Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Coordinators & Supporters March 2013  
The multi facets of Covenant of Mayors support
{{{Interview with Tarja Laine, ENTP Board Member and City Planning Director at Vantaa Municipality.}}} Founded in 2001, the European New Towns & Pilot Cities Platform (ENTP) represents local governments working on common pilot projects in the fields of urban regeneration, economic development, social cohesion, and sustainable development. Since it joined as a Covenant Supporter in 2009, the network has been busy promoting the initiative through advocacy events and various communication materials, but also by participating in a wide range of EU-financed projects supporting the Covenant objectives. In this interview, ENTP Board Member gives some insight into the workings of the organisation as well as her role as City Planning Director at Vantaa Municipality.

Several of ENTP’s members are Covenant of Mayors signatory cities. How does your network support the political dimension of the initiative ?

ENTP has been steadily promoting the Covenant of Mayors among its members and project partners ever since it signed the support agreement with the European Commission. The Covenant is regularly mentioned in the meetings we attend, a page of our website is dedicated to the initiative, and it is also mentioned in our monthly newsletters. So far, five of our members, in addition to Vantaa, became part of the Covenant : Sénart ; Apeldoorn ; Helmond ; Zoetermeer and Nitra.

As supporting structure, ENTP focuses on the promotion of the Covenant and on the dissemination of its principles rather than on the technical coordination of members that already signed the initiative.

Among our main engagements, we have initiated European Commission funded cooperation projects related to the objectives of the Covenant. Notably, the Greenov project, funded by Interreg IVB NWE and involving Zoetermeer, addresses the issues of reduction of energy consumption, low carbon emissions, energy efficiency and awareness-raising of the local communities through a number of demonstration investments and the establishment of a transnational cluster on sustainable renovation of buildings.

Two other ENTP projects, funded by EuropeAid, focus on sustainability of urban development including renewable energies, ecobuildings, and public awareness of environmental practices. The project New Medina helps carrying out local environmental diagnosis on topics such as public transports and water management. The project EAST – Euro-Asian Sustainable Towns is the flagship of ENTP support to the Covenant objectives and it helped to establish a regular exchange with DG Energy.

Despite these involvements in EU projects related to the Covenant goals, it is not always easy for cities to transform actions into clearly quantifiable outputs, as there is a lack of human resources and staff training about common indicators and official grids. Specific support programmes could be designed in order to help officers of small and medium sized municipalities to get the most updated information about international standards and reporting criteria.

Your city itself is an active Covenant of Mayors signatory, having adopted an action plan with a 25% CO2 reduction target. How are you progressing towards this objective ?

CO2 reductions and local economic prosperity sometimes go hand in hand and I believe that in Vantaa we are on the right track. Our key activities touch on municipal property development and urban planning and design. We use geographic information concerning real estate and population changes over 20 year intervals to find the most relevant location for municipal services, thus reducing travel needs.

We are also developing public transportation alternatives to lead more and more people to choose the train over the car. On top of that, we are expanding our capacity to purchase land, so that we can develop new sites for housing near the railway stations. We have planned the creation of a new railway line with eight new stations in 2015.

The Capital Region of Helsinki, which includes Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo among others, provides a common structure to support us in achieving such projects.

The Covenant has just entered its fifth year, bringing together close to 5,000 signatory mayors committed to EU climate and energy objectives. What do you think makes the success of this initiative ?

The Covenant of Mayors has enabled many local authorities to become more active and to increase their visibility in the fight for reduction of CO2 emissions and tackling climate change. A particular asset of this framework is that it allows for some flexibility in the implementation of plans to each local context, allowing actions to remain relevant locally, while also contributing to broader European objectives. Cities implementing this initiative are not only given visibility but can also develop opportunities for cooperation due to their role in pilot projects for the environment. It is the view of ENTP that the Covenant answers to the diverse requirements and expectations of different cities’ elected officials, and succeeds in moving towards global solutions for environmental challenges.

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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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