The challenges facing Helsingborg are also faced by cities around the world. One of the main aims of H22 is to create long-term international relations for Helsingborg and all stakeholders active in the city. This is, in part, to gain access to solutions that others are exploring, but also to entice leading change agents around the world to work with and invest in Helsingborg. Much of this work has involved being part of and enabling European and global arenas for discussion and making sure that Helsingborg is on the agenda.
Cities have the power to accelerate the work with achieving the Global Goals for sustainability through their work at the local level. This was the clear message when the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), in collaboration with the City of Helsingborg, invited the world’s cities to the H22+50 Sessions – a two-day conference on smart, sustainable, and inclusive cities that took place during H22 City Expo.
Many of the challenges facing the world today call for local solutions, and the aim of the H22+50 Sessions was to focus on how individual cities can work more effectively with the Global Goals. Helsingborg welcomed hundreds of delegates from different cities, countries, and sectors, along with representatives of international organisations.
“Cities are important drivers in the work with sustainability and the 2030 Agenda,” says Gulnara Roll, UNECE. “They are home to both the greatest challenges and the greatest opportunities, and mid-sized cities like Helsingborg have a unique potential to explore new and unexpected collaborations between all stakeholders in society. H22 City Expo was a manifestation of this potential and a fitting arena for hosting our conference.”
Since 2016, Helsingborg has attracted global interest with its unique Quality of Life Programme that connects the city’s work with the environment and public health. Through continuous monitoring and revision, the city uses quality of life as a foundation and benchmark, helping to create a clear connection to the sustainable development of society as a whole. The H22+50 Sessions provided a platform for leading experts to discuss this type of innovative approach to working locally with the Global Goals. This approach was also addressed early in the year in a Voluntary Local Review that Helsingborg submitted to the UN as one of four Swedish cities.
“Cities need to share the tools and practices that work,” continues Gulnara Roll. “We see the Voluntary Local Reviews that cities such as Helsingborg have produced as an effective and inspiring tool in reporting and sharing local solutions for implementing the 2030 Agenda.”
Following the expo, Mayor Peter Danielsson was invited to speak at a UN High-Level Political Forum in New York to share Helsingborg’s work with sustainability, make new contacts, and explore new collaborations.
In 2020, Helsingborg came second in the European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital), positioning Helsingborg as one of the most innovative cities in Europe. During the first week of H22 City Expo, the finalist cities in the competition were invited to the relaunch of the European Commission’s iCapital Alumni Network, where innovative cities will share best practices and spark innovation across Europe. The panel discussions and meetings held during the expo were a boost in the network’s future work and established Helsingborg as an important player for European innovation in the coming years.
Helsingborg was also a finalist in the European Green Capital Award 2021, and in April of 2022, Helsingborg was chosen by the EU as one of 112 cities to receive the Commission’s support in achieving the goal of Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030. The Mission will receive €360 million of Horizon Europe funding throughout the period 2022-23, which Helsingborg can now apply for. This funding will fuel the city’s research and innovation projects in areas such as clean mobility, energy efficiency, and green urban planning.
With more than half of Sweden’s municipalities and 51 different countries represented, H22 City Expo served as an arena for driving sustainable development on both a national and international level. The international work has also resulted in collaborations with international universities. An example is MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), one of the world’s most innovative universities, whose Senseable City Lab works together with the City of Helsingborg to explore and develop methods to improve safety in our city. The collaboration held a range of exciting workshops during the expo and this joint work will continue until 2024.
“We are very happy to be working with the city of Helsingborg to analyze the perception of safety within the city”, says Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. “By analyzing available social media data alongside public safety data we can help to detect areas of opportunity to improve conditions of safety in the city.”