On June 28, 2018 more than 100 representatives of Belarusian cities - signatories to the Covenant of Mayors and foreign guests came to the town of Iŭje in Hrodna region. The conference participants discussed the Belarusian and European experience in improving energy efficiency, renewable energy, financing mechanisms, as well as the potential to reduce carbon emissions at wastewater treatment facilities and waste management system.
The conference started with the welcome speeches to the participants by the representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus, the Department on Energy Efficiency of the State Standard Committee of the Republic of Belarus, Iŭje District Executive Committee and IPO "Ecopartnership".
- Very important issues are discussed today. The event provides tremendous expert support in solving the tasks that we are facing today. The presence of international guests plays a big role in experience exchange and finding common ways", said Tatsiana Kananchuk, Chairperson of the Commission on Ecology, Nature Management and Chernobyl Catastrophe in the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus.
After the introductory remarks, the representatives of the two Covenant Supporting Structures in Belarus, Natallia Andreyenka (IPO "Ecopartnership") and Ivan Shchadranok ("Interakcia" Foundation) reviewed the activities for the signatory cities over the past year since the last national conference in Vilejka. Natallia Andreyenka briefly described 10 local pilot initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions implemented in the framework of the project "StrongCoM – Strengthening the Covenant of Mayors Movement in Belarus" with financial support of the European Union. Throughout the year, seminars, trainings and round tables for the signatory cities were held, as well as expert consultations on the development of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs).
In the first panel discussion, representatives from Estonia, Denmark, Latvia and Ukraine shared the experience of their cities in the framework of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
"Participation in the Covenant of Mayors provided us access to the best European experience and opportunities to participate in grant projects," said Yuriy Smetana, deputy mayor of the city council of Voznesensk (Ukraine). - We prepared energy audits of social and administrative buildings and are implementing energy saving measures with involvement of various financial instruments.
Besides, representatives of Ukrainian cities stressed that they established municipal energy management system, when daily energy consumption data in buildings are analyzed, measures are taken to optimize expenditures and consultations are provided to residents.
The next panel discussion was devoted to financial instruments that cities can use to implement activities on energy efficiency and adaptation to climate change. The conference participants learned about the forthcoming grant programs of the European Union in Belarus, the Small Grants Program of the Global Environment Facility in Belarus, UNDP projects, the Leu Sapieha Foundation, the Belarus Support Program of the Federal Government of Germany, the World Bank and the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus.
The participants of the conference were able to learn more about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the spheres of waste management and wastewater treatment in relevant group discussions.
After summing up the results of the conference, a visit was made to demonstration sites, including the Iŭje kindergarten - primary school and the boiler room of the district hospital.
The organizers of the event were IPO “Ecopartnerhip”, the Department on Energy Efficiency of the State Standard Committee of the Republic of Belarus, the Ministry of Nature Resources and Environment Protection, Iŭje District Executive Committee.
The number of Signatories to the Covenant of Mayor for Climate and Energy in Belarus is constantly expanding, 41 cities and districts has already joined it.
Adhesion to the European initiative "The Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy" implies that city administration takes on voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 (for ENPI countries). The work starts with preparing Baseline emissions inventory and developing Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan. Participation in the Covenant of Mayors helps cities to exchange experiences and attract additional funding for implementation of planned activities.
The conference was held by the EU project “StrongCoM – Strengthening the Covenant of Mayors Movement in Belarus”, funded in the framework of the initiative EU4Energy.
Photos are provided by the newspaper "Iŭje Krai"