In just a couple of weeks, mobility has changed drastically in cities all round the world as part of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily commuting has come to a hold and public transportation only carries a small fraction of passengers compared to the numbers before the outbreak of the crisis. Now that countries start easing restrictions of movements, it must be ensured that people can move around cities safely, but also sustainably to respond to key urban challenges such as congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, noise, and road safety. Planning cities for people and not for cars is a vital aspect in addressing these challenges along with the provision of high-quality public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. This is particularly true in rapidly growing cities in emerging economies where mobility demand is surging. Another key pillar of sustainable mobility is the decarbonisation of the vehicle technologies, where electric mobility plays an important role.
To support local authorities in urban mobility transitions and to facilitate global exchange on innovative solutions, the team of the Mobility and International Cooperation Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute developed the Urban Electric Mobility Initiative (UEMI) together with UN-Habitat with partners from local authorities, industry, start-ups, SMEs, public transport companies and academia. "One of the key objectives of this partnership is to develop business models and partnerships with a particular focus on electric mobility solutions such as electric two- and three wheelers, mini-buses and buses," explains Dr. Oliver Lah, Head of Mobility and International Cooperation Research Unit in the Energy, Transport and Climate Policy Division at the Wuppertal Institute.
To deliver on the objectives of the UEMI, the international SOLUTIONSplus flagship project was launched in January 2020, which brings together 45 project partners and over 100 associated partners working together on transformative change towards sustainable cities through innovative and integrated electric mobility solutions. The project has a volume of 20 Million Euros and is being supported by the European Union. Together with a partner project supported by the Global Environment Facility over 50 partner countries will be actively supported in electrifying transportation systems, which makes it the largest Living Lab programme for electric mobility. Together these projects will support the availability of public and shared electric vehicles, the efficiency of operations, and the integration of different types of e-mobility in urban areas.
Linking local action with academic programmes and implementing the New Urban Agenda
In order to actively contribute to economic recovery in the partner countries, the Mobility and International Cooperation Research Unit is also working with numerous city authorities and start-ups on pilot and demonstration projects that will help revitalise urban public and shared transport and also contribute to the objectives outlined in the New Urban Agenda. In this context, UN-Habitat launched a call for proposals to enable local innovators to develop new vehicles and e-mobility services in partner cities. In addition to providing direct support, the Research Unit also attaches a lot of emphasis on building capacities through professional and academic training programmes.
The capacity building programme called Urban Change Makers is co-facilitated by the Wuppertal Institute and the Technical University Berlin (TUB) as part of the Urban Pathways project. Partnerships with more than 20 universities combine local case studies with academic assignments and theses, as well as training for transport professionals and urban planners. Selected courses are available on the NUA Campus.
By the way: You are welcome to join the team on some of the upcoming training activities, which include an Urban Living Lab Summer School and an eLearning course on E-mobility in the context of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans. The registration on the SOLUTIONSplus project website will be available soon.
Stay tuned and informed!
Christin Hasken & Anna Riesenweber