Leuven (Belgium) is a small regional city with 105,000 inhabitants in the heart of Belgium. Leuven became the innovation capital of Europe in 2020 because of its “inspiring governance models and the systems put in place for the public to innovate and to get involved in critical decision-making processes”. 

As part of those efforts Leuven 2030 was set-up: a cooperation between the City of Leuven, KU Leuven, private sector players and other stakeholders.  Leuven 2030 has already developed an ambitious plan to become climate neutral by 2050. 

Recent droughts (2019, 2020), flooding (2021) and the continuous decline in biodiversity together with more environmental aware and price-sensitive citizens have raised the need for a more integrated approach involving Public Administrations, businesses, citizens and scientists to tackle together complex problems such as climate change. 

Previous and ongoing activities have shown that better water management, preserving biodiversity and lowering energy consumption and CO2 emissions can go hand-in-hand and are best managed at the local or even micro level. To do so, data gathering, integration and processing into easy-to-understand information is required: that is where USAGE comes in. 

European Green Deal priority actions

The city of Leuven is vulnerable to climate change and could be exposed to climate change-related risks, such as drought, heat stress, floods and water nuisance, and a loss of ecosystem space and biodiversity. The city also has policy measures addressing mobility, renewable energy, circular economy and sustainable development.

Challenges to be faced

Leuven has set forth an ambitious goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. To reach this target, the city has outlined a comprehensive roadmap comprising interconnected programs aimed at tackling a multitude of challenges. These initiatives encompass collecting and analyzing new data, identifying urban heat islands, and identifying priority areas for interventions. The objective is to facilitate local solutions to address climate-related issues, with a focus on project-based interventions such as unhardening/unsealing, installing green roofs, etc.

Expected impact of USAGE

A data space will create a new data exposing and sharing paradigm for the city of Leuven, to support climate initiatives by the locals, researchers, planners and the city.

Leuven data2policy stories ... knowledge transfer between pilots and greening the city

The city of Leuven approaches greening measures as a means of bolstering its climate resilience. By using the landscape as a basis of transformation, a Strategic Green Plan has been developed, to achieve Leuven's greening ambitions through nature-based solutions. The Strategic Green Plan examines the natural framework of Leuven and identifies the nature-based solutions that integrate this framework with the city's development plans. 

Using data from the region of Flanders, municipality data, citizen science data, research data etc., a more focused approach is adopted to identify high priority areas for unsealing concrete and asphalt areas to increase infiltration, and add nature to improve the inner city’s climate adaptivity and the well-being of the inhabitants. Within the context of various initiatives such as the LIFE PACT project, and JUSTNature, pilot sites are then transformed to demonstrate the effects of nature based solutions which can be replicated to other priority areas in the city, as well as other cities.

Test Installation in Constantin Meunierstreet, Leuven’s JUSTNature pilot site.