Cornelia Dinca


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Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Highlights from the Intelligent Cities Challenge Implementation Lab

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From March 4 to April 5, Amsterdam Smart City (ASC) collaborated with international peers from 77 cities across Europe in a series of online knowledge and inspiration sessions during the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) Implementation Lab. The focus was on sharing best practices and building knowledge for implementing Local Green Deals (LGDs) to accelerate the transformation towards sustainability based on the principles of good governance, policy integration, partnership with local stakeholders.
Colleagues, partners, and experts from the Amsterdam Smart City network shared insights in several thematic and training sessions, including:
•      Mobility & Transport Thematic Session: Pelle Menke shared the approach and lessons from ASC's Mobility Justice Challenge, while Diederik Basta introduced the City of Amsterdam's participation in the Gemini project, supporting residents in starting local, shared mobility cooperatives through a "Mobility as a Commons" (MaaC) approach.
•      Local Green Deals Training Session: Egon van Wees presented Amsterdam's experience in setting up nine Impact Deals with social enterprises under the CLIMAA Local Green Deals project. The evaluation indicates that these deals have resulted in the creation of 105 jobs for people with barriers to the labor market and a reduction of 92 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Amsterdam, in collaboration with Aalborg (Denmark), also developed a framework now utilized by other cities in setting up similar Impact Deals.
•      Social Economy Thematic Session: Frits Verhoef shared lessons from his involvement in two local energy cooperatives, including the pioneering work of NDSM-Energie in developing a 15MW wind park in the NoorderIJplas area, highlighting various financial and political barriers yet to be overcome. Frits also his work with MeerEnergie, a cooperative aiming to establish a heating network owned by local residents in the Watergraafsmeer district of Amsterdam, utilizing waste heat from nearby data centers.
What's Next?
Amsterdam Smart City is excited to host the ICC network in Amsterdam for a Mobility Field Visit in May, showcasing best practices for public-private collaboration in sustainable and smart mobility. We also look forward to connecting with ICC peers in person during the upcoming ICC conference in Porto in June.
More Information
For further details about the Implementation Lab and upcoming ICC activities, visit the ICC website:

Stakeholders in the Amsterdam Region interested in more information or wishing to connect to the ICC network during upcoming labs or other similar sessions can reach out to ASC International Liaison via

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Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Amsterdam Region’s Insights on Local Green Deals during COP28

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Participating in a COP28 side event organized by the European Commission, the Amsterdam Region delved into Local Green Deals as instrument for achieving the green transition. The primary goal for the session was to uncover actionable strategies and prerequisites essential for fostering public-private collaboration to realize the sustainability transition. Marja Ruigrok, vice-mayor for the municipality of Haarlemmermeer, represented the Amsterdam Region alongside political and business leaders from Braga (Portugal), Aalborg (Denmark) and Skelleftea (Sweden).
Commencing the session, Valentina Superti, DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs at the European Commission, highlighted Europe's ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. This necessitates a transformative shift towards sustainability, digitalization, and resilience, which is why the Commission is introducing critical legislation like the Net-Zero Industry Act and the Critical Raw Materials Act.
Ruigrok shared insights from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region’s efforts in establishing Local Green Deals, emphasizing her role as political ambassador and champion for the Green Deal Bikes initiative. She stressed the importance of cycling, explaining that despite its reputation as a cycling paradise, approximately 20% of young people in the Amsterdam Region can not ride a bike: “If you don’t learn to ride a bike at a young age, you are also much less likely to use a bike for commuting later in life. That’s why in this Green Deal, we stimulate young people to learn to ride bikes, and encourage employers to support commuting by bike. This is crucial because employees who bike take on average 2.5 fewer sick days compared to those who don’t bike.”
Reflecting on success factors, Ruigrok emphasized the need for political commitment, and clear project ownership: "From a political point of view, you need long term commitment, and you have to create ownership. Someone has to take ownership and say ‘this is my project.’ This might be a governmental agency, a company, a knowledge institution, or civil society organisation - but someone has to take the lead. Otherwise, you will continue to talk, and nothing will happen."
Throughout the session, participants provided practical insights and recommendations for fostering successful public-private collaborations in general, and Local Green Deals in specific:

