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Climate change is a daunting global challenge.

Thousands around the world see Climathon as a powerful tool to mobilise cities, citizens and local economies to combat climate change. In order to create (some) order in that chaos and have the maximum possible global impact, each city has its own local organizers. In Basel, this is the Department for Environment and Energy Canton of Basel-City, IWB and Impact Hub Basel. So take action and help solve our local climate challenges in the areas of Food, Mobility and Energy.


Basel, like many other cities, has actively implemented new climate policies as a response to the Paris Agreement and the rising awareness regarding the effects of anthropogenic climate change. A large share of the city’s CO2 emissions (approx. 40%) comes from the building sector, specifically, their heating and cooling. How do we motivate individuals bottom-up to opt for and engage with renewable heating options?

While Basel owns Switzerland’s largest renewable district heating network, over half of all buildings in the canton still heat with natural gas or oil (approx. 16’000 buildings). The future of urban sustainability is renewable district energy. The new Basel-City energy law commits the canton to decarbonization, specifically, replacing all end-of-life fossil heating systems with decentralized and smaller-scale renewable district heating systems.

At present, utility companies initiate district heating projects. Further, the financial motivations of property owners and personal preferences of tenants are often at odds; resulting in little contribution options for the tenants in this matter.

To facilitate the energy transition to renewable, small-scale district heating systems, we wonder how to motivate tenants, together with property owners, to initiate and successfully implement renewable district heating communities?

Solutions should focus on:
1. Digital platforms and apps to engage stakeholders
2. Communication initiatives for citizens (tenants and property owners)

3. Course of action for utility companies and public authorities to support bottom-up initiatives and ensure the construction of district heating networks


Around a third of the food produced in Switzerland ends up as waste. This corresponds to around 2 million tons of food per year. Almost half of the waste is generated in private households. If we throw food away, scarce resources such as water, soil and fossil fuels are unnecessarily wasted. The main reasons for the high amount of food waste in households are insufficient knowledge about shelf life, storage and methods for recycling residues and a lack of awareness of one’s own food waste and the value of food. How can consumers be motivated to improve their handling of food with a positive approach?

Food is an important area of action for sustainable development for the government of Basel-Stadt. Approximately one third of Switzerland’s environmental impact can be attributed to nutrition. The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) signed at the Expo Milano 2015 was an additional impulse for the government council to promote sustainable nutrition.

The sustainable food action plan Basel-Stadt 2019-2021 «Basel eats with pleasure from the city and the countryside» aims to coordinate and promote existing and new administrative measures. The objectives of the package of measures are:
1. strengthen regional food supply and value creation
2. support a diverse, healthy, fair and environmentally sound food consumption
3. avoid food waste

To ensure that private households no longer occupy top positions in food waste, the Basel-Stadt Office for Environment and Energy has been conducting an annual information campaign since 2015. At a joint information stand with the private «Food Sharing» and «Backwaren Outlet», the population receives tips and tricks on how to avoid food waste. The canton is also financially involved in the national «Save Food – Fight Waste» campaign, which is to be launched by the Pusch Foundation in autumn 2019. There are also various offers on the subject for kindergartens and schools.

The solution should be aimed at the broad population, be scalable, have a lasting effect, reach both individuals and communities and it must be financially and personally feasible for the canton of Basel-Stadt.


In Basel, too, many routes are covered by car. Cycling is emission-free, space-saving, healthy and offers a fast, comfortable and attractive alternative in urban traffic. However, many people do not dare to cycle in the city. How can we motivate them to ride their bikes for the first time or more often? Cyclists should always feel safe and have fun on the two wheels.

Basel is the city of short distances and yet only 16% of the distances are covered by bicycle. Nevertheless, Basel is at the top of the Swiss cities. The government has set itself the goal of being the most bicycle-friendly city in Switzerland! All roads should be fast, direct and safe. Because these factors decide whether people opt for the bicycle or another means of transport.

For every second person surveyed in 2014, fear of accidents is the reason why they do not cycle. Although this figure is lower among cyclists, almost every third person in this group is afraid of an accident. Parents’ dissatisfaction can result not only in their own renunciation but also in a lack of support or encouragement for their children to cycle. Objective and subjective road safety is therefore essential for the promotion of cycling. Only when safety is objectively high and subjectively perceived as high does the willingness to cycle regularly increase.

