners from 17-19 April 2013. The conference brought together a distinguished line-up of speakers and hundreds of delegates from local and national governments, European and international organisations, as well as business, research and NGO associates.

Max Thabiso Edkins Photography

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