The new European Bauhaus: Bringing the Green Deal into our living spaces

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The Bauhaus art school iconic building designed by architect Walter Gropius in 1925 is a listed masterpiece of modern architecture. [Cinematographer / Shutterstock]

The New European Bauhaus launched by the European Commission last year will see scientists, designers, architects, engineers, and students exchange ideas this week on green projects that will help put Europe on a path to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, writes Florika Fink-Hooijer.

Florika Fink-Hooijer is director-general at the European Commission’s Environment DG.

Many of us closely followed COP26 in Glasgow, where policymakers negotiated hard to bring a reduction of emissions towards 1.5°C within reach in order to limit further global temperature rise.

International agreements are hugely important. Yet the climate actions that we choose every day, individually and in our communities, are the ones that have the most direct impact on our daily lives.

Such choices are also supported by the New European Bauhaus – a movement that is reinvigorating the early 20th century German cultural school. The movement promotes the principles of sustainability, beauty and inclusiveness that underpin the societal and economic changes necessary to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Not so long ago, climate change was mainly felt in the Arctic or on low-lying islands. Today, we are seeing the impacts everywhere. This summer’s floods and their tragic consequences in Belgium and Germany brought the stark reality of climate change home to Europe too.

I am proud that the European Union has, for a long time, provided global leadership on climate action, and that our environmental legislation and policies are the most advanced in the world. Our emphasis on evidence-based policymaking meant that from early on, we heeded the warnings from scientists. This is reflected in our existing robust environmental laws and the increasing number of new legislative proposals in the field of biodiversity, zero pollution and circularity.

Many citizens, local governments, civil society organisations, entrepreneurs and others also saw the danger signs. Supported in part by funding from European Union programmes such as LIFE and Horizon 2020, they began finding ways of making the transition to a low-carbon and sustainable world.

We know that as well as being effective, sustainable projects that embrace the principles of circularity, preserve ecosystems and promote nature-based solutions, offer great value for money, punching harder than their weight in terms of budget. This is because they are endowed with the flexibility and capacity to develop partnerships with multiple stakeholders for effective and efficient project implementation. Some of the bigger projects can use additional EU and national funds, giving them the chance to multiply resources to make a meaningful difference on the ground.

Many LIFE and Horizon 2020 projects have a lot in common with the interdisciplinary New European Bauhaus initiative. Some projects are helping to green our cities and reduce urban heat islands. Others promote cooperation between stakeholders and raise awareness to change behaviour. And several projects are looking to nature to help make our planet more resilient. And just like LIFE, New European Bauhaus calls for a collective effort to imagine and build a better, greener future.

This week’s LIFE in the European Bauhaus conference will showcase the kinds of projects from all corners of the EU that are helping to make the transformation to a carbon-neutral 2050. I’m confident that the three-day event will also come up with a lot of new ideas for future projects that follow the New European Bauhaus approach.

To bring these ideas to life, I’m delighted to announce that we have earmarked €13 million in LIFE funding for upcoming New European Bauhaus projects.

I hope that this week’s Beautiful, sustainable, together: LIFE in the New European Bauhaus conference will see scientists, designers, architects, engineers, and students exchange ideas, join forces and forge a shared vision of the future. There has been a lot of enthusiasm around the New European Bauhaus, and I am sure that those active in the fields of behavioural change, urban transformation, nature-based solutions, as well as in the wider fields of environment and climate action, will thoroughly embrace it.

For 29 years, the LIFE programme has acted as a frontrunner for new initiatives. I’m proud to see that LIFE is once again taking the lead by becoming active in the New European Bauhaus and bringing the European Green Deal into our living spaces for a sustainable, inclusive and beautiful future.

You can follow the conference online here.

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