This guide was created as part of the EU-funded Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Sustainable Energy Union (CEESEU) project. It includes information from training materials developed during the project, interviews with local experts and representatives from CEE cities that have already implemented SEAPs/SECAPs (Sustainable Energy Action Plans/Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans), as well as feedback from project partners on the SECAP process in their region. 

The full document is available here.

With a reach well beyond the lifetime of the CEESEU project, this Guide can be used by CEE public administrators involved in the SECAP development process – whether in small, human resources-constrained municipalities or large ones with ample professional staffing spread among several departments. 

In the course of the project, CEESEU partners identified several key challenges associated with SECAPs in the CEE region, information gathered from municipal partners as well as from the project’s experts, most of which are regional energy agencies:

  • Access to finance is a recurrent issue
  • Data collection and monitoring are key challenges
  • Resistance is greatest in countries where awareness levels appear especially low
  • It is easier to exert influence at local levels rather than at the national level
  • Staff often do not agree on whether the emission reduction target can be reached
  • Politics at the national level can intrude on and influence engagement 
  • Certain projects are pushed forward only for reasons of positive public relations and visibility
  • Overcoming regulatory limitations is hampered by a lack of existing regional initiatives that might provide good examples
  • Lack of know-how and human resources as well as inadequate organisational capacity 
  • Diverse local (political) interests and stakeholder group misunderstandings

The guide provides at least partial answers to these issues and makes specific recommendations from the  lessons learned in the setup and development of SECAPs in CEESEU municipalities. It also emphasises the need for outreach strategies or procedural changes by EU-level actors e.g., the Covenant of Mayors (CoM) initiative, which will better address the unique circumstances of the CEE.

Who is the guide for?

The guide provides a comprehensive overview of the planning, development and implementation of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs) with their goal of a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and municipal accession to the Covenant of Mayors (CoM). In addition, it provides information specific to the Central & Eastern European (CEE) region as well as examples from the experiences of developing and implementing SECAPs within the CEESEU project. The material herein will provide support for CEE municipalities in developing the main sections of their SECAPs, in engaging with stakeholders, and in the implementation of their Action Plans.

In the main, this guide is meant to support CEE municipalities that may have lagged behind their Western European counterparts in developing SECAPs for a variety of reasons – perhaps a lack of awareness or knowledge of the planning process, a lack of expertise or capacity, missing access to resources, or stakeholder disinterest. It will provide how-to support to public administrators in Central and Eastern Europe for developing their SECAPs, in which their municipalities promote increased energy efficiency, a switch to sustainable energy, a reduction in carbon emissions, and improved adaptability to climate disruptions, thus helping the region contribute towards meeting the EU’s emissions neutrality goals.

Supplementary materials

The CEESEU project developed a number of aids that are relevant both for larger cities and for smaller municipalities in the development, implementation and evaluation of SECAPs. These are available at Resources and as linked below.

SECAP Training materials (I):  local and regional SECAP planning processes, political dimensions, stakeholder engagement, and administrative structures; examples from Warsaw and Zagreb Training slideset I
SECAP Training materials (II): SECAP implementation processes, monitoring, the urban adaptation support tool, data collection, reporting requirements, and financing of SECAPs Training slideset II
SECAP Evaluation Tool: an easy-to-use tool for municipalities to conduct a quick self-assessment to evaluate your compliance with the development of a SECAP  Original English and translations
A quick guide how to use the  SECAP Evaluation Tool Guide to using the Tool
Policy recommendations to achieve better SECAPs Policy recommendations
Assessing energy poverty, monitoring emissions, and identification of socially efficient solutions to meet climate policy ambitions Next steps in your SECAP
Energy efficiency forerunner model: Replication Guidelines Replicating the energy efficiency model

A recent and very useful addition to the toolkit for use by municipalities is the cooperation agreement between CEESEU partner (and a founding member of the Central and Eastern European Sustainable Energy Network, CEESEN) Climate Alliance and Google for use of data in the Environmental Insight Explorer (EIE) for all EU municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. Register first with the EIE, then contact Climate Alliance directly, specifying, on an official municipal letterhead, that you would like to use the EIE data and what the data will be used for.