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Covenant of Mayors - Europe
News article12 June 2023

What are the ingredients to successfully develop and implement SECAPs in small and rural municipalities?

Discover the initiatives, tools and good examples presented during the Covenant of Mayors Europe webinar “Developing and implementing SECAPs in small and rural municipalities”, co-organised with the CEESEU project.

small et rural municipalities

Small and rural municipalities play a crucial role to achieve the EU climate and energy goals. About 35% of EU population lives in towns and suburbs and about 25% in rural areas. And rural areas represent around 80% of the total European area. At the same time, rural areas, and small municipalities, are facing common challenges and obstacles towards the implementation of policies and climate related project, such as lack of resources, both in terms of budget available and internal expertise, lack of capacity to engage relevant stakeholders and communities, just to mention of couple of hampering factors.

There are several initiatives, tools and inspiring example available to help small and rural municipalities to take energy and climate action and to further implement their SECAPs and Joint SECAPs. Here are some of the key ingredients discussed in our most recent webinar, “Developing and implementing SECAPs in small and rural municipalities”. 

The joint Sustainable Energy & Climate Action Plan

Some municipalities pursue a joint approach to energy and climate change mitigation and adaptation planning by developing the so-called joint SECAP. A joint SECAP refers to a plan that is carried out collectively by a group of neighbouring local authorities engaged in building a common vision, preparing an emission inventory, assessing climate change impacts and defining a set of actions to be implemented both individually and jointly in the concerned territory. It is specially designed for the case of small-sized municipalities with indicatively less than 10,000 inhabitants each. Inter-municipal networks (i.e. union of rural municipalities and Local Action Groups, union of mountain municipalities, river basin group of municipalities, etc.) and urban agglomeration, like a metropolis and its suburbs, are encouraged to consider carrying out a joint SECAP instead of single SECAPs. More details available on the updated Quick Reference Guide on Joint SECAP.

The European Climate Pact

The European Climate Pact is a movement of people united around a common cause, bringing people together to build a more sustainable Europe for all. People, organisations, businesses and cities can get involved in the Pact by making a pledge to take real action. It provides toolkits and innovative ways to support public institutions to engage with citizens in the green transition journey. The Toolkit for European Youth Engagement and the Youth Climate Pact Challenge to scale up youth climate action through co creation. The Youth Climate Pact Dialogue to allow young people to engage in European decision-making. The Peer Parliaments for Cities to actively involve a small groups of citizens to discuss a political question or topic that is currently relevant in the city context. The Climate Pact Ambassadors to make climate work action on the ground.

“Even in a world with AI, the world turns around people” - Katerina Fortun

The Smart Cities Marketplace

The Smart Cities Marketplace helps cities and towns of all sizes to deliver more sustainable urban environments, and offers all the information needed to explore, shape and set up successful smart city projects – in one place. So far, more than 80 successful European climate-neutral and Smart City projects have been implemented in both small and medium-sized towns and in metropolitan areas. Local authorities can receive help to make the match between climate-neutral and smart city projects and potential investors through the Matchmaking process. Since its launch in 2018, roughly 130 projects have been matched with investors, with more than EUR 615 million of investments with the interest of the growing Investor Network.

“The SCM is developing an investment support tool that is quite revolutionary in its kind, like Wikipedia you can dive deeper into the content as you go to get the answers you need.” - Georg Houben

The Rural Pact

The Rural Pact is a formal space and framework to boost cooperation between national, regional and local governments, civil society organisations, businesses, academics and citizens to act towards the shared goals of the EU rural vision. Launched in December 2021, the Pact has been developed with other institutions, stakeholders and members of the Rural Pact community. By joining the Rural Pact, local authorities can get priority access to collaborative platform and events and being informed on developments on all themes of interest to rural life, including consultations.

“In developing our toolkits, we had the practitioners in mind”- Silvia Nanni

The Climate Fresk

The Climate Fresk is a powerful tool for providing a quality climate education, accessible to anyone and with the possibility to be scaled quickly within an organisation or community. It proposes a collaborative serious game based on 42 cards where the participants draw a fresco (mural painting) which summarizes the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Learning from CoMmunity: Central and Eastern European Sustainable Energy Network (CEE countries), Group of municipalities from Mount Vesuvius area (IT), and Gabrovo (BG).

Small and rural municipalities are advancing towards SECAP development and implementation with several methods and approaches. 

In Central and Eastern Europe, the CEESEN network is guiding several CEE local and regional authorities towards EU 2050 climate neutrality goals. Through EU projects, such as the H2020 CEESEU project, CEESEN is increasing the capacity of local and regional sustainable energy practitioners in the CEE to effectively plan, finance, implement and maintain sustainable and just energy initiatives and to create opportunities for stakeholders to communicate the CEE region’s concerns at the EU level. So far, 36 regions from 10 CEE countries are actively involved as member of the network.

In Bulgaria, the municipality of Gabrovo is successfully advancing with SECAP implementation, tackling climate change issues and transforming challenges into opportunities and good practices. Key measures have been implemented in several sectors, as buildings, air quality, urban development, street lighting, transport, water, waste management, soil and forest preservation, public campaigns. The establishment of a local Center for energy efficiency, renovation of municipal facilities, key buildings and residential areas. Development of an innovative project for underground waste management with sensors and of a platform for monitoring the parameters of air quality in the city. Furthermore, Gabrovo joined the EU forest strategy “Deals for soils in Europe”, and is consistently offering educational and raising awareness campaign for all citizens.

In Italy, three small municipalities from the Mount Vesuvius area (Palma Campania, San Giuseppe Vesuviano and Striano) committed to climate and energy actions by developing a joint SECAP. The joint SECAP includes both adaptation and mitigation targets, and identifies three main measures: bundling of public lighting with building renovations in public tendering; deployment of energy communities to tackle energy poverty; raising awareness for youth generation on environmental and circular economy topics. A shared One Stop Shop has been established to coordinate the implementation and monitoring of the joint SECAP. 


Find out more, rewatch the webinar "Developing and implementing SECAPs in small and rural municipalities”, co-organised with the CEESEU project and download the webinar presentations here.

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* CEESEU is a project involving partners of the CEESEN Network (The Central and Eastern European Sustainable Energy Network), which aims to increase communication, cooperation and interaction between local public administrators, stakeholders and policy makers in the CEE at multiple levels and in multiple directions.


Publication date
12 June 2023