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Slovenia’s National Coordinator leverages 10 years of experience to boost European Mobility Week participation

16 June 2022

After ten years of coordinating EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK in Slovenia, Polona Demšar Mitrovič, reflects on the campaign’s impressive growth and the challenges encountered along the way.

Brussels - In May, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK officially launched its call for registrations from towns and cities for the 2022 campaign year, which will culminate in an exciting week of awareness-raising activities from 16 - 22 September.

As soon as registrations opened, Slovenia emerged as an enthusiastic frontrunner with 93 towns and cities already registered for the 2022 campaign - the most of any country so far. This is a major increase in comparison to the country’s first year of participation ten years ago, when the National Coordinator for Slovenia, Polona Demšar Mitrovič, recalls 20 municipalities participating. After working on the campaign for ten years in the Ministry of Infrastructure in Ljubljana, Slovenia, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK spoke with Polona about how she helped successfully grow the campaign in Slovenia, what challenges she faced and where the campaign is headed next.

Ten years is quite a long time, especially considering it is half of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s life span! The campaign celebrated its 20th anniversary just last year. What changes have you noticed since you began working on the campaign in Slovenia ten years ago?

Yes, in Slovenia there have been many changes. I can tell you that we started with around 20 to 30 municipalities participating at the beginning and now, in the last two years, we have had over 80 municipalities participating, which is really a big change. But what is even more important for us, than the number of cities participating, is the quality of measures that these cities are implementing. The towns and cities have really transformed their point of view from just promoting sustainable mobility to also creating possibilities for behavioural change. For example, cities and towns are working on permanent measures such as infrastructure for walking, cycling and better public transport. This is what actually allows people to change their travel habits, and this is very important.

That is an impressive increase - from 20 - 30 municipalities to 93 already this year. You mentioned that towns and cities have now moved beyond just proposing new ideas to actually creating opportunities for new sustainable mobility developments, such as permanent measures, to arise. What do you think encouraged this change?

Well, it's a long process. And after ten years of working with different stakeholders, giving them examples of good practice, the changes are already showing. What are the possibilities? Where are the problems? Why are these changes so important? People are more aware of the importance of sustainable mobility and when starting changes at the local level, even the political level is now more aware of sustainable mobility’s importance for its own citizens. So, it was a mixture of different processes: awareness-raising, knowledge-sharing, better living conditions, encouraging altogether healthier lifestyles for citizens, this is what people understand now, which they did not ten years ago.

So in Slovenia, you’ve witnessed people change their understanding of sustainable mobility and how it affects their lives. Have you noticed a similar engagement from young people? What are you doing to involve them in the campaign?

This year is the European Year of Youth and we have started to prepare for an event, because we didn't have such a good experience a few years ago. It was quite hard to get young people on board.

So this year, we connected with different youth organisations in Slovenia. We were discussing how to involve young people, what we should do, and we decided to cooperate with young people directly. So they will show us how to best approach them and what they’ve told us - and it's very important - is not just to listen to them, but to act afterwards; not just to involve them, but to show them that what they told us matters and that we will do this for them. This is what we want.

Indeed, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK strongly encourages the engagement of young people in all sustainable mobility related activities!

For more information about the European Year of Youth and how to connect better with this audience, visit our dedicated webpage here. To see which towns and cities have already registered for the 2022 campaign, visit our participating towns & cities page.