Katowice hosted „Upgrade your city” conference on how to create modern and inclusive urban environments. The event was organized by the European Investment Bank and the city of Katowice, which was the first Polish municipality to sign a loan with the EIB two decades ago.
With EUR 205 million direct loans over 20 years, the EIB has sustained the Katowice’s transition to a low-carbon economy. In Poland, the EIB has invested EUR 2,7 billion in urban projects over the past four years, benefiting 28 cities and 9,3 million people, and new projects are expected to target environment, mobility, housing, health, education and energy efficiency
The European Investment Bank (EIB) was back in Katowice in June with a high-level conference on smart urban investments organised jointly with the municipality. This Polish city of approximately 300 000 people, the capital of Upper Silesia, was the first Polish municipality to sign a loan with the EIB 20 years ago, spearheading a transition from a troubled coal-mining town to a place offering new business opportunities and a healthier environment for its citizens.
„Katowice is a role model for Poland and for the European Investment Bank” – said Vazil Hudak, vicepresident of the EIB who supervises operations in this country. „The city is a demonstration of a successful, ongoing transition to a low-carbon economy. The EIB is proud to have contributed to the city’s regeneration and the restoration of its cultural heritage, and we are now ready to support further innovative urban projects, in Katowice and elsewhere in Poland”.
New urban projects under consideration by the EIB are expected to target the environment, mobility, affordable housing, health, education and culture and energy efficiency. Planning-led and innovative technology solutions that can make cities smarter and more inclusive are also welcome.
„Our excellent cooperation with the European Investment Bank has allowed us to boost and accelerate the multifaceted transformation from a purely industrial city to a fast developing capital of a metropolitan area home to over two-million people” – said Marcin Krupa, mayor of Katowice.
The initial loans helped the city to modernise roads and sewage. „The subsequent funds allowed us to build the magnificent headquarters for the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and regenerate the neighbouring area. The latest agreement with the EIB allows us to improve public transport by building four transfer hubs. Our city’s transformation has been noticed worldwide. Today, we are the UNESCO Creative City of Music and this year in December we will host the COP 24 Climate Summit, with the EIB being part of this success” – the mayor added.
The Government’s Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development not only focuses on support and promotion of the smart city concept, but also emphasises that being smart is more than just implementing the latest technologies. It is also about caring for the environment and the urban space, allowing residents to co-decide and benefiting from the experience of others. The Ministry of Investment and Economic Development runs two projects on urban development: the Cities Partnership Initiative and Human Smart Cities” – said Jerzy Kwieciński, the minister of investment and economic development.
In the last 4 years, the EIB supported 28 Polish cities with 49 loans. „That brings obvious benefits for residents and teaches us one important thing: by using EIB funds, we all learn to use financial instruments such as loans, whose significance will grow in the coming years” – he added.
The conference in Katowice – “Upgrade your city: Investing in smart and sustainable municipal infrastructure” – was focused on bridging financing gaps in urban development and planning the city of the 21st century. High-level panellists elaborated how smart investment can address both the existing infrastructure gaps as well as unlock innovative potential. While the first panel session addressed the financing gap from a political angle, the second and third thematic sessions touched upon concrete ‘smart city’ initiatives and useful instruments for urban cities, including project preparation, advisory services and technical assistance, as well as new sources of financing.
The event took place in the International Convention Center.