Shaping Urban Futures

20230824 131003 efa23 all around c EFA Philipp Huber

27 Jun, 2024


An initiative that invites partners of the European Forum Alpbach to contribute valuable expertise to EFA’s Climate Track and in return broadens their scope for action.

Serving science is a fundamental pillar of the Forum. In the light of the climate crisis – one of the major challenges for humanity – we aspire to incorporate scientific evidence by sharing our network’s knowledge.

Our partners are a powerful leverage to involve large-scale endeavours for systemic change, transformative solutions, and social and technological innovation. The European Forum Alpbach bridges theory and practice and opens an interdisciplinary dialogue about the path to a net-zero future. New economic thinking and leadership, the engagement of all players as well as strategic climate financing are but a few steps to be taken hand in hand.

The EFA initiative “Shaping Urban Futures” connects visionary stakeholders to foster physical and social innovation for sustainable construction and livable cities.

With strong partners from the construction sector and the built environment at large, we create a space for innovation and inspiration over a three-year programme cycle. Bringing the industry on track with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement is the overarching task. A wide range of EFA24 sessions and projects address the following questions:

  • How can we deal with resource scarcity, since the demand for construction materials puts a strain on finite resources such as timber, water, and minerals?
  • How do we reconcile the increasing need for urban housing with limited resources and the need to drastically reduce emissions?
  • How can sustainable construction contend with the need for energy-efficient buildings?
  • How can construction practices and architectural design harness the regenerative potential of buildings?
  • As green technologies and materials are more expensive, what are the financial and regulatory barriers to sustainable construction?
  • Which new funding and investment practices are needed to finance sustainable construction and make it more accessible?

10x100 Cities Lab (Mercator Foundation Switzerland, Politics for Tomorrow, Dark Matter Labs, Global Parliament of Mayors)

Im Klimaschutz nehmen Städte eine Führungsrolle ein. Teilnehmer:innen der EFA-Lab-Serie „10x100“ entwerfen eine Strategie, wie das Potenzial großstädtischer Bioregionen genutzt werden kann. Die „10x100“ Labs schmieden mehrjährige Partnerschaften und nehmen Städte als Handels- und Wissenszentren ins Visier: Stadtbewohner:innen können Katalysatoren für systemische Transformationen sein, indem sie neue Produktionsweisen sowie Verteilungs- und Konsumgewohnheiten schnell umsetzen. Was beim EFA22 seinen Anfang nahm, wurde beim EFA23 in konkrete Zielformulierungen gegossen und wird beim EFA24 auf vier weitere Modellstädte ausgeweitet. Evaluation und Erweiterung sind für die Jahre 2025 und 2026 geplant. Mehr erfahren

Circular Economy in the Construction Industry (Strabag AG)

Between 24 and 27 August 2024, a diverse group of 30 participants develops solutions to lift the roadblocks which slow down the green transformation in the construction sector. The Lab harnesses the opportunities of the construction industry to contribute to the climate goals.

“We would like to use the Alpbach Forum to discuss feasible paths to a climate-neutral future for changemakers together with politicians, businesses, and, above all, bright young minds. Only if we pull together we can give the planet and our children a chance.” (Clemens Haselsteiner, CEO of Strabag AG)

Turn Green: Inventory Management for a Sustainable Future (ADOMO Real Estate)

At the Austria in Europe Days, this session provides insights into the real estate project lifecycle – from assessment to ongoing management. The goal is to ensure that buildings not only achieve higher standards of environmental performance but maintain them over the long term.

Imagining Green, Sustainable and Regenerative Cities (IKEA)

On 26 August 2024, participants of this session visualise greener urban landscapes, focusing on transforming urban spaces globally to ensure a sustainable and livable future.

Municipal Governance Innovation (City of Linz and Chamber of Labour Upper Austria)

Two sessions hosted by the City of Linz & Chamber of Labour Upper Austria will delve into "Stories of Transformation – How We Cope with Fundamental Change," exploring how artificial intelligence and climate change drive adaptation in various sectors. The network session "Do Cities Manage Fundamental Change Better than National Governments?" will highlight mayors' best practices in handling transformations like carbon reduction, pandemic management, and digital job creation, showcasing cities' proactive roles.

The past shows that Linz has already faced many crises. Political courage, innovative technologies and social cohesion were decisive in overcoming them positively; three characteristics that are needed to realize the vision of a climate-neutral industrial city in 2040. Linz is following this path and shaping the urban future.

  • Additionally, we are planning a network session called „Do Cities Manage Fundamental Change Better than National Governments?“.

Vienna New Deal – Prospects for a Climate-Friendly Future (City of Vienna)

For the second time in a row, the City of Vienna leads discussions around a climate-neutral urban future. The “Vienna New Deal” shows prospects for a socio-ecological transformation. To this end, strategies for change will be developed that focus on the common good and climate protection and blueprint for a climate-friendly future in which all people can lead a good life within planetary boundaries.

Beyond Concrete (Alpbach IDEAS)

At the 2023 EFA event, participants were invited to shape their ideas in a collaborative process. Selected groups continued working after the event, one of them elaborated “Beyond Concrete” – a sourcing catalogue for sustainable living: Local materials and ancient building techniques are the most environmentally friendly choice for construction. The IDEA is to create an open-source database to map a specific region, compiling a comprehensive manual, including cost analysis and comparisons with conventional materials.