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The 1st interregional meeting of ClimateGO – Pathways to climate smart governance -project was arranged in Lahti, Finland on 11.-12. June 2024. Altogether 20 project partners and stakeholders from six European countries gathered to meet and greet each other and to discuss the current state of climate policy and governance in the regions. The meeting was hosted by LAB University of Applied Sciences and Regional Council of Päijät-Häme. Regions represented were Alzira (Spain), Podravje-Maribor (Slovenia), Grenoble (France), Waterford (Ireland), Košice (Slovakia) and Päijät-Häme (Finland).  

Similar Challenges Unite Partner Regions

The main goal of the ClimateGO-project is to enhance the capabilities of administrative bodies and policymakers to create effective climate-smart and resilient policies, as well as to improve their ability to implement these policies successfully. With this target in mind,  each project partner presented their region’s plans and tools to solve the challenge at hand.  

During the discussions inspired by the presentations, joint challenges were recognized. One crucial question to be solved is how to keep up the dialogue on climate actions with policymakers between the reigns. To enhance the continuity of the climate work on an administrative level the ClimateGO project can have an important role e.g., by actively engaging regional stakeholders. The role of stakeholders becomes important precisely from the point of view of continuity. Therefore, regional stakeholder groups have been formed in each partner region.

Other common challenges identified were the slowness of decision-making processes and difficulties identifying the importance of the operational level. Climate work doesn’t end in the finalization of strategies. The project partners also agreed that even though many of the problems are the same, solutions can vary between different regions.

Project manager telling about Päijät-Häme for meeting participants

Picture 1. Maarit Virtanen from the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme presented the Päijät-Häme region’s current state of climate work. (Picture: Hanna Suutari)

How Is the Narrative of Climate-smart Governance?

When talking about the implementation of climate-smart and resilient governance, one important aspect is the level of ambition. How do we define a success story? To answer this question Elina Ojala and Laura Matkala from the city of Lahti presented how Lahti has succeeded in getting climate plans into actions. Lahti’s journey from industrial city to European Green Capital in the year 2021 has been eventful. It all started with the restoration of Lake Vesijärvi 50 years ago. Now, words and actions point in the direction of nature positivity. One concrete example of living like you are writing in strategies is the renovation of the Lahti city hall during which up to 99% of the demolition waste was recycled on site.

Partners standing in front of Lahti city hall colourful doors

Picture 2. During the Lahti city hall tour, participants heard about Lahti’s journey to European Green Capital 2021 and the history of the sustainably renovated governance building. (Picture: Inga Blomqvist)

Climate Walks and Other Good Practices

At the heart of Interreg Europe projects is to recognize and share good practices among different regions. Good practices are defined as inspiring and tested policy solutions identified by cooperation projects. As a one example of good practices, participants took a climate walk along stormwater management site at Hennala district. The walk was conducted by stormwater management specialist Juhani Järveläinen from the city of Lahti. Climate walks are a concept developed to guide policymakers and administrators in climate-smart decision-making through concrete examples.

Storm water management site with Juhani presenting the works

Picture 3. Juhani Järveläinen from the city of Lahti presented the storm water management system at Hennala district. The presentation was part of a climate walk, a concept tested in Päijät-Häme. (Picture: Hanna Suutari)

To share a common understanding and to be able to recognize and share good practices of climate-smart governance, the “Good practices” for the project were defined together. To bring the jointly defined concept on a practical level, we also heard presentations of two ERDF-funded projects, Pilot Green, and Steps to prepare for climate change. In these projects the developed and tested tools and models, such as climate walks, could further serve as regional examples from good practices identified in Päijät-Häme.

“Sustainability and green transition are at the core of Päijät-Häme regional strategies. As a Regional Council, we also support municipalities in, for example, drafting their own climate plans. ClimateGO provides a valuable opportunity to share information and lessons learned about climate smart governance to ensure the continuity of strategies, and their implementation,” says Maarit Virtanen, Project Manager.

Project activities continue by enhancing the regional stakeholder cooperation. Next interregional meeting in Slovakia will take its place in the beginning of year 2025. The theme of the next meeting is “Climate policy implementation in practice”.

Further Information

Maarit Virtanen
Project Manager
Regional Council of Päijät-Häme
Marjut Villanen
LAB University of Applied Sciences
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