Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Newsletter November 2011  
Moving forward, together
{{{Highlights of the Covenant of Mayors Ceremony.}}} Over 1,300 participants - among which some 500 mayors - gathered on 29 November in Brussels to attend the third edition of the Covenant of Mayors Ceremony. European Commissioner for Regional Policy {{Johannes Hahn}} was quoted as being "greatly impressed" by seeing such a large number of committed mayors in the Hemicycle.

Aside from the massive attendance, several key elements contributed to the success of the ceremony, with signatories voting for the first time in the European Parliament, as a genuine expression of grassroots democracy, and demonstrating their determination to cooperate across and within borders to translate their political commitment into local reality.

Restoring hope

The main theme of this year’s ceremony was how to restore hope in Europe’s future, against the current backdrop of climate, economic and social crises, through citizen-oriented sustainable energy policies.

The numerous high level speakers invited to share their perspectives with the audience sought to provide answers to this pressing question and share with others the innovative actions taken by their city or region.

In the face of soaring energy prices and high dependence on fossil fuel imports, Mayor of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) Alija Behmen explained how his city and the Western Balkan capitals of Zagreb (Croatia), Podgorica (Montenegro) and Skopje (Macedonia) were cooperating as part of a joint "Covenant of Mayors Club" to share best practice and come-up with solutions to common problems.

Likewise, the leader of the Manchester city council Richard Leese praised the benefits of working collectively. In the Greater Manchester area, cooperation with local and regional partners across 10 municipalities resulted in economies of scale, focusing work on five priority themes including energy, buildings, transport, green infrastructure, and sustainable consumption & production. This approach paved the way for the creation of 34,800 jobs and 18 million tonnes of CO2 savings.

Every crisis presents an opportunity, and the example of the cooperation initiated by the cities of Lorca (Spain), L’Aquila (Italy) and Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovinia) is a case in point. Those three cities which have been struck by dramatic events - earthquakes for the first two and war in the case of Mostar - have recently submitted a joint application for a Smart Cities and Communities project, in a courageous attempt to rebuild their town according to sustainability principles. The joint video they produced on this initiative was displayed during the Covenant of Mayors ceremony.

A symbolic vote

Through their voluntary commitment to EU climate and energy objectives, Covenant Signatories essentially seek to make responsible use of their local resources, replace consumerism by intelligent behaviors, build more liveable cities and ultimately bring new perspectives to disillusioned citizens. As they demonstrate their readiness to act, they count on their national leaders to follow suit. In this spirit, Covenant Signatories unanimously adopted a statement delivered by Evelyne Huytebroeck, Minister for the Environment of the Brussels Capital Region, calling on national decision-makers attending the UN climate change conference in Durban to step-up their efforts against climate change. The adoption of the statement took the form of a symbolic vote held in the Hemicycle of the European Parliament.

Entering a new phase: over 1,000 SEAPs submitted !

Three years on, the Covenant of Mayors is now entering a new phase, focused on results and consolidation. The Sustainable Energy Action Plans of signatories, which Jerzy Buzek called "the blueprints for Europe energy policy" point the way towards sustainable lifestyles in European cities and communities. Over 1,000 have been submitted so far, and the figure is rising on a daily basis. If there is one thing Covenant Signatories have proved, it is that the crisis can no longer serve as an excuse for inaction.

    >> Covenant Monthly Newsletter November 2011 <<
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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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