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The cities of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Ghent (Belgium), Zagreb (Croatia), Brno (Czech Republic) and Porto (Portugal) joined together in the CIVITAS ELAN project “Mobilising citizens for vital cities”. They have agreed on the mission, “to ‘mobilise’ our citizens by developing with their support clean mobility solutions for vital cities, ensuring health and access for all”.


As part of the EU CIVITAS programme, the ELAN project takes an approach where “Putting the citizen first” is at the core of the work in the five cities. ELAN consists of highly experienced partners, many of which have been involved in the first two phases of the CIVITAS initiative. They are all vibrant medium-sized European centres of social, cultural and economic life with strong identities, rich cultural heritage and high-quality public spaces. They all have major universities with large student populations. These dynamic cities share a strong commitment to implement mobility policy that gives priority to citizens and their quality of life. The ELAN cities are in critical phases of urban development with large infrastructure projects underway to improve the main interchanges and major arteries of their transport systems.

CIVITAS ELAN addresses topics of specific interest to Central and Eastern European cities. These cities face particular challenges such as fast motorisation, capacity problems in public transport, infrastructure renewal and rapidly changing cityscapes. These rapid changes create many opportunities for cities from both old and new Member States to learn from each other. Ljubljana, Brno and Zagreb represent cities from new Member States or accession countries with Ljubljana acting as the project coordinator. They bring with them extensive experience in energy-efficient technologies in public transport. CIVITAS ELAN therefore emphasises a two-way learning process facilitated through technical workshops, training sessions and technical site visits.

Implementing sustainable mobility

One of the lessons the ELAN cities have learnt through their involvement in previous CIVITAS projects, is that challenges to the implementation of innovative urban transport solutions are not always of a technical nature. Instead, the main obstacles tend to be behavioural, changing implementation conditions or institutional issues. That is why CIVITAS ELAN adopts a process-oriented approach and accentuates risk management, including contingency plans and early warning systems for project risks.

Furthermore, the project partners are well aware of the crucial importance of a citizen-centred approach. CIVITAS ELAN takes the view that if decision makers are serious about considering citizens’ needs and engaging them in the implementation of solutions, much better approaches to consultation and broad dialogue are necessary than what has been practiced in Europe to date. ELAN therefore experiments with inclusive governance at all stages from project planning and implementation, to monitoring and evaluation. In many cases, citizens are encouraged to contribute their own ideas and thereby directly influence mobility planning decisions.

The focus on citizen participation has been incorporated into the design of the 68 activities under ELAN. This entails dedicated participation and consultation processes and prioritises the needs and expectations of citizens, difficult to achieve or contradictory as they sometimes may appear to transport practitioners. Various non-governmental, citizen-driven organisations are full partners in CIVITAS ELAN and are in charge of carrying out concrete measures. They provide direct links between the CIVITAS community and those working at the local grassroots level. Aside from encouraging involvement, the CIVITAS ELAN cities want to pro-actively convince citizens that clean mobility solutions are in their interest. The partners want to show how, despite a lack of funds, overdue investments and maintenance will contribute to economic development and help build a fair and inclusive society.

Project results

ELAN aims to increase the modal share of walking and cycling, support innovative freight delivery solutions, implement innovative demand management, and increase the use of cleaner and energy-efficient vehicles. The project will enhance overall road safety and reduce air pollution. CIVITAS ELAN will enhance the cities’ perception as pioneers of advanced mobility concepts that offer a high quality of life. This in turn will attract knowledge workers and enterprises.

In addition to the implementation of concrete clean and sustainable urban transport solutions, CIVITAS ELAN aims to mobilise people in physical, political and societal terms. Responding to citizens’ demands constitutes better governance and will improve the quality of public transport. Yet, the ELAN partners are convinced that putting citizens first will make a long lasting change. Transferring ownership of policies to citizens will not only substantially reduce the political risk of failure but most importantly winning people’s minds and hearts will initiate a lasting new mentality towards sustainable mobility.

As a policy-driven project led by impact and process evaluation, the ELAN cities will significantly contribute to major national, EU and global policy processes. They will motivate cities throughout Europe to follow their lead. CIVITAS ELAN brings together politicians and practitioners from various cities, countries and professional backgrounds. It fosters exchange and advances Europe’s knowledge economy. Furthermore, CIVITAS ELAN addresses global challenges such as climate change and security of energy supply.  It contributes to reduce dependence on oil imports and helps to create to a cleaner and more liveable environment.

Related documents





Project Descriptions

Result pub.


Summary Evaluation