The Work Programme 2023 of the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission, in line with the provisions under the Implementation Plan of the Cities Mission, fosters the implementation of the Mission through actions that will continue to provide a strong and direct support to cities that will commit to climate neutrality and enable them to roll out their climate action plans and achieve climate neutrality by 2030, in synergy with significant progress towards zero pollution. In turn, the cities benefitting from these actions will act as experimentation and innovation hubs for other cities to become climate-neutral by 2050.
Climate neutrality for cities is associated with important co-benefits and urban qualities such as reduced air and noise pollution, improved health and well-being, reduced urban environmental footprints, enhanced urban greening, reduced soil sealing and improved water management. It is also associated with policy coherence across sectors and with participatory and inclusive decision-making. Therefore, in addition to a significant contribution to the objective of the European Green Deal to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050, the actions funded will also contribute to the UN Agenda 2030, the EU Zero Pollution Action Plan, the Fit for 55 strategy, the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, the EU Industrial Strategy, the EU Bioeconomy Strategy and the New European Bauhaus initiative. In the process, they will support cities in their twin green and digital transformation.
Topics under the 2023 calls will continue to work on developing and scaling up R&I activities and solutions while fostering synergies and joint actions with Horizon Europe Partnerships as well as other EU Missions. The envisaged actions will aim at:
- accelerating the transition of European cities to climate neutrality by exploiting the potential of electric, automated and connected as well as shared people mobility and freight transport through a joint action with the Horizon Europe Partnerships dedicated to Zero-emission Road Transport (2Zero) and Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM);
- engage cities in decisive climate mitigation and adaptation efforts to reduce emissions, based on innovative use of urban greening and nature-based solutions through a joint action with the Adaptation to Climate Change Mission;
- develop and test a digital twin of a Positive clean Energy District (PED) covering modelling, management, citizen interaction, self-optimization, decision support/scenario analysis.
The operational capacity of the Mission Platform established through a Framework Partnership Agreement (HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02-03) will be strengthened in order to: 1) ensure support to all the cities selected through the Call for Expression of Interest to be part of the Mission[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/files/eu-cities-mission-meet-cities_en]], as well as to 2) provide support and basic services to all those cities that participated in the call and showed ambition and commitment to achieve climate-neutrality by 2030 but were not included in the final list of selected cities as well as cities responding to the second objective of the Mission.
Support for financial advisory services to be provided to help cities develop and eventually implement their investment strategy for becoming climate-neutral will also be addressed under this Work Programme.
Proposals should demonstrate, as appropriate to their scope and size, how they internalise the principles of the Cities Mission, notably: (1) the contribution of the action to an overarching strategy aiming at climate neutrality for cities, (2) the place of the action within a holistic and cross-sectoral approach to climate neutrality, and (3) diversity in terms of geographical location and size of cities.
Applicants are encouraged to show how their proposals take into account and build upon existing programmes and/or the results of previous R&I projects. While addressing the particular challenge of a topic and ensuring the doing no harm principles, proposals should also contribute as relevant to the following cross-cutting priorities: (1) zero pollution, (2) sustainable digitisation and green ICT, (3) interoperability and shared standards, and (4) affordability, social inclusiveness and accessibility.
Strong synergies contributing to the implementation of the objectives of the Cities Mission is expected also from other relevant Horizon Europe partnerships such as e.g. the European Partnership for People-centric Sustainable Built Environment (Built4People) and on Driving Urban Transitions to a Sustainable Future (DUT). Topics under the Cities Mission Work Programme are also relevant for the Cancer Mission, in particular when addressing co-benefits generated by achieving climate-neutrality such as reduced pollution, improved health and wellbeing, increased active mobility contributing then to cancer prevention. Similarly, actions funded under the Cancer Mission focusing on behavioural change can contribute to the objectives of the Cities Mission especially when targeting actions at urban level.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), with their experience in delivering holistic, transformative, citizen-driven and systemic solutions and innovations to specific global challenges, will also contribute to the Cities Mission in particular EIT Climate-KIC, EIT InnoEnergy and EIT Urban Mobility.
In line with the General Conditions set out in the General Annexes to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023-2024 concerning eligibility under Innovation Actions, legal entities established in China are not eligible to participate in Horizon Europe Innovation Actions in any capacity.
Proposals should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the main objectives of the Cities Mission, and more specifically to the following impacts:
- Enhanced innovation capacity of local/regional administrations and accelerated uptake of shared, smart and sustainable zero emission solutions.
- Increased use of transferrable solutions for sustainable mobility of people and goods exploiting the combined potential of zero-emission mobility systems, automation and connectivity.
- Increased deployment of solutions involving in particular urban greening, renaturing, reducing soil sealing, green/blue infrastructures, nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches tackling both climate mitigation and adaptation aspects.
- Development and testing a digital twin of a Positive clean Energy District and improved knowledge on the necessary (replicable) elements and processes needed to make first a district and subsequently a whole city climate-neutral.
- Increased capacity among European cities, with particular attention to those selected under the Cities Mission, to design and roll out their Climate City Contracts, including related investment plans and to achieve climate-neutrality by 2030.