The Covenant of Mayors Investment Forum 2023 – Energy Efficiency Finance Market Place, a key event in sustainable energy investments, occurred in Brussels on 25th October 2023. Organized by the European Commission’s Directorates-Generals for Energy and Climate Action and the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) in collaboration with the Covenant of Mayors, this forum brought together high-level representatives, cities, and the investment community to discuss pressing challenges and innovative solutions in the realm of sustainable energy.
The event started with an engaging opening plenary featuring notable speakers, including Paloma Aba Garrote, Kurt Vandenberghe, Hans Van Steen, and José Antonio Àlvarez, Vice-Chair of Banco Santander. Àlvarez highlighted critical challenges faced by the European Union, such as energy security, affordability, bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining permits for renewable energy production, and dependence on third-party energy sources. Emphasis was placed on the need for homogeneous certifications for building renovations to enhance energy efficiency.
Josko Klisovic, President of the City Assembly of Zagreb, stressed the importance of adequately trained staff to achieve the ambitious goals eoutlined in the EU Green Deal. This was particularly relevant for small and medium-sized municipalities. After addressing multilevel governance systems that need improvement, Klisovic also underscored the significance of sharing experiences, referencing Zagreb’s work in earthquake resilience.
Following the plenary there were three thematic sessions involving several EU-funded projects.
First Session: Mobilizing Sustainable Energy Investments
The first session delved into projects aimed at mobilizing sustainable energy investments in both the public and private sectors. The SHEERenov project, focusing on Sofia, Bulgaria, employs a one-stop-shop approach to support integrated residential renovation services. This model aims to transition from public-funded multifamily building energy efficiency renovations to a market-oriented approach, while the Peers project, an EU-funded initiative, seeks to create a Community of Practice for Integrated Home Renovation Services Practitioners.
Second Session: Guaranteed Financing Schemes for Deep Energy Renovations
The second session featured the FinEERGo-Dom project, which explores guaranteed financing schemes for deep renovations in multifamily buildings. The Polish pilot of this project implemented the “polluter pays” principle at the local level, redirecting fines from polluters to a national fund. The FITHOME project in the Netherlands, a flagship project under Horizon 2020, addresses energy poverty and encourages participation in the energy transition. It introduces in the Netherlands the Municipal Sustainability Scheme (GVR), a collaboration between De Woonpas – project’s partner – municipalities, retrofitting companies and financiers. The GVR removes all barriers for homeowners for them to participate in the energy transition and retrofit their home without an upfront investment.
Third Session: EU City Facility – Supporting Sustainable Energy Investments
The third session introduced the EU City Facility (EUCF), an initiative supporting municipalities and local authorities across Europe in developing investment concepts to accelerate sustainable energy investments. EUCF offers a grant of EUR 60,000 to finance services and activities that develop investment concepts, not the investments themselves. This grant can act as a door-opener for follow-up investments.
In conclusion, the Covenant of Mayors Investment Forum 2023 was a platform for showcasing pioneering initiatives and discussing innovative solutions to common challenges in the field of sustainable energy investments. By fostering collaboration between cities, industry, and financial institutions, the forum advanced the cause of sustainable energy and laid the foundation for a greener, more efficient future.