Teaming up for climate neutrality

26 May 2023

When it comes to finding climate solutions, cities are in this together.

Sharing knowledge and best practices between cities aiming to slash emissions in the short run drives innovation, but also cultivates a vibrant community united by a common purpose.

To this end, the NetZeroCities project is launching a Twinning Programme, aimed at pairing cities based on common challenges, opportunities, and areas of emissions. Together, they will work towards making the necessary systemic changes to achieve net-zero status.

Eurocities plays a key role in the design and implementation of the programme, which will bring together selected Twin Cities with successful Pilot Cities. Over the course of 20 months, Twin and Pilot Cities will embark on a tailor-made learning programme. Through meetings, workshops and site visits, the cities will establish a solid foundation for a long-lasting partnership towards climate neutrality.

Drawing inspiration from innovative actions

In March 2023, 53 Pilot Cities were selected to implement innovative actions tailored to their local contexts. These activities cover multiple areas, from buildings to waste, and involve different levers of change.

One shining example is Malmo. The Swedish city has embraced a science-based and shared learning approach for capacity-building to accelerate climate transition. Involving individuals and organisations alike, this approach will enable Malmö to confront head-on challenges on heating, electricity supply and climate-neutral construction.

Meanwhile, Nantes Metropole has embarked on an ambitious mission to inspire households, students and employees to adopt a climate-neutral lifestyle. Through a series of workshops and activities, Nantes’ carbon-neutral citizen challenge will redefine what it means to live sustainably, fostering a sense of collective responsibility.

People sitting in a park next to the river in Nantes.
People sitting in a park next to the river in Nantes

In the case of Poland, Krakow, Warsaw, Wroclaw, Rzeszow and Lodz are joining forces to develop a Multi-City Pilot. Focusing on energy-inefficient buildings, particularly residential and service structures, as well as districts, these cities are revolutionising their urban landscapes. By significantly reducing the demand for coal-based electricity and heat, they want to transform these buildings into nearly zero-emission structures.

The Netherlands, too, is embracing the power of collaboration. The Dutch pilot activity seeks to achieve natural gas-free districts in seven cities: The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen, Helmond and Eindhoven. They will do so by exploring how local public funding can leverage alternative and innovative financial sources.

Empowering cities through twinning

As they forge ahead, these cities are not just developing innovative solutions but also building a repository of tested knowledge and experiences that can be replicated and scaled. Guided by the facilitation support team of NetZeroCities, Twin Cities will have the unique opportunity to learn from their Pilot City counterparts.

For example, cities that are paired with Malmo will benefit from a clear methodology to improve capacity-building and organisational structure. Moreover, the city expects the twinning programme to contribute to long-term cooperation beyond the implementation period.

Aerial view of Rotterdam.
Aerial view of Rotterdam

However, the exchange will not be one-sided, as the peer learning framework ensures that both cities benefit from this partnership. Here, Nantes expects to get inspired by other successful citizen engagement methods and to facilitate collaboration between cities that aim to achieve climate neutrality. Similarly, the Polish municipalities recognise the value of gaining fresh perspectives through mutual learning and collaboration with diverse cities.

It is essential for Twin Cities to recontextualise the programme in their own national framework. The Dutch cities acknowledge that, while some countries may share similar backgrounds and governance structures, it is crucial to explore how national contexts can be leveraged to replicate activities or establish support for local governance.

Ultimately, this shared journey will empower Twin Cities to develop a tailored replication plan aligned to their specific local context. These will serve as a blueprint for climate action. Together, cities can set a new course towards a sustainable future, making significant strides towards achieving climate neutrality.


This call is open to cities based in EU Member states or Horizon 2020 Associated Countries. The persons or categories of persons who are eligible to apply are local authorities or city administrations. Any city can apply, selected as one of the 112 Mission Cities or notThe call remains open until 30 June at 23.59 CET. For further information, please take a look at the Twinning Programme Frequently Asked Questions.  

NetZeroCities is a project consortium consisting of 33 partners from 27 European countries, managing the EU Cities Mission platform. The project supports the 112 European cities, known as the Mission Cities, in drastically reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to achieve climate neutrality. 71 of the municipalities that are part of the Mission are Eurocities members. The EU Cities Mission supports the European Green Deal in building a low-carbon, climate-resilient future through research and innovation. 



Lucía Garrido Eurocities Writer