After a forced 3-year COVID break, the international Cities for Mobility Network of mobility experts and practitioner reunited once again in Stuttgart on June 20. The 2023 edition of the Cities for Mobility Congress marked the 10th anniversary edition, bringing together about 150 leading mobility experts.
“The strong attendance of experts from 32 countries showed the ever-growing need for experts, practitioners and local decision makers to connect and learn from each other about how to master the mobility transformation in cities”, says Patrick Daude, project coordinator for the City of Stuttgart.
This year’s Congress focused on the increasingly critical competition for urban space, which impacts the mobility transformation as much as most other areas of urban development. Experts like Gil Peñalosa (Toronto), Bronwen Thornton (London), Amanda Ngabirano (Kampala), Carlos Pardo (Bogotá), Clarisse Linke (Rio de Janeiro), and Miguel Gaspar (Lissbon) were among the speakers who shared their experiences in driving change.
After years without the possibility to meet in person, the thirst for physically meeting peers and connecting with fellow experts was very strong. The congress provided an excellent platform to strengthening cooperation between local governments as well as partners from business, science and society – something that all speakers and attendees agreed upon must be intensified substantially to master the mobility challenges ahead of us.
“It was really important for me to see how other cities approach the mobility transformation, where they succeed and where they struggle. But it was particularly interesting to see just how similar many challenges and solutions were … independent of how different from each other most cities are”, says Miguel Gaspar, former Deputy Mayor for Mobility in Lisbon.
The 10th International Cities for Mobility Congress happened back-to-back with the 2023 edition of the Urban Future Conference, Europe’s largest event for sustainable cities. Participants benefited from the close collaboration between the two events, which also resulted in many of the Cities for Mobility members staying in Stuttgart for most of the week.
Here are some important statements from the participants on how to “solve the urban space puzzle”:
- Always communicate what the goal and big picture is including a time frame
- Count back from that goal to define small steps that need to be taken
- Get stakeholders involved to make necessary steps transparent to urban society
- You cannot please everyone! Public participation does not mean everyone has to be happy, but it is rather a process of negotiation
- You need new instruments and structures in city administration in combination with a shift in resources. Most cities try to deal with the current challenges with the old existing structures and resources, this must be changed: Establish new organizations to enable a permanent consultation, i.e. a new company that acts between city, citizens, companies, universities >> permanent availability so that citizens can come anytime with ideas or questions (like Mobiel21 in Leuven). Additional staff is needed, as staff in administration, but also within network
- Tell the people: Communicate your knowledge and the insights behind the new idea/project
- Build the case: Make a suggestion and develop a concept on how to solve the problem, start with pilots