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Abstract: Between October 2011 and April 2012 the author has conducted research with ICLEI Europe on the Green Economy approach of 6 cities active in local climate change and energy, namely: Almada (Portugal), Arendal (Norway), Bologna (Italy), Girona (Spain), Jerusalem (Israel) and Turku (Finland). These cities not only cover a wide geographical area, but also a broad cultural, economical and political spectrum.
The research approach consisted of 3 key activities: 1) conducting workshops with municipal technical experts; 2) organizing a set of interviews with representatives of the public authorities, private companies, the civil society and the research/education sectors (on average 15 encounters per city); and 3) collecting data about relevant topics such as environmental policies, sustainability indicators and climate change planning / monitoring tools.
Despite the diversity of cases, results have shown similarities in the approaches and challenges to sustainable development, climate action and green economy. Outputs confirm the relevance of the European Union (EU) in developing “bridging” policies and strategies through its own models; e.g. the Covenant of Mayors, which provides a reference system for target setting and policy making. On the other hand, the concept of “green urban economy” has emerged as a young – therefore still vague – but also inspiring concept. In some places it drives strong research and development (R&D) public-private programmes. Other cities stress their development towards a low carbon society through local government leadership and action, expecting to trigger engagement from other stakeholders. However, a shared perception was expressed in order to broaden the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) definition of green economy (2011) and include sectors like environmental education, biodiversity management or sustainability consultancy.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.