31 May 2022

Ain’t no target high enough: Ambitious small and medium sized cities gather in Brussels

No city too small, no mission too big – this seemed to be the motto when 20 teams from small and medium sized cities from across Europe met up for a two-day workshop to share project ideas and find common solutions for the future.

The SMC workshop – short for Small and Medium Sized Cities – has become an important networking arena for its participants, and this year marked the first time the Stavanger Region took part. Representatives from the Brussels offices of the Cities of the Northern Netherlands, Turku-South West Finland, Pays de La Loire, Thuringia, North Sweden, Småland Blekinge Halland South Sweden − and the Stavanger Region – organized the event.

Invited in by the Brussels network, the Stavanger Region gladly accepted the invite and the challenge – with not less than two city teams: One from Egersund and one from Stavanger.

Time to act
Opening the show, was Mohamed Ridouani, mayor of Leuven. Leuven is a front-runner in urban development in Europe and has vast experience in European project collaboration.

A recent example is the EU Cities Mission, where Leuven is selected as one of the 112 European Cities, along with the city of Stavanger, to become climate neutral by 2030.

Ridouani reminded us that change is coming, whether we like it or not, hinting at the somewhat slow start of the green transition.

Mohamed Ridouani, Mayor of Leuven

Leading by the (regional) example
Commission representatives (Eddy Hartog, Head of Unit, DG CONNECT, Elena Višnar Malinovská Head of Unit, DG CLIMA, and Pia LAURILA, Policy Officer, DG REGIO) were also present and provided their expertise on various topics of high importance to cities and regions.

Digital twinning, circular economy, environmental action, and the Cities Mission were just some of the topics covered, and the city delegates could draw new inspiration from relevant calls and initiatives from the EU side.

The main contributors, however, were the cities themselves. On day 2 of the workshop, the audience could choose between a vast amount of break-out sessions, on hot topics within urban development.

Edesio Miranda-Barbosa eagerly presented the priorities and project interests of Egersund. The city has 15.000 inhabitants and is located in the southern part of Rogaland.

It is one of the biggest fishing ports in Norway, making it a highly relevant partner in European projects on fisheries and coastal resilience. Renewable energy is also high on the agenda, with Egersund EnergyHub located in the city.

Egersund is also home to a 395 GWh wind park, supplying the equivalent of the consumption of 20.000 households.

Edesio Miranda-Barbosa, business developer Eigersund

In 2020, Eigersund received Horizon 2020 funding for the ROBINSON project.

Along with 17 other partners, they aim to develop an integrated energy system to help decarbonise (industrialised) islands, with the island of Eigerøy serving as the demonstrator.

Smart Stavanger
The city of Stavanger, along with Nordic Edge and the University of Stavanger (UiS), shared the experiences gained from being a light house of Smart Cities, through the Triangulum project, and how this has helped move the city into a hub for smart city development in the Nordics.

Eline Vigre, advisor on Horizon Europe and the Cities Mission in the municipality of Stavanger, presented how the city has positioned itself on the European urban development stage, from being known mostly as the petroleum capital of Norway to being a Smart City lighthouse and one of Europe’s 112 climate neutral cities by 2030.

Eline Vigre, advisor, municipality of Stavanger

Vigre was accompanied by her colleague Ernst Olsen, head of the energy and operations department, as well as Anders Riel Müller, associate professor in city and regional planning at the University of Stavanger, and Terje Eide, project manager in Nordic Edge.

Strong representation from the Stavanger Region. From the left: Terje Eide, Tora Margrethe Eide, Edesio Miranda-Barbosa, Ernst Olsen, Anders Riel Müller, Runa Monstad, Eline Vigre og Edel Bertine Dirdal.

Small and medium – with HUGE success!
The feedback from the participants has been positive, and there are already ideas coming through for the next edition of the workshop.

If you have ideas for topics that you would like to see addressed, do not hesitate to contact us.

A special thanks to the EU Office of the Cities Northern Netherlands for hosting the event, and to the Thuringia EU Office for throwing an unforgettable BBQ reception on their premises!

Small and Medium Sized Cities gathered in Brussels



Helga Aunemo