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IMAGINE... a political meeting on sustainable energy

The first political forum organised within the IMAGINE Interreg IVC project took place on 25 April, during Energy Cities’ Rendezvous in Växjö.

The objective of this side-event was to gather in a small group political representatives of the IMAGINE partner cities, to discuss the energy transition in its long-term perspective from a political approach and discuss the objectives, potentials and hurdles of the IMAGINE project from a political perspective.

Poul Falck, from Odense (DK), reported that there are different plans for the city, which, to some extent, include the sustainable energy policies. Moreover, the city joined the Aalborg Commitments. The vision of the city is a fossil-fuel free city by 2050 (according to the Danish government roadmap). The City of Odense intends to use the Local Energy Roadmap 2050 as to integrate all existing policies in one long-term strategy.

Pere Giro, from Figueres (ES) admitted that the city is new as regards energy issues. For them, developing a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP)* is a first step. The majority in place in the city council supports and promotes new energy scenario. For the city, energy is seen as an economic factor. The objective is to reach a virtuous circle based on a circular economy / energy system.
He then listed the benefit of the IMAGINE project for Figueres:

  • visioning,
  • citizens / stakeholders will be involved thanks to new methodologies, and a consensus on a model could be achieved,
  • a model involving the city as a whole (not only the city officials),
  • a strong political support at local level as well as regional level.

He also underlined the challenges that the city faces to implement the IMAGINE concept and some solutions available. First of all, energy is not a political priority at the moment. Then, the city has no experience with long term vision (only short/medium term strategies) and has no methodological experience in participation; therefore, the City hired a consultancy to run the participatory process with the citizens and stakeholders. Figueres has no official competence on energy issues (as this competence does not lie in the hand of local authorities in Spain). The only tool available is urban planning (though is does not take energy issues into account). But they will use it anyway and will integrate the outputs in the urban planning renewal process.

Jeremy Draper, from Milton Keynes (GB), explained that energy issues are dealt with at the level of the leader of the council and the chair of the environmental department of the regional partnership group. Political support for IMAGINE is rather strong in Milton Keynes.

Mayor of Bistrita Ovidiu Cretu said that energy has not really been a problem so far, but is becoming one because of rising costs. The long term targets (principles) are to leave our children a society with some level of quality with other/less energy.

Ralf Schüle from the Wuppertal Institute participated in this meeting as an external observer and underlined that there are different paths and tracks within the partner cities. He is convinced that the Local Energy Roadmaps 2050 are wider than the SEAPs from a temporal point of view. They also necessitate broader management skills, integrate a broader scope of stakeholders and embrace a larger scope of perspective. As a conclusion, he mentioned that it is important to think about what is required to involve people and how this should be implemented.

Energy CitiesINTERREG IVCEuropean UnionConseil régional de Franche ComtéADEME
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