On 25 April, our coordinator – the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) – flew to Bucharest on behalf of the Cities-4-People project to attend a COST Connect event. More precisely, it was a two-day workshop on “How to shape Sustainable Urban Mobility for all”, organised by the COST Association with the purpose of creating a dialogue between researchers, policy-makers and funding organisations active in the field of Urban Mobility and building new synergies and collaborations towards greener, more inclusive, safer and smarter urban mobility solutions.
Clearly, the topic is very relevant to Cities-4-People and, having been invited to share our experience, we were eager to attend. During the first day, participants were introduced to the COST set-up and got an understanding of the different projects and initiatives attending. COST is an EU-funded programme established in 1971 and aiming to:
- close the gap between science, policy making and society
- facilitate the creation of interdisciplinary research networks in and outside Europe
- support trans-national cooperation among researchers
- ultimately foster the establishment of scientific excellence and build a European Research Area.
The association does so by providing funding for conferences, meetings, trainings, scientific mobility and networking activities. COST Connect is a series of thematic workshops that help create awareness of European funding and cooperation opportunities responding to major societal challenges, the European policy agenda and specific input by stakeholders.
Because the Cost Connect events are based on an interactive format that aims to reduce fragmentation and encourage dialogue, the second day of workshop was organised so as to stimulate interaction by means of a pro-action café. This is a methodology for creative thinking merging the techniques of the World Café and the Open Space Technology. More precisely, there is no set agenda and topics are brought forward by participants themselves and so is input, normally in different rounds of conversation within different groups. Participants are invited to share their questions on a certain topic and get input from others, for example deeper questions, stories from personal experience and expert knowledge.
The event ended with a local tour, namely a visit to the Palace of the Parliament. This is one of the largest buildings in the world, apparently second only to the US Pentagon. Perhaps because of its size, the Palace is used for cultural events besides the formal political meetings.
The workshop showed the existence of many COST Actions that have research areas and goals that are in line with those of Cities-4-People. The event was not only a great opportunity to share thoughts, ideas and get group input, but also showed the potential for collaboration. Hopefully, some collaborations will become true over time and will contribute to the realisation of Sustainable Urban Mobility at a large scale.