Mission Innovation: Speech during cities convening event in Malmö; Sweden. [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY]


Dear Mayors

Dear Entrepreneurs and Experts from Academia

Dear Friends

I am very happy that I made it here on time to be part of the very first Mission Innovation Cities Convening event, hosted by the Global Covenant of Mayors. Let me, from the outset, thank the mayor of Malmö (Katrin), for her warm hospitality.

Last March, Mike and I launched a call for a Global City Research and Innovation Agenda. Today, we have the first discussions on how to bring Research and Innovation onto the radar of the Global Covenant of Mayors.

At the same time we are integrating the city dimension into the Mission Innovation Ministerial. In other words, we are building bridges to further connect the innovation agenda and the cities agenda. Is there a better place to do this than here, in Malmö, which is connected by the magnificent Öresun Bridge to the great city of Copenhagen?

The main topic for this year`s Ministerial meetings is “Energy Integration and Transition: towards a competitive and innovative low carbon economy”. The last couple of years, remarkable progress has been made in our much-needed transition to a low-carbon economy. From onshore wind power to solar energy, from electric car batteries to LED lighting, costs have plummeted. Deployment of renewable energy sources has exceeded all expectations. More and more, we’re getting a glimpse of the exciting renewable technologies of tomorrow.

The cost factor is an important factor. But more is needed to better integrate renewables into the market. We need smarter grids, which have the flexibility to combine decentralized energy sources. We need batteries, which are essential to decarbonize our transport system, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. In Europe, we recently formed the European Battery Alliance, a network of 120 industrial and innovation actors that are joining forces to create a value chain centred on green high performance batteries. Last week, we presented a comprehensive action plan on batteries to make this happen. We all know that this is a global challenge: the mining of raw materials, the production, the end-use and the recycling take place by international players in different parts of the world. That’s why we will also discuss this topic in the Ministerial meeting this afternoon.

While storing energy is important, saving energy is crucial. Without a smarter, more efficient use of energy, we will not be able to deliver on the Paris climate agreement. That’s why in Europe, we introduced the concept of ‘energy efficiency first’ in our recent legislation. Simply put, it means that before committing to investments in costly fuels and supply-side infrastructure, we should first consider efficiency measures. This goes in particular for the heating and cooling of our buildings, a sector still largely dominated by fossil fuels.

All the areas I just mentioned - energy efficiency, renewables, e-mobility, heating and colling and storage – are areas that are undergoing rapid, even disruptive change. It is no coincidence then that these are precisely the areas that you discussed this morning.

There was another topic that we added to your agenda: adaptation, and I am particularly grateful for that. After all, climate change is happening and even if things remain as they are the impact of climate change, be it in the form of urban flooding, heat island effects, hurricanes or prolonged droughts, is inevitable. Adaptation measures will therefore be needed to enhance urban resilience.

Therefore, we should ensure that this subject is part of the next meetings in San Francisco and New York in September 2018 as well as in Vancouver at the occasion of the fourth Mission Innovation Ministerial.

In all the areas that you discussed, we need technological breakthroughs. We have to adopt breakthrough new technologies on a massive scale and deploy them faster than ever before. That’s why it is important that new technologies can be tested in the real world, in living labs.

This is the approach we are taking in Brussels. Over the period 2014-17, Horizon 2020, the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme for 2014-2020, has invested around EUR 1.7 billion on urban projects alone. This includes around EUR 450 million in large scale demonstration projects within the "Smart and Sustainable Cities" program. This program could, I believe, be a source of inspiration for a future global cities research and innovation agenda. Cities that participate in this program actively engage in Public-Private-People Partnerships; they commit to open innovation and co-creation processes; they co-develop and test, in real-world conditions, solutions that combine digital, technological, social and nature-based innovation; they explore and develop new governance, finance and business models.  When these models turn out to be effective and attract private investments, they could be further replicated and upscaled, through, for instance, public procurement of innovation.

Let me stress the importance of public procurement, which can really steer innovation. I am sure that all of you, working in companies and start-ups, can agree with me on this. I am convinced that mainstreaming energy innovation through strategic public procurement, including at city level, is one way of accelerating sustainable energy innovation. Another important challenge is to establish public-private co-investment vehicles to support and finance deep-tech energy innovations, reduce risks and improve the effectiveness of available public and private funding. The Global Covenant is actively working on that, in close cooperation with powerful actors such as the EBRD, the EIB, the World Bank and the European Commission.

Public procurement and finance are two of the main issues at this afternoon’s Mission Innovation’s session on “Public-Private Cooperation on Clean Energy Innovation”. In this session (which is developed together with the World Economic Forum) Ministers, high-level private sector representatives, investors and  - of course – mayors will discuss these issues and explore how to step up public-private engagement in key technology areas related to the future decarbonisation of cities and communities.

I am particularly happy that some of the Mayors present here will feed the outcome of this morning’s discussions straight into the debate, and in its resulting actions and partnerships. Because that is our end goal: to come up with concrete actions that could be highlighted at the September meetings in San Francisco and New York. If we deliver, this will also illustrate the increased ambition by non-state actors at COP24 in Katowice.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, once said that if the 19th century was defined by empires and the 20th by nation-states, the 21st century will be remembered for the rise of cities - and the social, economic and environmental progress they help to unlock. I fully agree. That’s why it so important that this afternoon, Ministers will hear first-hand from mayors what are the real innovation needs they face.

There shouldn`t be a contradiction in the priorities that Ministers and local leaders discuss: when cities increase their economic, social and environmental resilience; when cities become healthier, more resource efficient, more inclusive and safer places to live in, it will bring national leaders closer to achieving the objectives they set out and agreed in international political frameworks, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

Let us therefore continue the work and even speed up the work. I thank you for being here in Malmö and look forward to your continued engagement in bringing about a solid, forward-looking cities Research and Innovation Agenda.

I thank you.