TILLIT – TRUST. Representatives of Cities and Towns on a Study Visit to Oslo
Representatives of cities and towns participating in the “Local Development” Programme joined a yet another study visit in Norway, “Green City” the chosen leitmotif for the five-day Scandinavian tour.

Silent electric public transport vehicles fill the streets of Oslo. Owing to high fees for personal car city access, an expanded grid of bicycle trails (maintained and accessible in wintertime as well), and routing some streets underground, the city has become very quiet.

Electric vehicles account for 80% of all vehicles in the Oslo municipality, locals using them mainly on weekends when travelling out of town. Planning Advisor at the Urban Development of the City of Oslo Peter Austin commutes daily by bus, a 40-minute trip one way. In general, Oslovians are encouraged to walk or use public transport, for health- and environment-related reasons. In the very heart of the city across from the Municipal Authority building, the fjord-side Oslo Ferry Port operates passenger connections for residents of neighbouring municipalities. All ferries are electric as well, a major contribution to air quality and urban acoustic comfort.

Representatives of Polish cities and towns were offered an opportunity to take a look at Oslo’s new residential districts, currently under construction. The municipality aims at expanding the market to include as many flats as possible in order to curb price increases and prevent population outflow to neighbouring areas where property ownership or rental is less expensive. Whenever new housing estates are built, attention is also paid to the proximity of services, care and education facilities, and office premises available for hourly or daily rental. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, multiple Norwegians have permanently switched to home or hybrid work format. Many have found that working from an office located in a residential building or nearby makes life easier and saves commuting time.

Visiting the OMBYGG (www.ombygg.no) central warehouse for reusable building materials and components was a fascinating experience. Windows, sinks, boards, floor and wall tiles, partitioning fronts and industrial kitchen equipment parts (surplus purchases or items removed and in good condition) all have a chance of finding a new owner. Lower prices, high product quality and Norwegian trust in fellow man are an encouragement: few materials at the warehouse are labelled with a valid certificate, attestation or warranty issued on the original purchase date. The centre is operated by the Oslo municipality, its main objective that of reusing usable products. Individuals supplying the warehouse with goods earn no profit – their only gain is a sense of supporting the environment, and a waiver of any unwanted material utilisation fees.

A visit to Magiske Fabrikken – the Magic Factory – was inspiring as well: the Magiske Fabrikken is a landfill and processing plant for biowaste and animal droppings, converted to climate-friendly bio-fertilisers, biogas and green CO2 used to grow greenhouse tomatoes from February until November.

Representatives of the following cities and towns joined the study visit: Jasło, Kędzierzyn-Koźle, Konin, Ostrów Wielkopolski, Przemyśl, Stalowa Wola, Tarnów, Włocławek, Zabrze, Żary, and Żywiec.

The study visit was held from 13 until 17 November f2023.

Notably, the “Local Development” Programme addresses small and medium-sized cities and towns identified by the Polish Academy of Sciences as locations suffering of the most difficult social-and-economic situation in the country. The purpose of the Programme is to respond to key questions faced by aforesaid municipalities, such as implementing accessibility standards, or supporting entrepreneurship and local economy.