Taranaki is making the right moves towards a low emissions future with a recent visit to the Lithuanian city of Vilnius opening up a wealth of opportunities to get there faster. From turning wastewater sludge into fertiliser to high-tech smart cities and hydrogen fuelled public transport, a delegation led by New Plymouth District Deputy Mayor David Bublitz, got a glimpse of how the city is transitioning itself to be carbon neutral.
The delegation included representatives from NPDC, Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, Hiringa Energy and Ara Ake, and was in the Baltic region as part of a European Union-funded work programme. The partners also signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
“Vilnius has an ambitious goal to be climate-neutral city by 2030 and is well on its way with a lot of projects already in place which we got to see firsthand as well as meeting with leading technical experts and researchers,” says David Bublitz.
“This the second time I have met with the team from Vilnius in person, following their visit to Taranaki last year. We have now signed this MOU in full, which identifies some specific areas we want to work together on.”
He says it was pleasing their hosts recognised Taranaki had a good plan and was on the right track to transition to low carbon future.
“We need to consider how we power up decarbonisation in our economy or otherwise we’ll be left behind economically. The Memorandum of Understanding will give us first hand insights into technology and research that will help to facilitate,” says Mr Bublitz. The non-financial agreement sets out a joint commitment to collaborate, share information, business to business support, and forge links between centres for higher learning and technical expertise. The parties will also work together:
To explore, promote and develop funding streams for research and training.
Participate in events, conferences, and tasks to identify best practice and cooperate with universities in Europe, Asia and Australasia on topics including circular economy, hydrogen, and urban regeneration and planning. Develop policy to support strategic focus and to advance low emission, waste, and sustainable alternatives. Develop an online collaboration hub for research and innovation.
Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki Chief Executive Kelvin Wright says the delegation gained in-depth understanding of how the Lithuanian region of Vilnius is currently implementing sustainable urban solutions.
“We will now assess if any of their innovative practices, such as a ground-breaking energy storage system, can be deployed in Taranaki while also sharing our knowledge as the leading energy region in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
“We look forward to continuing partnering on this work programme with our European counterparts and implementing real and meaningful projects.”
NPDC has lead Taranaki’s involvement in the EU-funded International Urban Regional Cooperation work programme over the past two years, which matches regions with similar economic profiles to work together on low carbon solutions. Before heading to Vilnius, the partners had participated in more than 20 education sessions facilitated by an independent academic looking at potential opportunities, including the 2050 Taranaki Roadmap, hydrogen future, wastewater (NPDC’s thermal dryer), partnerships and local participation. Find out more about the EU-funded programme, the International Urban Regional Cooperation (IURC) programme https://www.iurc.eu/