Ghent - Using Stakeholder Engagement to work towards Climate Neutrality
The City of Ghent has set the target of becoming a climate neutral city by 2050. Ghent’s city council aligns with the EU emission targets of 2050, and aims at reaching the EU 2020 targets before 2020. To reach these goals Ghent’s city council has allocated budgets to different climate related projects.
In past years Ghent has been mobilising companies, citizens, local organisations, schools and policy makers to work together to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. ‘Ghent’s Climate Alliance’, which was established in 2009, is a platform for activities, debates, ideas and solutions to climate issues in Ghent. The city is getting stakeholders involved through two parallel processes: ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’. The former concerns debates, workshops and meetings between different stakeholders to develop policy solutions to climate challenges. The latter includes participatory and co-creative actions which lead the ‘transition’ towards climate neutrality. This shared responsibility for Ghent’s climate targets is captured by co-signature. At this moment 1242 companies, organisations and individuals became part of Ghent’s Climate Alliance by signing a Climate Charter.
In the process of creating a new climate plan and enhanced SEAP the vision, targets and instruments have been discussed with many stakeholders. Due to the transition process of previous years having many impacts on Ghent’s policy, the involvement of stakeholders for the new SEAP builds upon this earlier drive for transition. The climate and mobility transition arena had built a detailed shared vision for the future of Ghent, and experimented with pilot projects towards this goal. This background process provided a rich starting point for the engagement plan of Ghent’s SEAP. Active ‘frontrunners’ from these ‘transition arenas’ participated in workshops and made enquiries and suggestions for the creation of the SEAP.
You can read more about Ghent's stakeholder based approach in a presentation given by Indra Van Sande (Ghent City) at the STEP UP workshop in Brussels in April 2014. The presentation provides a background to Ghent's journey towards transition, testing the new approach and insights into developing Ghent's Climate Plan. Lessons learned in involving stakeholders in the process will be particularly useful to ciites seeking to engage stakeholder more in their enhanced SEAPs.
Ghent - STEP UP - Brussels April 2014
Ghent - Stakeholder Event concentrating on the theme of 'Mobility'
Stakeholders were involved in the development of the SEAP for several reasons. Based on their field expertise, stakeholders offered relevant input and data for the SEAP. They were consulted to discuss criteria for selection between potential measures (quantitative and qualitative) and to build support for combinations of measures in certain scenarios. Finally their involvement in the SEAP process also helped stakeholders to see their role and influence, particularly when they are often holding important levers for change.
Between June and December 2013 several workshops, one to one meetings and interviews with experts and stakeholders were organised to gain input on a more detailed vision and content for an enhanced SEAP. Potential transition paths or scenarios formed the basis of discussion. These scenarios and selection criteria were open for discussion so that stakeholders understood that their input can have a steering impact. Stakeholders from different sectors were consulted with a focus on companies, the housing sector and the transport sector. The content of the workshops ranged from cross sector opportunities to visions for Ghent, scenarios for Ghent’s SEAP and economic benefits of the enhanced SEAP.
Stakeholder Workshop Event - Ghent
The input of all these stakeholder meetings is now being integrated into a policy document that will be politically approved in the spring of 2014. In September 2014 the city of Ghent will launch its implementation plan for a climate neutral city. This climate plan will involve actions and instruments for citizens and companies regarding energy efficient housing, renewable energy production, sustainable mobility, food and climate adaptation.