New partnership charts a path for systemic change in the EU

The Systems Transformation Hub, a pioneering venture designed to drive systemic solutions for Europe, was launched on 24 January 2024 at the European Parliament by a coalition of five thought-leading organisations. This comes at a pivotal time of complex and interconnected crises in the lead-up to key elections in the European Union.

The world faces an unprecedented convergence of crises: conflict, climate change, biodiversity loss, public health emergencies, social unrest around migration and deepening inequality. These challenges are inextricably linked, demanding a holistic, systemic approach to policymaking. As the European Union gears up for forthcoming elections and a new five-year European Commission mandate, the urgency of creating a vision for an EU that prioritises environmental sustainability and social cohesion has never been clearer.

“While the European Green Deal has set the stage for a profound economic transformation, its implementation faces obstacles. Short-term crisis management, coupled with rising social, financial, and political tensions, have all underscored the need for a systemic approach to achieving Europe’s green and socio-economic goals”, say the Hub’s leaders in a common statement.

The Systems Transformation Hub aims to provide strategic and systematic guidance, supporting the European institutions and Member States in policy analysis, development, policy learning, and agile decision support. The Hub will focus on European policy, yet also on Europe’s relationship with the rest of the world. This Hub emerges from the collaboration of five organisations working on systems change: MetabolicEIT Climate-KICSystemiqThe Club of Rome, and the World Resources Institute, with an open invitation for others to join.

The Systems Transformation Hub will develop a roadmap with policy orientations, to inspire the upcoming European Commission in its early months of operation. The approach includes:

  • Modelling and research: Mapping the EU status with regards to the Sustainable Development Goals and European Green Deal and conducting a gap and incoherence analysis.
  • Crafting a new progressive narrative: Developing a narrative for policymakers rooted in systemic levers, robust scientific knowledge, and data analysis to support the European Green Deal in the changing political economical context.
  • Stakeholder consultation and communication: Stress-testing and disseminating results with relevant policymakers and world-leading experts in their respective fields.

The Hub will provide strategic capability for the EU, remaining independent, transparent, science-based and non-political.

The partners

The Systems Transformation Hub aims to drive systemic solutions for Europe through a collaboration of five thought-leading organisations: Metabolic, EIT Climate-KIC, Systemiq, the Club of Rome, and the World Resources Institute.

Club of Rome

The Club of Rome is a platform of diverse thought leaders who identify systems solutions to complex global issues and promote policy initiatives and action to enable humanity to emerge from multiple planetary emergencies. Drawing on the unique, collective know-how of over 100 members – notable scientists, economists, business leaders and former politicians – The Club of Rome is committed to facilitating the difficult conversations and to advocate for paradigm and systems shifts which will enable society to emerge from our current crises. The Club of Rome makes holistic proposals through research, concrete policy positions and the convening of high-level meetings, debates, conferences, lectures and other events. It also publishes a limited number of peer-reviewed “Reports to the Club of Rome”. The Club prioritises five key areas of impact: Planetary Emergency, Reclaiming Economics; Rethinking Finance; Emerging New Civilization(s); Youth Leadership.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president of The Club of Rome, said about the Hub: “The perma-crisis is our new reality. The only way to address today’s super wicked problems and complex challenges is to apply short and long-term systems logic to decision making. This is our insurance policy for a prosperous, resilient, green, and just Europe.”

EIT Climate-KIC

EIT Climate-KIC is Europe’s leading climate innovation agency and community, using a systems approach to shape innovation to support cities, regions, countries and industries meet their climate ambitions.

Together with partners across the globe, EIT Climate-KIC acts to bridge the gap between climate commitments and current reality by enabling decision- makers and investors to act. They find and implement solutions in integrated ways and mobilise finance. They build skills to accelerate learning and explore innovation, opening pathways to shift mindsets and behaviours. Through radical collaboration, EIT Climate-KIC orchestrates large-scale demonstrations that show what is possible when cycles of innovation and learning are deliberately designed to trigger exponential decarbonisation and build resilient communities.

Kirsten Dunlop, Chief Executive Officer at EIT Climate-KIC, commented: “Radical uncertainty requires radical collaboration. A just, climate-resilient, beautiful future where people and nature thrive is within our reach if we work collectively and quickly to integrate solutions and actions on the ground, connect communities, businesses and governments, and create the enabling conditions for the changes we need through coherent, timely policy. To drive the ambitious and lifesaving transformation to which we are committed across the EU we must address the critical relationships between innovation implementation and policymaking. The Hub will support EU institutions to do that, nurturing new capabilities, fostering collaboration to implement impactful policies for systemic change.”

Metabolic

Metabolic is a systems change agency striving to transition the global economy to a fundamentally sustainable state where people and nature thrive. We guide decision-makers and implement real-world projects that bring ambitious ideas to life. Metabolic has five core areas of operation. We conduct leading research, develop future-facing strategies, build software tools, scale impactful ventures, and empower communities on the ground.

Headquartered in Amsterdam, we have an international and interdisciplinary team. The circular economy is at the heart of our work. We have developed a suite of approaches that allow us to quickly map a system (whether a place, company, or sector), understand how it functions, and identify where we can intervene to make the greatest impact.

