Thursday, December 22, 2011

The CHAMP Final online conference "European Climate Champions" is over!

Thank you to all partners and speakers for contributing and to all participants for taking part in this new experience.

You can find all materials and the recorded Live stream here on the website.

We are happy to still receive your feedback!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

European Climate Champions Conference: Tell us how you liked it!

The European Climate Champions is turning to an end. We have had interesting two days with a lot of material, speeches and discussions, and it's surely right to say that the CHAMP project got an ending that it deserved.

For many of us and at least for the organisers this has been the first online event of such a big scale. We have enjoyed this a lot and are sure that online conferences will become more and more common as we get used to them and the technique. For this reason, we'd like to hear your thoughts how it worked out!

What did you think was the best part? What could still be improved?

What was in your opinion the most interesting speech, presentation or video at the European Climate Champions?

We are happy to say that all the material will stay available on the site and it's worth and also the presentations from the live stream will be added to the site soon. We hope you enjoyed the conference!

Photo: Kaj-Michael Lang. "Behind the scenes" at the European Climate Champions

From model projects to mainstream

European Towns and Cities Campaign, Enviplan, Aalborg Commitments, Covenant of Mayors, Green Capital, CHAMP... many initatives with the aim to motivate and support local authorities on their way towards sustainable development.

Rather often we hear from local authorities that there are too much initiatives and not enough coordination and continuity. This is what the Integrated Management for Sustainability is standing for: Coordination and continuity - not only on local level by supporting local and regional authorities to implement this integrated management approach, but also on European level by establishing the European Partnership.

All these initiatives are useful and they need a management system to be implemented as well as guidance and training programmes. The European Partnership will offer right this:
* A management system which proofs to be logical and practical and at the same time flexible to allow the integration of existing management tools
* Guidelines which are meaningful and profound and at the same time adaptable to the circumsdances of all European countries
* A training structure which combines the European state of the art and national peculiarities and is able to support local and regional authorities by solving their individual challanges
* The European Partnership will further develop a standard for IMS and assure the quality of the management system itself but also of the IMS trainers and training. And it will lobby for mainstreaming IMS and for establishing tangible benefits and advantages for local and regional authorities with an IMS implemented.

The European Partnership has been established with the spirit to include and not to exclude and with the objective to joint forces and use synergies. The CHAMP project team as well as the new IMS National Training Hubs are looking forward to new partners and to work together with initiatives with the same objectives as we have.

A peaceful and relaxing Christmas time and very best wishes for the New Year,

Marion Hammerl and the CHAMP Team

A Nice Package

CHAMP is offering cities and municipalities an extensive Capacity Development Package to support their capacity development to combat climate change through an integrated management system. Integration of various policies and structures in the administration is needed to respond to climate change. Furthermore, different stakeholders need to be involved in order to implement measures successfully. Have a look at the online Package here!

According to the experience of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, Finnish cities have found the training based on the Package very useful. The approach is concrete and responds very well to the needs of the cities. Cities mention that they got new ideas and a deeper understanding of issues related to climate change. The Package also tackles important phases of any planning and decision making like political commitment. Hear more about the Finnish experiences on a video here!

IMS Romanian Training Hub

Romania has more than 3200 local authorities, 9% of them are small and 4 % municipalities with approx. 3.000.000 inhabitants. Local Authorities are facing servere "basic" problems such as water supply and waste water management, energy efficiency and renewable energies, qualification and jobs - specially for young people and hopefully in Green Economy, how to plan and implement "sustainable" infrastructures...

The concept of sustainable development is known in Rumania since the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The first management tool proposed to the local communities was the Local Agenda 21. In 2008, the National Strategy for Sustainable Development coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Forests was approved. In the first "Romanian National Report" from 2008, measures and first results have been published.

Since 2003, a scientific consortium formed by INCE- Romanian Academy, the University Lucian Blaga Sibiu, and CRFCAPL Sibiu, has realized various projects focusing on local communities and sustainable development with the objective to elaborate a model for local authorities.

These strategies are based on the results of sociological investigations and the main objectives are:
- Rational use of natural resources at local level
- Environmental protection
- Protecting and developing cultural heritage
- Sustainable development of economy and increase employment jobs
- Development of sustainable tourism

The methodology is transferable to the majority of local authorities in Rumania. In most of the cases it is still too early to evaluate the implementation and the results obtained. Sibiu and the Association Drumbrava Narciselor are included as positive examples in this brochure.

Fundatia de Perfectionare Profesionala in Administratia Publica uses the results and lessons learned from the strategies in training courses for staff of public administrations and has been able – thanks to ICLEI - to enrich the experience in Rumania with knowledge from other countries.

