President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, President of the Committee of the Regions Mercedes Bresso and Director General for Energy Philip Lowe gave the opening speeches in front of more than 1,000 representatives of local and regional authorities - amongst which 364 Mayors - who gathered to attend the Ceremony.
The emphasis of this year’s ceremony was however more on action and results than political commitment, and the impact of Sustainable Energy Action Plans was raised several times during the ceremony, notably by Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy , who said these plans were “supporting regional policy objectives”, while Buzek stated they were “becoming the blueprints for Europe energy policy”.
European Commissioner for Energy Günther H. Oettinger, who could not attend the event, delivered a video message to the assembly: “The strength of the Covenant of Mayors is that it binds together all the local initiatives to deal with the energy challenges of the EU. These local initiatives are very promising. But we need to do more and faster and I want to help with that. For example, together with Commissioner Hahn we have increased the focus on energy efficiency and renewables in our regional policy.”
Rhythm was given by speeches and panel discussions, with the participation of numerous representatives of the EU institutions and mayors, among which Nils Ušakovs, the mayor of Riga (LV), who said: “Europe’s people are the real drivers behind smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Local authorities should provide the framework for this to happen. By being part of the Covenant of Mayors, each and every individual in Riga can take part in Europe’s smart energy transition.”
Minister of Environment for the Brussels Capital-Region Evelyne Huytebroeck (also Vice-President of Energy Cities) delivered a message of hope to the COP-17 delegates in Durban, on behalf of mayors and local elected representatives attending the conference. In a climate of uncertainty and scepticism with regard to the future of the Kyoto Protocol - which is to be sealed this week in Durban - she insisted on the urgency to find a “quick and lasting solution to climate change”.
The strong bottom-up dimension of the Covenant of Mayors was shared with the participants through a series of videos on concrete cities’ actions, featuring Energy Cities members Malmö (SE), Frankfurt-am-Main (DE) and Bielsko-Biala (PL).
The Ceremony ended with more than 260 new signatories taking the stage to symbolically sign the Covenant of Mayors, accompanied by a song interpreted by artist Christian Vassie and the European Institutions’ Choir.
The Covenant of Mayors Ceremony was a time for reaffirming the signatories’ commitments to really take action for achieving the 2020 objectives and to move forward together, encouraged by the European Institutions.
Energy Cities, head of the Covenant of Mayors Office, would like to thank all the organizers, all the participants and particularly the members of Energy Cities who proved once more their commitment for building our sustainable future.
Download our joint press release on the declaration to Durban
See the video recording of the Ceremony of the Covenant of Mayors, on the Parliament’s website.
Visit the photo gallery and the EP website:
Visit the Covenant of Mayors’ official website: