Aerial view of Ioannina city in Greece, the lake with the island of Kyra Frosini or nissaki

Blog #7: Ioannina: a golden nugget in the north of greece

A golden nugget in the north of greece: ioannina

All around Europe, while we think of Greece, we always think to a few cities, such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Larissa or Patras, but they are for sure not alone. It is a few years that we hear more and more the name of a city that is breaking through the highest innovation projects in Europe: Ioannina.

Located not far away from the border with Albania, Ioannina is the capital and the largest city of Epirus, a north-western region of Greece, with a population of about 112.000 inhabitants.

As one of its most important peculiarities, Ioannina lies on a small hill about 500 meters above sea level, dominating the Lake Pamvotis, part of the municipality. To make even more fascinating this location, the lake hosts a small and inhabited island, this is a place of “pilgrimage” for tourists coming from all over Europe.

This city has a huge history starting during the Byzantine period and it always had the role of major city of this area. As an example of periods of prosperity, Ioannina was one of the Greek cities more involved in the Modern Greek Enlightenment, it’s one of the first elements showing the innovative soul of Ioannina.

In 2019 there was a “first time” that changed the recent history of Ioannina. First for a city in the country, Ioannina elected a Jewish mayor, the independent candidate Moses Elisaf.

Moses Elisaf

Former Professor of Internal Medicine in the University of Ioannina, Mr. Elisaf worked to give a new impulsion to the city, understanding how the geographical and historical situation of the city requested a very ambitious innovation strategy.

The first push was to support the Epirus Region’s project to position Ioannina as an important technological hub and regularly appear in the landscape of innovation projects in Europe. This strategy made possible to host in the Epirus Science and Technology Park about 30 between domestic and foreign corporations that focus on the development of innovative applications and products.

This collaboration was set on the basis of a recovery plan for the region, improving trust and expectations of companies.

The attraction of companies obviously led the city to a better technological and economic capacity, with an obvious improvement of its standing and local wealth.

In 2022, the city stepped up even more, as it decided to accept the challenge of the European Commission and it joined the “100 Climate-neutral and Smart Cities” with the ambition to become a pioneer hub on climate neutrality and to show the path to other cities. This is very nicely explained in a dedicated website that wishes to communicate with everyone about its ambitious goals and actions.

This strategy has a number of ambitious goals in a long list of fields, such as Energy, Mobility and Waste, and it is now very focused on improving their data strategy. Like many cities, Ioannina still needs to refine this strategy and they often use the knowledge of EU projects to do so. In particular, the city wants to increase the data collected, create a tool for monitoring and reporting, evaluate the current situation and propose policies/actions for updating the existing plans. This monitoring system is supposed to help to keep track on GHG emissions and climate mitigation.

This is also why Ioannina chose to work with CLIMABOROUGH, improving its data solutions and tools, while testing on the field some innovative solutions. As in its strategy the Lake Pamvotis has an important role, particularly to preserve it as it is experiencing quite some pollution, also causing a ban on bathing.

This pollution can also become air pollution due to evaporation, consequently the next innovative step in Ioannina will be to improve its preservation and CLIMABOROUGH will contribute to it.

More information about Ioannina:


Matteo Satta

ANCI Toscana