According to the survey, general comfort, weather, the risk of theft and noise are also relevant reasons why people do not cycle. Last year, the media also presented the high curb stone edges as a deterioration for cyclists. The study on the use of bicycles by young people provides further clues: Public transport is perceived as an important social meeting point and as practical and comfortable. The twelve- to 17-year-old young people surveyed were not favored by ruthless motorists, confusing intersections and tram traffic. Cycling is also considered “uncool” in some groups and the support of parents is often lacking. In addition, any accident or defect on a bicycle can lead to a change of transport.

1. How can we contribute to avoiding subjective or objective dangerous spots or to dealing with them safely?
2. Which markings improve safety and the feeling of safety?
3. How can we simplify urban traffic routes?
4.What information can we use to make young people, adults and parents more interested in cycling?
5. How can we prevent previous cyclists from not cycling at the beginning of new life stages (moving, changing job, 18th birthday, etc.)?
6. How can cycling be encouraged over short distances in shopping traffic / leisure traffic / commuter traffic?

The solution ideas should not include new infrastructures, but infrastructural adjustments can be part of the solution.

About EIT Climate-KIC

EIT Climate-KIC is a European knowledge and innovation community, working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, we identify and support innovation that helps society mitigate and adapt to climate change. We believe that a decarbonised, sustainable economy is not only necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change, but presents a wealth of opportunities for business and society.

Background of the Climathon 2018

Climathon is a is a global movement dedicated to solving the toughest climate challenges cities face, which is manifested in a 24-hour hackathon which took place simultaneously in 113 cities, 46 countries, and across 6 continents on 26 October 2018. Climathon attracted over 5000 entrepreneurs, developers, students and professionals to work on new, creative solutions to local climate change challenges. Across the world participants tackled 196 climate challenges and 19% were focused around mobility, 15% waste management, 10% climate change (reducing environmental impacts, emergencies, floods, biodiversity) and 10% energy. Solutions to the climate challenges from all over the world are being collected on the Climathon website.

The European Covenant of Mayors partnered with Climathon and invited all the municipalities of their community to join this global movement. In the month of October Climathon had a potential reach figure of 156 million potential viewers (covers all forms of media – online press, website and social media). Since January 2018 Climathon has been featured in 851 articles across the world. On Instagram and Twitter 17,640 posts related to Climathon have been published and featured high profile endorsers such as Ellen MacArthur, Katharine Hayhoe, Caroline Gleich, and UNFCC. A mainstage event in Turin, Italy acted as a connection point for all Climathon events running across the globe. This event was supported by the City of Turin. Live broadcasting sessions from Turin were viewed by 279,848 people, had a reach of almost 600,000 on Facebook and included speakers such as Paola Maugeri, Writer/TV journalist, Marco Cattaneo, Editor in chief of National Geographic Italia, Stefano Boeri, Architect and Pietro Leeman, famous vegetarian Chef.

Challenges for the Climathon 2018

The 196 climate challenges prepared by cities across the world focused mainly on mobility and waste management. Most challenges about mobility aim to solve the problem of private vehicles, improve public transport and reduce traffic in cities. Similarly, challenges about waste management focus on reducing plastics, solid waste and eliminating landfills.

Most of the challenges about energy focus on renewable energies, improve building efficiency, create new heating systems and decentralize energy systems. In the case of nature-based solutions cities focus on improving and developing green spaces and reduce heat island effects. Challenges on circular economy focus on food waste and the reduction of plastic and the elimination of landfills as well.

The main levers of change are related to citizens participation (incl. young people and inclusion), technology, behaviour (incl. culture and mindset), data and awareness. Most cities consider that the combination of many of these levers is the key of success to drive change.

Key findings

  • Most cities consider that city air pollution is caused by their dysfunctional and unsustainable transportation modes. Air quality depends on sustainable mobility.
  • Most of the cities with rivers and channels are exploring options to improve water mobility. Additionally, cities with ports are facing similar challenges.
  • Most of the cities require to build capacities (raising awareness) and preparing projects, plans, strategies. Only few are asking for implementing actions.
  • Cities in the Global South and some European countries in the south of Europe are feeling the impacts of climate change more strongly and they are worried about having to deal with the emergencies. The priorities are different in each continent. However, in general the productivity of agricultural fields is being globally affected.

Any questions, ideas or other input? Contact [email protected]