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 local and regional actors (cities, regions, energy agencies, etc.) 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.
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 and range of members 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. Local governments and energy agencies play a key role in mobilising the local communities in the actions that will bring the EU Green Deal to life. By putting in place diverse participatory processes around climate and energy, Covenant members are helping to root the EU Green Deal in local action.
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 territorial 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.
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 on climate and energy 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.