1. 2015 was the most successful year for Greece in terms of participation in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK. What are your ambitions for this year?
“Our main ambition is to increase the number of registered municipalities to 100 in 2016”
Our main ambition is to increase the number of registered municipalities to 100 in 2016, spreading the campaign’s message and promoting sustainable mobility more widely to the general population. We will do this by using the Ministry of Environment and Energy‘s communication channels to attract more political support, as well as creating a network of local sustainable mobility coordinators in Greek municipalities. These local coordinators will attend national orientation conferences to share ideas and experiences, and get support for organising EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK activities in their cities. We will also focus more on Greece’s many island municipalities, which experience particular challenges in developing sustainable mobility.
2. What made the difference last year, and what advice can you give to national coordinators who want to greatly increase the number of participating cities?
“The translation of all materials in Greek was extremely helpful”
Despite the challenging political situation in 2015, we persisted in promoting the idea to the new government and ensuring their support. We also made use of every possible contact and means of communication. The translation of all materials in Greek was extremely helpful and we proceeded in developing new material that was relevant to the situation at the time (such as making reference to elections and ‘voting’ for sustainable means of transport).
We advertised the campaign very early on through the ministry’s webpage and social media channels. As we found that last year’s Call to Action (‘Choose. Change. Combine’) was mainly applicable to bigger cities, we asked municipalities to be creative and adapt this to their local context.
3. What motivates Greek cities to participate in the campaign?
“The economic crisis has led Greeks to reduce the use of their private vehicles”
We believe that Greek cities are greatly encouraged to participate due to the potential for sustainable mobility to make cities more sociable. This can support economic growth, as well as improve the local environment and the welfare of residents. Additionally, the economic crisis has led Greeks to reduce the use of their private vehicles and increase the use of public transportation, cycling, and walking, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of these modes.
4. Given Greece managed such a remarkable increase despite a very difficult financial situation, what advice would you give to others facing limited budgets?
“It is important to plan all your activities in a timely way”
It is extremely important to coordinate with institutions and groups in cities, as well as different stakeholders who could support your campaign activities. This can include community groups, local non-governmental organisations, and cultural and scientific institutions. It is also important to plan all your activities in a timely way. Transport companies may be persuaded to contribute, as they will benefit from increasing trips on public transport.
However, we must recognise that the situation that national and local coordinators face depends a lot on the situation and culture of their countries, and our advice is based solely on our own experience. Our guiding motto ‘do the small things right with great heart!’ has allowed us to stay realistic but ambitious when planning activities and taking decisions.
Image: Podilatiki Apo-Drasi Pierias, licensed under CC BY 2.0