Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Coordinators & Supporters September 2011  
Covenant of Mayors map: Asserting Malta’s position
Interview with Jimmy Magro, Secretary General of Malta’s Local Council Association (LCA). Already 37 out of the 68 municipalities of Malta have committed to pursue the ambitious objectives of the Covenant of Mayors. This in part is to be attributed to the efforts of the LCA, which actively encourages its members to place climate mitigation at the top of their political agenda and make an early decision to join the Covenant of Mayors.

Established in 1994 and Covenant Supporter since September 2009, the LCA represents all Local Councils in Malta and Gozo. The association helps enforce the subsidiarity principle in the country by enabling local authorities to voice their interests and concerns at the national level and by providing them with consultancy services, technical assistance, training programmes, advice on procurement issues and the like.

In this exclusive interview, LCA’s Secretary General Jimmy Magro shares some of the association’s key achievements with the Covenant of Mayors Office.

Why did LCA decide to become a Covenant Supporter and how does the Covenant contribute to the energy strategy of your association?

Since Malta is closely involved in the activities of the Committee of the Regions, and environment is a priority agenda item, the LCA has always taken a keen interest in the Covenant of Mayors initiative.

To spread the word about the Covenant, we started by reaching out to mayors and deputy mayors and invited key members of the Committee of the Regions to speak about the movement in Malta.

Following the first Covenant of Mayors Ceremony, where there was no Maltese delegation, we moved a step further through the launch of a dedicated campaign using our website and monthly e-newsletter. We later took the decision to join as Covenant Supporter to make sure our local councils would be further assisted in their efforts.

During this period we encouraged local councils to commit to the Covenant of Mayors objectives as part of the national effort to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020. Although the competencies of local councils are very limited in Malta, we believe they can make a considerable contribution to achieving national targets.

We also wanted Malta to feature prominently on the Covenant of Mayors’ map. The policy context is quite favourable in our country as environment issues often make it to the top of the national agenda.

Although the LCA has very limited resources, we have tried to keep abreast of developments and hold a good working relationship with the Covenant of Mayors Office (CoMO). We continue to see it as a very important part of our national strategy and ability to provide the best services to our members.

With over 50% of municipalities having joined the initiative, what do you make of the Covenant success in Malta? What are, in your opinion, the Maltese Councils’ main motivations to join?

Our task was not easy. Although we were preaching to the convinced, we had to overcome administrative issues to facilitate the adhesion process of the local councils. We explained all this on our website and kept circulating emails with detailed instructions on how to apply and what to do next.

We also coordinated the mayors’ participation to the second Covenant of Mayors ceremony held in Brussels. This was important to us as we wanted our local leaders to be there along with the other mayors, many of whom were coming from major EU cities. The LCA also organised a dedicated seminar for recently-joined signatories with expert speakers explaining the Covenant of Mayors commitments and giving some insight into the national environment policy.

We have thus adopted a very pro-active approach. LCA also provided local councils with a template tender to facilitate the hiring of experts in charge of the Sustainable Energy Action Plan development.

Today, the large majority of the participating municipalities have submitted their SEAP to the CoMO.

The contribution of local councils in Malta has been a positive one. Mayors have understood that whatever the scale of their involvement, their combined efforts are crucial in achieving the expected emission reductions.

Does LCA assist Maltese councils in finding the financial and technical means to roll out their Covenant of Mayors activities? If so, could you explain how and describe the specific areas where they most require assistance?

The political commitment is an important dimension of the Covenant of Mayors but only represents the first step of an ambitious process. The next important move is the identification of financial resources to implement the measures outlined in the SEAP. This poses a sizeable challenge to all localities and cities in the EU. The financial crisis has progressively trimmed available resources and forced hard choices upon local communities.

The LCA is seeking the Maltese Government contribution for local councils to be given the means to finance their SEAPs, which on average cost around €4 000 per locality. This has not yet materialised.

We also called on the Government of Malta to leverage the ERDF budget for local councils to invest in renewable energies and technologies to curb emissions. Likewise, we issued recommendations for the government to consider applying to the ELENA-KfW facility. Although we have held discussions on the matter, the Government seems to be undecided and so far we did not receive any positive feedback. We strongly believe that there should be one single ELENA facility for Malta, and that the government should allocate at least €5 million to local councils in order to implement the required investment in the energy and environment sectors.

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  The sole responsibility for the content of this newsletter lies with the Covenant of Mayors Office. It does not necessary reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. The Covenant of Mayors was set up with financial support of the European Commission and consists of five associations of European local authorities: Energy Cities, Climate Alliance, Eurocities, CEMR, Fedarene, and ICLEI Europe.

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