press release Amsterdam and Hamburg learn from each other in "Train of Ideas"

20 september 2011

Hamburg/Haarlem – The “Train of Ideas” leaves Amsterdam once again.
The mobile exhibition on sustainable cities of the future departs for its seventeenth destination, Antwerp. A few example projects from Amsterdam are on board, including the strategy for electric cars, green energy and environmentally-friendly public transport. These themes also form the parallels between Amsterdam and Hamburg.

As the Green Capital of Europe, Hamburg is a source of inspiration. The German Hanze city excels in sustainable urban development. Amsterdam also has equally-ambitious goals: for example, by the year 2025 it aims to generate thirty percent of its energy from recycling within the city’s boundaries. The Afval Energie Bedrijf (Refuse Energy Company) in the Amsterdam dockland area is one of the example projects in the Train of Ideas. This company generates electricity and warmth from burning refuse and rags, and even reclaims valuable metals and other materials from the resulting waste. Hamburg uses similar methods and praises the innovative Amsterdam approach.

Visitors to the exhibition are also impressed by the promotion of electric cars in our capital, which has spent € 15 million on charging points and arrangements for companies and for private individuals. In the longer term (2040) Amsterdam plans to bar all vehicles that drive on fossil fuels. The environmentally-friendly public transport system and the network of safe bicycle routes already form an excellent example for other European cities. Hamburg also stimulates the use of the bicycle as urban transport. A final, notable parallel is the development of old harbour areas that are no longer utilised. So one could say, for example, that the Hamburg HafenCity is the equivalent of the development along the Dutch IJ, such as the KNSM Island. Architect Rem Koolhaas has designed remarkable buildings for both housing projects.

With the Train of Ideas, Hamburg aims to motivate other European cities to move towards sustainable urban development. The reason for this is that cities are responsible for three-quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions. Energy-efficiency and the sustainable consumption of natural, supplementary resources limit the emission of CO2. Furthermore, environmental benefit can be achieved with sustainable consumption, environmentally-friendly transport and ecologically-responsible business practice.
Sharing thoughts and action

The Train of Ideas is about how cities can become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. The interactive exhibition presents a whole spectrum of solutions to be viewed and experienced. Eighteen European cities, including Amsterdam, provided over a hundred practical examples in the categories of spatial planning and urban development; mobility, energy and climate protection; urban nature and green zones; natural supplementary resources and sustainable business practice; ecologically-responsible consumption.
In the train visitors can go on a virtual bus ride that brings them to the HafenCity, among other places. This Hamburg urban-regeneration project acts as a model for sustainable urban development and environmentally-friendly construction. Other parts of the exhibition highlight the consequences, both for cities and the countryside, of the disappearance of natural supplementary resources, and of climate change. The Train of Ideas can also be viewed on the Internet ( Besides a wealth of information, the Train of Ideas also offers activities that bring the visitor into contact with citizens, scientists, officials and politicians elsewhere in Europe.

Partners in sustainability
Hamburg is organising the Train of Ideas together with Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Siemens. As well as these official premium partners of the European Green Capital 2011, Panasonic is also acting as a sponsoring partner. Siemens is not only providing the energy-efficient locomotive and sustainable lighting in the carriages, but is also represented with its own exhibition which shows how intelligent networks regulate the energy of the transport network (“Smart Grid”). Siemens is working towards the same goals as the Green Capital and it offers a variety of environmentally-friendly applications for everyday life. Sustainable technology is already responsible for almost a third of the company’s turnover and this can only increase. DB is the official partner for the Green Capital’s logistics and mobility and will be responsible for the entire logistics operation for the exhibition. With its CO2-neutral transport solutions, the company proves that mobility and climate protection can go hand in hand. DB itself has ambitious environmental targets: in 2020, the CO2 emissions of all transport modalities must be twenty percent lower than in 2006. Sponsor Panasonic is providing the screens for the exhibition. By its centenary in 2018, Panasonic wants to be the world leader in green innovations in the electronics sector.

The mobile exhibition will be travelling through Europe until October 2011. Visitors can apply to go on a tour or can simply step aboard. For more information about the European round-trip and the “Visions for Future Cities” exhibition, look up on the internet.

The European Union has declared Hamburg as European Green Capital 2011 because the German Hanze city has a demonstrably excellent record in the areas of nature and the environment. The city plans to be a pioneer for the sustainable energy sector. What is more, Hamburg is an important centre for climate research and has set ambitious goals for the reduction of CO2 emissions. Following Stockholm, Hamburg is the second city to have the honour of being the European Green Capital.