31 October 2022

As Local Green Deals are blooming across Europe and are even more needed today due to the current crises, the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) recently hosted two webinars dedicated to the topic:

  • Local Green Deals: Current status and progress made. Where we stand, what is changing, and how to join the LGD movement (29 September)
  • Local Green Deals in a changing Europe: Local implementation of European challenges in context of current crises (27 October)

In addition to the ICC Network, representatives from the Single Market Programme (SMP) 2021 Resilience call were invited to join which allowed for cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge.

Webinar on Local Green Deals and ICC

Niklas Mischkowski (Officer, Governance and Social Innovation, ICLEI Europe) and Dana Eleftheriadou (Head of Cities and Proximity Team, DG GROW, European Commission) commenced the webinar with a discussion about the framework of the Local Green Deal and the ICC Local Green Deal Blueprint before the presentations from four key speakers who outlined their cities’ experiences with the Local Green Deal approach:

  • Agnes Schönfelder (ALLIANCE Project, ICC City of Mannheim),
  • Suvi Jäntti (ALLIANCE project, ICC city of Espoo),
  • Remus Balan (Cross Alp Med project, Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie du Var),
  • Mattia Rossi (Blue SAMM project, Cultura Republic / Municipality of Vicchio).

This discussion centred around the practical implementation of a Local Green Deal such as the timing, the number of stakeholders involved and achievements so far in reference to the ICC Local Green Deal Blueprint. The ICC Local Green Deal Blueprint is organised in seven steps adapted to the Stage 1, Building Momentum and Stage 2, Scaling Up:

  • Step 1: Building the case
  • Step 2: Mobilising existing staff (steering team)
  • Step 3: Reviewing existing strategic framework
  • Step 4: Mobilising local stakeholders around immediate opportunities
  • Step 5: Assessing legal and fiscal conditions
  • Step 6: Implementing deals
  • Step 7: Monitoring and promotion

The four cities are at different steps of the Blueprint, for instance Mannheim (Germany) is already at Stage 2 of the approach whereas the three others are currently at the first steps of the Blueprint. During the presentation, the Region of Var (France) reported an engaging way to mobilise stakeholders with the organisation of “Green Deal Thursdays” as a regular and informative ‘get-together’ event. The city’s "Green Deal Thursdays", a series of workshops organised around key topics such as transportation and energy, provides training, raises awareness and offers localised support.

The Local Green Deals survey

A survey on Local Green Deals was conducted by the ICC initiative and the results were presented during this webinar by Olga Karewsk (ICLEI Europe). This survey was directed to the cities already in the process of implementing a Local Green Deal, with the objective of assessing progress and areas needing greater support.

The overall results showed that the Local Green Deal approach was perceived as important and useful, but also that cities remain somewhat unsure of how to work with this approach.

The survey was answered by 40 cities amongst which 28 cities responded fully.

The other key takeaways included:

  • Most of the responding cities have taken actions linked to a first step in the development of a Local Green Deal which include the implementation of a framework, strategy or activity.
  • The main challenge identified by the respondents is the lack of resources or staff.
  • The engagement of stakeholders is both seen as one of the biggest benefits and challenges by the cities.
  • The responding cities are eager to receive support from the Intelligent Cities Challenge to implement their Local Green Deals.

Webinar on local implementation of European challenges in context of current crises

The war in Ukraine, the food and energy crises and the acceleration of environmental change have impacted the implementation and development of Local Green Deals. This second part of the series of webinars on Local Green Deals, hosted by ICC, opened a conversation on Local Green Deals in light of these current challenges.

The webinar gathered several representatives of the initiative. Dana Eleftheriadou (Head of the Cities and Proximity team at DG GROW) opened the session which was moderated by Niklas Mischkowski (Officer, Governance and Social Innovation, ICLEI Europe).

After a brief overview on what implementing the ICC Local Green Deals Blueprint entails, Niklas Mischkowski presented the Climate City Contract (CCC). The CCC is the cornerstone of the EU Mission on 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities. Every mission city is expected to sign a CCC. Building on the knowledge, experience and resources a city already has, the CCC’s holistic approach helps cities move forward in reaching their environmental goals.

Before welcoming the speakers, Niklas Mischkowski summarised ICLEI’s narrative on Local Green Deals and Climate City Contracts. While the scope of LGDs is broad and embraces fields like circular economy, local supply chains and food systems, the ICLEI sees CCCs as a part of the latter. In that regard, LGDs and CCCs complement each other and are great means to integrate sustainability actions from the local up to the EU level.

The subsequent panel discussion invited the speakers to share their experience with Local Green Deals. The participants were Kristoffer Wolsing (City of Aalborg, CLIMAA project (SMP-COSME)), Markku Markkula (Member Espoo City Council, Vice-president EU Committee of the Regions), Gerry Muscat (Head of Division, Regional and Urban Development at the European Central Bank) and Mario Grubisic (EU Committee of the Regions, Climate, Energy and Green Deal coordination (Green Deal Going Local working group)).

Kristoffer Wolsing highlighted the fact that the green transition becomes more and more rooted into municipal work. Yet, the main so-called ‘green’ technologies are still very expensive and therefore not easily accessible. Many companies are also willing to do something about climate change – but their practical knowledge is often limited and the fear of being perceived as “green washers” is looming.

Markku Markkula talked about how much work and effort have been put into Local Green Deals. He called for a holistic approach in which every city and municipality takes action. He also emphasised the importance of working in an integrated way by creating synergies between the wide range of activities.

Mario Grubisic shared his view on how current crises have created greater challenges and require complex solutions such as the Local Green Deals. However, the outset is positive as more and more cities are turning towards Local Green Deals in order to reach their environmental targets.

Last but by far not least, Gerry Muscat mentioned the crucial role of investments and financial instruments, the latter being relevant to provide EU funding for example. Thus, he pointed at the need to prioritise investments: making the most of funding is the best way to optimise results. Finally, many cities would benefit from sharing and disseminating their success stories.

This constructive panel discussions provided an overview of current challenges and brought in some concrete solutions to help cities achieve their goals and overcome obstacles.  

After these two webinars, the participants all agreed on the need to keep the discussions on the definition and the implementation of Local Green Deals alive. Lastly, they called for the various approaches from the different institutions on the topic to be harmonised with a common narrative.