Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Coordinators & Supporters September 2012  
Full steam ahead towards sustainable energy
{{{Interview with Peter Chudík, President of the Prešov Region, Slovakia.}}} The Prešov Region is the first among “new” EU member states to have joined the Covenant of Mayors. This commitment to assist municipalities with sustainable energy planning has come hand in hand with the organisation of the Region first Energy Day. A series of activities have been taking place within this framework, which created a new dynamic in the Prešov Region: citizens are now showing increased interest in energy issues, an Energy Cluster has been set up and the Covenant of Mayors regional platform was launched.

Covenant of Mayors Office: The Prešov Region is the first public administration in Slovakia to join the Covenant of Mayors as Territorial Coordinator. This political decision has come just a few weeks prior to the adhesion of the capital city Bratislava. What do you think can be the leverage potential of the Covenant of Mayors in Slovakia, and more particularly in your region?

The reduction of energy consumption and increased use of renewable energy resources are pressing challenges for our region, as they are for the whole of Europe. The Prešov Region is witnessing a growing interest in the areas of renewable energy resources, green technologies and energy efficiency. Moreover, we perceive this field as holding great potential for the development of our territory, especially as it should come hand in hand with the creation of associated job opportunities.

As a representative of the regional authority, I monitor closely the region’s latest developments in terms of energy and environmental needs, as well as European trends related to climate change policy. On 27 February 2012, I was empowered by the Regional Parliament to sign a partnership agreement with the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission. Since that day, the Prešov Region has become the first Covenant Territorial Coordinator of this European movement, not only in Slovakia but also among the new member states.

We are determined to play an active role in encouraging towns and municipalities to join the Covenant of Mayors with the aim of implementing long-term and sustainable energy policies in the region. The importance of such energy/climate alliances is gaining increased relevance, especially in light of the fast development and roll out of low-carbon emission technologies.

Most importantly, we believe that sustainable energy planning cannot be emphasised enough, as it fosters the development of the local economy, job creation, greater energy security, improved quality of life, and better provision of public services.

CoMO: This year is the first time the region has taken part in the EU Sustainable Energy Week. How did the region coordinate this process with the municipalities and what were the highlights of the activities organised?

On Wednesday 20 June, the Prešov Region organised its first ever Energy Day. Activities across the region were dedicated to the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable resources. Our goal was to raise general awareness of sustainable energy issues. In light of this, one part of our programme focused on educational activities for the general public while the other targeted experts and local authorities.

Some 40 secondary schools and cultural organisations from the Prešov Region prepared a range of varied activities including quizzes, competitions, excursions, debates, collection of materials for recycling (old batteries, accumulators, bulbs, etc.) and so forth. Among the most interesting highlights were the activities held in the town of Snina, where the “Day on my own power” was organised. Similarly, there was the “Day without computers” in the town of Levoča, the puppet theatre performance “How John sorted out the garbage” in the town of Bardejov and the “Do it for the future” in the town of Humenné.

We also organised a photo competition dubbed “Green Energy and the Prešov Region” and had to make a difficult selection of 30 pictures among the 60 submitted by people aged 17 to 70, who approached the topic very creatively. We highly appreciated the personal engagement of our citizens and are planning to show this exhibition again during our Open Doors this month.

A technical workshop was also held on 20 June in the Prešov Region to encourage active cooperation with towns, micro regions, and experts in the field of sustainable energy. Shortly afterwards, the regional platform of the Covenant was presented to representatives of local authorities and specialised institutions. Another series of meetings are set to take place in the framework of this emerging dialogue.

Gradually, we aim to meet the ambitions and goals of the Covenant of Mayors, which we are actively taking ownership of. The Prešov Region Energy Day resonated throughout the whole region and has inspired a new tradition of awareness-raising events which we look forward to perpetuating every year.

CoMO: The Prešov Region Energy Day was also marked by the declaration on the establishment of an energy cluster in the Prešov Region. Could you elaborate on this? Who will be the members of this cluster and what will its role be?

The founding members of the cluster are: the Prešov Region, the Slovak environmental agency, the Prešov University, and the environmental energy agency. The Energy Cluster of the Prešov Region responds to the demand for increased experience sharing between interconnected institutions in the field of renewable energy resources and green technologies.

The cluster will support development in the use, promotion, and research of renewable energy resources and green technologies. The goal is to ensure the competitiveness of the region by an efficient use of natural resources, energy efficiency measures, promotion of SMEs, and awareness-raising. The activities of the Energy Cluster shall bring countless benefits to the region.

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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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