The Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) is a European Commission initiative supporting European cities towards the green and digital transition of their local economies through Local Green Deals (LGDs). 

Local Green Deals have the aim to align and integrate cities’ sustainability goals and strategies with the European Green Deal – encompassing eight thematic areas, with the net zero transition at its heart – and accelerate a movement from commitment to action. 

LGDs start from existing city strategies and achieve to boost the intervention and the collaboration with stakeholders at local level to reach the city’s green transition and sustainability ambitions. 

ICC involves three types of members: Core cities, which are the main beneficiaries of the ICC programme; Mentor cities, Cities from the EU and beyond with a proven track record who mentor, support and drive action in core cities; Facilitators/Experts, Experts and coordinators who provide targeted advice and coaching and ensure the programme meets the cities’ needs.

ICC focuses mainly on five thematic sectors:

  • construction and built environment
  • tourism
  • energy renewables
  • cultural and creative industries
  • mobility and transport.

ICC project is structured in three phases:

  • First, Cities are working to refine their strategies to be in line with the ICC methodology and Local Green Deals
  • Then, in the implementation phase, Cities are creating LGD partnerships with business
  • Lastly, Cities review their progress, measure their success and celebrate their newfound network


Swedish and Italian municipalities have joined forces through the Sweden Emilia Romagna Network to participate in the ICC as a consortium for the second time.

SERN fully embraces collaboration and peer learning and since January 2023, it has been promoting the Local Green Deal (LGD) to effectively work with local stakeholders and achieve common sustainability goals, using transnational collaboration for innovative implementation of LGD activities. The ICC will further enrich and develop their bilateral efforts.

The participating municipalities – Cervia, Vänersborg, and Trollhättan – share priorities and have agreed to work on a similar LGD structure and process. Cervia, situated along Italy’s eastern coast in Emilia Romagna, values the preservation of its natural landscape and resources. With around 28,700 residents, the city actively engages in local and European initiatives to promote social, environmental, and cultural growth while striving to become a smart city with low-polluting emissions.

Vänersborg, located in Västra Götaland County, Sweden, with a population of nearly 40,000, serves as the County’s seat of the regional parliament. It has a rich history in handicraft, shipping, and trade and offers various attractions and activities due to its location near Lake Vänern.

Trollhättan, also in Västra Götaland County, houses over 59,000 inhabitants and is known for its heavy industries, hydropower, professional services, and intellectual property creation.

The collaboration within the SERN consortium and their participation in the ICC demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and innovative solutions for the benefit of their communities. Through joint efforts and shared goals, these municipalities aim to create a greener, more prosperous future for their communities while fostering valuable transnational partnerships.


The three municipalities of the consortium have completed the first phase of the process, and are focusing both locally and in their transnational collaboration on two strategic objectives that they share:

1.To increase the production of energy in the municipality from sustainable and renewable sources.

Transnationally, we are set to spark awareness about sustainable energy among SMEs, cultivating new collaborations for local sustainable energy production. 🇮🇹 Locally, in Cervia, the expected results are the raising of public awareness, the formation of an energy community, and the amplification of renewable energy production, especially solar. 🇸🇪 In Vänersborg and Trollhättan the empowerment of SMEs to generate more sustainable energy locally.

2. To increase energy savings in the municipal territory by improving energy efficiency among private actors, in particular companies.

Transnationally, we are set to boost awareness about energy efficiency among SMEs, cultivating stronger collaborations for joint energy initiatives. 🇮🇹 Locally, in Cervia, the expected results are the proposal of investment projects for public and private sector energy savings. 🇸🇪 In Vänersborg and Trollhättan: the assistance of SMEs in their green transition, sharing knowledge on energy reduction through smart solutions, and implementation of a more flexible electrical system to reduce power peaks and enhance energy efficiency

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