This interview is part of our series “#ProgressiveLocalStories”, aiming at raising awareness on the many positive initiatives implemented by progressive cities and regions in Europe in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals. Cities and regions have become laboratories for innovative solutions and, with this series, we want to discover how progressive mayors, councillors and presidents of regions put in place policies to tackle the climate crisis, eradicate social inequalities and build more sustainable communities.
Ms. Mathiaschitz, in what way is Klagenfurt a progressive city?
In November 2018, the Smart City Strategy was adopted by the municipal council, including a total of 184 measures with the objective of cutting GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 and 90% by 2050. Of the 184 actions identified, around 90% are currently being implemented or prepared. The strategy focuses on the space in which people live and ensuring quality of life for future generations. It therefore is reflected not only in the area of mobility, but also in urban planning and many other fields. As the Smart City Strategy contains strategic objectives which can be monitored on a permanent basis using measurable indicators, it is an important prerequisite for funding at provincial, federal and EU level.
How is Klagenfurt helping to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the ground?
The main approach to reducing GHG emissions lies in the area of mobility. With the newly established Klagenfurt Mobil GmbH, we aim to reorganise overall traffic in Klagenfurt and to make local public passenger transport an alternative to the car. By 2035, private motorised transport is expected to fall to 30% and the share of the transport network (public passenger transport, cycling, pedestrians) is expected to rise to 70%. The focus is on optimising local public transport and its financing. Initial measures – such as the first bus line to provide a service every 10 minutes – were already implemented in 2019. In the coming years, the most important residential and employment areas will be linked with five main lines operating on a ten-minute cycle. The main stops with a switch-over function will be upgraded to mobility nodes. In parallel, together with the Province of Carinthia, we are implementing the Cycling Master Plan, which seeks to increase the share of cycling in individual transport in a sustainable manner.
The main challenge in the field of mobility is the decarbonisation of local public passenger transport, which, on the one hand, entails enormous costs and, on the other, creates great uncertainty, as nobody can yet seriously predict what kind of driving mechanism will win out in the long term.
Another focus has been on housebuilding. The first “Smart City” residential area of Carinthia, intended for some 1700 inhabitants, is currently nearing completion in Klagenfurt. For the very first time, the “hi-Harbach” housing development project will apply a sustainable mobility concept, which serves as a model and is to be rolled out gradually across the urban area.
How has EU funding helped Klagenfurt with these goals?
Over the last 15 years, the provincial capital of Klagenfurt has attracted EUR 23 million in EU funding. Innovative measures to tackle air pollution, mobility projects, energy efficiency projects and the Smart City project have made an important contribution to promoting climate protection measures in Klagenfurt. Through cooperation with many international project partners, academic institutions and by hosting international conferences on fine particulate matter and e-mobility, the city has gained a great deal of know-how and access to international expert networks. The Smart City Strategy, with 184 actions and the objective of climate neutrality by 2050, is the outcome of EU project activities. The city of Klagenfurt will continue to be very active in the funding landscape and will use the existing network to implement various climate and environmental projects.
Maria-Luise Mathiaschitz is the Mayor of Klagenfurt, the capital of the Carynthia region, since 2015. She is the first woman holding this position. She belongs to the Austrian Social Democratic Party.
Photo credit landscape: adobe stock/Silvia Eder