September 2020

CIVITAS DESTINATIONS: How a sustainable mobility project helped transform six island cities in Europe

Achieving sustainable mobility is a vital part of ensuring the continued health and security of Europe’s tourist cities. The CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project is composed of 28 partners from nine EU member states to look at ways to transform mobility in six European islands. All of these islands experience seasonal flow of tourists each year which puts a significant strain on local transport systems.

Working as one team over a four-year period, 75 measures have been delivered to achieve cleaner and better transport in the cities.

Across the participating countries, the programme has transformed local economies and shifts in mobility through a variety of measures. In Rethymno, a popular Greek tourist destination with over 500,000 visitors annually, 60% of residents were using their cars and only 10% used public transport.  Through the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project, Rethymno has addressed mobility challenges through the introduction of shared bike and eScooter schemes as well as an electric bus in the tourist centre. It has also managed to secure additional funding for expanding infrastructure and by introducing these changes, successfully reduced traffic congestion and improved the air-quality.

In Madeira, to incentivise the purchase of electric vehicles by residents and companies, five public fast charging stations were installed, as well as several regular e-charging stations. In addition, a widespread demonstration programme for electric buses was held along with eco-drive equipment installed in 20 buses. Since the beginning of the project, the number of EVs in Madeira increased from 100 to 420, an increase of 320%.

In Elba, the local authorities worked with numerous hotels to offer their guests eBikes to get around the island, removing the need to drive.

With a raft of essential measures put in place to support local economies, the programme has resulted in a firm commitment by local island politicians towards a sustainable strategy in the regions, reinforced by the continuous exchange of experiences with other touristic regions. Their pledge was ratified with the signing of the “Political Commitment” in 2019, with a promise to pursue seven sustainable objectives to become political leaders for sustainable development, economic growth, and an enhanced quality of life.

Vectos oversaw the delivery of the 75 pilots and built capacity amongst the cities by providing training support to planners in participant cities as well as design of stakeholder and public engagement programmes. Vectos also worked with the cities to build a local investment plan to exploit public and private sector investment potential to scale up the measures beyond their scope in the project.

Paul Curtis, Associate Director at Vectos, said: “Promoting sustainable mobility in tourist cities through the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project has been a remarkable achievement. It has simultaneously reduced carbon emissions whilst helping to improve public health and the local economies.”

As demonstrated, the impacts of the programme have been far reaching and resulted in significant changes across the participant cities. With the work now drawing to a close, the final report sets out the learnings and next steps. The findings centre on several areas including the development of Sustainable Urban Mobility and Logistics Plans, the importance of behavioural change towards delivering greater shared mobility and electromobility, in addition to the need to promote attractive efficient and accessible public forms of transport.