  • Lasse Frimand Jensen, mayor of the City of Aalborg, emphasized the necessity of accountability mechanisms: “Mutual commitment is necessary and there must be mechanisms in place to keep each other accountable.”
  • Ricardo Rio, mayor of City of Braga and Member of the European Committee of the Regions, highlighted the role of local authorities in mobilizing capacity and engaging stakeholders: “Local authorities need to have the spirit to engage stakeholders and shape partnerships. We  also need governance models that tranced political cycles, and that allow people to participate and hold us accountable.”
  • Jens Broberg, representing the business sector, emphasized the urgent need for appropriate incentives: “Governments must use policy frameworks to incentivize and regulate businesses and industry towards a green economy.”
  • Evelina Fahlesson, vice-mayor of Skelleftea Municipality emphasized the need for open and honest dialogue: “As a municipality, you have to be open about your challenges and willing to start a dialogue with your citizens and companies. Use procurement and new financing models as tools to implement a shared vision.”
  • David Nordberg, from Skanska Sweden, encouraged business leaders to align their business models with sustainability ambitions: "Be brave: try new ways of doing business and work in collaborations. In the long term, there is no conflict between sustainability and the economy."

The session highlighted the pivotal role of collaborative multi-stakeholder partnerships in achieving the green transition, emphasizing sustained political commitment, robust governance structures transcending political timelines, and policy frameworks incentivising sustainable businesses.

In the context of COP28, the true challenge lies in replicating these successful approaches on a wider scale, extending beyond the relatively affluent European context to a global landscape with more limited resources. In many regions, the urgent and acute impacts of climate change are already pervasive, amplifying the need for swift, comprehensive action. This necessitates a global and concerted effort of nations and industries, to surmount the hurdles posed by resource scarcity and varying levels of socio-economic development. This calls for collaboration not only within regions but across continents, fostering knowledge-sharing, technology transfer, and collective efforts in tackling climate challenges. The urgency of the climate crisis demands a united global front, where the lessons learned and successes achieved in Local Green Deals can serve as guiding principles towards a more sustainable and resilient future for all.

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Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Reflections from the 2023 Smart City Expo

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My fifth round at World Smart City Expo in Barcelona brought a blend of familiarity and fresh perspectives. Over the past few years I have grown increasingly skeptical of what I often call “stupid” smart-solutions like surveillance systems, sensored waste bins and digital twins which dominate the Expo.  I’ve learned that these solutions often lock cities into proprietary systems and substantial investments with uncertain returns. Amidst this skepticism, I found this year’s activities to be a hub of insightful exchanges and reconnection with international peers. Here's a rundown of my top five learnings and insights from the activities I co-organized or engaged in during the event:

