Many good examples of multilevel governance already exist across the globe. Understanding how multilevel governance is articulated in different national and regional contexts is important to feed the Climate & Energy Dialogue Platforms of the NECPlatform project. To this end, we have assembled a collection of practices (to be built on throughout the project), that can inspire and help develop the Climate and Energy Dialogues in NECPlatform countries and beyond.
The Flemish Pact
Levels involved: National, Regional, Local
Flanders’ regional government in collaboration with Flemish municipalities established the Flemish Climate Pact in 2019 (in force in 2020) to ensure effective links with the regions regarding local needs on four key pillars: nature-based solutions, energy mitigation policies, mobility and water management. In order to join the initiative, municipalities are invited to sign the Covenant of Mayors – Europe and commit to 16 pre-defined target points, on top of pledging to a small list of other actions (e.g. developing a heat map, banning taxes on windmills, etc.).
Nearly 300 municipalities are participating so far (more than 95% of the total) choosing between 3 possible levels of engagement: the standard one – aligned with 2030 targets before the fit-for-55 package; the more ambitious one, aligned with the fit-for-55 package; or the most ambitious one, aligned with the fit-for-55 package and including social measures to alleviate energy poverty. One very important component of the Flemish Climate Pact is the change of narrative, using a multiple benefit approach and not only focusing on the fight to climate change, in order not to polarise or politicise the model.
Moreover, common objectives are made easy so that everybody can understand and are proportionate to the size of the municipalities e.g. objective to plant 1 tree per inhabitant. Monitoring is also a collective action and is publicly visible on the initiative’s platform. Reports are automatically generated bi-monthly by the platform. These serve as a basis to compare performance against identified objectives, also during meetings dedicated to such discussions among involved actors. Dialogues with the National Belgian Government occur every two years to assess progress and implementation. These dialogues encourage both interactions between public authorities and other actors (including ordinary citizens) to provide input and identify concrete contributions to achieve local/regional goals, highlighting co-creation and citizens’ involvement.
The Croatian Ministry of Sustainable Development and Economy is in charge for the development of the national climate change adaptation strategy (NAS). Since Croatia is a centralised country, the national level has the role to create the right framework to allow changes on the ground, which can be a challenge. In order to align the ambition of the NAS and the potentials at the local level, a national hub was put into place to gather the feedback, inputs and opinions of all key stakeholders.
The lead of the process is the Croatian Ministry of Sustainable Development and Economy and it involves a range of other stakeholders such as academics, scientists, civil servants, representatives of the media and various experts as well as the general public. The stakeholders provided the feedback either in their own name or in the name of the institution they represented. The Ministry drafted the NAS and published it in its draft form allowing for anyone interested in it to provide comments, feedback and criticisms. The process resulted in the collection of valuable feedback and inputs from key stakeholders which was the basis to draft a strategy more aligned with the actual needs and potentials from the local level and all relevant sectors. The developed platform is still online and operational.
The approach was originally developed to support the drafting of SECAPs, in order to having it developed by external consultants (private or public entities or regional agencies) with very little interaction with the local authority, often resulting in generic documents not fully aligned with the needs on the local level.
The idea behind PentaHelix was to include the 5 key pillars of society (public, private, academic and NGO sectors as well as citizens) in the process of developing the plan from the start. All stakeholders are normally happy to participate and contribute, although getting ensuring their willingness to contribute long term can at times be challenging. Initially, the process has been tested on the development of two SECAPs (in Croatia) and was later replicated to other member states.
The method is now also used for the development of other local and regional level strategic documents. In practice, the initiative works thanks to a task force established around the specific topic of discussion. The task force is the central entity providing feedback and cooperating with the developer of the plan. The communication is implemented virtually and through physical meetings. Virtual communication revolves around the sharing of documents and the collection of immediate reactions and feedback. The physical meetings are organised every 3-4 months and are set up as a roundtable discussion on the relevant topic. The topics were adapted to the specific documents, stakeholders and progress of the overall process. The approach is used to generate concrete strategic documents but is intended to also follow up on implementation and monitoring.
