A post-carbon city - a happier city

Nov 14, 2014

PHOTO: GORAN HRUBI

On the banks of Sava in Zagreb there have recently been interactive bicycle sculptures on which citizens can pedal installed, and in that way self-produce electricity to light up part of the bank. The idea came from the project City Acupuncture in which an interdisciplinary team of experts with the active participation of citizens suggest small interventions in public spaces that lead to improving the quality of urban life and an increase in social involvement. 

Can interventions like these in Zagreb become the rule rather than the exception? Currently, in Zagreb, there is an ongoing process of making long-term visions in whose creation an interdisciplinary team of experts from various fields (from urban planners, architects, engineers, energy experts, political scientists, sociologists, social economists, social workers, health workers) and organizations (from representatives of non-governmental organizations to representatives of the city administration) are participating.

In the whole process, lead by UNDP Croatia through the EU project Pocacito, citizens who can by participating in online surveys focus on the discussions and determine the most important measures that the city of Zagreb should conduct in the short-term or long-term to increase the quality of life of its citizens are involved. 

What affects the quality of life in the city? 

Many components are important for the quality of life in the city, from social indicators like the ratio of unemployment and poverty, environmental indicators like amount of municipal solid waste or water losses in the public water supply system to economic indicators such as business environment or the ability to advance small businesses and startups.

One of the components still wittily wriggles through all of them, and connects them mutually. At times it is abstract and uninteresting, and then it reminds us that we all depend on it. Nature. We triggered nature to change, and now it is returning to us in multiple ways, through the damage from floods, landslides, droughts, and other extreme weather conditions. 

A post-carbon city – a happier city 

Therefore, long-term development should not endanger nature but go along with it. This means, above all, less green house gas emissions, especially carbon emissions which are achieved through so-called low-carbon transitions.

The extended public debate on the subject of low-carbon transitions has been organized as part of Zagreb Energy Week. The zero-carbon city must not become a purpose by itself, but needs to show that living in harmony with the principles of low-carbon transition (using natural materials in construction, organic food cultivation, solar energy usage, cycling, walking) can improve each persons quality of life. 

Let's become part of the low-carbon transition. Zagreb is already on its way in becoming the zero-carbon city. In that way it is not alone, several hundred citizens have already determined which areas and measures should be given special attention to, while interdisciplinary teams of experts are formed which will through interactive workshops define the vision and measures to achieve low-carbon transition. Afterwards it is on the cities administration to incorporate the developed guidelines into the strategic documents and thus open the space to initiatives such as the one at the beginning of the story. 

Zoran Kordic, UNDP Hrvatska