  1. Generative AI Potential: Visiting the Microsoft Pavilion offered a glimpse into the transforming potential of Generative AI. Microsoft showcased a new product enabling organizations to train their own Generative AI models using internal data, potentially revolutionizing how work gets done. Given the impact we’ve already seen from platforms like OpenAI in the past year, and Microsoft's ongoing investment in this field, it's intriguing to ponder its implications for the future of work.
  2. BIT Habitat Urban Innovation Approach: I was impressed to learn more about Barcelona’s practical urban innovation approach based on Mariana Mazzucato vision. Every year the city defines a number of challenges and co-finance solutions. Examples of challenges tackled through this program include lowering the number of motorbike accidents, and improving the accessibility of public busses in the city. The aim of the approach is not to develop a new solution, but to find ways to co-finance innovation that generates a public return. This governmental push to shape the market resonates as a much-needed move in the smart city landscape where gains are often privatized while losses are socialized.
  3. EU Mission: Climate Neutrality and Smart Cities: Discussions at the European Commission’s pavilion with representatives from the NetZeroCities consortium highlighted the need for standardized CO2 monitoring in cities. Currently, methodologies vary widely, making comparisons difficult. Practically this means that one ton of CO2 as calculated in one city might translate to zero or two tons of CO2 in another city. While meeting cities at different stages on their climate journey is crucial (ie some cities might only monitor Scope 1 & 2 emissions, while others will also include Scope 3), a key priority for the European Commission and NetZeroCities should be to implement more standardized and robust approaches for measuring and monitoring CO2 emissions, for instance using satellite data.
  4. Sustainability & Digitalization Dilemmas: Participating in SmartCitiesWorld’s sustainability roundtable revealed several challenges and dilemmas. A key issue raised by participating cities is that sustainable solutions often benefit only certain segments of the population. Think for instance about the subsides for electric vehicles in your city or country – they most likely flow to the wealthiest portion of the population. Moreover, the assumption that digital and green solutions always complement each other is being challenged, as city representatives are starting to understand that digital solutions can contradict and undermine energy efficiency and neutrality goals. Ultimately many of the participants in the roundtable agree on the need to focus much more on low-tech and behavioral solutions instead of always looking to tech innovations which in many cases are neither affordable, nor effective in achieving their stated goals.
  5. Drum & Bass Bike Rave: Despite the interesting sessions and conversations, it’s an event outside the Expo that emerged as the highlight for me.  Two days before the Expo I joined Dom Whiting’s Drum & Bass On The Bike event, with thousands other people taking to the streets of Barcelona on bikes, roller bladders and skateboards.  Whiting first started playing music on his bike to counteract loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic, and since then he has become a global sensation. This was by far the largest and most special critical mass event I have ever participated, and the collective experience was electrifying. To paraphrase H. G. Wells who is thought to have said that “every time I seem an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race”, I can similarly say that seeing thousands of people bike and jam through the streets of Barcelona provided me with a glimpse into a hopeful future where community, sustainability and joy intersect.

Overall, I experienced this edition of the Smart City Expo as a melting pot of diverse perspectives and a valuable opportunity to connect with international peers. However, I do have two perennial critiques and recommendations for next year's event. Firstly, the Dutch delegation should finally organize a "Climate Train" as the main transport for its 300+ delegates to and from the Expo. Secondly, I advocate for a shift in the Expo's focus, prioritizing institutional and policy innovations over the current tech-driven approach. This shift would better address the real challenges cities face and the solutions they need, fulfilling the Expo's ambition to be the platform shaping the future of cities as places we aspire to live in.

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Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Circularity in the Construction Sector: Experiences from The Netherlands and Denmark  

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On Thursday, September 7, Amsterdam Smart City hosted a knowledge exchange for a delegation of leaders and CEOs from Denmark’s construction sector. The exchange was part of a study program organized by the Construction Section of the Confederation of Danish Industry in partnership with the Danish Embassy in The Hague, to help transfer Dutch best practices for circular construction to Denmark.

The exchange provided an opportunity for Dutch and Danish colleagues to learn from each other’s experiences on how to transition the construction sector to a more sustainable state. This is imperative since the construction sector is responsible for approximately 10% of CO₂ emissions, and a third of all waste streams in both countries. At the same time, both countries have high ambitions for transitioning to sustainability: the Netherlands aims to transition to a fully circular economy by 2050, while Denmark aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030.

After an introduction to the Amsterdam Smart City program, Merlijn Blok from Metabolic shared the experience of Amsterdam in transitioning to a circular built environment. Merlijn highlighted several projects and best practices including:

  • De Ceuvel: In 2012, Metabolic teamed up with a group of architects to develop a former polluted shipyard into a “clean technology playground” by repurposing discarded house boats into workspaces for creative entrepreneurs. The project fused sustainability, technology, and art, firmly planting the seed for more creative and circular area developments in Amsterdam North and beyond.
  • Schoonschip: Building on the experience and lessons from De Ceuvel, Metabolic got involved in a community-driven project that aimed to build a sustainable floating community. Driven entirely by future residents, Schoonschip was built with a high ambition of circularity, with special attention paid to biobased materials which are key to reducing the environmental footprint of construction projects.
  • Roadmap Circular Land Tendering: Scaling up isolated circular construction projects requires dedicated instruments to stimulate, measure and mandate circularity in the built environment, for instance through procurement. The Roadmap Circular Land Tendering is one of city of Amsterdam’s main instruments embedding the principles of circular construction in tender procedures. With it, the city of Amsterdam wants to contribute to the development of a national standard for circular building.

