🙌 Every month we celebrate one of our FutureproofedCities users, a climate action tracker, and listen to how they’re steering their cities towards a more sustainable future. Today we give the floor to Erica Lemmens from the beautiful city of Hasselt.
We would like to introduce you to Erica Lemmens, the sustainability officer from the city of Hasselt for no less than 15 years. She has been one of our key FutureproofedCities users for the last 3 years, giving us the right feedback so we could improve our platform for all our users. Thanks Erica! 🙏
She witnessed personally how climate became a more urgent and pressing matter to cities. Her job as a sustainability officer evolved from solving environmental issues concerning waste, water, and energy to actively realizing climate mitigation measures.
And after her working hours? Next to doing arts and crafts 🎨 with her three young children, you'll find her cargo biking around town with them to pick up waste with grippers in support of the 'Mooimakers' campaign. And she has just finished renovating her house so it's more energy-efficient. 🚨 Climate superhero alert, right??
Curious what you can learn from one of our most experienced climate action tracker users? Read the article to find out how she's tackling Hasselt's climate challenges!
🏘 How does Hasselt work on climate today?
"I'm the city's responsible for climate mitigation measures, and another colleague takes the time to perfect Hasselt's climate adaptation strategy. Having the power to tackle those two main themes has been a huge advantage for our climate strategy."
But still, just one city service in charge of climate for a city of 78,000 citizens seems like a huge task. That's why they have taken the lead and organized a participation project internally - 'Together Climate Robust' (Dutch: Samen Klimaatrobuust):
"We invited many city services to sit together to work on the possibilities of climate mitigation and adaptation. There was a lot of interest and even today I still get a lot of positive feedback from my colleagues in other services. Curious to find out the final result when the measures are implemented!" 🌱
🏆 What has been your favorite climate action so far?
"One of our super successful actions was the group purchase of electrical bikes. That's how 469 e-bikes, 9 e-steps and 18 e-cargo bikes were sold last spring. Altogether that's more than one million euros that the people of Hasselt invested in sustainable transport. They were able to save over 200.000 euros by joining in the group purchase. People still ask me when we're going to organize it again."
🚴🏻♀️ Hasselt is on a roll! Riding a bicycle is not only healthy and good for the environment, it's also super easy to get around the city. That's why Hasselt has also provided extra infrastructure to support the growing bicycle-frenzy in their city:
"We also got a lot of great feedback from our bicycle lockers (Dutch: Fietskluizen). Citizens could request them near their homes and the city of Hasselt would come and install them as soon as possible. It has actually been so popular that we have currently run out of space and are looking for alternative locations to keep up with the high demand."
Some of Erica's other favorite actions include Climate tree looking for garden (Dutch), a pop-up packaging-free store, and an energy coaching program for companies.
💡 What has recently inspired you about climate (change)?
"Klimaatbetoog by Nic Balthazar is a must-watch for everyone. It's urgent that we start taking action. All of us together, we really are capable of making a difference."
👨👩👧👦 What does the FutureproofedCities community mean to you?
"It's so important to communicate with people who are working on the same challenges as us. Instead of all trying to solve these issues separately, we can now share our experiences, struggles, and successes with each other. I especially like to go to the FutureproofedCities Talks, where we get the chance to connect with other users and talk to them face to face."
👏 Because bragging is allowed here: what do you think other FutureproofedCities users can learn from you?
"Here in Hasselt, we're very good at supporting our citizen's initiatives. We found out that it's a lot easier to provide guidance for the ideas our citizens have themselves, than to 'force' our ideas on them. We even have a colleague who's helping them to fill out all the required applications.
Making the time to do this really pays off, as the citizens have a lot of great ideas and a ton of motivation to make them all work. Some examples include the giving square (Dutch: Geefpleintje), the repaircafé, and the children's bicycle library 'Op Wielekes'."
🚀 What exciting actions are still to come in Hasselt?
"With the holidays approaching, we're looking to put all our sharing-, swapping- and giving- initiatives in the spotlight. We'll be organizing a 'giving month' during December. We're organizing several cool actions:
One of our actions will include a gift wrapping station with recycled materials. The donations of which will be given to charity. We're also organizing a workshop on minimalism for our staff (Dutch: 'Ontspullen: Rust in je huis, ruimte in je hoofd'), an info session on 'How to do more with less' for citizens, a clothing-swapping event for holiday clothes, a workshop on vegetarian festive meals and many more!"
But apart from the giving month, Hasselt still has plenty of other actions planned for the near future in our climate action tracker:
"We're also thinking of supporting our citizens' initiatives even more financially, and creating tile gardens (Dutch): we remove a floor tile, the citizen picks a plant and we plant it for them. 🌱 They just have to take care of it afterward."
😀 A funny anecdote to end?
"On one of the previous FutureproofedCities Talks, I ran into my praises from back when I was in university, Vincent Dierickx. 😅 He was a speaker that day, talking about the collaboration between EnergieID and FutureproofedCities. Such a funny coincidence."
Thank you for your support and unstoppable motivation Erica! We wish you good luck in the coming months with the shaping of your new climate plan and hope you’ve enjoyed our climate action tracker. ☘️
FutureproofedCities is an online tool that helps you collaborate with your team, peers and citizens to develop, monitor and implement your city’s climate plan.
Subscribe to the Futureproofed Newsletter 📬
A newsletter for ambitious city teams and mayors taking action on climate change. Subscribe for curated educational articles, climate action tips, stories, and inspiration by our Futureproofed team, delivered straight to your inbox — once a month.