Sion - Sierre: developing a sustainable and carbon-neutral agglomeration in 2050

Campus energypolis

Build a Sion - Sierre agglomeration that is in line with the Paris Agreement and the United Nations' sustainable development objectives.

Context :

In the era of an increasingly metropolised* Switzerland and a more mobile and interconnected society, the role of an urban area as an economic driver and a place to live is paramount. Indeed, the challenge is great: 

How to understand, anticipate and meet the expectations of the many users of a territory, from citizens to companies and administrations, while being compatible with the energy and ecological transition?

The solutions and infrastructures needed to address this issue take many forms. They touch on the issues of mobility, urbanisation and nature protection, all in the context of the evolution of the population, its new lifestyles and existing and future societal changes. The main challenge is to reconcile individual and economic needs with the common good.

Considering the development of a conurbation in a vision shared by all actors seems essential to plan and build a future that can respect the Paris Agreements and the United Nations' sustainable development objectives. Indeed, this will make it possible to guarantee the harmonious and sustainable development of a territory where the population lives. 

The partners in this challenge, la Haute École d'Ingénierie du Valais and the EPFL Valais Wallis (Campus Energypolis), are aware of the role they have to play in the transformation of the central Valais and more particularly of its two largest cities, Sion and Sierre. Indeed, the Campus Energypolis is positioned as a major player in linking education, fundamental and applied research, and the local economic fabric. A true innovation ecosystem strongly anchored in its region, Energypolis aims to respond to the major current challenges in the fields of energy, health and the environment thanks to cutting-edge technologies.

Description of the challenge :

The Campus Energypolis proposes to the participants of the Climathon to imagine the future of their region and the measures to be implemented to build the future of the Sion - Sierre agglomeration in 2050. It is up to you to find efficient solutions for the implementation of the necessary infrastructures, programmes or policies while observing a realistic level of investment.

Framing elements for the participants:

The following constraints must be respected by the participants in the process of creating their vision:

  • Carbon neutrality: no emissions on the territory;
  • The canton of Valais is an exporter of hydroelectricity and plays the role of the battery of Europe;
  • The environmental footprint of the Valais outside the canton (imported goods and services) does not increase;
  • The following SDGs should be achieved:
    - Goal 3: Achieve good health for all and promote well-being for all at all ages
    - Goal 7: Ensure access to reliable, sustainable and modern energy services for all at an affordable cost
    - Goal 8: Promote sustained, shared and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
    - Goal 11: Ensure that cities and human settlements are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
    - Goal 12: Establish sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Climate change has had effects on the region, for example: on agriculture (evolution of native crops: vineyards, etc.), on tourism (higher temperatures leading to less snow), etc;
  • Technologies may evolve, but only realistic technologies currently in the pipeline can be considered;
  • Demography (the evolution of the Valais population is given - Indicateurs démographiques);
  • The resources available, particularly financial, are not extensible. Investments in one sector result in budget cuts in others;
  • Mobility within the conurbation must not have a negative impact on the quality of life of the population. Greater emphasis should therefore be placed on soft mobility, the road network should be redesigned and the public transport offer expanded to meet the needs of all users;

 

Expected results (from the participants):

In the framework of this challenge, participants are invited to :

  • Imagine what a sustainable and carbon-neutral Sion - Sierre agglomeration could look like in 2050 (Vision), taking into account some of the predetermined constraints (see description of the challenge);
  • Establish a retro-planning (2040, 2030) of the key steps that would allow this vision to materialise (Strategy);
  • Reflect on the key actions to be put in place in the next 2-5 years to initiate this momentum and achieve this vision; Identify the obstacles to be overcome, the levers of success as well as the controversies that will need to be addressed and propose a concrete plan for implementation within a 2-5 year timeframe (Operational: what, how and when?)

 

The various angles of reflection proposed below can help participants to explore avenues for establishing the scenarios and defining the action plan:

  • The technologies that will be used;
  • The jobs and skills that will be needed
  • Social interactions;
  • The lifestyles;
  • The political and normative system in force;
  • The tensions generated by the changes;
  • The interactions between the region and the rest of Switzerland;
    The role of Energypolis in this context;

The objective is to develop a positive scenario of a successful transition. However, it is necessary to describe a realistic scenario that highlights the tensions that may have arisen, the new challenges that may have emerged, and the consequences of the choices that have been made.

 

Useful links for the participants : 

 

*Metropolisation is a phenomenon that consists of the growing concentration of population and its activities in an urban area (small or large cities)

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