During last week’s Covenant of Mayors Investment Forum – Energy Efficiency Finance Market Place in Brussels the EIP-SCC jointly organised a plenary session with the Covenant of Mayors. Top of the agenda was the joint investment programme for European smart cities and 10 key areas for on-going action.
The Covenant of Mayors Investment Forum – Energy Efficiency Finance Market Place is an annual event organised by the European Commission's Directorate-Generals for Energy, Climate Action and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) in collaboration with the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) – the world's largest movement for local climate and energy actions. This year’s event, held on 19 and 20 February in Brussels, showcased 30 successful projects in six areas including sustainable energy planning; financing clean urban transport; financing energy efficiency in the public sector; home renovation schemes in cities and regions; financing climate adaptation; and innovative financing schemes facilitating climate and sustainable energy finance. Over 550 people from 35 countries attended the two-day event.
10 key areas for on-going action
So what better place for the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) to discuss actions by cities and communities to speed up energy efficiency and unlock investment. The EIP-SCC organised a plenary session together with the CoM on Wednesday, 20 February.
Top of the agenda was the publication entitled “Towards a joint investment programme for European smart cities” as well as an agreement to:
• Facilitate change. Participants reached a widespread agreement that climate change needs to be tackled in cities, as they are in close relationship with citizens and can engage with stakeholders, to facilitate change based on real needs.
• Step up collaboration, innovation and action. A shift in mindset has meant that banks start to see the impact that greater collaboration, innovation and action can achieve and are beginning to finance more projects and initiatives.
• Co-create projects with citizens. All that is done should be for and with the citizens of those cities and communities.
• Develop joint investment plans (e.g.Cluj-Napoca’ example) and think in an integrated way. It is not only about purchasing products but also having a whole vision including the alternatives (e.g. urban planning). To reap the full benefits investments must be integrated.
• Invest in more public-private partnerships (ppp). Cities need to reach out more and express their needs, while industry and investors need to adapt to those needs. Good examples of cities working together with small-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) already exist (e.g. San Sebastian Donostia) but more are needed.
• Build capacity in cities both on the demand- and on the supply-side: cities – interfacing between their city society, businesses and banks – need to build skills on how to translate their city’s needs into concrete plans and projects, which are then “marketed” with businesses and the financing community (banks, investors and other financiers) while fully understanding their respective positions and expectations to be successful.
• Develop project capital. Cities need to develop capacity and project ideas but in parallel, project development capital needs to be made available.
• Bring relevant stakeholders together. The European Commission will continue to lead and facilitate the link with cities, businesses and the financing community while using its platforms for exchange to make a difference.
• Increase funding. Many instruments already exist but the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) will also increase budget and the post-2020 cohesion policy has a strong urban dimension.
• Implement standards. Standardisation is key, not only in technological terms but also for processes. Procurement frameworks and project scale-ups are good examples of where standards are essential.
The approach, which was used for the joint CoM and EIP-SCC plenary session, will also be used for the next EIP-SCC General Assembly taking place in May 2019, where there will be a larger number of relevant stakeholders and more time. Additionally, participants will also be able to take advantage of the next EIP-SCC Matchmaking event being organised back-to-back.