Central to the discussion was the question of how to move beyond ambitions towards making concrete and measurable progress on circularity in the built environment. On this topic, it was inspiring to learn from the Danish experience. The delegates shared that the Danish government has developed a “National Strategy for Sustainable Construction” which limits the CO₂ emissions permitted in construction projects, with new requirements being phased into the building code in 2023.  The regulations apply to new buildings of more than 1,000 m2 and set a limit of 12kg CO₂-eq/m2/year based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) over 50 years. This limit is expected to be tightened in the upcoming years, thereby forcing the construction sector to incrementally decarbonize over the next decade. Such mandates are foreseen but not yet implemented in the Netherlands, providing an opportunity to learn from Denmark’s trailblazing approach. However, the Danish colleagues already shared some words of caution if Netherlands should adopt a similar approach: since the Danish regulation limits CO₂ impact per square meter, the regulation does little to incentivize construction of smaller dwellings which is one of the most important, though often overlooked measures in reducing the impact of the construction sector. As Danish colleagues explained, the overarching trend in Denmark is towards construction of larger dwellings, which is fundamentally at odds with the country’s sustainability goals.  Other mechanisms are therefore needed to mandate more compact development.

The exchange provided valuable insights and cross-pollination of approaches between Danish and Dutch colleagues on a topic central to the transition to the circular economy. As leaders in the sustainability transition, the Netherlands and Denmark have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to showcase the way to circular construction and to help scale this approach internationally.

<em>Are you working on innovative and transferable policies which can accelerate the transition to circular construction and sustainable built environment?  Or do you have a circular project or challenge you would like to share with the Amsterdam Smart City network?  Share your reflections and experiences in the comments below or send an email to to discuss possibilities for collaboration.</em>

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Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

3 Ways to learn more about Amsterdam Smart City

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Do you want to connect, learn, and exchange experiences about Amsterdam Smart City? We have designed programs to help you connect to Amsterdam’s innovation ecosystem and key learnings from projects in the Amsterdam metropolitan region. Here are our most popular programs:

  1. Smart City the Amsterdam Way
    We give you an overview of Amsterdam Smart City’s program, governance and key projects. It’s a light way to get introduced to it all in 1,5 hours and we can also offer this online.
    Timing & cost: 1.5h hours, from €400 per group

  2. Amsterdam Smart City Deep Dives
    Go on a Deep Dive with Amsterdam Smart City and get to the bottom of the energy, mobility, digital city or circular economy transition during this customized 2,5 hour session with multiple experts from Amsterdam’s ecosystem.
    Timing & cost: 2.5 hours, from €600 per group

  3. Smart City Experience
    Since 2016, Amsterdam Smart City has hosted more than 300 customized study programs, innovation journeys and trade missions from over 30 countries. With the Smart City Experience we offer tailor-made programs consisting of expert meetings and project visits connecting local and (inter)national stakeholders to the Amsterdam Smart City approach and innovation ecosystem. To request a Smart City Experience, send a request at least one month in advance to
    Timing & cost: 6-8 hours, from €1,500 per group

Where do the Amsterdam Smart City Programs take place?
Most programs take place, or at least start at, the Smart City Lab on the Marineterrein Innovation District. This is a "small space for big ideas" where we showcase examples of smart city solutions from Amsterdam. The Smart City Experience Lab is also a workplace where Amsterdam Smart City partners meet and collaborate. Groups visiting the Experience Lab can also visit the Marineterrein Amsterdam Living Lab on their own or as a part of an organized program.

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Cornelia Dinca, International Liaison at Amsterdam Smart City, posted

Data Spaces Symposium & Deep-Dive Day

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The aim of the three-day Data Spaces Symposium is to bring together relevant data sharing initiatives and endeavors. The event is hosted by the Center of Excellence for Data Sharing and Cloud (TNO), International Data Spaces Association, the Basic Data Infrastructure network and the Data Spaces Support Centre.

During the event you can get involved in aligning the diverse landscape of data space initiatives, learn from successfully running data space projects, and discover the business benefits of sovereign data sharing.

Find out more and register by March 17 via:

Cornelia Dinca's picture Conference from Mar 21st to Mar 23rd