Regio1st is a European project that aims to raise awareness about the Energy Efficiency First principle (EE1st) among regional governments and their energy agencies and supports them in making related decisions in their energy and climate planning. It does so through the provision of appropriate guidance to regional authorities to embed the EE1st principle in their decisions and in the implementation of their energy plans departing from six participant regions and expanding to over 100 regions in the EU. The Regio1st Planning Framework, a comprehensive and flexible roadmap oriented to decision-making under the EE1st principle, will assist all parts of this task.
One of the first steps of the project has been the organisation of regional workshops by the six pilot regions (Southeast Ireland, the Asturian region in Spain, Medjimurje county in Croatia, the Ligurian region in Italy, Slovenia, Western Macedonia in Greece) thanks to the local and regional energy agencies members of the consortium. This was the first round of workshops out of a series of five, that will be organised over the course of the project.
The first round of regional workshops were led from January to June 2023 gathered over 60 stakeholders from regional or municipal authorities and allowed to raise their awareness about the EE1st principle and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).
Depending on the needs and situation of different participating regions and municipalities, the formats of the workshops were different. Some of the pilot regions favored several small meetings with different municipalities, and some others rather organised one large workshop with different technical and political staff from municipalities or regions. Therefore, the method also varied, applying group work like MENEA in Čakovec or using interactive tools like CluBE in Kozani.
Over the course of the workshops, different difficulties were pointed out according to the different regions. The Western Macedonia region, for example, expressed human and time capacity limitations. The Southeast Ireland and Medjimurje counties underlined the lack of national legal obligation to implement the EE1st principle and the lack of awareness of the local authorities on EE1st principle and energy efficiency. The last flagged boundary is the financial limitation due to small subsidies, underlined by the regions of Ormoz and Medjimurje.
Despite the diverse challenges, a common point came out: the knowledge gap and lack of information from technical and political staff of local and regional planning entities on the EE1st principle and its implementation. Therefore, the online Planning Framework that Regio1st is developing becomes key in overcoming this issue. This tool is indeed designed to help the integration and implementation of the EE1st principle into local and regional planification.
As most of the participating authorities are already in the process of implementing regional energy and climate plans, and that the EE1st principle must be considered, the Regio1st Planning Framework is also fundamental to bring them an additional form of support and ensure the smooth implementation of the EE1st principle at the local level, in EU regions.
To further help regional planners, a training program is going to be available in the frame of the project. If you are interested by the Regio1st project’s next series of workshops, online platform and training program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.