The first STEP UP seminar in Riga - Discussion of Sustainable Energy Action Plans for municipalities in Latvia
The first in a series of joint training workshops by the international FP7 project STEP UP (Strategies Towards Energy Performance in Urban Planning), the Riga Energy Agency (REA) and the Latvian Association of Local Governments (LPS) was held in Riga City Council Chambers on Friday the 16th of May.
The STEP UP project has enhanced the recently completed draft Smart City Sustainable Energy Action Plan (Action Plan) for Riga. As part of this project, local governments including Riga will share their experiences of the development of a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) for municipalities.
SEAPs are obligatory for cities which have signed the Covenant of Mayors commitment to reducing carbon emissions. There are 18 such cities in Latvia: Riga, Jelgava, Jekabpils, Liepaja, Jurmala, Balvi, Ikskile, Karsava, Kegums, Livani, Lielvarde, Ludza, Ogre, Salaspils, Saldus, Tukums, Valka and Vilani. These cities have already prepared their Action Plans.
Riga has developed its action plan with guidance from the Riga Energy Agency and Jelgava and Jekabpils have been supported by Zemgale Regional Energy Agency to develop their plans. Alternatively, the other cities have chosen to delegate the plan development to specialised organisations and experts such as the Latvian Environmental Investment Fund, Institute of Physical Energetics and others.
The Action Plan and Energy plans being developed for local governments are supported by new national strategy documents. Energy plans are essential for local authorities seeking to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within the structure of the new national or EU structural funds and thus learning is important for other cities outside the Covenant of Mayors network.
Providing access to the necessary information and expertise for municipalities to operate successfully and implement new innovative technologies is vital. Consequently Riga’s initiative to engage with other cities has been keenly supported by the Latvian Association of Local Governments and has resulted in organisation of a single learning network for Latvian cities, which has signed the Covenant of Mayors.
The learning process with other municipalities will focus on sharing experiences and providing advice on the development of Action Plans (Energy plans) and energy management for municipalities, based on individual cities’ experiences, enabling more detailed and results oriented planning and integrated projects’ development. As pointed out by the representative of Liepaja, further training sessions for cities could be held in separate groups, to discuss specific issues relevant to different cities.
A useful report about a new Master's degree promoting an international study programme - "Energy-efficient infrastructure of Smart Cities" was presented. This new academic programme is mainly aimed at local government professionals engaged in urban and energy planning and professionals working in utility companies. The programme has been specially created by Riga Technical University in close cooperation with Riga Energy Agency and Swedbank and students will be able to apply for this programme in the Autumn of 2014.