Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, is growing with green development

One of Europe’s least-visited locales, the Republic of Moldova, which sits sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, is also one of the continent’s least-urbanized countries. Over 55 percent of the population lives in rural areas—but this is all about to change as more residents are moving to the capital city of Chisinau, decreasing rural populations to 40 percent by 2050. With Chisinau hosting over half of the country’s urban population, the city faces a number of social and environmental challenges. Here’s how the capital is rising to the occasion, developing infrastructure and services that are moving it in the direction of smart city status. -Bruno De Man 


Green city lab

As a way to support residents and visitors in Chisinau, the city, which is home to over 600,000 residents, is looking to smart collaborative solutions that encourage sustainable economic growth, develop new markets and improve liveability. Chisinau Smart City takes both the government and the citizens into account, asking the community what they would like to see evolve or instituted in their neighbourhood, working together with officials to transform these visions into reality. One way the community is coming together to inspire smart solutions: hackathons, where judges include policy officers at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Moldova and performance officers at the Moldova E-Government Center.

In addition, the Chisinau Mayoralty has launched a joint project with the UNDP for low carbon green development. The €2.2-million, five-year plan, which kicks off in 2018, marks a momentous first for the Republic of Moldova as it sets up the Green City Lab. The urban lab will act as an innovator for local services, offering solutions for sustainable economic growth by transforming Chisinau into a modern—and green—smart European city. “The time has come for us to be more attentive to the environment, to ensure that the development of the city does not affect the quality of life, the city's health,” explained Chisinau’s acting mayor, Silvia Radu, in a statement from UNDP Moldova. “We have an obligation toward future generations to leave them a green and healthy city, and we can achieve this if we are aware that development is done when ecological norms are fully respected.”

With the lab, the city will focus on improving renewable energy use, collecting wood biomass and transforming it into energy; enhancing its sustainable mobility plan and urban transport network, and making multi-story apartments more energy-efficient. Pilot projects predict that 200,000 tons of CO2—equivalent to emissions from 42,000 vehicles per year—will be reduced. Solutions like these will help the city become more sustainable while aiding the country in its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 64 percent by 2030.