“Cities play a crucial role in tackling inequalities and creating social opportunities out of the transitions that our societies are facing. I welcome the OECD Champion Mayors Initiative to highlight the potential of our cities and showcase our solutions to the world’s challenges.”
– Mayor Sharon Dijksma
Sharon Dijksma became mayor of Utrecht on December 16, 2020. From 2018-2020 she was Deputy Mayor for Traffic and Transport, Water and Air Quality of the Municipality of Amsterdam. She was previously Minister for the Environment (2015-2017), Minister for Agriculture (2012-2015), and State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science (2007-2010). She was elected as a member of parliament for the PvdA in 1994. Sharon Dijksma is the 332nd mayor of Utrecht and, as such, is also chairwoman of the Economic Board Utrecht and the Utrecht Region.
As the fastest growing city in the Netherlands, Utrecht is planning ahead and using the Utrecht Spatial Strategy 2040 to transform the city into a sustainable, comfortable and resilient urban centre that balances densification and urban greening. The city aims to develop in a way that enables it to become a 10-minute city where everything residents need is close by. Utrecht is creating new urban centres where multiple roads and public transport services, as well as cycling facilities, connect. Housing and public services such as shops and healthcare will also be easily accessible at these new centres. While completing this development, Utrecht is preserving green spaces and waterways, and also making streets greener, by introducing green-roofed bus shelters to enrich urban biodiversity , and creating new parks.
Mayor Dijksma is chair of the Economic Board Utrecht (EBU), a regional collaboration representing 1.5 million residents that is committed to strengthening prosperity in the Utrecht region. Under Dijksma’s leadership, the EBU has adopted an ambitious economic agenda focusing on the region’s health and sustainability ecosystems. The ambition is to be the healthiest region in the world and use the region’s knowledge and skills to make the world healthier: The agenda aims to build synergies between the regional innovative ecosystems and the collaboration between the business community, knowledge institutions and governments.
In order to reduce CO2 emissions, while meeting the needs of the growing city, Utrecht is reducing energy demand and increasing the generation of sustainable power through the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and using residual heat from businesses. The City of Utrecht is working with local stakeholders on several sustainability projects. Committing to the Solar Pact means the city and stakeholders pledge to contribute to financing and to share information helping entrepreneurs move to using solar energy. Utrecht Gas-Free is a network of 30+ collaboration partners managing 19 projects that aim to support Utrecht in its transition to clean energy sources. The projects aims include connecting opportunities, scaling-up the realisation of making Utrecht gas-free, and providing technical training opportunities in sustainable energy solutions.
Utrecht runs an International Welcome Centre to help migrants arriving in the city to settle in. Services offered include assistance with visas and residence permits, provision of practical information such as about housing, healthcare and education, and local events and an app to facilitate integration in the local community. The centre partners with local and national service providers to support migrants in finding employment, education, housing and legal advice. The Centre also hosts UR-Glocal, a group of ambassadors from different countries living in Utrecht that arrange events to welcome new migrants.