9 April 2021

How cities are using cutting-edge technologies to lead their green, digital and socially responsible recovery

The last on-line event of the URBAN Intergroup on March 26th was dedicated to the presentation of the Intelligent City Challenge (ICC) by the European Commission.


Jan Olbrycht, President of the URBAN Intergroup, who opened the event, underlined that the digital world became a part of our daily life, because of the current pandemic situation.. He stressed that we will witness in the future how cities adapt to new challenges and new ways of functioning. Valentina Superti, Director at the European Commission’s DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, presented the Intelligent Cities Challenge journey in her introduction speech. The aim of this initiative is to speed up the digital and green transformation and resilience of the local economy with strategic policy interventions.


The Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Transformation, the first phase of the project, ended up with the Digital Cities Challenge of 40 cities. Currently, the project in its second phase supports community of 136 smaller European and international cities from 21 countries using cutting-edge technologies to lead their green, digital and socially responsible recovery. The Intelligent City Challenge (ICC) is not only EU-focused as 11 non-EU cities are part of it.

The ICC focuses on 5 thematic priorities, which are in line with the world’s biggest challenges and the key policy priorities of the Commission: Green economy and Local Green Deals; Green and Digital transition in Tourism; Citizen engagement
and digitisation of public administration; Supply chains, logistics and the economics of mobility; Upskilling and Reskilling.

The Advisory Board composed of 15 high-level international experts on advanced technologies and urban transformation advise on latest global urban trends, technological and scientific developments and potential high-impact actions. They steer the high-level direction of ICC and maximize synergies with relevant European and international initiatives and dissemination of outcomes.


The ICC supports Local Green Deals (LGD) to deliver the EU Green Deal on the ground, directs the local economy towards a sustainable pathway and creates new jobs. In the field of reskilling and upskilling, ICC supports the need for quick structural and cross-sectoral mobility of the workforce to new jobs, e.g. green jobs, healthcare, and tech jobs. It prepares cities for a green future, combining sustainability, energy efficiency, aesthetics, culture and social inclusions (Renovation and the New European Bauhaus). Finally, Tech4good initiative creates a digital marketplace for innovative tech solutions designed to advance social and environmental causes.


Mohamed Ridouani, Mayor of Leuven (Belgium), presented the Leuven2030 initiative that was launched to contribute to the digital and green transformation at city-level. He explained the  radical and structural collaboration model which is used in Leuven as a governance model to tackle challenges. The idea of horizontal collaboration and shared decision making between the city, knowledge institutions, entrepreneurs, semi-public institutions, citizens and NGOs is the key for change and ownership of projects.



Akim Oural, Deputy Mayor of Lille (France) and Delegate Counsellor of Lille Metropole, in charge of digital policies presented programs focused on the learning of digital and technology-related skills.


Piero Pelizzaro, Chief Resilience Officer and Sharing Cities City Lead at the City of Milan (Italy), showed his city’s experience in new way of thinking about the city hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained how stakeholders engaged to re-think Milan’s vision for the future. Moreover, he underlined how EU funds are vital for local authorities to invest.


During the discussion, the importance of EU different funding was mentioned. Especially in the context of Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the focus on green and digital transformation in cities were mentioned and the link between ICC goals.





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