BEACON: Greenroots against climate change

The cities Agios Dimitrios in Greece and Bottrop in Germany could not be more different for urban planners. Here a pulsating suburb of Athens with 200 days of sunshine, there a small Westphalian town in the Ruhr area. Nevertheless, Ilias Savvakis, secretary-general of Agios Dimitrios, is full of enthusiasm when he talks about joint projects in the fight against climate change.


Both cities have been connected via a project of the European Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (EUKI). The aim is to exchange views on climate strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now, Agios Dimitrios is adopting a plan for sustainable transport from Bottrop. Bottrop on the other hand learns from Agios Dimitrios how the "Global Report Initiative" and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be implemented in a city.


BEACON - "Creating a European Family"


"For the first time of my life, I feel part of a European family". Ilias Savvakis, secretary-general of Agios Dimitrios, Greece.

The project that linked the two is called BEACON (Bridging European and Local Climate Action), which is financed through EUKI. BEACON cooperates with local partner organisations in Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic and Poland.

The project team provides advice and capacity building to schools and municipalities in these countries to implement climate action measures. Schools and municipalities in Germany also take part in the project to exchange on good practices with their peers in the partner countries.

For this BEACON cooperates with local partners in Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic and Poland. They get in touch with local schools and municipalities and provide incentives for climate-friendly behaviour. Schools and municipalities in Germany are also part of the project, but offer support mainly.


"We bring together cities and policy makers to improve and accelerate climate actions"


"BEACON is there to plan and implement climate change mitigation projects with municipalities and schools. We respond to the individual needs of a municipality by for example providing them technical advice or enabling them to exchange with other municipalities in their country and beyond, so that they can implement ideas they already have." Sarah Gül is Senior Consultant at Navigant, which alongside adelphi and UfU manages the BEACON project. "In schools, we work towards behavioural change in the area of energy saving, while creating awareness for climate change. 'Our' schools in Romania, for example, were one of the first in the country to show solidarity with the Fridays for Future movement".

At the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels, BEACON will present another dimension of its project, namely international networking. "A lot of activities are already running at local level that aim at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But also barriers to faster and more profound implementation of climate action exist. We link the various governance levels in BEACON and bring together cities with policy makers with the aim to improve and accelerate climate action". On 08 October, Ilias Savvakis from Agios Dimitrios and his colleagues from Bottrop will jointly present what they have been learning from each other. Liviu Stanciu from Alba Iulia, Romania, will discuss their progress on making the city smart.


Mitigation and Adaptation for a Balanced Climate


The presentation will take place together with the Horizon2020 project CLARITY. CLARITY creates an online tool with which policy makers and project planners can quickly get an overview of possible climate threats for their infrastructure projects in the EU. "The cooperation fits very well," says Sarah Gül. "BEACON focuses on mitigation, we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CLARITY specialises in adaptation, so how can we deal with the effects of climate change that already exist? Both are often dealt with separately. It's great that we're looking at this jointly."

Would you like to know more? On 8 October, CLARITY and BEACON will present results and experiences at the European Week of Regions and Cities at 11:30 am. More information can be found here.