Joint SEAP: Two Belgian approaches compared

Joint SEAP: Two Belgian approaches compared
Published by Frédéric Praillet on 11/03/2015

Amongst the main objectives of the 100% RES Communities project was the experimentation of joint sustainable energy action plans within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors. In Belgium, two communities have met this challenge through different approaches.

Joint SEAP, a good tool for small municipalities 

A joint SEAP refers to a plan that is carried out collectively by a group of neighbouring local authorities. This means that the group engages in building a common vision, preparing an emission inventory and defining a set of actions to be implemented both individually and jointly in the concerned territory.

The use of this grouping is justified by the fact that the development, implementation and monitoring of SEAPS are facilitated when municipalities are grouped in supra-local structures that allow them to share their resources and their means.

Indeed, for many small towns, the challenge of energy transition appears at first sight difficult to meet in terms of human and financial resources. In addition, the implementation of concrete energy efficiency and renewables projects covers very often territories far beyond the municipal boundaries both in terms of critical size to achieve profitability, in terms of geographical location, or in terms of call up of funding sources.

Individual or collective commitment… two possible options ?

The Covenant of Mayors provides two possible methodological options for the development of a joint SEAP.

Option 1: each signatory in the group individually commits to reducing CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020 and is thus required to develop its own SEAP tem. The SEAP can contain both individual and shared measures. The impacts on energy savings, renewable energy production and CO2 emissions reduction corresponding to the joint measures should be divided among each municipality sharing these measures in their individual SEAP.

Option 2: the group of signatories collectively commits to reducing CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020. In this particular case only a single common SEAP template is developed by the group of signatories. The SEAP can contain both individual and shared measures (at least one shared measure should be included).

Province of Luxembourg : Coordination support to local commitment (Option 1)

As a Territorial Coordinator of the Covenant of Mayors, the Province of Luxembourg offers support to engaged municipalities.  This support includes a baseline emissions inventory for each municipality, planning and follow-up tools, collective workshops, a common mobilization framework, the implementation of common energy efficiency and renewables projects, and a common SEAP template. 

The advantages of this approach are to promote local ownership of the process by supporting the development of an municiaplk internal expertise and giving the opportunity to each municipality to mobilize local stakeholders from the start. It also unites all territorial partners through a common vision and a common methodology.

Nevertheless, it raises the question of the ability of municipalities to mobilize sufficient human resources to create genuine local dynamics.

Wallonie Picarde :  Collective commitment lead by a supra-local organisation (Option 2)

As a Territorial Coordinator of the Covenant of Mayors for Wallonie Picarde (23 municipalities), the development agency IDETA has developed a joint SEAP with 10 pionneer municipalities. This SEAP is based on a common baseline emissions inventory, an evaluation of the energy efficiency and renewables potentials and the use of a planning tool. The analysis of several scenarios lead to a final portfolio of collective measures implemented by IDETA and local measures distributed between municipalities in a concerted manner. 

This method effectively lead to an operational action plan coordinated consistently by a supra-local structure which then discharge municipalities of a significant amount of the technical and strategical needed job.

However, it seems to leave less room for the involvement local stakeholders from the start  (citizens, businesses, voluntary sector, etc.)

Particular attention should also be paid to active membership of municipalities to the collective vision and to their concrete involvement in the implementation of local actions.

Common issues

Both approaches discussed here show advantages. The choice between using one or the other depends on the means, skills and policies of local and supra-local partners. 

But in order to obtain operational action plans which concrete implementation actually produces significant impacts, none can do without a strong involvement of socio-economic players in the area, the search for sources of funding and the implementation of innovative mechanisms to mobilize these resources.