Fostering public capacity to plan, finance and manage integrated urban REGeneration for sustainable energy uptake

Training for public officers involved in urban regeneration

Integrated urban regeneration

Multilevel coordination


FosterREG aims at enhancing public capacity at local, regional and national levels to plan, finance and manage integrated urban regeneration for sustainable energy uptake, through capacity building, promotion and articulation of effective multilevel coordination, and national as well as European network strengthening. These objectives will be achieved through public stakeholders’ engagement in joint analysis and knowledge development activities, as well as creation and dissemination of targeted training materials and activities across Europe. Read more...                    

Overview of capacity building activities in the Netherlands

After the success of the collaborative analysis phase last year in the Netherlands, in the second half of the project the Dutch FosterREG partners have shifted the focus and attention to actual capacity building of public officers. From the collaborative analyses remained three national strategies to build further on. The first effort in the Netherlands was to call together again all participants who were actively involved in the formulation of the strategies, and to continue working on these, towards concrete implementation plans.

Dutch Green deal – Gasfree Districts
Of all three strategies, the one dealing with phasing out natural gas for domestic use was acknowledged as the most relevant and co-emerged with a nation-wide societal debate of reducing natural gas exploitation from the subsoil in the north of the Netherlands. Many municipalities, national ministries, large NGO’s, grid operators and many more stakeholders in the Dutch energy field, started a national debate of how to reduce the use of natural gas in the near future. In parallel with the lobby from both TNO and the City of Utrecht, the debate resulted in the establishment of a national Green Deal. Thirty Municipalities, all bringing in at least one demonstration district, three Ministries (Economic Affairs, Interior Affairs, Infrastructure and Environment), regional authorities (provinces), grid operators and TNO have worked together on the text of this Green Deal, and officially signed the deal on 8th of March 2017 in Utrecht. The Green Deal approach aims to remove project barriers for other stakeholders: from rules & regulations to financing. Green deals preferably intend to inspire others to create more impact. However, TNO has primarily focused on including and setting up a knowledge management structure, which makes the mutual learning and capacity building of municipal authorities and many others as an intrinsic part of this Green Deal.
On the 14th of March the Kick-off event of the Green Deal Gasfree district had place in the city of Utrecht. The event was organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and their executing agency (RVO), TNO and the NGO HIER klimaatbureau together. At least 80 participants were present during the event. The vast majority were policy officers from the over 30 partner municipalities, next to policy makers of national ministries and other governmental agencies. Other participants came from NGO’s, semi-government, umbrella organizations and a small set of private companies. The event was a successful kick-off of the Green Deal which inspires and generates an emerging consciousness for the need to shift towards sustainable heating of residential neighbourhoods. The event had multiple objectives which were achieved successfully: knowledge was shared, novel connections were established and eagerness for a continuation was triggered. Follow-up events are organized, in order to provide more in-depth sessions on specific topics.
By the Green Deal it is ensured that the main lessons and results of FosterREG project will continue to outline the public capacity necessary to plan, finance and manage energy efficiency in urban regeneration, also after FosterREG ends.

Gasfree districts within Municipality of Utrecht

The Municipality of Utrecht, as another driving force of setting up the Green Deal, is setting a high standard, when it comes to climate goals for the near future. They strive to be fossil free in 2030, and concluded that natural gas use for domestic heating doesn’t match this goal. Being one of the four largest cities in the Netherlands, the ambition requires strong plans and powerful players to make the districts fossil free and natural gas free by 2030. Two important capacity building actions have taken place: one to increase the general sense of urgency within the authorities’ own organization; the other on documenting the lessons learned until this moment.
Just at the end of FosterREG project, a large knowledge event is organized at the Municipality of Utrecht, to inform a wider group of city authority representatives, from urban planning and environment to energy. The program takes off with an introduction to the enormous challenge to decarbonize the energy system. In the same program, a number of alternative energy solutions will be presented by energy experts. In the end, time is dedicated to discuss the effect of gas free districts on the daily practice of the participants: how should city authority employees change their way of working, make different choices or shape policies in a different way, in order to support the realization of the ambitious goals.
As the city of Utrecht has already been working on planning gas free districts for some time now, the focus of FosterREG capacity building actions, also provided the opportunity to document the lessons learned so far. This has results in a info-graphic type of roadmap, answering questions like who, what, when and quantifying the number of households, and resources necessary to finance this fossil free future of the city.
From FosterREG partners and stakeholders involved in the capacity building activities in the Netherlands, we have received the confirmation that the process, actions and lessons learned from FosterREG project have contributed to make a significant step forward in addressing the public capacities to collectively work on a sustainable energy system and built environment of the future.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 649846