Covenant of Mayors Investment Forum focuses on cities' role in the green energy transition
The annual investment forum of the Covenant of Mayors took place on 18 October in the Belgian capital. The event is organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy in cooperation with the Covenant of Mayors, the largest initiative in the field of sustainable energy development for European cities. Representatives of EnEffect, the municipal network EcoEnergy and the Municipality of Gabrovo took part on the Bulgarian side.
Innovative energy planning and climate change adaptation solutions were important topics discussed during the event and are of key importance for cities and regions. The public sector in Europe is already actively mobilising investments in sustainable energy as well as in energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings.
Tania Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo, Ambassador of the Covenant of Mayors and Chair of the Bulgarian delegation to the European Committee of the Regions, outlined the opportunities to counter the energy, economic and geopolitical crisis in Europe.
"We, the municipalities, can be the driving force of the energy transition and we have proved it many times with the undisputed success of the Covenant of Mayors and more recent initiatives such as the EU City Facility. We are further motivated by the EU's 100 Climate-Neutral Smart Cities mission, in which Gabrovo proudly represents Bulgaria together with Sofia", she pointed out in her speech to the Investment Forum, adding, "All of us - EU, national and local authorities, with the support of the EU missions, need to jointly cultivate new ways of working and be even more effective in directing investments towards projects with a long-term perspective and impact on our energy security and independence. We need to use the limited public resources to attract private investment; to develop an effective multi-level governance system that combines the EU mission with local and regional development strategies, smart specialisation strategies, COVID recovery measures and innovation funding through structural and cohesion funds; to be transparent with our citizens and businesses and deliver on our promises to them because we need their trust."
Ms. Hristova pointed out examples of Gabrovo's contribution in these areas: the care for vulnerable citizens, especially in the field of building renovation and renewable energy; the successful inclusion of the city in the EU City Facility initiative; its active participation in the Bulgarian roundtables on sustainable energy financing under the BeSMART project, as well as the practical application of Energy Performance Contracting (ESCO) schemes in a completely innovative way for Bulgaria.
"The message from these forums is for the first time so unified - European resources should be directed to municipalities as a priority, because they are the most effective in implementing projects and attracting market funding", said Dragomir Tsanev, Executive Director of EnEffect. "This is what we discussed last week in Brussels during the launch of our new NECPlaftorm initiative to strengthen multi-level governance and dialogue to develop new national energy and climate plans, this was the leading theme in the talks with Frans Timmermans and Elisa Ferreira, this is what we hear today and will certainly see as a practical implementation tomorrow. However, in Bulgaria we need more municipalities like Gabrovo to represent us as an equal participant in this process".