The idea behind DK2020 was first to adapt the Climate Action Planning Framework developed by the C40 cities network to the Danish context, with smaller cities and municipalities, from 20,000 to 500,000 inhabitants. This framework aims at achieving net CO2 neutrality by 2050. In Denmark, municipalities are the main entity in charge when it comes to energy and climate measures implementation; they are entitled to define climate actions as mandatory on their own territory upon democratic decision.DK2020 succeeded in bringing together 96 municipalities out of 98 in Denmark in a two-step process:
Adapt and apply the C40 methodology in 20 pilot municipalities
Disseminating the developed model in the other interested municipalities.
Concito coordinates the effort at national level, however action takes place locally, recruiting experts and academics at local level, working with the municipality and providing them with guidance. Another key success factor is the development of peer-to-peer training and advising between municipal staffs, as well as mayors from like-sized cities convincing each other to take action. DK2020 marks the first time this ambitious international standard is adapted and applied for use in smaller cities and municipalities.
The National Council for Ecological Transition was set up in 2013, following a comprehensive stakeholder debate with local and regional actors. The National Council acts as a permanent stakeholder committee to support the development of consistent national, regional and local climate and energy strategies.
The CTNE, which consists of stakeholders from the State, members of Parliament, municipalities, companies, trade unions and environmental NGOs, provides recommendations on national sustainable devlopment strategy, assists in preparing, monitoring and evaluating the objectives of national sustainability strategies, contributes to the drafting of position paper for international negotiations on environmental policies, and expresses its opinion on any issue relating to Sustainable Development on its own initiative. The National Council for Ecological Transition meets every two months and primarily conveys the views of local, regional and non-governmental stakeholders on national policy, informing the Ministries that will then implement national Sustainable Development policy.
A River Contract (RC, generally referred to as the River Contract, but also of lake, coast or groundwater, wetland…) is a voluntary, technical, and financial agreement between the public and private partners concerned for global management, concerted and sustainable on the scale of a coherent hydrographic unit. The first RCs were born in France in the 1980s, and then spread to Belgium and many other European and non-European countries. They are signed by all the partners concerned and willing to improve the management of the river territories, Ministries, District Basin Authorities, Regions, Municipalities, Universities, Associations, but also individual local communities, professionals, entrepreneurs and citizens. They collaborate within the Board in a horizontal manner, without the need for protocols or formal commitments, bringing in just over a decade RCs to become one of the most interesting opportunities in the participatory management of Italian river basins.
What makes River Contracts popular locally is the perspective of acquiring a greater “awareness of place” through citizen participation; enhanced awareness and responsibility lead inhabitants and producers to care for the territory as “common good”. This helps to concretely revitalise the relations between citizenship and local institutions, helping to activate more effective models of self-sustainable local development. In this sense they can become bottom-up implementers of various integrated environmental strategies, such as the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change. To date, 200 RCs are active, of which 64 are already underwritten and under construction.
Defining the Italian National Adaptation Strategy has, provided for the activation of an Institutional Board composed of representatives of ministries and other public institutions relevant to the different levels of governance, such as universities and researchers, Committee of the Regions, the National Association of Communes and the Union of Italian Provinces. This Institutional Board was supported by a Technical Board, composed of around one hundred experts from organisations such as the CMCC – Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change, the ISPRA – Institute for Environmental and Environmental Research, the CNR – National Research Centre, the European Joint Research Centre, Regional Agencies for Environmental Protection, and some universities. The contribution of these two Board ensured that the vision developed in the Strategy was fully shared by the political decision-makers.
The DELTA programme started in 1953, when dramatic sea floods in the Netherlands destroyed much of the north shores. A commission was installed to prevent such natural disasters in the future. Its work resulted in a world-known dam system preventing floods in the north shore, and in one governance structure bringing together the national government, water boards, provinces and municipalities and allowing them to work together in an innovative way, with inputs from knowledge institutions, social organisations, businesses and citizens.
