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Lessons learned on SEAP development in Flanders - Practical tips




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Lessons learned in SEAP development - Practical tips for the process and content

VITO researchers have been either closely or even more closely involved in shaping, coordinating advising or calculating SEAPs and components together with consultants and local authorities. Based upon the experiences gained by VITO researchers who were involved a report was made with lessons learned in SEAP development.

The report in Dutch is dowloadable below; here is the executive summary of tips related to both processes as the content of SEAPs:

Cities that are drafting (or planning to draft) a climate or sustainable energy action plan (SEAP) can learn some valuable lessons from the trajectories in Ghent, Leuven and Limburg. These “lessons learned are context and time sensitive as they reflect the experiences of the VITO researchers that are/were involved in different (sub)trajectories.

Workshop - Ghent 

1. "Lessons learned" -  Process

• Link short and long-term: (climate or energy) action plans have to include measures that are feasible in the short term (<4 years) as well as long term projects and multi-annual programs that ensure continuity. Ensure that vision and policy are “legislature resistant” by creating support that goes beyond opposition and majority.

• Link hard and soft system values: to stimulate resources and people towards action, not only information about the reduction potential and related costs of measures is needed but also knowledge and communication about other (secondary) benefits, such as quality of life.

• Link incremental and radical innovations: to become a climate neutral city, efforts are needed that go beyond the low-hanging fruit, and technologies that are commercially available today. Radical innovation calls for early, lengthy and thoughtful preparation (and reflective capacity) to identify new uncertainties, tensions, synergies and trade-offs and stimulate the learning process.

• Link policy domains: climate planning (and sustainable development in general) calls for an integrated system approach. Fragmented responsibilities, objectives and budgets hamper the development of a shared system approach across departments.

 Link top-down and bottom-up: by linking bottom-up initiatives and top-down policy measures from authorities, they can reinforce each other instead of counteract. Climate action should support bottom-up niches, which are breeding grounds for scaled social change. It is therefore recommended to involve fresh thinkers who tend to leave the regime and seek niches.

• Transition Thinking as a guiding framework: transition that prioritises "connection" (between scales, actors, domains), can be a framework to identify the necessary change processes towards a sustainable society. The transition framework of VITO can be used as a practical guide to initiate change through a coherent set of logical steps and activities (analysing the system, envisioning, scenarios and backcasting, experimenting, assessing, anchoring).

2. "Lessons learned" - Content

• Research question: in the scenario analysis of Ghent, Leuven and Limburg, a similar package of measures is defined to achieve a considerable reduction of CO2 emissions. Although these actions can inspire other cities (regions) in the preparation of their climate and energy action plan, we want to emphasize that each analysis has a specific methodological framework. This framework can differ in assumptions made about the system boundaries, point of reference and factors that determine the future. In addition, the city (region) specific context also plays an important role in the priorities set and the reduction potential of measures.

• Models and tools: the trajectories in Leuven, Ghent and Limburg illustrate the added value of a scenario analysis. It is important to think in advance about the questions you want to be answered. In this way, the choice of instruments can be tailored to the type of scenario analysis that is provided. If the choice is made for a quantitative scenario analysis, this also implies that a certain set of (reliable) data is available.

• Stakeholder participation: the trajectories in Leuven, Ghent and Limburg illustrate that working with stakeholders is a fragile process and that a particitpation process that is well thought out and prepared, increases the chances of success significantly. It is important to think in advance about the role of stakeholders in the whole planning process and to communicate this beforehand to the stakeholders.

Lessons learned in SEAP development - Practical tips for the process and content - click to download

(Available in Dutch only)



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