Bringing words into actions

Ilmar Reepalu, Chairperson of the Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy, Committe of the Regions, took part in the Final Event on 11 October 2012. Photo: Vivian Hertz. Ilmar Reepalu, Chairperson of the Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy, Committe of the Regions, took part in the Final Event on 11 October 2012. Photo: Vivian Hertz.

When 14 regions from nine European countries cooperate in order to learn from each other´s good examples, when the commitment is high and the political involvement is strong –that is when it happens! This is the characterizing message from the final conference on 11 October at Residence Palace in Brussels.

The very last day of the Final Event was introduced by Viking Jonsson, chair of Sörmland Regional Council:

- The task to be Lead Partner has been inspiring for us, as this project has been exceptional with its political leadership. The collaboration has led us to a number of local action plans, and I look forward seeing them get realised.

The ”bottom-up-model” with a strong engagement on local as well as international EU level is quite unique and a guarantee for a fast implementation.

- Do not wait for someone else to take action, do it yourself! Small steps today will make large foot prints tomorrow, said Benita Vikström, chair of the Political Board of the project.

The financial crisis in Europe causes troubles reaching the strategy goals for many countries today, said Mona Björklund, Coordinator for the Europe 2020 strategy at the European Commission. She welcomes a dialog on what the EU can do to make the goals more reachable for all countries. Michel Lamblin, Programme Director at the INTERREG IVC secretariat was impressed by the EU 2020 Going Local results and findings and would like to see more capitalisation projects with focus on transferring of knowledge between stronger and weaker regions in the future.

What happens right now in the field of renewable energy sources? Tomas Kåberger from Japan Renewable Energy Foundation showed facts on the rapidly increasing development and establishment of windmills and also responded on the Local Action Plans that were presented by a selection of project partners from Schaerbeek, Stoke-on-Trent, Zemgale, Riga and Ljubljana.

- Plans (in general) are not sufficient -but a good start. Now you need actions. Make savings be reinvested and let the ones who doing good things also get the credit! was Tomas Kåberger urging.

A panel of project politicians: Hans Alberse, Region Achterhoek, Erik Johansson, Örebro Development Council and Derek Bastiman and Jahangir Akhatar, both Local Government Yorkshire and Humber were in dialog on climate issues with Ilmar Reepalu, the Committee of the Regions and Jens Nilsson, the European Parliament.

- It is lovely to meet so many positive and dedicated people here today, said Ilmar Reepalu. It gives balance to an otherwise often depressing picture of climate issues reported in media.

Finally Benita Vikström handed over the Political Statement from the Political Board to Veronica Gaffey, the European Commission.

- I am looking forward taking part of the plans you all have made, said Veronica Gaffey.

She also left a message for the upcoming application period for new Structural Funds projects: Crucial is to have a strong engagement, keep the language simple and be clear on targeted results!

Here you can view pictures from the event, taken by photographer Vivian Hertz.