But there is still a big need for training of politicians and technicians in local authorities. So far, local administrations are not used to a management approach which considers economic, ecological and socio-cultural aspects in an integrated manner. Rumanian communities need more to exchange experiences and to learn from the few but positive examples in the country and also from experiences in other European member states. Furthermore, integrated sustainability management will increase transparency and contribute to a better implementation of programmes and projects.

These are aspects of high importance for European and international funding institutions. IMS will therefore increase the possibilities for Romanian Local Authorities to obtain funding which they need urgently to solve important environmental and social problems. Last not least it is of high importance that Rumanian local authorities become an ethical ideal (Vorbild) regarding sustainable planning and acting and start to live the principles of participatory democracy and the spirit of tolerance. Only then they can request the support of stakeholders and citizens and motivate them to change behavior.

Fundatia de Perfectionare Profesionala in Administratia Publica believes that the Integrated Management System is a valid instrument to enable Rumanian local authorities to face global and local challenges and to contribute to improvement of quality of life for the citizens in our country.

Cooperation is municipal therapy – Notions from the Live Stream session

Ms. Georgi from EEA reminded us that joint actions and cooperation needs something tangible for basis. The tangible basis can be built through different initiatives that activates cities. Cities are the basic unit of governance, the level in which practical actions often are taken. So, what happens in cities, matters for Europe.

The IUME process is one initiative that is building tangible basis and possibilities for cities to learn from each others. As Mr. AtKisson said in yesterday’s panel discussion “If you cannot measure sustainable development, it will remain just a nice word

Ms. Mühlmann from ICLEI reminded that integration and cooperation are the key to success and that there is also a key set of indicators in the Capacity Development Package on which functions as e-platform for the European Partnership for Integrated Sustainability Management.

Ms. Maliszewska from the Sendzimir Foundation emphasized the need for continuous capacity development on two levels: individual and institutional. She also saw that IMS can have a role as being practical tool in developing good governance.

Several comment speeches noted that good governance and sustainability management are challenging goals for cities but the networks have important role as supporters in the process. Mr. Hooli from UBC summarized the experiences from implementing IMS by referring to a civil servant who had stated in IMS workshop that “Cooperation is municipal therapy”.

Photo: Lauri Hooli from UBC.

Get out of the trap! Legalize it!

Public administration, this old dragon, is a strange animal, that loves to abstain from greater move - which some would also call 'innovation'. There are two popular arguments to do so: 1) We never did it this way. 2) We always have been doing it that way. Consequently resulting in the same stand-still.

Now, we observe that many local administrators, personally and because of deeper insight and understanding, would like to innovate their work-place and procedures by introducing instruments like IMS. And not at least during the CHAMP e-conference 'Climate Champions', we could observe a general agreement of many diffeent actors in Europe that IMS is perhaps the most promising solution for a sustainability oriented public management for European cities, towns and regions, independent from geographical location or size. But will the EU's integrated approach and local integrated management 'fly' just by being the best-in-class instrument for managing local sustainability and climate change response? Will local governments in Europe rearrange their public management procedures towards an 'integrated approach' following the IMS example just by voluntary move? The European EMAS does so, but the main argument is 'competition', which is a valid argument for private organisations, businesses, of course. But for public administration that is used to deal with and inside a clear legal framework? We are IMS enthusiastics - and we have our doubts. The doubt lives on the fact that IMS is simply not required. There is a trap that we observe. It is the 'waiting for the other-trap'.

Local administrators would like to change, but don't get mandate by their politicians and CEO's. Politicians and CEO's refer to missing legal requirements and reject any voluntary spending for a transition (independent from any future gains). National governments are not really interested in developing a legal obligation (which would actually mean to change local constitution), as they expect municipal associations to oppose due to the 'old dragon phenomenon'. They refer to other European countries that do have no such obligation in their legislation. Who could then move? The European Commission. But: In 2005, the European Commission presented their idea of an obligation for integrated environmental plans for the, then, 460 European cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Immediately, Member states and National local government associations rejected this idea. It was, however, not for the contents, but for the principle. Member states saw problems with the subsidiarity principles, municipal associations, by default, opposed any new instrument - in their understand equal to: burden - obligatory to local governments. The old dragon waves ...

Meanwhile, we hear some administrators say: the city networks should lobby a legal requirement? Well, we do so for quite long time, actually. But with the 'waiting for the other-trap', there is no entry point, no example, and lobbying from the outside only. We are committed to carry IMS forward: by means of the European Partnership for Integrated Sustainability Management, dissemination, advocacy work. But this will help little, if not public administrations themselves move and push their politicians and Councils, Councils move and push their national associations, national associations move and push their national governments, and the national governments take a different view on cooperating with the European Commission for a new mode of multi-level integrated sustainability governance.

Holger Robrecht