ENHANCE summarizes the outcomes of the Summit held at Gdańsk Tech | Gdańsk University of Technology

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Date added: 2023-11-08

ENHANCE summarizes the outcomes of the Summit held at Gdańsk Tech

Photo: Krzysztof Krzempek / Gdańsk Tech
From the 4th to the 6th of October, Gdańsk Tech was the host of the “ENHANCE Summit on Climate-Neutral Cities”. More than 120 teaching and administrative staff and students from 10 European universities of technology, as well as urban stakeholders and experts came to Gdańsk Tech and took part in diverse activities, from panels and discussions on the topic of climate-neutral cities to operational activities of the Alliance itself. Recently the ENHANCE Operational Office issued a press release on the outcomes of the event (check here). Here is how the Summit has been summarized.

Both a symbol and the building of a strong community

During the Summit, Gdańsk Tech hosted a Board of Directors meeting, where the rectors and presidents discussed both the achievement of the current project and the perspective of the future. Gdańsk Tech was represented by Prof. Krzysztof Wilde, Co-Chair of ENHANCE Board of Directors, Prof. Janusz Nieznański, Steering Committee member, and Anna Modrzejewska, Core Officer. The participants validated the ENHANCE Charter of Rules and Procedures, a key document that allows the universities to consolidate their cooperation within the Alliance.

“This summit demonstrated in a very impressive manner how strongly our universities and their members are united in diversity”, Prof. Geraldine Rauch commented. As the President of Technische Universität Berlin and the Chair of the ENHANCE Board of Directors, Prof. Rauch emphasized the importance of this inspiring experience. The ENHANCE Secretary General, Naveed Syed, explained during his closing remarks how the ENHANCE universities have built a deep trusting relationship, a key factor for success: “In a world of unpredictability, trust really is an imperative. It forms the basis for effective collaboration as, in time of crisis, ultimately the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

The rectors and presidents of ENHANCE universities planting a tree together really symbolized the deep root of an Alliance in which every person has a role to play and something to benefit from. As Prof. Rauch said, all the member universities can gain from a “strengthened and sustainable partnership of trust in the future”.

Important activities accompanying the Summit included the extraordinary meeting of the Steering Committee having the form of workshops on the European Education Pathways (EEP) – a package of tasks and ideas from the first ENHANCE project to be continued and expanded within ENHANCE+. Gdańsk Tech was represented by Vice-Rectors Janusz Nieznański and Mariusz Kaczmarek, Dr Justyna Szostak (member of the EEP Task Force), Katarzyna Bruder (ENHANCE+ WP2 Lead), Maria Doerffer (Mobility Officer), and Paulina Chobot (Student Forum).

ENHANCE members got together around the topic of climate-neutral cities

The Summit in itself was focused on a very important societal topic: climate-neutral cities. To present this ENHANCE priority topic to the students, PhDs, and administrative staff who traveled to Gdańsk, different sessions and panels were organized.

The event was officially opened by Prof. Krzysztof Wilde, who in his inaugural speech referred to the ethos of the "Solidarity" workers' movement and understanding the concept of solidarity as a value in the face of the challenges of the future.

Two keynote speeches took place on Thursday morning with Prof. Frank Moulaert from KU Leuven and his “The Smart City: but where are the citizens?” presentation and then Rohit Sen, Head Sustainable Energy at ICLEI World Secretariat with his “100% Renewable Energy – a Key Milestone on the Road to Climate Neutrality” speech. These interventions were followed by a panel discussion about co-creating a sustainable, climate-adaptable future, which hosted the two keynote speakers alongside Prof. Anne Borg, NTNU’s Rector and member of the ENHANCE Board of Directors, and Prof. Piotr Lorens, Gdańsk City Architect.

The day continued with parallel sessions on Urban Innovation Living Labs, Participatory Planning and Design, the Future Synthesizer, and the New European Bauhaus Impact Model, led respectively by Dr. Agnieszka Wendland assistant professor at WUT, Lina Naoroz Bråten PhD candidate at NTNU, Dr. Robin Chang Chair Planning Theory and Urban Development at RWTH Aachen, and Dr. Wang Yu Senior Researcher at NTNU. One of the meetings was supported by Prof. Lucyna Nyka, Dean of Architecture at Gdańsk Tech and Prof. Jakub Szczepański from the Faculty of Architecture at Gdańsk Tech, who gave a tour around the campus of the university, focusing on adaptation of the university to climate changes. Results of parallel sessions were presented on the last day of the conference.

“Their sharp insights and strong commitment to developing our cities towards a climate-neutral, resilient, inclusive, just, and sustainable future were truly inspiring,” Dr. Wang Yu commented. Anna Modrzejewska, head of the International Relations Office at Gdańsk University of Technology, was also very pleased to see such important topics being discussed in her university and attracting that many people. “The high level of interest in this event and its success is evidence to me that ENHANCE is addressing topics that are very significant and close to the hearts of our community”, she noted.

The Summit also hosted the presentation of the projects of the ENHANCE Incubator Challenge winners, who received a certificate of completion from Prof. Rauch. The exhibition of the work done by students of the ENHANCE Interdisciplinary Design class on the subject of “Future European cities in 2030 perspective” also took place during the Summit and was on display in the central meeting space.

The conclusion of a phase to better enter the next one

A month before the end of the current European project funding phase and the beginning of the next one, the ENHANCE Summit gave the chance to celebrate all the achievements of the Alliance during the past three years, to officially welcome the three new partners, and to launch the work of the next few years.

Naveed Syed presented the main results of ENHANCE during his closing remarks, giving some numbers bearing great hopes for the future like the 3700 students, researchers, and members of staff involved in ENHANCE activities and programs, the 1000 members of the ENHANCE community who benefited from physical and virtual mobility offer, the 100 staff members who participated in the staff weeks, and the 100 students who took advantage of the European Education Pathways.

ETH Zurich, TU Delft, and Gdańsk Tech received a warm welcome as new partners of the ENHANCE Alliance, which every university is looking forward to working with. They brought fresh perspectives and new opportunities, as Philipp Bieri, ENHANCE Core Officer at ETH Zurich, formulated. “Although such an intense and large-scale transnational collaboration will be new for us, we are ready for the challenges ahead, together with our partners,” he said. With ENHANCE+, the members of the Alliance will build on the achievements and bring innovative activities and programs the community will benefit from. 

The Summit was a real success in the activities taking place, the results achieved, and the trust it helped establish between members of the partner universities. As Naveed Syed quoted, for its future, the ENHANCE Alliance will keep in mind the following words spoken once by Jörgen Sjöberg: “Let’s keep our heads cool, our hearts warm, and our hands clean”.

The local organizer of the Summit and the accompanying events and activities was the International Relations Office, and notably Anna Modrzejewska, Justyna Sudakowska, Monika Czerepak, Magda Białowicz and Urszula Szymajda-Grzegory.