Integrated planning helps local authorities to create sustainable energy and climate plans – report

(eceee news, 3 Mar 2023) The report “Stocktake on available good planning practices”, issued by Fedarene, a European network of energy agencies and local and regional authorities, introduces this integrated vision for energy, climate, mobility, and spatial planning.

The so-called “IN-PLAN practice” is a long-lasting support structure enabling local and regional authorities to effectively implement their sustainable energy and climate plans.

All key actors must be brought together in achieving the EU objectives to become climate neutral by 2050 and enabling a just and inclusive transition, according to the report. This also includes local and regional governments, citizens, academia, and businesses. 

The EU itself has no general competence in the field of spatial planning; but there are variety of spatial planning practices and policies adopted in the Member States rooted in their respective planning customs and traditions, according to the report.

Integrated spatial planning is now a “key agent” and a driver for implementing transformative processes and actions and for better management and implementation of a territory’s economic, social, cultural, and ecological policies, according to the study. It also allows all people to be supported and include those most vulnerable to sustainability challenges.

The selected partners in the project reviewed, and identified a comprehensive and tested set of instruments, practices, current standards, and approaches used for spatial, energy, and climate planning in European local and regional authorities. They conducted desktop research on available scientific work and other relevant information sources, including projects funded by different EU programmes, local and EU initiatives.

The report identifies learnings from the use of integrated planning, and draws 6 key steps to success that IN-PLAN partners recommend to local authorities and urban planners, for a successful integrated planning approach: 

  • Create a governance structure and governance plan to ensure vertical and horizontal cooperation; 
  • Assess the local context for opportunities and barriers: Review existing plans and legislations to ensure consistency; 
  • Engage stakeholders and citizens from the very beginning: Create an engagement and implementation strategy to ensure a shared strategic vision and common use of planning instruments and tools; 
  • Use data: Define a data collection and management plan to ensure consistency, reliability, and accessibility of data; 
  • Create the plan: Develop a flexible action, monitoring, and continuation plan to ensure compliance and impact; 
  • Implement high-resolution spatial plans, adopt good practices and use innovative planning-support tools to support common understanding, aid in visualising the goals and foresee the challenges and opportunities.

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Download the report here