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Josep Roig

30 June 2010
Josep Roig
  • How important is climate change for your city members?

We have witnessed a clear change in values between metropolitan citizens and metropolitan governments: climate change is seen as an opportunity to both increase the quality of life in cities and to reduce carbon emissions. The main challenge we are now faced with is making the shift from ideas to concrete actions at the city level, both individual and collective.

  • What challenges need to be overcome for ‘smart’ cities to become the norm?

The ‘smart’ city concept is sometimes only considered as the introduction of new information and communication technologies (ICT) to specific city services or e-government initiatives. In fact, it should be seen as a wider systemic change, affecting the overall co-ordination of city services simultaneously: from a new infrastructural platform for all city services, to a new approach to individual and differentiated services to citizens.

  • Why have you chosen to partner with The Climate Group on the Connected Urban Development / Smart Cities and Regions initiative?

Our co-operation with the Connected Urban Development project leads naturally to continuity with The Climate Group, who now take over the project under their SMART2020 Initiative. We value the strong public-private partnership that The Climate Group is developing, as well as its pragmatic approach to concrete solutions to climate change. Their action-oriented approach links very well with the local government initiatives and the need to visualize successful projects at the local level.

  • Can you give us a few of examples of best practice using information and communication technology to lower carbon emissions from within your network?

Metropolis and CISCO have recently published “Climate Change. Cities in Action”. The publication sets out some of the innovative technology and sustainability actions undertaken by Metropolis member cities, the Connected Urban Development partner cities and other progressive cities worldwide. These provide an insightful and inspiring benchmark of best practice towards Smart+Connected Communities. They signify the emergence and approach of an urban services platform towards the role of technology in the sustainable development of cities.

  • From a city’s perspective, what is the best way of creating the public-private partnerships that are critical to scaling up low carbon technology?

Public-private partnerships have always been difficult to implement for two reasons: different public-private ‘cultures’, and different objectives and legal frameworks. Climate change is now offering common objectives and goals to both sides, and the urgency of the issue should help in defining a more effective legal framework for public-private partnerships. The private sector is normally more connected to the global innovation networks, which are developing new solutions for low carbon technology. But those solutions have to be accepted by citizens, businesses and governments at the local level. Scaling up requires a coalition between global and local partners.

  • We are seeing an unprecedented rate of urbanization, with many new cities being created, especially in China.  How can we ensure that all new cities are low carbon cities?

If we look at global CO2 emissions, we have a tendency to relate it to population and consumption growth. And as both are taking place in cities, and especially in Asian cities, some might question the urbanization process. Nowadays though, urbanization is seen as inevitable and as a good opportunity for designing cities and urban growth in a more sustainable way. Improvements and cuts in energy use and carbon dioxide emissions are only buying us some time; we will have to come up with a zero carbon energy source sooner rather than later. Cities have always changed dramatically when new energy sources are ready, and they will adapt again when a new source of energy develops.


Josep Roig was appointed Secretary General of Metropolis in 1999, and has represented Barcelona within Metropolis since 1985.

In May 2009, he was appointed Director General of the Barcelona Metropolitan Consortium, which co-ordinates the Barcelona metropolitan institutions. He has held various different positions at the metropolitan institution in Barcelona: Deputy Director General, Financial Director and Deputy Financial Director, and Executive Director for Economic Promotion.

He has been actively involved in the Barcelona Strategic Plan since 2000, and has been a lecturer in Urban and Regional Planning.

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