European mayors call for support to tackle environmental and social issues

With 75% of Europeans living in cities, it’s clear that a better future for people of the ‘Old Continent’ can only start from its urban communities, specifically from their ability to address pressing environmental and societal issues. According to the latest Eurocities Pulse Mayors Survey, which engaged 92 mayors in 28 European countries, climate change is the biggest concern for city leaders: 67% mention it as their top priority for 2024, highlighting the need for action in decarbonization, building renovations, and the development of sustainable transportation systems.

Mayors do not oppose green and social needs, and aim for a just transition where no one is left behind. The survey points out that 31% of city leaders are worried for equity and social inclusion, and 30% set affordable housing as a specific goal. Although aware of the complex challenges to be tackled, they don’t feel confident about their current capabilities: 49% say they lack tools and capacity to meet climate commitments and targets, and 54% struggle to meet the housing needs of the most vulnerable people.

When asked about possible ways out, there isn’t a silver bullet solution. Not surprisingly, 85% of majors would like to have additional funding from national governments and the EU, and 72% mention climate change and the energy transition as the top areas when the next EU budget should support them. The opportunity of a more fruitful networking with other cities is also in the radar: 49% would love to see the new EU Commission favoring long-term initiatives for cities to work better together.

Mayors don’t ignore that climate action might be controversial. 7 out of 10 agree that the majority of their constituents want decisive measures for energy efficiency, decarbonization, and sustainable mobility. However, 50% are concerned about local backlash about climate policies, and struggle to build consensus around their initiatives.

The Eurocities Pulse Mayors Survey highlights the importance of innovation. Many city leaders feel there is a gap in the current technical skills and know-how of their staff, so they are not in the best position to master digitalization and smart technologies. A more effective competence transfer from national and international bodies may help, as mayors feel the need to accelerate investments in data driven analytics and evidence-based policy making (72%), the development of new services and solutions based on digital technologies (60%), and the human-centered design of public services and policy interventions (57%).


Photo source: Adobe Stock

Climate change
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