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The new challenges for municipalities: climate change

The new challenges for municipalities: climate change

A seminar "Integrating measures for mitigation and adaptation to climate change" was held in Sofia. The forum is organized by NAMRB, as a national partner of the cooperation mechanism within the framework of the Convention of Mayors - the largest movement in the world of cities and regions that take action in the field of climate and energy.

The work of the forum was attended by the Deputy Minister of Environment and Water Reneta Koleva, mayors and deputy mayors of municipalities, representatives of institutions, non-governmental organizations and experts from 29 local administrations in the country. The keynote speakers shared the experience of their municipalities in dealing with climate challenges and encouraged their counterparts in the country to implement comprehensive strategies for adaptation to climate change.

The global networks of local authorities have focused their efforts on supporting regions and municipalities to overcome the pressure of climate change, emphasized the executive director of NSORB Silvia Georgieva at the opening. She drew attention to the fact that in addition to the Convention of Mayors, where 13 Bulgarian municipalities are already members, local authorities are actively working on the issue and within the Network of Balkan Cities B40.

"For us, it is important to provide adequate and correct information to all municipalities about the challenges facing local self-government," said Silvia Georgieva. She outlined the main priorities in the work of NAMRB in the next mandate, which are based on the need for deep transformations in the structure of municipal administrations and in a modern rethinking of their functions and new responsibilities. "The new mandate of the local government will be oriented towards systemic changes in the overall functioning of the municipalities, aimed at consistent implementation of green policies. A significant part of the efforts of NSORB will be oriented towards supporting the municipalities in this direction" - said the executive director of NSORB at the opening of the seminar.

Gabrovo is among 100 cities that have declared their readiness to achieve carbon neutrality. In 2021, the municipality won the environmental award of the European Commission - "European Green Leaf", and last year the Action Plan of the Municipality of Gabrovo for sustainable energy and climate until 2030 was adopted. The Mayor of Gabrovo Tania Hristova, who is the national ambassador of Bulgaria at the Convention of Mayors and chairman of the SEDEC Commission of the European Committee of the Regions, presented the long-term efforts of the municipality to introduce a set of policies aimed at sustainable development.

"The Green Deal outlines the steps we need to commit to. We are already in a situation where it is critically important what we will do in response to climate challenges," Tanya Hristova emphasized in her presentation. She emphasized that actions aimed at reducing the negative impacts of climate change must be consistent, well thought out and comprehensive. See in detail.

In recent years, the Metropolitan Municipality has been actively developing partnerships with scientific circles and higher schools, the deputy mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality, Desislava Bileva, emphasized in her speech. Scientific councils have been formed under the mayor of Sofia, which work actively in finding the most effective solutions on specific topics related to sustainable development.

Sofia and Burgas work in partnership within the "Sunny Cities" project. Energy audits have already been done on all public buildings. The scope of the survey is to be expanded to identify the possibilities of installing photovoltaic stations and on the roofs of private buildings.

Burgas is among the leaders in the application of sustainable practices and within the forum Ivaylo Trendafilov presented the municipality's experience in researching the potential of buildings on the city's territory for solar energy production and various opportunities for citizens to be integrated into the process.

Since 2022, an Energy Office has been operating in Burgas, which has already provided consultations in the field of energy renovation to over 2,500 households. At the moment, there is serious interest among citizens and businesses in installing photovoltaic installations.

The Municipality of Burgas plans to organize thematic weeks, within which people will be introduced to various aspects and practices of home renovation, technologies that reduce energy consumption, the possibilities of extracting energy from RES, etc. The goal is that with a series of educational seminars, video materials and meetings with specialists, everyone will have the opportunity to gain knowledge in the field of interest and make an informed choice when undertaking the renovation of their home.

The MoEW has developed a National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change, which includes priorities and measures in 10 sectors, announced the Deputy Minister of Environment and Water Reneta Koleva. She emphasized that a significant part of the practical actions aimed at controlling the impact of climate change are carried out by the municipalities. Natural solutions have a particularly important role to play in addressing climate challenges. The protection and development of urban green systems pave the way to achieving the common goals for a low-carbon society, emphasized Reneta Koleva. She assured the participants in the conference that the MoEW is working to introduce a national deposit system for waste, which would expand the current separate collection model.

Irena Pencheva from the National Trust Ecofund presented details of the initiatives of the municipalities that, in partnership with the Fund, work on the project "Implementation of innovative measures for mitigation and adaptation to climate change in municipalities in Bulgaria". It is funded under the EEA Environmental Protection and Climate Change Program and is aimed at improving the capacity of local authorities to plan and identify creative and innovative solutions for urban planning and their implementation for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The donor partner is the Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) in Norway in cooperation with the Western Norwegian Research Institute. The pilot municipalities that are already working on their original solutions contributing to the adaptation to climate change are Burgas, Varna, Kardjali, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sliven, Sofia and Stara Zagora. You can see the presentation of the project here.

Municipal administrations have experts with solid potential, with an attitude for innovative thinking, who can create innovative solutions related to the prevention of the negative impact of climate change, emphasized the EU Chairman of NDEF.

"There are not very expensive but adequate solutions that are naturally based and with them miracles can be achieved. Municipalities are one of the fastest to understand that wisely invested funds have a great return with a long-term vision and a significant effect", stressed Irena Pencheva.

Magdalena Machekova, a consultant on adaptation to climate change, arrived in our country especially to participate in the forum organized by NAMRB. She presented budget and effective solutions that can be successfully applied in the populated areas in our country.

In order to guarantee the ecological balance, in some cities a regulated ratio between parked cars and planted trees is introduced, said Machekova. She talked about the transformation of brownfields that are used for urban agriculture with educational goals aimed at children.

In order to stimulate active civic participation in the Czech Republic, a special prize for ideas on adapting to climate change "Adapter" has been established.

The options for financial support of investments in the field of energy independence were presented by experts from the FLAG Fund.