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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about Viable Cities and the Climate Neutral Cities 2030 initiative.

Viable Cities

Viable Cities works towards the mission of Climate Neutral Cities 2030 with a good life for all within the limits of the planet. Together with cities - municipalities, business, academia and civil society - and government agencies we work together to create ecologically, economically and socially sustainable cities. Cities that work well for the people who live in them, that are good for the economy of citizens, businesses and society - and - that are good for the climate and our planet.

In the Climate Neutral Cities 2030 initiative, the program works with 23 Swedish cities - together representing 40% of Sweden's population - and six national government agencies, all of which are making commitments to support efforts to accelerate the climate transition and achieve the mission. A key tool for multi-level governance is Climate City Contract 2030, which creates long-term strategic alignment between actors and actions from local to international level.

Viable Cities works closely with the European mobilization of over 100 cities in the "Mission Climate Neutral and Smart Cities 2030".

Viable Cities is a strategic innovation program with support from the Swedish Energy Agency, Vinnova and Formas. The program's time frame is 2017-2030 and is coordinated by KTH.

This means that we direct all our energy and activities towards one goal: cities that work well for the people who live in them, that are good for the economy of citizens, businesses and society - and - that are good for the climate and our planet. So we work to create ecologically, economically and socially sustainable cities.

Viable Cities is one of 17 strategic innovation programs supported in a joint initiative by the Swedish Energy Agency, Vinnova and Formas. The purpose of the initiative is to contribute to Sweden's international competitiveness and to sustainable solutions to global societal challenges.

Major changes are needed across society to meet climate targets and save the planet. Doing what we've always done is no longer possible, we need to work in entirely new ways. Viable Cities draws on research in many fields and inspiration from other thinkers to find this new way of working together. We hope that this new way will be so successful that we can help all cities, in Sweden, in Europe and in the world, to become economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

Climate Neutral Cities 2030 initiative

The Climate Neutral Cities 2030 initiative is the backbone of Viable Cities. In it, 23 Swedish cities work together with six government agencies and Viable Cities to jointly find solutions to the huge societal changes needed to stop global warming. These 23 cities together have 40% of Sweden's population. The Viable Cities Climate City Contract 2030 (see below) is a key tool in the climate transition work - a unique tool that concretizes what cities and government agencies commit to and implement to accelerate the climate transition. In December each year, on European Viable Cities Day, the 2030 cities will sign a revised Climate City Contract 2030.

The effort today includes:

The initiative began in 2019 when nine Swedish municipalities and their partners applied for and were granted funding in Viable Cities Call #3 - Climate Neutral Cities 2030. The nine were Enköping, Gothenburg, Järfälla, Lund, Malmö, Stockholm, Umeå, Uppsala and Växjö. They have taken it upon themselves to test new approaches and solutions, to learn from each other and to work for the mission: to create cities that work well for the people who live in them, that are good for the economy of citizens, businesses and society - and - that are good for the climate.

On October 1, 2021, phase 2 of the initiative started, which has now been expanded to include 23 cities. The previous nine cities and about 20 other cities applied for support in Viable Cities call #8. 23 applications were granted, the new fourteen were Borlänge, Borås, Eskilstuna, Gävle, Helsingborg, Kalmar, Karlstad, Kristianstad, Linköping, Mariestad, Nacka, Skellefteå, Örebro and Östersund. Phase 2 runs for three years, until September 30, 2024.

Everyone in society needs to be involved in order to make the changes required to adapt to climate change: municipalities, of course, but they cannot do the necessary work alone. Politicians and officials need to work together with business and researchers, non-profit organizations and ordinary people. So, when we talk about the city, we are talking about everyone who lives and works in it.

As the majority of emissions occur in cities, they play a crucial role in the climate transition and the climate crisis. At the same time, cities, smaller communities and rural areas are interdependent; climate change and sustainability efforts must include all.

Around 30 cities in Sweden applied this spring to participate in call #8 - Climate Neutral Cities 2030 2.0. The Swedish Energy Agency has reviewed all applications based on the criteria listed in the call and selected the cities that best met these criteria. The Viable Cities program management has not selected the cities, but has formulated the call text and criteria there.

Cities play a crucial role in the climate transition. They cover about 3% of the Earth's surface, but account for about 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, they are growing rapidly. In Europe, nearly 85% of the population is expected to live in cities by 2050; in Sweden, 93%. That's why cities are important for tackling the climate crisis. And this is why the climate transition of cities is extremely important for all countries. This is reflected in the EU's Green Deal for Europe, which aims to make the whole of Europe climate-neutral by 2050, the first climate-neutral continent.

We are focusing on climate change in cities because changes will have the biggest and fastest impact there. At the same time, cities, smaller communities and rural areas are interdependent; climate change and sustainability efforts must include all.

We have a mission that we are working towards: Climate-neutral cities by 2030 with a good life for everyone within the boundaries of the planet. In other words, cities that do not burden the planet with emissions, where everyone in the city can have a good life, both socially and economically. It sounds incredible, but it is possible, if we really work for it.

Thankfully, we are not the only ones working on this mission, many are working in the same direction. Our mission is in line with the UN's Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement, which are important starting points for many Swedish cities' climate and sustainability work. It is also in line with the Swedish climate and environmental goals and the EU's goal - to be a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Naturally, we want the climate transition to be as fast as possible in all cities and communities. The idea is that the cities in the initiative will pave the way for all cities and municipalities in Sweden and the rest of the world. They have taken it upon themselves to be pioneers, to test and experiment, and their experiences and lessons learned will facilitate the climate transition for everyone else.

