Is the Covenant adapted for rural communities? Report from the ground

Is the Covenant adapted for rural communities? Report from the ground
Published by Alessandro Caputo on 27.12.2013

Rurener association conducted a ground investigation on the Covenant of Mayors in 200 rural communities, on behalf and with the participation of 100% RES Communities project partners. Here are the findings.

Ground Investigation

Project partners in 10 EU countries conducted a ground investigation which have involved more than 200 key actors among mayors, municipal planners, representatives of local development agencies in rural communities.
This investigation was done through questionnaires coupled with face-to-face interviews.

Targeted aims

The choice of the questions was based on precise aims: 

  • to single out major issues in the clearest and systematic way;
  • to frame in the right perspective the difficulties in terms of participation to the CoM by the rural communities;
  • to propose solutions and recommendations in order to widespread the instruments of CoM among the rural areas. 

Results: ‘we lack of … everything’

In general terms, the search returns two main elements: on the one hand, all respondents demonstrate a high commitment and awareness of the role that small rural communities play in the broader process of implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy;

On the other hand, it shows a situation of precariousness in the following four key areas: human resources, technical resources, financial resources, communication.
“Lack of” is the key word which accompanying the story and the efforts of the rural municipalities to elaborate and  implement  a SEAP.

  • The majority of the municipalities can count only on one person (mainly part time) to work on energy issues;  this minimum stock of human resources needs to be complemented with external collaborations form private consultants, energy agencies or territorial operators
  • It registers a limited diffusion and use of methodology to produce a CO2 analysis, an element which creates a indirect issue of lack of standardization.
  • A high majority of municipalities allocates less than 5000 euro for sustainable energy initiatives (this amount does not include the initiative and action of the CoM)
  • The policy promoted by the CoM is strongly characterized by a technical and  bureaucratic language, too much -and unstructured - information which often represents an obstacle for municipal workers.

Conclusion: Together or not at all

More than 90% of the respondents see the joint SEAP as the right - and only- way to address these difficulties.
That point of view can easily be understood as joint seaps are coordinated by a supralocal organisation that comes in with human and financial resources, addressing thus the fundamental entry barriers for small rural communities. The report finally shows that the cooperation among local authorities represents the more effective approach to improve the quality of the life of their citizens through the establishment of a 100% RES community.

Project partners will continue their bottom-up campaign to give voice to the rural communities and to supply the CoM movement with new inputs, experiences and ideas for a better renewable energy policy.