#ViableUtopias for a better transformation

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The interventions in the last agora of 2020 organised by the El Día Después platform to reflect on these times have shown that this crisis still offers us the opportunity to regenerate the damaged economic, social and environmental fabric.

And we have the tools for it, such as Next Generation, the largest budget that the EU has ever proposed that aims to make economies more sustainable and resilient, as political analyst and member of El Día Después Cristina Monge recalled in the introduction to the agora.

However, we cannot do it alone. For Monge, “neither the public, nor the private, nor the social sphere alone will be able to tackle the complex problems we face.”

Kirsten Dunlop, CEO of EIT Climate-KIC, highlighted the enormous opportunity that we have to transform objectives into reality, such as the European Green Deal or limiting the increase of global warming to 1.5 ºC and create, at the same time, jobs and social welfare.

The key for Dunlop is to use a systemic approach, in other words “to understand the challenges of transforming, for example, an entire city, see the resources, obstacles, cultural identities, etc., and then carry out interventions connected to different solutions.”

This systemic approach that will be key in managing European Union funds also means, for Dunlop, investing in shared knowledge and allowing some margin in budgets and expenses in order to learn along the way.

Dunlop used an example, which is the platform Madrid Deep Demonstration, a public-private collaboration funded by EIT Climate-Kic that aims to show that decarbonisation is possible in the city of Madrid. In this sense, the Councillor for Internationalisation and Cooperation at the Madrid City Council, Santiago Saura, announced at the agora the first initiative by this platform, “Nos movemos, nos cuidamos” (we move, we take care) in order to flatten the curve of rush hour in transport.

The need to combine systemic changes with short-term results

Manuel de la Rocha, Director of the Department of Economic Affairs in the Cabinet of the Presidency of the Government of Spain, recalled the reality that European governments face in this crisis, “We have to overcome the crisis by taking a green leap, the European Green Deal, but it must be done while we attend to current urgencies and while creating jobs.”

De la Rocha pointed out the niches where there are a great deal of opportunities to create quality employment right now, such as the rehabilitation and energy efficiency of buildings, rural digitisation or 5G.

And in relation to the systemic approach that Kirsten Dunlop mentioned, De la Rocha announced that the Spanish Government will facilitate public-private collaboration and be aligned with the innovation missions of the European Union, investing in science and research to finance complex challenges, such as climate change.

We have to get out of the crisis by taking a green leap, the European Green Deal, but we have to do it while attending to current emergencies and job creation

Manuel de la Rocha, Director of the Department of Economic Affairs in the Cabinet of the Presidency of the Government of Spain

Diego Moñux, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of SILO Company, placed the debate in a earthlier sphere to remind us of the need to understand the public administration and the language in which it operates.

The Government has made courageous decisions, such as proposing a royal decree to streamline the management of funds, Moñux recalled, then he pointed out that transformation projects will compete with others that are not, and there will have to be space for both kinds of projects.

Continuous and extensive collaboration

Carlos Mataix, Director of itdUPM, recalled that “we need an organisational structure that we do not have, because until now we have been taught to be competitive.”

“We need to use the best parts of social, technological and financial innovation and make sure they act collaboratively. Fortunately, we are already able to generate a fabric that facilitates this continuous and extensive collaboration.”

Mataix used the EU’s mission to achieve 100 climate-neutral cities as an example. “In one year, the conclusion has already been reached that this mission will only be achieved with participating citizens, because change is not only technological, but above all social and cultural.”

Valentín Alfaya, Chair of Grupo Español de Crecimiento Verde and Sustainability Director at Ferrovial, indicated that El Día Después has become an incubator for alliances and transformative projects. “We talk about alliances with the ability to transform the reality of a city that is always made up of interconnected systems.” So these incubators are necessary, “they have a method, with a systemic and holistic approach and allow unlikely actors to access them.”

``We have to make the best of social, technological, financial innovation act collaboratively. Fortunately, we are already being able to generate a fabric that facilitates this continuous and deep collaboration``

Carlos Mataix, director of itdUPM

Santiago Saura, from the Madrid City Council, added to this approach three ideas that, in his opinion, these alliances must include:

  •  Alliances between actors, because we have to deal with complex systems.
  •  Alliances between challenges, because the response to a challenge must allow us to respond to other challenges in the city, especially when referring to decarbonising cities.
  •  Alliances between cities, because it does not make sense for each city to work on these challenges alone, and because we also have to have a joint response to the EU’s mission.
Collaboration platforms already in place

As well as the El Día Después platform or the Madrid Deep Demonstration initiative, the agora has shown other initiatives already in place with these new approaches and that will be key to boost projects with regeneration capacity.

Olga Kordas, Director of Viable Cities, explained how this Swedish programme has been designed to create climate-neutral cities by 2030, working with a holistic approach and in collaboration with several actors (industry, private sector, transport, lawyers, engineers, NGOs, etc.).

Kordas also presented the Climate City Contract, a pioneer contract in Europe that was signed for the first time last Friday with the Swedish city of Uppsala with a commitment to double the reduction of carbon emissions.

Gregori Cascante, CEO of Ingeus and founder of Daleph, showed the platform for green employment, which arises from the connections generated in the Inequality community of El Día Después, and which has the aim of generating a bridge between new jobs in the green economy and those losing out in the crisis.

“We are talking about a system with individualised support, with requalification and a radical commitment to digitisation, and not only in management,” Cascante explained. “In this manner, we want to reduce the impact of the transition in the social sphere.”

Mónica Oviedo, Manager of Sustainability at Iberdrola, also explained one of lines of action of this Inequality community regarding the progress of SMEs in terms of sustainability and their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Regenerating, collaborating and incubating

Leire Pajín, Chair of REDS and one of the promoters of the El Día Después platform summarised the agora with three key terms so that the utopia of transformation can arrive:

  • Regenerate, which means to be able to keep what has worked, but also to change what has not.
  • Collaborate, because one actor alone cannot regenerate alone. And we cannot forget low-income countries and that they can connect with the European reality.
  • Incubate, which means to embrace, nurture and accompany so that projects have a regenerative impact by connecting several actors.

Crises are a time for change and, despite the difficulties, this is a time for change. We have utopias, but also realities that already show that it is possible. We now need to build a collective culture together.

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