As a strategic innovation program, Viable Cities has a budget to relate to, and we formulate our calls based on it. We strive to collaborate in other ways with cities, and other parties, that are not part of the initiative.

It is Sweden's largest investment to date in climate-neutral and sustainable cities. The total budget is over SEK 200 million.

All cities are working on the climate transition based on their own conditions, so it looks different. Some have come a long way in terms of the sharing economy, others have come further in terms of reducing emissions from freight transport. Some focus on sustainable construction and others on climate-smart public transport. By working together, cities learn from each other and can more quickly initiate and implement changes in their own city.

Viable Cities contributes to the transition with our knowledge, experience and support. We also work to connect other efforts for sustainable cities, in Sweden, in the EU and globally. We create meeting places; by working together with others and learning from each other, we can accelerate the development of climate-neutral and sustainable cities. It must be faster if we are to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement: not to let the average temperature on earth increase by more than 1.5 degrees.

However, there is no certainty. We do not yet know what the climate-neutral and sustainable city looks like. That is what we are working on. Together with cities, businesses, researchers, politicians, civil servants, government agencies and ordinary people, we try ideas, we fail, we learn and we try again. We call this work the Viable Cities Transition Lab.

Climate City Contract 2030

Climate City Contract 2030 is an effort to accelerate progress towards climate-neutral cities. It is a mutual agreement between the 2030 cities, six government agencies and Viable Cities, in which all parties commit to making a concrete contribution to accelerating the pace of climate change. The contract should be seen as a co-creation process rather than a document to be signed and inserted in a binder. The contract will be revised and sharpened every year.

The first version of Climate City Contract 2030 was signed in 2020 by nine Swedish cities, four government agencies and Viable Cities. In December 2021 a revised contract was signed for the first time, and in December 2022 for the second time.

There are 23 contracts, one for each city in the Climate Neutral Cities 2030 initiative. In terms of the commitments of the authorities and Viable Cities, the content of the contracts is largely the same. Commitments from cities vary according to their local conditions.
The political leadership, chairman of the municipal council or equivalent in Borlänge, Borås, Enköping, Eskilstuna, Gävle, Gothenburg, Helsingborg, Järfälla, Kalmar, Karlstad, Kristianstad, Linköping, Lund, Malmö, Mariestad, Nacka, Skellefteå, Stockholm, Umeå, Uppsala, Växjö, Örebro and Östersund.

Trafikverket, Tillväxtverket, Formas, Energimyndigheten, Vinnova and Naturvårdsverket.

Climate City Contract 2030 is an effort to accelerate progress towards climate-neutral and sustainable cities. It is a tool that shows in concrete terms what cities and authorities are committing to do for the climate transition. As the contracts are revised and their commitments are refined with each signing, it helps to accelerate the pace of change.

The Swedish Climate City Contract 2030 was the first in Europe and Viable Cities is now involved in several EU initiatives for climate-neutral cities and a European Climate City Contract.

Since 2021, the Spanish organization CitiES2030, inspired by Viable Cities, is working with several Spanish cities and a Spanish Climate City Contract.

The contracts are locally adapted to the different conditions of the cities.

Among other things, the cities undertake to work to drastically reduce climate emissions, to increase innovation capacity and to involve citizens in the climate transition process. The contract is a long-term tool that ensures cooperation between the cities and the state level and will evolve over time.

Among other things, the signatory authorities undertake to:

  • reviewing laws and regulations to make it easier for municipalities to take the lead on climate change;
  • to create a national platform that makes it easier for municipalities to finance actions and invest in the climate transition;
  • to support municipalities applying for funding under the upcoming EU call for Climate Neutral Cities 2030;
  • to work together to create the conditions for a proactive dialog and learning on policy development in the climate transition;
  • to continuously develop the coordination of funding for the various ongoing initiatives in the field of sustainable urban development and climate change;
  • to support municipalities applying for funding under the EU's 2030 climate-neutral cities call;
  • and to participate in a strategic development work with Viable Cities and the cities to further develop the content of the contract.
The program supports climate transition of cities in several ways, such as: process support for regulatory and policy change, facilitating long-term and systematic innovation work, coordinating funding opportunities and supporting potential applications to EU calls. Viable Cities links Swedish and international organizations and initiatives to find new ways to accelerate the climate transition.
The contract is revised every year, both at local and national level.
Only many together can achieve the mission of climate-neutral cities by 2030. The contract concretises the efforts of cities and the national level and ensures that the climate transition is accelerated.

Climate change must happen across the planet as quickly as possible if we are to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. Viable Cities works internationally both to bring ideas and insights home and to share our lessons learned. In the EU we are involved in several initiatives, NetZeroCities, CapaCities, Ped, Dut.

The EU's NetZeroCities initiative, where 112 European cities are working together to accelerate climate change, includes seven of "our" 2030 cities.

We also run a global initiative on urban climate change together with UN Habitat and a number of other stakeholders.

You can read more about our international work here.

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Viable Cities is a strategic innovation program with the mission Climate neutral cities 2030 with a good life for all within the planetary boundaries. The program is funded by the Swedish Energy Agency, Vinnova and Formas and is coordinated by KTH.

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