Sundsvall, Västernorrland (S), 23 September 2009
Politicians and energy experts from dozens of regions across Europe gathered in Sundsvall, Västernorrland (S) today to strengthen their commitment to developing renewable energy resources and energy efficiency in their territories.
The Assembly of European Regions’ (AER) “Energy Efficiency - Regional Solutions for the Future” conference presented the first results of the INTERREG IVC project MORE4NRG, which brings AER together with 11 partner regions to develop sustainable energy strategies.
“This project perfectly demonstrates that the sharing of best practices among regions – an idea to which AER has always been firmly committed – can unleash new development potential within European territories,” said Håkan Sandgren, AER Committee 1 (Economy and Regional Development) president and county councillor of Jönköping (S). “Such exchange is a primary driver for change in our regions, bringing underperforming energy policies to current standards. It also allows our regions to access the knowledge-based economy more rapidly, in line with the Lisbon Strategy.”
The MORE4NRG initiative recognises that regions play a pivotal role in developing energy efficiency policy and regulations; regions can also provide national authorities with information on what is happening on the ground and assess energy demand at local level. And, since regional authorities are closest to citizens, they are ideally placed to implement awareness raising campaigns that garner public support for the energy efficiency cause.
“How do we convince citizens to change their attitude towards energy consumption? How do we convince companies to invest in sustainable energy solutions? In MORE4NRG we learn from each other’s experiences and successes. There is exchange on different levels, strategic, technical, but also on socio-economic topics,” explained Anne Bliek, chair of the MORE4NRG Monitoring Board and deputy Queen’s Commissioner in the province of Flevoland (NL).
This holistic, hands-on approach to the energy challenge is best demonstrated by the MORE4NRG energy audits, based on AER’s unique peer review methodology. In the project’s first audit carried out in Maramures (RO) this month, an on site visit provided the host region with practical guidelines on creating an effective regulatory framework for the development of clean energies. Policy and technical experts from AER member regions shared their insight on these strategic issues through a series of meetings with local energy stakeholders and numerous field inspections.
Apart from being a forum to exchange energy good practices among the regions, AER’s conference today included interactive workshops on energy efficiency in the agriculture, transport, industry and housing sectors, with special attention paid to public buildings, SMEs and private households. The conference also presented regions with the range of funding opportunities available for project development, including recently established funding grants offered by the European Investment Bank and European Commission.
Sverker Aagren, councillor in the hosting Västernorrland county council, concluded: “I am proud that my county Västernorrland is in a leading position on energy efficiency. Most of all I think the conference provided opportunities for all participants to meet, share ideas and experiences including having an official role in politics.”
Sound energy management has been at the heart of AER’s work for several years now. In 2006 and together with the European Federation of Regional Energy and Environment Agencies (FEDARENE), AER established a declaration committing regions to deploy energy efficient practices and alternative energy sources. Two years later and together with 11 partner regions, AER kicked off the MORE4NRG project to help the regions improve their sustainable energy strategies and to create a specific tool that measures their progress towards achieving energy targets.
More information about MORE4NRG: www.more4nrg.eu
AER’s General Assembly 2009, taking place in Belfort (F) on 25-27 November in cooperation with GE Energy, will focus on “Energising Europe Responsibly: Regional Innovation and Diversity for Growth and Jobs”: http://www.aer.eu/events/governing-bodies/2009/generalassembly.html
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