Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Coordinators & Supporters February 2012  
A+CoM: An Italian award scheme for best Sustainable Energy Action Plans
{{{Interview with Karl-Ludwig Schibel, Executive Director of Climate Alliance Italy.}}} A large majority of Covenant of Mayors Signatories are Italian local authorities. The ever-growing popularity of the initiative in the country and the signatories’ capacity to deliver are strongly linked to the active involvement of regions and provinces, which play a crucial role in assisting small and medium-sized municipalities with the development of their Sustainable Energy Action Plan. These plans are expected to serve as roadmaps steering Italian cities and towns towards a more sustainable, resource-efficient future. They also provide a very solid basis for the energy policy of the country.

In this context, ensuring the quality of SEAPs is obviously a crucial imperative. To encourage this process, Climate Alliance Italy, one of the Covenant of Mayors official Supporters, has launched the A+CoM award in the framework of the IEE-funded project NET-COM, and with the aim of awarding each year the four best Sustainable Energy Action Plans adopted by Italian local authorities. As the deadline for applications approaches, the Covenant of Mayors Office interviews its Executive Director to gain a deeper insight into the specifics of this new award scheme.

This competition will aim at evaluating and selecting the best SEAPs adopted by Italian municipalities. Could you tell us what are the key ingredients of an award-winning SEAP?

The eligibility conditions are the ones laid down in the official documents published in the Covenant of Mayors library. The award-winning criteria point towards Sustainable Energy Action Plans which act as working documents that reflect a process and not a result. These are the sort of questions they should seek to address:

  • Does the plan foresee an adaptation of municipal administrative structures ensuring the full integration of the SEAP’s objectives into the various, daily activities of the municipality?
  • Is the SEAP itself coherent and in line with other important plans in force at the local, regional and national levels?
  • Does the plan include the recommended fields of action? Are the goals specific, measurable, realistic?
  • What institutionalized procedures are foreseen or in place for data update and monitoring of the plan’s implementation?
  • Is the plan suitable as an instrument of communication towards actors inside and outside the administration? Is it written in a way that is of immediate usefulness to them?
  • Have local stakeholders been involved in the elaboration of the plan beyond the local administration and more specifically in the private sector? Are there concrete lines of action for involving them in the implementation?

These criteria are by no means new or original. What should be the merits of A+CoM and of its scientific committee is to show concretely how local administrations have responded to them in a creative, convincing, realistic and future-oriented way.

You talk about citizen and private sector engagement. Could you give examples of successful measures carried out to that effect by Italian municipalities?

Italian cities show remarkable creativity when it comes to designing and carrying out actions in cooperation with the private sector. I shall give two examples.

This winter, the city of Trento is encouraging bicycle-riding in spite of the cold snap, with the launch of a competition which public offices and private firms are encouraged to take part in. Participants are asked to keep track of the days they used their bicycle to commute to work during the months of February and March. Those having completed more than half of their trips by bike will qualify to enter a lottery draw and win prizes including an annual subscription to the local car-sharing association, water-proof ponchos, and so forth. This action may not sound revolutionary to a person in the Netherlands or in Denmark, but in Italy bicycle mobility is in urgent need of these kinds of initiatives.

Likewise, the City of Modena is working with the management of sport facilities and the local utility company to promote garbage collection and sorting among the players, the personnel and the public who “inhabit” the stadiums. As a reward, the local authority hands out 200 tickets at a nominal price for two major basketball games to persons who bring in sorted waste to the collection points.

Combining a popular field of activity like sports with the imperative of waste reduction and recycling is a smart and efficient strategy.

Aside from these initiatives, which other activities have been launched by Climate Alliance Italy to support Covenant Signatories?

The widespread enthusiasm of Italian local governments joining as signatories, and of provinces and regions assuming the key role of Territorial Coordinators, provides Climate Alliance Italy with a precious opportunity, which we whole-heartedly embrace, to promote local climate protection and sustainable energy policies. One of our first projects was the launch of the Italian version of ECORegion, an instrument for elaborating baseline emission inventories, now in use by more than seventy Italian municipalities and counting. Together with a group of networks, that for some time has been working as the “National Coordination Table for the Covenant of Mayors and Climate Plans”, we have launched the Italian Dialogue Platform for the Covenant of Mayors in the context of the Intelligent Energy - Europe Project NET-COM. The collaboration of this group which comprises organisations like the national coordination structure of Italian Local Agendas 21, the Kyoto Club, AICCRE, the National Urban Institute, the Association of Italian Municipalities and others is a promising demonstration of the Covenant of Mayors leverage effect in fostering network cooperation and more generally innovative forms of governance in the fields of energy and climate policies.

As the Covenant of Mayors clearly shows: we have the instruments and we have the solutions. In the years to come, we will seek to enhance their visibility through activities like the A+CoM award and we will strive to weave them into the administrative structures, social and economic fabric of local authorities, fostering multi-level and participative forms of governance.

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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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