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Mario Rajn, Source: City of Križevci

Mario Rajn: We have invested a lot of effort in becoming a greener, eco-friendly city

Mario Rajn: We have invested a lot of effort in becoming a greener, eco-friendly city

An interview with the Mayor of Križevci, Croatia

Mario Rajn was born in February 1986.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. In addition to this, he has studied at the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Osijek, received professional training in IT management, and completed a programme at the Academy for Political Development of the Council of Europe.

From 2009 to 2013, Rajn was a member of both the Križevci’s City Youth Council and Koprivnica-Križevci’s County Youth Council. Before becoming the Mayor of Križevci, Rajn worked in banking, business development and strategic management.

In 2017, he became Križevci’s youngest mayor, at the age of just 31. During his first term in office, he spoke to TheMayor.EU and discussed his plans for its future. (Read the full interview here.)

In 2021, Rajn was re-elected as the Mayor of Križevci.

Mr Mayor, how has the City of Križevci changed since you first assumed office in 2017?

The City of Križevci has changed in many ways. We became more open to our citizens and started to include them in the process of creating the city budget, our strategies and many other important questions about their well-being. 

Križevci is now at the top of the cities in Croatia when looking at the amount of money invested in children and schools. Because of this, we proudly carry the status of a child-friendly city. 

In the past four years, we have invested a lot of effort in becoming a greener, eco-friendly city. For these activities, we won the award for the best eco-city in Croatia in 2020. Furthermore, our efforts to become an energy-independent city are known throughout Europe and beyond. 

We were the first city to install a solar roof on a public building with direct funding from the citizens. Not only were we glad that our citizens recognized this opportunity, but also that our citizens became more sensitive to this subject and started to turn to renewable energy sources. 

The city co-finances the installation of solar power plants on the roofs of our citizens. All of these, but also many other projects and initiatives, have significantly increased the quality of life of our citizens. This was confirmed by an independent study and we are really proud of it. 

Last year, you were re-elected to serve as Mayor for a second term. What are your plans for the coming years?

I am very thankful my citizens recognised the work of the city’s administration headed by me and gave me their trust for the next four years. In the coming years, we will continue to co-finance the installation of solar power plants on the roofs of my fellow citizens. 

We plan to introduce green public transport and the biggest planned project is certainly the construction of an intermodal transport terminal. This means that all freight traffic from the road would be transferred in Križevci to rail transport. This significantly reduces transport costs, improves traffic safety and contributes more to environmental protection, since rail transport is the most energy-efficient transport.

Our plan is also to implement fast-charging stations for electric vehicles and electric bicycles, which will be designed as car-sharing or bike-sharing systems. We will continue to invest in our children, kindergartens and schools, sport and of course infrastructure.

In 2020, you shared that Križevci wants to be energy independent by 2030. What projects are bringing the city closer to achieving this goal?

As I mentioned earlier, we have a programme for co-financing the installation of solar panels on the roofs of our citizens. Furthermore, the previously mentioned intermodal transport terminal is also a way to achieve our goal.

We are also building a large power plant at the entrance to the city. It will transfer part of the energy to the grid, and part of it will be used to install new green technologies such as green hydrogen or a charging station for electric vehicles. With this project, we will significantly reduce CO2 emissions in the city.

Green public transport, energy renovation of buildings, use of the existing geothermal well for heating public building complexes and many other small initiatives will bring us closer to becoming an energy independent city. I am very glad that our citizens recognise and approve of this path and also turn to renewable energy sources themselves.

Finally, how has your administration supported businesses during the pandemic and how does it plan to accelerate the city’s post-COVID recovery?

We have met the needs of businesses in Križevci in these difficult times caused by the pandemic. For the time when they were not allowed to work in order to prevent the spread of the infection, we exempted them from paying rent for business premises, use of public space, utility fees, etc. 

During the pandemic, we launched the Zdravo Križevci (Healthy Križevci) initiative, which enabled our citizens to order food products from our farmers in just a few clicks via a mobile or web application. We have also expanded the city gardens and provided space for citizens living in residential buildings to grow their own vegetables and fruits. 

So, the pandemic pretty much raised awareness of how important it is to eat domestic products of controlled origin. Furthermore, since most citizens work from home, we put up a place for a business incubator in order to provide workspaces for all citizens who have to work from home, but do not have good conditions there. 

All of this shows that we stand behind our citizens and our businesses in these difficult times but also when the pandemic ends.

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