A conference entitled “ Energy Transformation in Cities – a Challenge for Local Governments and their Partners” has held Warsaw on October 30, which discussed the biggest challenges and opportunities presented by cooperation between local governments and business in the energy transition process. Although the conference was held in the capital, the panelists included local authorities and representatives from various regions, who discussed solutions in the areas of energy efficiency management, water and wastewater management, and urban investments implemented under the public-private partnership (PPP) formula. Panelists included representatives from Silesia, who stressed the importance of the transformation for the region.

 

Special guest of the event was prof. dr hab. inż. Jerzy Buzek, MEP, who in fis opening speech referred to the role of local governments in effective implementation of EU social and environmental programs. Professor Buzek pointed out that strong local governments are one of Poland’s most important achievements and a showcase for our country at the European level. Their strength is their knowledge of the needs of their residents, which translates into greater efficiency – Professor Buzek added.

 

 

Strong local governments also encourage cooperation and investment for private companies. The conference “Energy transformation in cities – a challenge for local governments and their partners” was a kind of center for the exchange of good practices, experiences and challenges faced by local governments in their journey towards climate neutrality and building resilient cities.

 

Local governments and business are often put in opposition to each other, meanwhile responsible local governments, like responsible businesses, are driven by similar considerations. The quality of cooperation between them is influenced by a similar understanding of challenges, dialogue and trust in delegating tasks. – said Krzysztof Zamasz, board member and commercial director of the Veolia Group in Poland. – To this business-government duo, science should also be added, which is perfectly reflected in the metaphor of the “golden triangle” of cooperation by Professor Jerzy BuzekZamasz concluded.

 

 

Local governments are the key to conducting a “local energy modernization”. Before them stands the task of enlisting a wide range of partners to jointly seek funding and technology delivery models, as well as engaging “social energy” in the process, because only it has a chance to reach widely with a transformational message. Silesia has a special place on the map of energy changes in Poland. That’s why the discussion resonated with representatives of the region, who shared their experiences and knowledge on the topic.

 

It is impossible to conduct transformation in a revolutionary way.  In Tychy, we see how conscious and consistent action and the vision created a dozen years ago are now producing visible results – said Maciej Gramatyka, Deputy Mayor of Tychy. – Transformations is mainly a process of industrial change – moving away from mining and looking for alternatives for those who have tied their professional path with the mining industry. Therefore, in Tychy, with the help of funds from the Just Transition Fund, we plan to establish a Green Energy Hub. It is aimed to be a place for green economy entrepreneurship development, supporting startups that will drive future growth. The Hub will also include a center for the development of professional competencies, where people associated with the mining industry will be able to retrain or improve their professional competencies to adapt to new employment opportunities – Gramatyka explained.

 

 

Transformation brings challenges for entrepreneurs as well. –  As a Chamber, we support entrepreneurs in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the transformation process. The role of local governments is to act as catalysts for change in local industry and mobilize local entrepreneurs to take action to reduce their carbon footprint and support business competitiveness based on the energy transition –  said Tomasz Zjawiony, President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) in Katowice, conference participant.

 

During the discussion, there was no shortage of opinions from the scientific community. Dr. Marzena Czarnecka, Professor at the University of Economics in Katowice, spoke in the debate. – In a way, the law enforcers certain behaviors on business, such as those related to reporting ESG indicators, indicates how to stimulate action. However, the law is currently overregulated. There are too many regulations that come out too often and, moreover, are of low substantive quality. There have been about 150 amendments to the Energy Law alone since its enactment. On top of that, there were six new laws. In total, by the end of June this year, 118,000 pieces of legislation had been created. This is over-regulation – argued Prof. Czarnecka.

 

 

The energy transformation of cities is an exceptionally complex process that poses many challenges to city administrators. Local government units are undertaking numerous initiatives in areas such as energy conservation, thermo-modernisation of buildings aimed at saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions, developing environmentally friendly means of public transport and creating green areas. Also of particular importance are activities related to adaptation to climate change and building resilience to the effects of these changes (resilience).

 

The conference was organized by the Veolia Foundation, which focuses its activities on strengthening cross-sector cooperation, supporting projects dedicated to local communities and improving their quality of life in areas related to sustainable development.

 

The conference was attended by more than 280 people, proving that the issues of energy efficiency in the municipal economy, financing opportunities for public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the challenges of the energy transition need to be discussed and are a topic that unites the needs of different communities.

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