The CIVITAS Initiative ('City-Vitality-Sustainability', or 'Cleaner and Better Transport in Cities') was launched in 2002. In the first phase of the project (2002 to 2006), 19 cities participated in 4 research and demonstration projects; and in CIVITAS II (2005 to 2009), 17 cities participated across a further 4 projects. The initiative is currently in its third phase, CIVITAS Plus (2008 to 2013), and 25 cities are now working together on five collaborative projects.
But CIVITAS does not stop there. The demonstration cities are part of the larger CIVITAS Forum network, which comprises almost 200 cities committed to implementing and integrating sustainable urban mobility measures. This, in turn, represents 68 million citizens in 31 countries. By signing a non-binding voluntary agreement known as the CIVITAS Declaration, cities and their citizens benefit from the accumulated know-how, experience and lessons learned of every participant. The CIVITAS Forum Conference brings together politicians and technical experts once a year in one of the network's cities.
The fundamental aim of CIVITAS is to support cities to introduce ambitious transport measures and policies towards sustainable urban mobility. The goal of CIVITAS is to achieve a significant shift in the modal split towards sustainable transport, an objective reached through encouraging both innovative technology and policy-based strategies.
With this mix of innovative approaches and technological applications, CIVITAS contributes to the achievement of the ambitious targets set out in Europe 2020 – the EU's strategy for the coming decade to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
CIVITAS cities take an integrated and participatory approach that addresses all modes and aspects of transport in cities. Each city implements a set of mobility solutions to address their particular local priorities and issues. The activities are classified in eight categories and form an integral part of a city's long term mobility planning.
- Clean fuels and vehicles help reduce local air pollution, particulate matter and greenhouse gas emissions and noise. CIVITAS cities test biodiesel, biogas, compressed natural gas and hybrid and e-vehicles.
- Collective passenger transport must offer an accessible service that is a fast, comfortable, safe and convenient alternative to the private car. CIVITAS cities strive to maximize its potential.
- Demand management strategies, such as access restrictions, road pricing, parking policies and marketing campaigns, corporate mobility plans, contribute to reducing traffic and pollution.
- Mobility management helps create a new mobility culture through activities such as marketing, communication, education and information campaigns.
- Safety and security must be ensured for urban travellers, especially cyclists, pedestrians and the most vulnerable groups. CIVITAS cities look into new ways of protecting urban travellers.
- Car-independent lifestyles can be fostered through modern information technology, safe and secure infrastructure, bike rentals, car-pooling and car-sharing and other initiatives.
- Urban freight logistics should be managed to minimize the negative impacts on people’s lives. CIVITAS cities encourage the use of cleaner freight vehicles and innovative goods distribution.
- Transport telematics systems offer opportunities to help passengers make informed choices and make urban transport faster and more efficient.