The Covenant of Mayors – Europe initiative emerged 15 years ago in response to the pressing global challenges posed by climate change and the need for sustainable urban development. Officially launched with a ceremony on February 10th 2009 by the European Commission, the Covenant of Mayors was designed as a voluntary commitment by local authorities to go beyond the European Union's climate and energy objectives. By joining the initiative, cities and municipalities pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance energy efficiency, and increase their use of renewable energy sources.
The initiative has since grown into a powerful movement, with thousands of signatory cities across Europe working together to combat climate change and create resilient, low-carbon and just communities. The Covenant of Mayors' significance lies in its ability to mobilise local leaders and through them, citizens and local stakeholders, fostering a bottom-up approach to climate action, and driving transformative change at the grassroots level.
As the Covenant of Mayors launches its 15-year anniversary campaign, it does so at a moment of paramount importance in the global and European climate action landscape. The 15-year milestone is a timely occasion to reflect on the initiative’s journey through stories from the Covenant community and to identify opportunities and needs to accelerate local implementation of climate goals in the critical years to come.
Since its inception 15 years ago, the Covenant of Mayors – Europe initiative has witnessed a profound evolution in the landscape of climate and energy action on the continent. The landmark Paris Climate Accords in 2015 set the stage for stronger global commitments to limit temperature rise and mitigate climate change impacts. Subsequently, the European Union launched its ambitious European Green Deal, aiming to make Europe the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050. In this rapidly changing context, the Covenant of Mayors signatory cities advance in taking tangible action against climate change and contribute to the EU’s high-level ambitions.
However, the escalating climate crisis demands a renewed focus on implementation and rapid scaling up of efforts. Today more than ever, urgency is paramount. As cities remain at the forefront of the battle against the worsening climate crisis, the Covenant must keep empowering local authorities to lead the way in driving meaningful change.
Together for ambitious energy and climate action
This meaningful change is reflected not only in gathering commitments from cities, but also in the transformative procedures initiated through the Covenant. Looking beyond the breadth of the movement, reflected by the number of signatories and the development of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs) throughout Europe, the importance of the initiative also lies in the essential processes and governance structures that underpin its success.
First and foremost, the Covenant of Mayors helps making a stronger link between the EU’s energy and climate agenda, and the everyday European citizen. City governments play a key role in mobilising their local communities in the actions that will bring the EU Green Deal to life. By establishing local pacts and putting in place diverse participatory processes around climate and energy, Covenant signatories are helping to root the EU Green Deal in local action, ensuring it’s participative and democratic. Along with initiatives like the EU Climate Pact, the Covenant leverages local energy to drive change from the bottom-up.
Beyond Covenant of Mayors has been encouraging the connection of climate and energy planning and action across various levels of government. As Europe sets its sights on achieving climate neutrality by 2050, effective multilevel governance is the bedrock of successful implementation of the EU Green Deal. Over the years, with the help of national coordinators and supporters, the Covenant of Mayors has been working to facilitate alignment of EU, national, regional, and local climate and energy action, so that action plans are streamlined with EU and national priorities, funding opportunities and resources.
Towards the implementation of the EU Green Deal
Besides cooperation between levels of governments, the Covenant of Mayors also is set on creating reinforcing essential alliances with other EU-led urban initiatives.
Urban initiatives such as Smart Cities Marketplace, the EU City Facility and the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub, among many others, serve as essential complements to the Covenant of Mayors. They provide operational support that address challenges such as lack of capacity and skills, and limited access to funding, preventing local governments from implementing.
The 15-year campaign will culminate at the high-level Conference for Mayors organised by the Belgian Presidency on March 15th, 2024, "Translating the EU Green Deal into local action". This event will shine a spotlight on multilevel governance practices that empower local leaders to drive the implementation of the EU Green Deal. It will also bring together the most important initiatives working for cities at EU level to work as one, really serving cities’ needs and unifying their voices at European level. The event will mark the entrance into a new era for Europe and the Covenant of Mayors, aspiring for increased impact of cities’ climate action.
Mark your calendars now for the 15 March 2024. More information coming in October!
Follow the Campaign
15 Years of Covenant of Mayors, connecting energy and climate action across Europe
Over the past 15 years, the Covenant has come a long way, evolving from an idea into a driving force for climate action across Europe. But the climate crisis has intensified, laying out urgent and difficult work ahead. As the Covenant of Mayors’ 15-year anniversary approaches, it's not just about celebrating the past but also setting the stage for an even more impactful future.
Join our 15-year campaign to honour cities’ bold action and highlight the support they need for this new era of implementation!
Make your voice heard: What has the Covenant of Mayors brought to your city, region or country? What do you want to see going forward? Contact us at email@example.com.
- Publication date
- 26 September 2023