Highlights from the Conference of Mayors: Translating the EU Green Deal into local actions

On the 15th of March 2024, REMARKABLE Climate Leaders joined the high-level conference organised by the Flemish Government within the framework of the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council.

Highlights from the Conference of Mayors: Translating the EU Green Deal into local actions

A central theme echoed throughout: achieving climate neutrality hinges on the collective effort of individuals and initiatives, beginning at the local level.

Cities and local actors, including climate and energy agencies, must play a central role in shaping EU and national policies from the outset. They are at the forefront of climate emergencies and crucial in implementing climate actions. As articulated by the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, greater integration and collaboration between the Commission and local actors are imperative.

Maroš Šefčovič

The strength of cities and agencies lies in their proximity to communities. They can convene diverse stakeholders to address challenges and devise solutions collaboratively. Citizen engagement is paramount, necessitating a cultural shift to involve local communities actively in the transition, as emphasised by Kurt Vandenberghe, Director General at the Directorate General for Climate Action of the European Commission.

Climate neutrality demands more than emission reductions; it necessitates substantial societal changes, particularly in industries and economies, as highlighted by Vandenberghe. Moreover, industry and international organisations must be integral to Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs) to achieve real neutrality.

Transitioning from planning to implementation is imperative, requiring increased access to funds. Public funds must lead the way in facilitating financing for local authorities, while also encouraging private sector involvement, as advocated by Mohammed Ridouani, mayor of Leuven.

Mayors underscored the importance of networking and knowledge sharing, with the Covenant of Mayors providing an ideal platform for cities to collaborate, as noted by both Vandenberghe and Matthew Baldwin, Deputy Director General at the Directorate General for Energy.

REMARKABLE Climate Leaders

Session Summary: “Fit for 55” Local Solutions

FEDARENE hosted the session “Fit for 55 Translated into Local Solutions,” moderated by Seamus Hoyne. Paula Pinho from the European Commission highlighted local actors’ crucial role in achieving climate neutrality. She emphasized upcoming legislation like the European Efficiency Directive, stressing the need for local implementation.

Julije Domac of North-West Croatia Energy Agency discussed energy agencies’ role in innovation. Allison Gilliland, a Dublin city councilor, shared strategies for evidence-based decision-making, focusing on traffic management and supporting SMEs.

Tine Heyse, Deputy Mayor of Ghent, emphasized social aspects in climate planning, detailing Ghent’s efforts in social housing and energy poverty alleviation. Dublin and Maribor showcased digitalization and community engagement in building renovations.

Vlasta Krmelj from Selnica ob Dravi highlighted small municipalities’ importance and initiatives like energy communities and crowdfunding. Paula Pinho stressed the need for continuous communication and citizen involvement.


Panellists hoped for continued climate priority in the new European Parliament and Commission, emphasizing the importance of climate-friendly industries and SME support. Seamus Hoyne concluded with key messages: use simple language, prioritize action over perfection, leverage technology wisely, and elevate the dialogue to the national level.

REMARKABLE Climate Leaders will build new leadership capacity across Europe through a Climate Leadership Programme designed with and for climate leaders. Through a people-centred approach, Regional Energy Agencies will support leaders of public authorities and communities in implementing transformational roadmaps and innovative solutions to achieve climate neutrality.

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