The Green Deal Going Local Working Group in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) held its 13th meeting on Tuesday 30 May, with the focus on the multilevel governance of the Green Deal. Participants underlined the need to recognise the engagement of all levels of government in international conventions on climate and biodiversity and to give sub-national authorities a designated role in negotiations and decision-making, as ambitious targets can only be reached through effective action at local and regional level.
Multilevel climate and environmental governance recognises that no single level of governance can effectively address environmental and climate issues on its own, and that all levels of governance must work together to co-develop and implement effective policies. It also emphasises the importance of involving stakeholders from all levels, including civil society organizations, businesses, and the citizens at large, in the decision-making process.
Dublin City Councillor Alison Gilliland (IE/PES), who will be part of the CoR delegation at the United Nations COP28 Climate Conference to be held between 30 November and 12 December in Dubai, stressed that "COP28 must deliver for cities and regions. This means that we need a meaningful inclusion in climate decision-making structures for our local governments and municipal authorities working on the climate action frontline. We all need to work together to keep the 1.5°C target alive. Effective multi-level governance supports effective climate mitigation and adaptation action."
A representative from European Commission's DG RTD presented the Climate City Contracts under the 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities Mission as an example of how the EU seeks to aid cities in achieving climate neutrality by 2030, while also promoting multilevel governance and collaboration. Climate City Contracts are voluntary agreements between the EU, national governments, and selected cities. They are flexible and adaptable to the needs and circumstances of each city and are developed in collaboration with different levels of government and various stakeholders, including citizens.
Green Deal Working Group members also followed a presentation on the NECPlatform, which is supporting six EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy, Portugal and Romania) in setting up and managing permanent multi-level Climate and Energy Dialogue Platforms. The project, which is led by the Energy Cities network and funded under the LIFE programme, aims at raising the voice of local decision-makers and different stakeholders in national energy and climate policies.
Members also exchanged views with CoR rapporteur Joke Schauvliege (BE/EPP), Vice-President of the Flemish Parliament, whose opinion on sustainable alimentation systems was adopted at the CoR plenary session last week. "Local and regional authorities can create an environment where it's easy to find healthy, local and sustainable food", Ms Schauvliege underlined, mentioning urban planning and public procurement as examples of their contribution. The European Commission is expected to present by the end of 2023 a new legislative framework for sustainable food systems, an initiative which is part of the Farm-to-Fork Strategy and that aims at the promotion of food policies coherence and harmonisation at EU and national level.
Last item on the agenda was about mainstreaming Green Deal priorities in the EU economic governance and strengthening connections with the EU's cohesion policy and the European Semester. The European Commission has launched an initiative called 'Greening the European Semester', which aims at ensuring that EU macroeconomic policies are sustainable, not only economically and socially, but also environmentally.
Emil Boc (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and Chair of the CoR's Commission for Territorial Policy and EU Budget (COTER), emphasised the role of cohesion policy as the EU's main investment policy supporting the Green Deal. "Green and fair deal: this is the role of cohesion policy. Cohesion policy is providing the money for investment, while taking care that we have a fair deal where no region or city is left behind", Mr Boc said.
The meeting was chaired by Roby Biwer (LU/PES), Member of Bettembourg Municipal Council. The working documents of the meeting are available here. You can also watch the meeting here.