The DELTA programme has three main areas of work: flood risk management, freshwater supply and spatial adaptation. The programme is structured into decisions (6 years periods), which are themselves translated into plans, that are concrete measures for implementation.
DELTA is not a top-down approach, but a cooperation between different administrative levels and other relevant stakeholders. The programme has its own DELTA commissioner and is structured in 40 work regions in the Netherlands. These actors can identify vulnerabilities to weather extremes, act as pilots for stress tests, and set out ambitions and policies to take necessary measures. They also work together with other supra-regions. The 40 work regions are mostly based on a structure based on water basins and rivers. Work regions are groups of a few municipalities who sit together to deal with challenges by meeting regularly. If challenges are similar in different work regions, then two or more work regions can decide to work together in order to exchange knowledge. There is also interconnection between work regions through the waterboards.
Phasing out gas in the Netherlands is necessary to meet Paris Agreement’s goals. Over 90% of Dutch residential and commercial buildings currently use gas or fossil fuel oil for heating and cooking. Therefore, gas and electricity grid operators play a key role in the transition, as their gas grids lose their purpose, and their electricity grids need to accommodate higher load due to electrifying part of the heat supply (e.g. with heat pumps) and to the integration of renewable power production capacity. This Strategy is based on two principles: affordability and feasibility. For the former, the strategy does not focus on the higher 10% of the population who can easily afford switching to a decarbonised heat source (district heating, heat pumps, biomass and biogas in rural areas), but rather on the lower 20%, in an integrated, neighbourhood-after-neighbourhood approach, as opposed to an individualistic approach.
In particular, the strategy highlights the importance of fitting the existing social construction (people, social context, built environment, financial structure), which is hardly feasible at any scale other than the district/neighbourhood level. The Strategy also established a maximum price on district heating indexed on gas prices, so that it can never cost more than gas heating.
Although the initiative is national, each neighbourhood is different, hence there is not one single pre-determined modus operandi to implement the strategy; each local entity has its own ad-hoc structure. It is acknowledged that this implementation method is more time-consuming compared to higher-level, streamlined processes, however the Strategy considers that it is the most efficient way to implement sustainable, citizen-backed change.
The Ministry of Development, Public Works and Administration organised, at the national level, consultations to determine priorities, needs, planned projects and selection criteria for allowing financing support through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The consultations included national authorities, municipalities, associations of local authorities, experts, private sector representatives, scientists, academia, media, and civil society.Multi-level governance is envisaged for the implementation and monitoring of the Recovery and Resilience Plan. The coordination is ensured by the Inter-ministerial Committee for the Coordination of the Plan, responsible for examining progress in the implementation of the Plan, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Investment and European Projects (MIEP). MIEP is appointed as the national coordinator for the preparation, negotiation and approval of the Plan, assisted by the Ministry of Public Finances. Throughout the implementation appropriate coordination between the Recovery and Resilience Plan and the programs co-financed by the Cohesion and Regional funds as well as other funds, such as the Innovation Fund and Modernisation Fund under the EU Emissions Trading System will be ensured.
Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020 and 2021-2027
Level involved: National, Regional (development agencies), Local
The elaboration of the Regional Development Plan for the Centre Region (RDP) was coordinated by the Centre Regional Development Agency. As a legal condition, the process required the establishment and implementation of regional consultative structures.
The governance of the Centre Regional Development Plan is ensured by the Regional Development Agency, which is the strategic decision-making organ, within which the Regional Planning Committee (RPC) acts as the strategic consultative level, with the role of endorsing the Plan. The RPC is composed of 43 organisations representing each of the four sectors of society (public administration, economy, academia and civil society). This structure is completed by thematic working groups/county groups bringing technical expertise. The stakeholder involvement is based on the quadruple helix model: i) local and county public authorities, ii) businesses, iii) universities and research structures, iv) civil society. Consultations aimed to validate the priorities included in the RDP include new actions and improvement of the planning document before its approval. Most improvement proposals submitted by partners have been included in the final draft of the Plan.
