The European Union-funded project, UNCHAIN, is breaking new ground in urban logistics and planning, setting the stage for a greener, smarter, and more sustainable future for cities across Europe. UNCHAIN is part of the CIVITAS Initative. CIVITAS is one of the flagship programmes helping the European Commission achieve its ambitious mobility and transport goals, and in turn those in the European Green Deal.
It does this by acting as a network of cities, for cities, dedicated to sustainable urban mobility. Through peer exchange, networking and training, CIVITAS fosters political commitment and boosts collective expertise, equipping cities to put mobility at the centre of decarbonisation.
UNCHAIN, short for “Urban logistics and plaNning: AntiCipating urban freigHt generAtion and demand including dIgitalisation of urbaN freight” consists of a consortium of forward-thinking partners committed to reshaping the landscape of urban logistics. This project aims to unleash the potential of technology and digitalization while fostering collaboration between public authorities and logistics stakeholders. With its ambitious goals, UNCHAIN is poised to pave the way towards climate-neutral and intelligent cities.
The project consortium, comprising 10 European cities, is already making waves in the field. Madrid, Berlin, and Florence serve as living labs, while Prague, Mechelen, Funchal and Riga act as follower cities. Additionally, Brest metropole, Ravenna, and Alba Julia play crucial roles as peer-cities supporting early adoption. The inclusion of logistics industry giants such as DHL and UPS ensures that UNCHAIN’s impact will be felt on a grand scale.
Addressing the Urban Logistics Challenge
In a world where e-commerce continues to surge, the demand for last-mile delivery is projected to rise by 78% by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum. This trend, while convenient for consumers, has led to a fragmented delivery landscape, resulting in increased energy consumption and spatial inefficiencies.
Furthermore, geopolitical events, such as Russia’s war in Ukraine, have triggered an energy crisis that necessitates a re-evaluation of city energy strategies. Recent revisions to energy efficiency targets highlight the urgency of considering new challenges alongside existing ones.
Urban logistics play a pivotal role in these complex dynamics. Freight vehicles already represent a substantial portion of urban traffic, contributing to congestion, pollution, and safety concerns. Public spaces, which make up a significant portion of city centres, require efficient use to promote inclusive and sustainable urbanization.
UNCHAIN’s Vision for Sustainable Urban Logistics
The European Commission’s goal of achieving “essentially CO2-neutral urban logistics in large agglomerations by 2030” underscores the importance of projects like UNCHAIN. UNCHAIN aims to optimize the allocation of urban space, empower local authorities with data-driven decision-making tools, and enhance logistics network management.
A key focus is on breaking data silos and establishing reliable data-sharing agreements between public and private entities. By unlocking and integrating urban freight transport information, UNCHAIN will develop innovative services that benefit both private and public stakeholders.
For logistics operators, this means access to real-time network status and advanced routing recommendations for sustainable operations. City managers will gain decision support tools, integrate Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans (SULPs), and have tailored Urban Vehicle Access Regulations (UVARs), and many more. This holistic approach promises win-win scenarios and value-added services for all involved.
UNCHAIN is poised to reshape the urban logistics landscape, fostering collaboration and innovation in the pursuit of sustainable, efficient, and intelligent cities. As the project enters its sixth month, the consortium is committed to driving positive change in urban logistics, setting a precedent for the cities of tomorrow.
We invite transport industry professionals, policymakers, and all those passionate about the sustainable evolution of urban logistics to join our mission.
Interested in actively contributing to the project’s success? Consider joining the UNCHAIN project’s Stakeholder Board and be part of the transformation. Together, we can unlock the potential of technology, data, and collaboration to create smarter, greener, and more efficient urban logistics systems. Join us today and be a driving force behind sustainable cities of tomorrow.
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