Forum 2007, Kaunas, Lithuania
Hosted by the city of Kaunas (Lithuania) from 3 to 5 October, the CIVITAS Forum was attended by some 280 representatives from local and regional authorities as well as by the Mayor of Kaunas and the European Commissioner in charge of Transport, Mr. Jacques Barrot. After the publication of the Green Paper ‘Towards a new culture for urban mobility’ in September 2007, the CIVITAS Forum 2007 was a perfect occasion for the European Commission to inform all institutional actors about the content of this new publication and the planning for the development of the upcoming Action Plan. The various plenary sessions, roundtables and workshop sessions were articulated around important transport themes from all over Europe and beyond, and gave the cities and stakeholders the possibility to exchange their views on concrete transport issues such as energy savings in urban transport or road space reallocation measures.
The plenary sessions provided the participants with a clear Eastern European dimension of urban transport challenges and solutions, with the presentations of the Mayor of Kaunas, the Vice-Mayor of Debrecen and the City Councillor of Ljubljana. The keynote speaker, Mr. Lee Schipper, outlined his own vision of urban transport, stressing that there is a clear need for ‘Small, Safe, Slow and Sustainable’ transport systems all over the world. Citizens and politicians need to relearn what efficient transport modes mean and according to him, vehicles should be small, safe, slow and sustainable. Mr. Lee Schipper also reminded the audience that monitoring people’ needs in terms of mobility as well as technologies available should be undertaken before implementing any new innovative transport plans. The engagement of local authorities is key to tackle the current mobility challenges and a common vision for a common mobile future is clearly needed.
Within the framework of the CIVITAS Forum, eight workshops and eight roundtables were organised. These addressed concrete matters covering a wide range of mobility issues from health and safety solutions in urban areas to public bicycle schemes. Roundtables provided the delegates with a unique networking opportunity to meet and discuss key issues of importance to cities relating to the transport and mobility agenda. Number of participants to these sessions was restricted in order to ensure an active participation of attendees and the sessions were facilitated by moderators with an extensive knowledge in the respective subjects. Participants actively shared their views and experiences on different topics such as mobility for children and young people, public bicycle schemes, energy savings in urban transport, road space reallocation or car sharing. Workshops were held in parallel to the roundtables and hosted key speakers on specific transport matters. Each session was attended by some 60 people having a clear interest in learning more about the projects held in the CIVITAS I and II cities. In addition, two workshops focused on the experiences from Latin America, Asia and Russia with the presence of highly qualified speakers.
While practitioners attended workshops and roundtables dealing with the practical side of transport on Friday 5 October, all politicians were invited to attend a closed session that was aimed at presenting their views about the new Green Paper ‘Towards a new culture for mobility’ as well as their expectations for the upcoming Action Plan. Mr. Jacques Barrot, European Commissioner in charge of Transport, attended the session and actively participated in the discussions.