The operating model of the RPC was a source of inspiration for the establishment of the Central Regional Innovation Consortium – a consultative and governance structure in the field of innovation, adapted to the specific needs of this regional body.
The Department for Sustainable Development (DSD, inside the General Secretariat of the Government) developed the National Strategy for the 2030 Sustainable Development of Romania. In order to develop the necessary tools for coordinating the implementation and monitoring of the Strategy, the DSD obtained a funding for the project “Sustainable Romania” – Development of the strategic and institutional framework for the implementation of the National Strategy for the 2030 Sustainable Development of Romania.
The aim of the project was to ensure the appropriate implementation framework, increasing the institutional capacity of central authorities, streamlining inter-institutional communication and collaboration, ensuring consistency of implementation by monitoring progress and presenting Romania’s development trends, enabling evidence-based public decisions in a projective manner, and anticipating systematic developments and risks.
The initiative addressed representatives from local public administration, business, civil society, research institutes, and youth organisations. Following the consultations organised in the project, recommendations from stakeholders were taken into account and integrated where needed.
The project led to the completion of the institutional framework for the implementation of the National Sustainable Development Strategy.
The Center for Assistance to City Councils (CAC) is a small interdisciplinary office that linking different levels, from the European Commission to local authorities. In its functions, the CAC:
Guarantees the transmission of the contents, objectives, and verification criteria of the project, to the 313 local authorities of the region, through permanent channels of advice, resolution of doubts and incidents.
Trains municipal technicians in the use of tools for establishing the starting point for local climate policies, and designing adaptation, mitigation and energy poverty measures.
Helps local authorities to align with EU/national policies by advising them in designing their SECAPs.
Supports the financing of the local climate initiative, through a map of calls, at regional, state and European level, oriented to local climate policy and permanently updated.
From the regional level to EU level, the CAC supports JRC in the process of validating SECAPs approved in the region, with the definition of a roadmap designed according to the methodology used in each case. The CAC also develops transversal actions aiming at involving citizens and the private sector, for example by communicating project outcomes on regional social networks in order to accustom the public opinion to climate policies and by involving local private consultancies in the overall SECAP design and lifecycle.In four years, 285 city councils out of 313 joined the Pact of Mayors to place the challenges of climate change at the centre of local policy making; non-signatories are mostly small cities under 20 000 inhabitants, which are not required to develop a SECAP.
CitiES2030 is a multilevel governance initiative that brings together the seven mission cities in Spain, the Ministry of the Ecological Transition, Fundacion Biodiversidad, and a number of other cities, entities and stakeholders, led by the Technical University of Madrid and Climate KIC. It builds on Viable Cities, a similar initiative which was launched in Sweden in 2017 and that was later used as a pilot of the Mission Cities approach. Similarly to Viable Cities, actors involved in CitiES2030 are bound to a contracting process which is iterated every 2 years. The initiative has three dimensions: a meeting space which was originally born during the covid pandemic el dia despues, which brings together around 100 organisations and serves as a dialogue platform, where important topics linked to urban development and transformation are discussed; a training space, where cities wanting to draft their climate city contract are supported; an implementation space, a service offered to cities as part of the mission that want to implement multi-city projects in different areas (e.g., on building retrofits).
In 2017 Sweden launched 17 strategic innovation processes (programmes with a mission-driven approach) of which one was Viable Cities. The programme got a 12 years mandate until 2030 with the idea to set a common objective – neutrality by 2030 – and come up with a comprehensive cross-sectoral, cross-area and multi-level methodology to reach it. A call was launched in 2019 and 9 Swedish cities were selected. Three government Agencies decided to join the initiative in April 2020.
