City-University binomial: the joint challenge of decarbonization

The Universitat Politècnica de València aspires to be the first climate-neutral university in Spain. This is a great challenge that must be achieved in a transversal and strategic way in all sectors of the institution, involving all its actors and joining efforts together.

At the same time, Valencia has become one of the first European cities to take on the European Mission to achieve climate neutrality, integrating it into its Valencia 2030 Urban Strategy to build a healthy, sustainable, shared, prosperous, and enterprising creative and Mediterranean city.

This gives rise to the opportunity to create an alliance between the city and the university to walk together towards decarbonization. The Universitat Politècnica de València, as the leading technological university in Spain, can contribute to this collective effort from its prestigious position by helping to generate awareness of the context that drives the response in its sphere of influence, training all its students in the subject, preparing itself and helping companies and public administrations in its environment to do so, and working to develop the new knowledge and technologies that will be necessary. In addition, the objective of the UPV is to expand its training and research activities by optimizing the available resources, preserving our natural surroundings, and guaranteeing the minimum environmental impact.

The city-university binomial is configured as a framework agreement, which includes existing collaborations – through the company chairs and the different research structures – and will be developed through joint initiatives that will take place in the Living Lab UPV and may be replicable in the city.

The extract from the UPV-CIUTAT declaration ‘València Climatically Neutral in 2030’ signed on January 10, 2022, by the mayor of the city and the rector of the UPV includes the following details:

The mission of being a climate-neutral city has to be, above all, the seed of an excellent pact for a city model oriented towards decarbonization. This is a task that any single actor cannot achieve. It is a collective work that requires the collaboration of all the actors since it is a consistent city project.

It is time to incorporate the vector of science, research, and innovation as a critical element to developing the transformation process of the city.

The document collects the collaboration contributions:

  • In the first place, the collaboration can provide knowledge and specific research on fundamental matters for the city model.
  • Secondly, it can contribute to developing a form and methodology work-oriented towards experimentation, innovation, and planning-action-learning; there are indeed many things that we already know about what a climate-neutral city should be like, but there is still a lot of knowledge to be generated along the way.
  • Thirdly, the university can provide a critical educational space since the future professionals will necessarily work in a context of transition to sustainability, which will require specific knowledge and skills.
  • Fourth, university campuses are part of the city’s physical space and therefore have an impact and opportunities for transformation that can make them reference spaces for action and models for innovation and climate neutrality.
  • In fifth place, the university occupies a social space of reference and neutrality that gives it a privileged position to articulate new forms of dialogue and collaboration between diverse actors, something fundamental for a project of the nature of the climate mission.

All this makes the university-city binomial a real lever for transformation to advance the ecological transition of the city and its climate neutrality.

Initiative dissemination