In the times of financial crisis and municipal budget cuts, it is absolutely necessary for local authorities to manage public finances more efficiently, accelerate exchange of experiences in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources among the cities and mobilise existing financial sources or implement innovative financial schemes. This workshop showed local authorities interested in local sustainable energy policies the clear opportunities and benefits the Covenant of Mayors initiative represents for them:
The Czech local authorities and their key partners had the opportunity to join the intensive practical training on local energy management based on the Covenant of Mayors 3-steps procedure.
The "Sustainable energy and the Covenant of Mayors in our cities" capacity building workshop gathered 41 representatives of local authorities, energy agencies, ministries, private companies and experts from the whole Czech Republic. The workshop was organised by Energy Cities and Healthy Cities Czech Republic network (HCCZ) in the framework of the European ManagEnergy initiative.
Local authorities showed an interest in the Covenant initiative and were actively discussing the possibilities of its implementation within the national and local conditions. They appreciated the logical structure of the Covenant procedure favouring at first the adaptation or creation of adequate administrative structures and allocation of human resources (e.g. Covenant coordinator). These would then allow for the professional development and financing of the Baseline Emissions Inventory (BEI) and the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) in cooperation with local actors and citizens.
The workshop was sprinkled with many valuable concrete examples concerning the BEI and SEAP development presented by the representatives of the Nitra Energy Agency (Slovakia) - Ladislav Ondrejicka, Director and Jana Kuciakova, Project Manager. The agency had been gathering data and developing its own BEI and SEAP for more than one year before the SEAP was submitted to the Covenant of Mayors Office.
Ladislav Ondrejicka emphasised that "the investments in energy management are ones with the fastest payback and are very rentable". He also presented several possibilities to find the financial sources for starting up the energy management at local level, one of them being: "first, you need to find one person who would deal with the energy issues, in a couple of months this person would be surely able to achieve the first energy and financial savings – able to pay his/her post".
Thus, the Czech local authorities discovered the requirements but also benefits of the Covenant. Through the example of Nitra they saw that its implementation is feasible not only in the EU-15 member states (having many years experience in energy management and maybe "more favourable conditions") but also within the conditions of the "new member states" - often perceived as much less favourable.
Participants were highly interested in innovative financing schemes set up in different cities from abroad, such as intracting method from Stuttgart, project pooling experienced by the cities of Dijon and Brest when purchasing together the low energy trams or municipal subsidies for households provided by the city of Dunkerque.
In any case, the interest to exchange on energy issues with other cities and learn from each other is growing in the Czech Republic.
Presentation of the Covenant of Mayors during the workshop in Prague.
Participants at the workshop in Prague taking part in the discussion.