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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article5 October 20232 min read

Adapting to Climate Change: Celje's Sustainable Transformation

The Slovenian city of Celje, nestled in the picturesque Slovenian Alps, is taking proactive steps to enhance its resilience against the escalating challenges posed by climate change, particularly heatwaves and floods. Although surrounded by natural beauty, Celje's historic city center lacks green spaces, making it susceptible to rising temperatures. To combat these issues and safeguard its future, Celje is leveraging its natural assets and the financial support of European cohesion funds.

In the latest episode of their Adaptation podcast series, Celje's adaptation efforts are brought to light. The city has a rich historical and medieval heritage, and its proximity to mountains offers abundant natural resources, including rivers and forests. However, climate change has necessitated a shift in focus towards adapting to these environmental shifts.

Saša Heath-Drugovič, a prominent figure in sustainable development in Slovenia, serves as the President of the Committee for European Cohesion Policy and International Co-operation at the Association of Municipalities of Slovenia (ZMOS). She is also the Vice-President of the Expert Committee for Integrated Territorial Investment at the intermediate body Association of Urban Municipalities of Slovenia (PO ZMOS). Her expertise in local governmental cooperation has been instrumental in initiating various sustainable initiatives, including adaptation measures.

Celje's transformation over the past few decades has been significantly supported by European cohesion funds. These funds have been allocated to various projects, ranging from the restoration of the medieval castle and city center to the development of green spaces and biking and walking infrastructure. The city has also focused on sustainable urban mobility and energy-efficient buildings. With climate hazards becoming more severe, Celje is now directing its efforts towards nature-based solutions (NBS) to address climate change.

Saša elaborates on how Slovenia effectively channels EU funding to support local sustainable actions. The "Integrated Territorial Investment" (ITI) platform, established in partnership with the Ministry, allows EU funds to directly finance urban municipalities for specific projects. In the previous financial period, Saša and her colleagues at the ITI platform allocated 139 million euros to municipalities across Slovenia, funding over 100 projects in cities of all sizes. This approach empowers cities to propose projects they wish to implement, with mayors applying for the necessary funds.

Celje's journey exemplifies how EU funds can directly facilitate sustainable initiatives at the local level, with the necessary coordination at the national level. By investing in NBS and sustainable practices, Celje is poised to adapt to the changing climate and ensure a more resilient and sustainable future for its residents.

Original article published by on 21 September 2023.



Publication date
5 October 2023
  • Policy and research
  • Urban mobility planning
  • Walking and cycling
  • Slovenia