Visiting our partner city Võru

At the beginning of September, our team went to the partner city of Võru as part of the +CityxChange project, in which Písek is involved. Võru is a city located in southeastern Estonia by Lake Tamula and belongs to the Võrumaa region. This picturesque town has approximately ten thousand inhabitants.

Võru's biggest problem is that people move to nearby villages or bigger cities in Estonia. Various activities are lacking in the center of Võru and the heritage area, which is why most residents live in the suburbs of the city. Moreover, there are no universities and young people are leaving because of it. Inadequate public transport is also an important factor in the migration of residents to larger cities. Võru needs to revive the center, make the heritage area an attractive place to live and do business, and renovate the buildings to make them more energy efficient.

The visit to the partner city took place from September 5 to 8, and the main topic was the so-called "Bold City Vision", renovation of buildings in Võru (problems of reconstruction debts, financial models) and presentations and discussions about e-mobility. The challenges, opportunities and experiences of the individual partner cities, namely Písek, Võru, Trondheim, Limerick, Smolyan, Alba Iulia and Sestao, were also discussed.

 Within the +CityxChange project, Võru focuses on how to bring life back to the city center by providing analyses, visions and plans for historic areas within the framework of innovation and energy efficiency. As an example, Võru is trying to analyze whether it is possible to realize PEBs (positive energy districts) between municipal buildings in a heritage zone.

The main result of the +CityxChange project is the so-called "Bold City Vision", which will allow us to co-create the future in which we want to live. The key documents and materials for the creation of this vision for Písek were, in particular, the Action Plan for Sustainable Energy and Climate, the Plan for Sustainable Mobility, the Blue-Yellow Book (Smart City Concept) and the Blue-Green Infrastructure concept document. All these documents can be considered as strategic visions of the new generation, which partially or fully reflect the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As part of the +CityxChange project, the City of Písek placed considerable emphasis on connecting its strategic plans and visions with European trends. In addition, greater involvement of stakeholders, especially citizens, has been shown to be essential. Although this area has been significantly strengthened, there is still room for improvement.

Due to the nature of the +CityxChange project, the need for close cooperation with the public, especially with homeowners, was a completely new experience. The project team had to adopt a large number of new methods of supporting communication between citizens and the city and adapt many of them to local conditions and mentality. At first, the task of transforming feedback into realizable outputs appeared particularly problematic. This problem was solved primarily by consistently localizing general questions down to the level of a specific street. From the point of view of the city management, a fundamental finding is the need to strengthen the principle of decision-making based on data and the consistent fulfillment of set goals or indicators in strategic documents.

The city of Písek has long been perceived as a progressive city in the Czech Republic without significant economic, ecological and transport problems. This position allows Písek to focus primarily on improving the quality of life of its residents and supporting business. The city is moving towards climate neutrality in 2050 and, in relation to the events of recent years, to strengthen the overall resilience of the city, in terms of mobility, climate, security, business and social aspects.