Eva Gladek, CEO and founder of Metabolic, explained: “At the core of the Systems Transformation Hub is a commitment to delivering actionable solutions rooted in decades of collective research and policy expertise. This Hub is not just a response to the pressing challenges of our time; it is a culmination of years of dedicated work by our friends and partners. Aiming to drive meaningful change, we will work on creating a roadmap for the European Commission.”

Systemiq

Systemiq, the system-change company, was founded in 2016 to drive the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, by transforming markets and business models in five key systems: nature and food, materials and circularity, energy, urban areas, and sustainable finance. A certified B Corp, Systemiq combines strategic advisory with high-impact, on-the-ground work, and partners with business, finance, policy-makers and civil society to deliver system change. Systemiq has offices in Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands and the UK. Systemiq brings to the Systems Transformation Hub world leading expertise in changing systems with and for our clients and partners in business, finance, government and civil society, alongside the connection to the transformative science-policy work of the International Resource Panel. We see the new Hub as the missing link for accelerating systems change in Brussels, through the perfect complementarity and practical focus of our partners.

Janez Potočnik, Former European Commissioner, Partner at Systemiq and Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel (IRP), said regarding the Hub: “Avoiding the extinction of elephants in nature requires getting rid of elephants in our rooms. A more holistic system change approach is needed to drive real systemic transformation and address the root causes of today’s polycrisis, such as demand side reduction and a focus on natural resource management. The Systems Transformation Hub offers a unique opportunity for accelerating this systemic change in EU policy making.”

World Resource Institute (WRI)

The World Resources Institute brings to the System Transformation Hub deep expertise around the interconnected goals of people, nature and climate at the center of everything we do. Our leading work as a trusted changemaker is supported by our international network and experiences in various parts of the world. Using research-based approaches, we work globally and in focus countries to meet people’s essential needs; to protect and restore nature; and to stabilize the climate and build more resilient communities. WRI has 14 offices around the world, including a regional office in Europe. Our over 1,700 staff work with partners to develop practical solutions enabling positive and systemic change.

Stientje van Veldhoven, Vice-President and Regional Director for Europe, of WRI commented: “Looking at each sector individually,or focusing solely on climate or nature will not lead us to the transformative action we need. Europe needs a systematic transition that is good for people, preserves nature, and ensures effective climate action at the same time. It needs strategies that encompass both immediate and long-term perspectives which enable a just transition, aligning with the EU’s objectives and ideals.”

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EIT Climate-KIC at COP28: daily updates

EIT Climate-KIC is at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, to talk about how we support city, regional and national leaders to bridge the gap between climate goals commitments and current reality. We are regularly publishing updates from our delegation on the ground on this page.

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Day 4: Monday, 4th December, 2023

While COP negotiators from all over the world are trying to agree on a few important texts such as the Global Stocktake and the Goal on Adaptation, side events on all sorts of topics continue to be held around the Expo in Dubai. On day 4, we had an inspiring session at the Climate Action Innovation Zone about the role of innovation in tailoring adaptation strategies to specific local needs. We heard from funders and grassroots entrepreneurs who are working to ensure climate finances are deployed effectively.

In the afternoon, we convened for an engaging session on pioneering innovative approaches to collaboration within philanthropic funding and implementation strategies. Participants representing philanthropies, foundations, and implementation organisations shared insights into the challenges hindering collaborative efforts. They delved into issues such as competition for funding, the stringent due diligence procedures mandated by investment committees, and the legal constraints that often impede collaboration. Additionally, they highlighted individual organisational needs. One participant emphasised the importance of recognising the interconnected nature of our respective organisational initiatives. Another participant articulated a desire to shift focus from fundraising to on-the-ground implementation, stating, “We need to stop fundraising, we want to do the actual work on the ground”. The session provided a platform for diverse perspectives and a collective commitment to addressing these challenges, paving the way for more effective collaboration and impactful work.


 

Day 3: Sunday 3rd December, 2023

Over the weekend, 123 countries signed the ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health’ to accelerate actions to protect people’s health from growing climate impacts. It includes building more climate-resilient health systems and increasing finance for climate and health solutions. You can read all about it here.

118 countries (and counting) also pledged to triple global renewable energy capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030. The countries’ leaders also agreed to double the annual global average rate of energy efficiency improvements from 2% to more than 4% every year until 2030. More on this here.

At EIT Climate-KIC, we have been busy participating and listening to many sessions including on climate finance, global-north collaboration, and catalysing climate adaptation and resilience innovation in Africa. We have heard a lot of talks about the need to leverage private markets to support public initiatives, especially around climate adaptation and resilience.

One of the highlight of the day was the participative session we hosted at the Resilience Frontiers Hub around climate narratives, where we practised listening in small groups and talked about how to use our own story to better tell what we do in our organisations.

 


Day 2: Saturday 2nd December, 2023

On the second day of COP28, more than 130 countries signed up to the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action. This is the first time that world leaders promise to tackle the significant impact that food and agriculture have on climate change. Countries that have signed up represent 5.7 billion people and are responsible for 75% of all emissions from global food production and consumption. From now on, they pledged to include food emissions in their plans to tackle climate change, also known as Nationally Determined Contributions (or NDCs). More on this here.

