On 27 October, the Policy Learning Platform held a webinar on the topic of developing integrated low-carbon strategies, examining the benefits of strategic integration between horizontal and vertical governance levels and between sectors. The webinar presented the Policy Learning Platform’s latest policy brief, with presentations from the Horizon 2020 SIMPLA project, and Interreg Europe projects DeCarb, LC Districts and SUPPORT.
Strategy development is essential for the low-carbon transition, providing a plan by which to achieve long-term goals of decarbonisation. However, many public authorities develop their strategies for low-carbon development in a siloed manner, neglecting the interplay between strategies (for example, energy and mobility, mobility and the built environment) and the need for collaboration between multiple horizontal departments, and vertical levels of governance. Harmonisation of plans can bring several benefits, including creation of a common vision, more efficient use of resources, development of common indicators and monitoring activities, and management of joint communication and stakeholder engagement activities.
The webinar considered the integration of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) and Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) and the SIMPLA methodology, and dived into some good practices from Interreg Europe projects on cross-municipal co-ordination, comprehensive regional strategies for sustainable development, and integrating energy concerns into spatial planning. Watch the recording below!
Moderation and concept by: Katharina Krell and Simon Hunkin, Thematic Experts of low-carbon economy.
00:38:37 Q&A: Who leads the permanent working group is it a local, regional or national level? Can you also advise who and how the working group is or will be funded after the project SUPPORT is finished?
00:40:10 Presentation by Rachel Tully on the good practice of a Regional strategy towards a green circular economy for Extremadura BY 2030.
00:49:51 Q&A: AGENEX is traditionally an energy agency and you mention you are also in charge of circular economy. Is that an extension of your mission?
01:07:23 Q&A: Is the case of the city of Karlovac, is this an especially shining example of integration in Croatia or could you cite other cities where this level of integration is happening?
01:10:58 Q&A: There are hypes that come and go away, but there are also a few big trends when it comes to governance evolution, such as more transparent decision-making-processes and better involvement of citizens; do you think that the integration of different sectors, territories and disciplines is such a trend? And if yes, what does this mean for local and regional administrations?
01:15:06 Q&A: What was the biggest challenge in your concrete case of strategy harmonisation, and how did you overcome it?
1:21:27 Q&A: We heard about the importance of monitoring actions but what is the role of forecasting when developing joint strategies?
From this webinar, we can highlight some key insights for local and regional policy-makers:
- To avoid the worst impacts of climate change and meet our energy targets, a significant mobilisation of resources is needed, involving all parts of society. A siloed approach should be avoided to avoid counterproductive actions and harmonisation of strategies can result in smoother implementation and rationalised use of resources;
- The energy-mobility nexus is a clear area for collaboration: roll-out of electric vehicles can only be sustainable with corresponding use of renewably generated electricity. A significant number of regions and cities have sustainable energy and sustainable mobility plans – integration of these plans is now well proven, with several success cases available, and a methodology available. The lessons provided by the SIMPLA project – as set out in the Guidelines on Harmonisation of Energy and Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning – are a strong starting point for thinking about harmonisation. With many regions now in the process of upgrading Sustainable Energy Action Plans to Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans, it is the perfect time to consider harmonisation;
- High-level targets and a single regional vision will bring decision-makers onto the same page and enable individual strategies and actions to be implemented in a broad framework. This is particularly beneficial for communication and stakeholder engagement (not only decision-makers, but also citizens and the private sector). The example of Extremadura is strong in this regard.
- First steps for regions should be bringing together different departments to build a common vision and set-up a single implementation team with a responsible project manager. In some cases, entirely new departments taking on responsibilities from other departments may also be needed – depending on the ambition of the integration. Regardless, single entity should be responsible for overseeing the process, defining new processes, taking on overall project management and monitoring implementation.
- Speakers noted that integrated strategy development will be a requirement to achieve 2050 climate goals, involving all departments to ensure that they are not implementing counter-productive actions. It was also commented that integration makes for easier communication, and therefore helps to co-ordinate stakeholders and include citizens in actions and decision-making.
- Team building was noted as a particular difficulty, with use of third parties to co-ordinate the team identified as a way of overcoming inter-departmental rivalries. Discussants also noted the challenges of capacity building and education within departments, with some departments unaware of the environmental impacts of their actions and unsure of the benefits of integration.
- Joint data collection and sharing was noted as a major benefit, but also a considerable challenge – it is often a time consuming and expensive task, and frequently departments can make use of the same data. It is an action that should be investigated early in the integration process.
- For regions just starting on their integration process, a number of support instruments are available, including the European City Facility, which can support feasibility studies, the LIFE programme for the Clean Energy Transition, Technical Assistance under the European Regional Development Fund, and Interreg programmes. The new Interreg Europe programme will focus on capacity building, with the first call expected in early 2022, but other Interreg programmes can also provide support.
- The Policy Learning Platform is available to assist regions in their strategy development through on-demand expert support, namely peer reviews and matchmakings.