Over the last years, 'Smart Cities’ have been increasingly characterized as ’sustainable’ cities (or climate neutral cities) striving to achieve their goals by using ‘smart’ means and approaches. Indeed, there appears to be an international consensus on the concept of ‘smart’ referring to the means (such as co-creation and participatory approaches, cross-sector thinking, use of interlinked ICT systems to acquire and process data, open data, blockchain, etc.), in order to achieve sustainable goals (typically articulated as high quality of life with minimum resource consumption). The United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) appear to be generally accepted as overarching framework also in the context of Smart Cities.
For the European Energy Award, 'smart' approaches support the collection, processing and sharing of data (between systems, sectors, policy levels, people, etc.) whereby useful information is generated and made available for human use. When conceived in a systemic (co-creative) rather than solely technical sense (focused on ICT only), the eea considers smart means to be very well suited to achieve sustainable (urban/regional) goals.
- The eea support cities in becoming smarter in the sense of more exchange with citizens, more participatory approaches, etc. through eea measures, best practices and sharing of experiences. This know-how is bundled in activity area 6, which is completely dedicated to the topic of 'communication and cooperation'.
- The European Energy Award has been an active partner of the EU Smart Cities Marketplace for many years.
The European Energy Award framework, with its set of measures and goals, is suited to pave the way of cities and communities to become more sustainable, predominantly with regards to the efficient use of energy, the transformation towards renewable energies and the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. More most of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals are addressed by one or several eea measures, with a focus on objectives 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 13 (Climate Action).