As the pandemic had just started and times were uncertain, stakeholders decided to go for a contracting process rather than signing a single binding document to 2030. Therefore, each year in December Viable Cities members meet and sign a yearly contract. The first version of the contract (9 cities + national government) was signed in December 2020. Already in 2021 this initiative generated interested from other ambitious cities in Sweden to the point that now 40% of the Swedish population lives in a signatory city (23).
As the initiative grew, Cities started signalling that the government should come in as a player, not only as a funder, as many local policies (e.g. on transport) depend on national policies (e.g. infrastructures). More and more governamental agencies joined the initiative, which has been very positively received from the participating cities, making the initiative more trustworthy. Viable Cities has a budget of 8/10 million euros per year, co-funded by stakeholders. The budget covers capacity building, skills and operational costs, not infrastructure. Having heard of the initiative and having a similar mission-driven approach in mind, in 2019 the European Commission made the Swedish case the official pilot for the next EU wide programme for climate neutral cities to be rolled out within Horizon Europe, starting in 2020.
The London Recovery Board, chaired jointly by the Mayor of London and the Chair of London Councils, aims to lead post-covid recovery of London. It brings together leaders from across London’s government, business and civil society, as well as the health and education sectors, trade unions and the police, to oversee the long-term recovery effort.
Its aims are to:
reverse the pattern of rising unemployment and lost economic growth caused by the economic scarring of COVID-19
support communities, including those most impacted by the virus
help young people to flourish with access to support and opportunities
narrow social, economic and health inequalities
accelerate delivery of a cleaner, greener London.
The Board has committed to taking a missions-based approach to the Recovery Programme. The London Recovery Board is supported by the London Recovery Taskforce, which coordinates actions to meet the recovery challenges, working in partnership across London.
URBAN LEDS is an initiative funded by European Commission and run by ICLEI and UNHABITAT. The project had two phases: phase I ran between 2013 and 2015 and phase II between April 2017 to the end of 2021. Phase III is under consideration. The main goal of the project was to accelerate low emission development with focus on mitigation, although phase II included also adaptation. In each of the participating countries (Phase I: Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, India; Phase II: Colombia, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Lao PDR) the project set up a multi-level governance process following the procedure described below:
Map data availability and data needs (e.g. GHG inventory, climate risk and vulnerability assessment, low emission development (LED) strategy) and set up the needed partnership. According to available data, risk areas were selected for low emission development strategies.
Build capacity in Cities to take care of the data collection and e.g. through peer exchange, technical workshops, etc. This process had an intraregional but also a global dimension (exchange programmes to Europe).
Support in the implementation of some projects (e.g. access to finance).
Connection with the national level in order to create an enabling framework.5. International sharing of good practices, also through Global Covenant of Mayors. In all countries where URBAN LEDS was operating, the established processes of multi-level governance are still running.
Jiha Tinou (my region in Arabic and Amazigh) is the Moroccan Energy Efficiency Agency’s (AMEE) territorial strategy in terms of renewable energies and energy efficiency aiming at encouraging local initiatives, while promoting the implementation of the national energy strategy in Morocco’s territories and communities.
Launched in 2012 for an 8-year duration, the strategy sought to optimise the capacity of three regions (Agadir, Chefchaouen and Oujda) to contribute, at their level, to Morocco’s energy objectives for 2020. The AMEE and its international partners (e.g. French ADEME) developed energy management tools (a dashboard for the management of energy, water and fuel) and trained municipal and regional energy teams to better monitor energy.
Jiha Tinou supported local decision-makers in their day-to-day energy management, their regional planning and in supervising of local steering structures, through the creation of “energy teams”. It contributed to strengthen institutional and personal capacities, with the aim of generating a local supply of continuing education, adapted to the needs of communities. It supported the access to information, awareness-raising and guidance for citizens through support for local communication strategies and actions, the development of tools, the creation of networks and the establishment of “energy info spaces”.
