Sheffield and York are among 21 cities including Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, London, Boston, Paris and San Francisco, which have signed up to the pioneering partnership to share innovative solutions to a host of problems.
The participants involved in the venture, dubbed Cities Pilot the Future, will evaluate thousands of submissions from companies and organisations across the world to introduce pilot schemes in their cities to improve the quality of life for a combined total of 121 million people.
Topics which will come under scrutiny include mobility, economic development and social inclusion as well as health and well-being, energy, culture, and sustainable lifestyles.
The two Yorkshire cities have been handed specific tasks under the scheme, which is run by global marketplace organisation Citymart.com in partnership with Oracle, the UN Global Compact Cities Programme and The Climate Group.
Sheffield’s heavy industry has been identified as key to providing a solution for the city’s own challenge of finding a new sustainable source of energy.
The city has the largest district energy network in the UK and plans are being considered on how best to capture and distribute waste heat from its industrial processes to warm homes, offices, civic buildings, schools and universities.
Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for environment, recycling and streetscene, Coun Jack Scott, said: “This programme gives cities like Sheffield the opportunity to tackle some of the most difficult and important issues we face, by coming up with new ideas that benefit Sheffield and other major cities around the world. We want to find innovative ways of harnessing the energy that is produced in Sheffield’s manufacturing and use it in our city’s heat networks. We’re hopeful this challenge will be taken on by the international community.”
The challenge set for York will see plans drawn up to tackle a worrying health divide, as the city has significant social deprivation despite being widely perceived as a middle class enclave. Official figures have revealed that the life expectancy of men living in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods is up to a decade less than those who are in the least deprived areas.
A new Health and Wellbeing Board, which includes York Council, York Hospital and NHS North Yorkshire and York, is looking to launch a co-ordinated awareness campaign to improve the health of the city’s most deprived districts. The board’s aims include increasing physical activity, particularly in men aged from 35 to 65, while also reducing smoking among young people, pregnant women and lower income groups and cutting the number of teenage pregnancies.
York Council’s director of public health, Paul Edmondson-Jones, said the scheme was a “valuable opportunity” to share ideas between the public and private sectors, and added: “None of our cities faces the challenge of health inequality alone and we can all benefit from the dialogue and collaboration afforded through this unique scheme.”
Other cities involved in the project are Aalborg in Denmark, Christchurch in New Zealand, Eindhoven in The Netherlands, Fukuoka in Japan, L’Hospitalet in Spain, Lagos in Portugal and Lavasa in India.
Mexico City, Oulu in Finland, Rosario in Argentina, Sant Cugat and Terrassa, which are both in Spain, and Tacoma in the United States are also involved.
Companies and organisations will put forward solutions ahead of a January 31 deadline, with winning entries run as pilot schemes to trial the plans.
The winning ideas will be announced in May next year in San Francisco.