Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Coordinators & Supporters November 2012  
Twinning for sustainable energy planning
{{{Cross-Interviews with Gino Van Begin, Deputy Secretary General of [ICLEI->] and Tudor Pendiuc, Mayor of Piteşti and President of the [Association of Romanian Municipalities->].}}} In this interview, two high-level representatives of organisations acting as Covenant Supporters share crossed-perspectives about the [SEAP-plus project->], which fosters direct knowledge transfer between “experienced” and “learning” stakeholders in the development of Sustainable Energy Action Plans. Deputy Secretary General Gino Van Begin speaks on behalf of [ICLEI Europe->], while Mayor Tudor Pendiuc, the President of the Association of Romanian Municipalities (AMR), shares the experience of the association, also a partner in the project.

The project, which seeks to assist and help in the preparation “of more and better SEAPs”, is expected to greatly benefit Covenant Signatories who are to come in contact with an increasing number of Covenant Supporters and Coordinators and have access to more reliable energy data through enhanced cooperation with energy stakeholders.

How will your involvement in the SEAP+ project help you fulfill your role of Covenant Supporter ?

Tudor Pendiuc, AMR : Our involvement in this project is motivated by our desire to improve AMR’s capacity as a support structure delivering quality expertise to its members and Covenant Signatories, as well as our wish to boost cooperation with other Covenant Supporters across Europe. SEAP+ offers us a unique opportunity to increase our knowledge about the various tools, instruments and financing mechanisms that can be leveraged by Romanian signatories in the drafting, implementation and monitoring of SEAPs.

Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Europe : As the name of the project indicates, SEAP+ seeks to provide extra value to Sustainable Energy Action Plans by extending their scope, filling data gaps, adding new energy sectors and/or involving more stakeholder groups in the development and implementation process. ICLEI has a long history of supporting local climate efforts through its global campaigns, inventory tools and guiding protocols, as well as in offering unique exchange and networking opportunities. These are assets we bring to the table as Covenant Supporter. SEAP+ provides us with the opportunity to put particular focus on local governments in Romania and to better understand their needs and interests related to climate action. The cooperation with AMR, which aims at identifying suitable instruments and measures to accelerate political ambition and financial ability for the roll-out of sustainable energy, offers a win-win opportunity for all. Such initiatives will put greater emphasis on the support provided to cities and towns in Central and Eastern Europe, also with a view to helping them engage in the Covenant of Mayors.

The SEAP+ project is based on the idea of twinning between experienced and learning participants in the Covenant of Mayors. How it is organised and what are your expectations of these partnerships ?

Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Europe : We have experienced AMR as a very active and supportive national association of local governments. SEAP+ builds upon this strong relationship, helping to fine-tune support resources for Romanian local authorities. Three twinning meetings hosted by ICLEI Europe in Freiburg will focus on strategic discussions concerning the needs and training of AMR and its members. Meetings in Romania will zoom in on the practical aspects of how to conduct a greenhouse gas emission inventory, develop a SEAP and progress in areas like green public procurement. With this effort we will facilitate the development of at least 5 SEAPs in Romania and hope to create a ripple effect within AMR’s members.

Tudor Pendiuc, AMR : Indeed, the SEAP+ structure and work programme very much answer the needs of both learning and experienced partners. AMR is a learning partner and we have identified some areas where we need help from our experienced counterpart, ICLEI Europe. The twinning partnership helps both parties to get to know each other better and to identify synergies – activities that can be developed in partnership for the benefit of Covenant Signatories. The partners communicate and meet regularly, at least twice a year, in order to asses and agree on the activities and outcomes of the twinning. A memorandum of understanding is then formalized and signed by both parties. The first twinning meeting took place in Freiburg in July and helped gain a better understanding of the organizational/working structures of AMR and ICLEI Europe as both organisations function as networks of local authorities. Further, we looked at tools and methodologies used by cities for their SEAP developments. In the case of AMR, member cities indicated a high interest in the development of baseline emissions inventories. In light of this, one of the meeting’s outcomes was the development of a collection of tools and methodologies that will be offered for the preparation of SEAPs.

What are the main obstacles identified by your members involved in the Covenant of Mayors and how can the project help them overcome such difficulties ?

Tudor Pendiuc, AMR : For AMR members the main obstacles are related to human resources shortages both in number of staff performing SEAP-related activities as in the lack of expertise in local energy planning and project management. Romanian local authorities have indicated a need for AMR assistance in knowledge transfer and experience sharing, easier access to finance, development of SEAP, trainings and presentations of cases studies. In some cases, municipalities formulated more specific remarks for example related to the need to have access to methodologies for measuring and calculating baseline emission inventories.

Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Europe : Most of our members have a long track record of engagement in sustainability, including climate and energy action. They deal with their own national reporting requirements, if any, with different systems in each country. The Covenant of Mayors, which has become an extremely important initiative for cities and towns in Europe, is yet another reporting platform – for energy. Often, the existing reporting system of the city doesn’t completely match with the Covenant reporting requirements. This means additional efforts (staff time) need to be spent for telling the same story in a different way, placing local governments under more pressure. More flexibility in accepting the diversity of Europe’s local energy action would be appreciated. Yet this should happen without endangering the integrity of the Covenant of Mayors and questioning the seriousness of its signatories’ commitments. SEAP+ may help to understand the big picture, enhance dialogue and harmonise energy reporting.

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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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