Finally, it supported the implementation of investment projects, through the development of institutional-financial schemes allowing communities to invest in technologies that allow them to control the energy consumption of municipal buildings and infrastructures. A follow-up initiative was considered, however the AMEE observed that innovations from Jiha Tinou were progressively taken up by other Moroccan regions, thus proving the success of the initiative.
Peru’s National Law requires that regional and local governments establish a forum to facilitate efficient and effective environmental management. The Metropolitan Municipality of Lima has responded to this by creating a Metropolitan Environmental Commission (MEC).
The MEC promotes dialogue to coordinate environmental policy, showcasing best practice in terms of inter-institutional arrangements, cross-department and vertical integration, communication and engagement, to enable mainstreaming and institutionalisation of climate change issues across the city. It engages stakeholders by using and valorising their knowledge and skills, devolving activities to them through active participation in technical groups for example, as a way of building ownership and affiliation.
Ownership outside of the city government helps to better mainstream climate action across the city. Active stakeholders can make the difference between just having good plans, structures and processes, and successful, impactful implementation.The MEC is the center of coordination and concertation for the implementation of the Metropolitan Environmental Management Strategy, the Peruvian equivalent of SECAPs. The commission is composed of representatives from 40 institutions, from both the public authorities (e.g. Ministry of Water, different districts of Lima) and associations. Although its role is consultative, its works and opinion weigh on environmental policy making.
RAN-GRK – Indonesia’s national action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Levels involved: National, Regional, Local
The National Action Plan for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (RAN-GRK) is a follow up to Indonesia commitment to reduce GHG emission by 26% in 2020 from the BAU level with its own efforts and reaching 41% reduction with international support.
RAN-GRK was developed to provide a policy framework for the central government, local governments, private sectors, and other key stakeholders in implementing actions related directly and indirectly to GHG emission reduction efforts during the period of 2010-2020 according to the Long-Term Development Plan (RPJP 2005-2025) and the Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJM). The RAN-GRK was approved in a Presidential Regulation No. 61 Year 2011. The RAN-GRK proposes mitigation actions in five priority sectors (Agriculture, Forestry and Peatland, Energy and Transport, Industry, Waste Management) as well as other supporting actions that are an integral part to the national development planning which supports the principles of economic growth, poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
In June 2021, the Government of Japan developed the Regional Decarbonisation Roadmap (RDR) in cooperation with sub-regional governments, setting out priority measures and actions to achieve zero carbon such as the creation of at least 100 “leading decarbonised regions” by 2030. For this Roadmap, each concerned ministry such as the METI (Energy, Trade and Industry), Environment or Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism provided their vision and guidelines (see report p.64). Japanese prefectures are rather autonomous regarding their environmental policy (Autonomy Act); national law language is voluntarily vague, thus leaving freedom for Local Authorities to design policies that fit in the national legislative framework. In April 2022, the Ministry of the Environment selected the first 26 Decarbonisation Leading Areas (DLAs) based on the RDR, which includes a target to create more than 100 DLAs by 2025. A side objective of the RDR is to improve quality of life in smaller cities/municipalities to incite young people to stay or come back, as these areas are losing population due to rural exodus and ageing population, resulting in Local Authorities collecting less taxes. The selected cities/areas are expected to implement proposed actions to achieve net-zero target, share their experience with other cities, and pursue carbon neutrality at least by 2050.
Lao PDR is in the process of piloting a devolution strategy called the Sam-Sang. It aims to develop the provincial administrations as strategic units, the districts as comprehensive strengthening units and the villages as development units. In the spirit of the Sam-Sang, the District Development Fund mechanism helped build the capacities of local authorities to better public administration and service delivery. With capital investment grants, various projects have been implemented in 53 of the country’s 148 districts. The lessons learned and achievements from the process provided strong results and benefits to local communities. The mechanism now offers an open opportunity for all development partners to engage at the subnational level. This process was part of the URBAN-LEDS programme.