Sustainable transportation and green cities - project "Voltaro"
What was this?
Since 2017, Voltaro has been a landmark event in the Region of Central Macedonia and specifically of the Sub-Regional Administration of Development and Environment, for sustainable transportation in Greek cities. Voltaro takes place on the coastal front of Thessaloniki to highlight the local ecosystem and new technologies that have been developed in the fields of mobility, sustainable transport, circular economy, green cities and more. More than 80 organisations, businesses and educational institutions have actively participated in Voltaro. Also, more than 4.000 citizens attend each year!
The Region of Central Macedonia (RCM), motivated by the 17 goals of the Paris Agreement for Sustainable Development, launched Voltaro in 2017. The events' strategy is to facilitate the development of micro-mobility in the Region, giving incentives to organisations that are active in these sectors to lean towards effective and sustainable development. Micro-mobility is based on the choices citizens make, offering great potential for reducing emissions and prospects for restructuring the urban fabric. Therefore, it is necessary to support citizens in "smart" decision-making. Voltaro has been designed according to two principles, co-creation and gamification. Co-creation, because Voltaro is the result of a process, in which organisations, volunteers, businesses, research centers, experts and executives in the Region of Central Macedonia participated in. It's very important for us that each organisation's work is presented equally, as participatory processes contribute to a deeper level of connection and dialogue between responsible citizens.
The event takes place during the European Mobility Week. Citizens, companies and organisations create a new field of synergies for electromobility and alternative modes of transportation, leading to effective policies and solutions. On the other hand, the "gamification" element transforms Voltaro into a unique experience. Citizens exploring different mobility stations learn about new technologies, discuss and answer interactive questions in order to participate in a game. A key point in this process is that the questions are designed both to inform and to collect information/data about citizens' opinions and behavior. The results of this process are used for the evaluation of each year's awareness impact, as well as to make better decisions on mobility policies in the future.
6 months of preparation
80+ partners in total
For us, Voltaro isn't just a project. It is a practical case study (example) of 7 years of substantial cooperation with the Region of Thessaloniki, civil society organisations, private companies and the academic sector.
Each year the projects' preparations are based on a co-designing process, that starts with this year's goal and foundations of the event. The digital management of an event this size requires very good planning using digital programs (asana, miro, google drive, slack) managed by a group of different partners.
Improvement and feedback is a key element of our projects, so incorporating feedback we received last year is very much a building block of the process. Voltaro 6, was developed in 2 stages, with conference of good practices and the awareness campaign happening alongside. The conference was about the operation of the Regional Innovation Hub for Urban Mobility with the co-organisation of the technical coordinator of Hellenic Institute of Transportation (HIT) Hub and the Region of Central Macedonia. At the conference, Municipalities had the opportunity to learn about the financing possibilities for the implementation of sustainable urban mobility solutions and also about the opportunities for innovative startups.
This year, Voltaro 7 was moved to the most central point of the city, Aristotelous Square to be accessible to even more citizens! Also it went #gopafree (bud-free) with Cigarette Cycle NPO's special recycling bins. What stood out this year was, in addition to the innovative technologies of private companies, the Regional Association of Solid Waste Management Agency's stand that had educational games as well as coffee recycling by the InCommOn organisation. Also, the Thessaloniki Transport Authority in collaboration with OASTH, the Bicycle Sports Association of Thessaloniki and the Traffic Police carried out an original educational activity. Specifically around an actual city bus there were a red line that points to the bus driver's "blind" spots and with a blue line the visible spots. Citizens had the oportunity to sit in the drivers seat and see for themselves what they should avoid as scooter and bicycle riders.
The implementation of this event for the 7th year in a row, has made Voltaro a landmark-event of the city and we are very proud of it!
In 2023 participants exceeded 5.500. The qualitative impact grew, as we were honored with the presence of institutions and research centers with modern projects in the field. With the presence of important organisations of sustainable mobility in Northern Greece, each year we are given an important opportunity to educate others on issues around sustainable cities.
Practically, the results are evident from the number of electric vehicles that have been registered in the "KINOYME ILEKTRIKA'' program, as 67% of which were bought in the last 4 years. It is noteworthy that 20% of the vehicles subsidized by the event are from the islands.
The promotion of new and alternative forms of transport is based on the successful awareness of citizens on these issues and on their proper informing regarding the benefits for the environment, the economy and society, in the short and long term. The challenge for the Municipalities and Regions is a great one, as the process of raising citizens' awareness should be continuous, scientifically documented and integrated into a wider Strategic Plan for sustainable development.