At the Covenant of Mayors seminar in Liepāja, VPR shares its experience of CEESEN networking activities in Vidzeme.

On September 19, Vidzeme Planning Region energy efficiency expert Edgars Augustiņš took part in a seminar jointly organised by the Latvian Association of Local Governments, the municipality of Liepāja and the European Union Covenant of Mayors Office. The event gathered participants on-site, while some experts participated remotely. The seminar's focus was innovation and financing opportunities in energy efficiency. The expert talked about the objectives of creating the CEESEN network. He also informed about the activities carried out by the CEESEU project of the Horizon 2020 program, including the cooperation with two municipalities of Vidzeme during the project implementation. Valmiera municipality and Cēsis municipality developed sustainable energy and climate action plans (SECAP) on their own with the consultative support of the project consortium.

As experts in the energy field emphasised at the seminar, which local government specialists also agree, SECAP plans are not only planning documents but also a tool for attracting various financial resources for implementing energy-efficient activities at the local level.

Edgars Augustiņš reminded that the CEESEN network was founded in 2006 to bring together energy sector participants from Central and Eastern European regions, encouraging them to engage in activities in the direction of climate and sustainability. At the same time, membership in the network provides an opportunity to represent regional interests at the European Union level. The Vidzeme Planning Region is a co-founder of the network; participation in the network is considered a confirmation of the planning region's interest and readiness to address climate change resilience issues.

The seminar participants could learn about the possibilities of registering for participation in the CEESEN network to exchange contacts, knowledge and experience between the Central and Eastern European regions and their local government representatives. The network's founders actively and thoughtfully use the European Union's financial support to strengthen local municipalities' capacity, moving them in the direction of green course and sustainability.

The seminar participants were also interested in an in-depth presentation of the development progress of the SECAP plans of the two municipalities of the Vidzeme region within the framework of the CEESEU project.

As E. Augustiņš pointed out: "It must be admitted - it is not often that we see that a municipality undertakes to complete the development of SECAP plans on its own - this is an atypical case not only at the level of Latvia but also in the international consortium, we are an exception, for which we receive special attention. This only confirms our belief that this, although time-consuming and complicated, is a correctly chosen municipal tactic - to be involved in the process from beginning to end. It strengthens the sense of co-responsibility in achieving goals."

Municipalities themselves performed data maintenance, data group creation, involved stakeholders, organised working groups and analysed the situation, finding the most appropriate solutions. Both municipalities also renewed the commitment of the Covenant of Mayors.

It should be noted that within the framework of the CEESEU project, the municipality of Cēsis region developed the SECAP plan on a city scale but is currently actively working to integrate the other territories of the area into the action plan. On the other hand, the municipality of Valmiera region is to be commended for its chosen path - to include in the plan and foresee actions for the industrial sector as well, which is an additional challenge but will effectively affect the reduction of carbon emissions.

Within the framework of the CEESEU project, several trainings were also organised for specialists of local municipalities in Vidzeme to encourage them to develop or renew sustainable energy and climate action plans. Edgars Augustiņš reminded us how important it is for local government specialists, including those at the management level, to offer educational seminars, providing opportunities for local governments to solve problem issues together with their colleagues - specialists from neighbouring municipalities, under the guidance of experts. It promotes the exchange of ideas and solutions and the formation of closer relations for the realisation of future projects. That is why the CEESEN network members have started the implementation of a new project in the LIFE program - the main goal of CEESEU-DIGIT is to develop an energy and climate action plan for the region, and it is also planned to continue organising training for local government specialists on topics in which the knowledge capacity should be further strengthened.

"Observing the municipalities and evaluating the previous experience in the development of various documents, including in the field of energy, the conclusion is one - the developed documents must be meaningful, high-quality, and during the development process, it must be kept in mind that the document will be a tool for daily work and is not just a tick on the to-do list. It is doable!” said Edgars Augustiņš at the end of his presentation.


CoM Agenda | 19092023

Local authorities channel their opinion on energy and climate in the national legislative process informally

Key messages

  • No mandatory emission target obligation for local governments in any country.
  • The local energy and climate policies are legally driven by Energy Act and/or Energy Efficiency Act.
  • Public hearing is occasionally responded through umbrella organisations though informal approach is dominant in national legislative process.


In CEESEU-DIGIT, where are 6 pilot regions, analyses of national regulatory framework was done. The respondents were local experts. It was identified that there are no emission target obligation for local governments in any country within Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Self-defined pledges originate from Covenant of Mayors or other best policy practices. Energy management was required by local government level in Latvia and Slovenia. In Poland and Czech energy and climate plans are required for regional level.

Partners mentioned 24 laws/regulations regarding energy or climate that has influence on local government level processed or completed in their states. 15 of them were rated with high importance an impact for local government by scoring in evaluation 8 points out of 10 possible in these two categories. Only for six of them local government engagement was rated as at least average (3 out of 5). Most common laws/regulations were Energy Law/Energy Efficiency Act/law (Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Latvia). Coverage was from local government act (Poland) and municipal buildings energy efficiency and renewable integration regulations to electricity/heat market acts and renewable energy market regulations. Also, strategies/plans like NECP, long-term building strategy, low carbon development strategy and national urban policy were mentioned.

In questionnaire it was also asked about current mechanomes to react to policy development and how often they are used by local governments. As result reacting to laws/regulations is quite common through umbrella organizations using formal and informal channels. Local governments do not react often or does not have such option (in 3 countries) to individually react to laws/regulations (except Slovenia). Informal approach is more common but used occasionally (if there is very important law or if there is events etc where it is possible).

It was also identified that low activity is bit more local governments side problem compared problems with existing mechanisms. Evaluation was that if there would be better mechanisms local governments would not participate lot more. This is also shown by the identified barriers as in 1..5 point highest barrier for municipalities is staff shortage – there is not just enough people or municipalities do not have resources to hire more specialists to deal with the topic. In all regions except Lativa and Slovenia (score for both was 4), staff shortage barrier was rated with highest score (5). The second biggest barrier was energy know-how in municipalities with average score of 4,1. Third barrier was legal know-how with score 3,6. Complexity and Bureaucracy was rated average (3).

CEESEU-DIGIT is right time and right place and will support local governments to rise knowledge. Helping governments with staff problems does not have easy solution, but project is trying to help them to find additional resources by supporting preparing applications for projects and grants that may mitigate the problem. Project will also help to make the voice of municipalities heard in the country that hopefully also helps to mitigate the staff problem in near future.