If you’re interested in this topic, we’ll have a session on Sunday, 10th December from 11:30 to 12:00 GST about the challenges in the implementation of regenerative agriculture practices at the Spanish Pavilion with our Director of Sustainable Land Use, Daniel Zimmer. More information on this here.

Now, today was another busy day for the EIT Climate-KIC delegation. One of the highlights was our session about the development of resilient and livable cities, where panellists exchanged ideas and experiences on how to make cities’ decision-making processes truly inclusive for all. They emphasised the necessity to build strong alliances to implement policies that have a real positive impact on communities. You can watch the session here.

 


Day 1: Friday 1st December, 2023

COP28 started with a standing ovation from delegates, as parties agreed on the creation and structure of the “loss and damage” fund, which will source money from developed countries to help pay for climate damage in developing ones. It’s the first time that the world has a system in place for climate reparations. You can read more about it here.

In the meantime, the EIT Climate-KIC delegation started to arrive in Dubai. We are organising and participating in a couple of dozen panels (our full programme is here) and on Friday, we had our first on-site panel at the Global Innovation Hub Pavilion. Speakers discussed our relationship to property and property ownership, the need to shift to nature-based leadership and nature-based education principles, and much more.

European cities to receive the EU Mission Label for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities

The European Commission has awarded ten cities with the EU Mission Label as part of the NetZeroCities programme lead by EIT Climate-KIC. The EU Mission Label is an important milestone as it recognises cities’ plans (Climate City Contracts) to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 and aims to facilitate access to public and private funding for this goal. 

The cities that have received the label are Sønderborg (Denmark), Mannheim (Germany), Madrid, Valencia, Valladolid, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Zaragoza (Spain), Klagenfurt (Austria), Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and Stockholm (Sweden).

“The first Mission Cities to secure the Mission Label is a milestone on their way to climate neutrality. We all know how big the challenge is and this key step is a sign of progress and momentum. The EU Mission Label has the power to significantly accelerate the climate transition journey for European Cities and unlock their potential,” says Thomas Osdoba, Director of the Mission Platform, NetZeroCities.

The European Commission assessed the Climate City Contracts cities submitted to NetZeroCities earlier this year. The Contracts outline the cities’ overall vision for climate neutrality and include an action plan as well as an investment strategy. Cities create their Climate City Contracts together with local stakeholders, including the private sector and citizens. The Contracts are an innovative governance tool that builds on existing knowledge, resources and experience to help seize opportunities to reduce emissions more rapidly and overcome key barriers (financial, structural, governance, social and more) they face in achieving their climate goals.

The first group of cities submitted their Climate City Contracts in April 2023. They were then reviewed by the EU Commission with the support of experts from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC), among others. Following a positive review, successful cities receive the EU Mission Label to facilitate access to EU, national, and regional funding and financing sources, as well as private investment.

The EU Commission and the Mission Platform – currently managed by the NetZeroCities programme – will continue to support the effective implementation of the Climate City Contracts. Cities that have received the EU Mission Label can now use it as a vote of confidence in their climate neutrality plans, especially when approaching public and private funders.

The Commission will continue to support cities through the Mission Platform with hands-on advice and funding programmes, such as a €32 million Pilot Cities Programme combined with a Twinning Programme. A second call for Pilot Cities Programme is currently open until 6 November, with a budget of €20 million.

Many other Mission Cities should soon follow suit, as they are developing their own Climate City Contracts. Together, they are leading the way and inspiring other cities and other levels of government and institutions.

Read more here:

citiES 2030 boosts Climathon 2023 in Spain: 8 cities united to overcome the heat island challenge

Climathon 2023 will bring together eight Spanish cities in a collective effort to activate citizens to find innovative and creative solutions that address the phenomenon of heat islands in cities.

From 26 to 29 October, and in the first days of November, Cartagena, Eibar, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Madrid, Murcia, Seville, Valencia, and Viladecans will come together as part of the EIT Climate-KIC Climathon programme, with the aim of activating citizens and addressing critical climate challenges.

These cities are supported for the first time by citiES 2030, the Collaborative Platform for the Climate Neutrality of Spanish Cities, promoted by the Fundación Biodiversidad of the Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico and implemented by EIT Climate-KIC together with the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

In collaboration with citiES 2030, these eight cities will work together to establish a community to leverage the collective intelligence of all participants at the national level – sharing knowledge, perspectives, and experiences, in search of the most effective solutions for our cities.

The main objective of Climathon 2023 in Spain is to mobilise citizens and creatively address the phenomenon of heat islands in our common urban spaces. High temperatures in urban areas are a challenge that we are willing to face together, improving the quality of life of our citizens and strengthening our resilience to climate change.

The Climathon programme has grown to become the world’s largest climate innovation hackathon, emphasising citizen participation and engagement. Since its inception in 2015, EIT Climate-KIC has driven more than 900 Climathons around the world, with the participation of more than 35,000 people. In Spain, 54 Climathons have been held in 24 cities, demonstrating the country’s commitment to this global challenge.