City and University of Lausanne together for climate and sustainability

For many years, Lausanne has positioned itself as a pioneering city in terms of sustainability, which can play a driving and motivating role for other cities. The city has set itself the ambitious goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, whereas others have set themselves the target for 2050. In order to achieve this, the Municipality of Lausanne will draw up a Climate Plan by the end of 2021. This plan will be a strategic and transversal instrument that will contain measures aimed at reducing emissions but also at adapting to climate change. The City of Lausanne approached the Interdisciplinary Centre for Sustainability (CID) at University of Lausanne (UNIL) with the objective of joining forces to achieve climate neutrality. The challenge is indeed urgent and involves working together to achieve it. 

Interdisciplinary Centre for Sustainability (CID)

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Sustainability was created in 2018 by the UNIL Rectorat in order to meet the objective of establishing the university as a pioneer in sustainability. Its mission is to stimulate research, teaching and the relationship with society on these sustainability issues. The CID therefore offers scientific support to the City of Lausanne's Climate Plan and aims to support the city’s project team by providing resources and support on various subjects. These include the development of a database listing the measures of other climate plans and public climate strategies, the occasional support of researchers in certain fields, or the drafting of thematic material intended for the administration or politicians.



The Interact project arose several years ago from the observation that collaborations between the City and the University of Lausanne were essentially based on interpersonal relations and did not benefit from systematic institutional support or promotion. This work led to the creation of Interact, a project jointly run by the City and UNIL, which encourages and supports collaborations between UNIL researchers and City staff. Interact consists of bringing together members of the two institutions who are working on the same objects, and thus encouraging the emergence of joint projects, while offering them methodological support about the way to best collaborate. Interact has already led to 4 calls for projects since 2017.

This year, the call for projects is entirely devoted to collaborations on climate-related themes, as a complementary initiative to the UNIL-City collaboration on the City Climate plan. Each year, Interact offers a total budget of CHF 40,000, with a maximum amount of CHF 20,000 per project. The projects submitted must be thought and carried out in tandem, with a partner from the city and a partner from the university. They must also offer added value for both partners. Of the five projects proposed this year, the selection committee has selected the following three:

Project 1 – “Canopée”, an intervention tool for the promotion and maintenance of sustainable behaviour: Test and development for Lausanne

This project is carried by researchers and students of the Social psychology laboratory at UNIL and experts of the Energy Policy Division of Lausanne's Industrial Services. It aims to promote sustainability, through an app that will apply a combination of social psychology approaches, in order to go beyond the "one size fits all" vision, where the same kind of message is supposed to motivate different behaviours and people with different characteristics.

Project 2 - Tactical urban planning and cycling facilities

The project is run by the Institute of Geography and Sustainability & Observatory of Cycling and Active Mobility, UNIL and the office of the Bicycle-Delegate, Roads and Mobility Service of the City. The Covid-19 crisis has prompted local authorities in many metropolises and medium-sized towns to develop "tactical urban planning". It consists of transforming the uses of the city through rapid and punctual actions on space, such as the creation of temporary cycle paths and lanes. The objective of the project is to collect data on the implementation and reception of tactical cycling urban planning in the context of the health crisis. The project thus proposes to analyse the impacts of new infrastructures on cycling practices as well as the reception of these new infrastructures by different population groups. It will be run through fieldwork carried out by students (intercept surveys) within the framework of an existing teaching and a survey. The outputs of the project will feed the city's department planning for new bicycle itineraries as well as scientific publication.

Project 3 – "Riponne-Tunnel 2026" - Act 3

This project is carried out by researchers/teachers and students from the Institute of Geography and Sustainability (UNIL) and members of the Urban Planning Department. It is a side part of a major urban transformation project for the city centre of Lausanne which has been running for several years now. Acts 1 and 2 of the action-research mechanism have created an opportunity to initiate a fruitful collaborative dynamic, offering to cities head of the urban project an integrated scientific support and to the University the opportunity to carry out research associated with an active teaching mechanism. Act 3 aims to identify the urban "heat islands" in the area, and to co-construct solutions with the various stakeholders (including city population and citizen associations) to establish green zones and carry out temporary test developments.


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