IGEMO: PentaHelix Approach Nearing Full Speed

In the Mechelen region of Belgium, IGEMO has been active implementing the Pentahelix approach of drafting SECAPs since March 2018. After a slow start due to local elections in its municipalities, causing council decisions to join CoM 2030 to be postponed to 2019-20, IGEMO is now going full speed ahead and is almost ready to deliver its first approved Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs). An update on how it’s going!

In pilot municipality Berlaar, despite of you-know-which virus, two local Pentahelix task forces were held in 2020. Moreover, in two separate workshops Berlaar’s municipality staff dug deeper into possible measures to be implemented in addition to the local government’s already ambitious multi-annual budget, containing many climate-related measures and actions. All information gathered from these workshops and documents is now being collected and summarized into the local SECAP, of which the Province of Antwerp together with IGEMO drafted the basic version during 2020. Soon the Board of Mayor and Aldermen/women will decide on the key actions to be included in the final document, which they hope to put forward for approval by the City Council in the first quarter of 2021.

Replicator municipality Puurs-Sint-Amands, a town famous around Europe these days for being home to a large Pfizer Covid-vaccine production facility, is on the same track as Berlaar. Their very active and engaged Pentahelix task force met four times during 2020, gathering a lot of feedback on the basic climate action plan and targets, measures and actions to be included. As in Berlaar, this input was brought together with the ideas of the municipality staff and the equally ambitious municipal multi-annual budget. Following a proposal by task forces members, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen/women agreed to raise the bar for its own municipal organisation, local mobility and housing to -50% versus 2012. The key actions already politically approved, all seems set for a swift approval of their SECAP in March 2021.

Since joining CoM 2030 in January 2020, Pentahelix replicator municipalities Bornem and Willebroek managed to get their task forces on track despite the virus, although that did hamper proceedings. Two meetings with the Pentahelix pillars were held in each municipality, all four welcoming many dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. In both towns, separate so-called ‘spearhead groups’ were set up to focus on specific sectors, such as housing and renovation, blue-green infrastructure and local and circular consumption. These focus groups will help deepening the proposals in the draft SECAP, which is due for approval by the end of 2021.

After joining CoM as one of the first municipalities in the IGEMO region, in November 2020 Duffel managed to bring together a wide range of well-informed stakeholders from all Pentahelix pillars in their first online task force. Together with IGEMO and the Province of Antwerp, the local government is dedicated to speeding up the SECAP drafting process in 2021, aiming to meet CoM’s two-year deadline for approval without lowering quality standards.

IGEMO was delighted to see Putte join CoM for the first time in August 2020. Virus concerns have delayed a rapid start of the Pentahelix process, the first meeting in November having to be cancelled. In 2021 however, nothing will hold the municipality and IGEMO back from getting the SECAP drafting and stakeholder participation process underway.

In total, about 100 unique stakeholders are now involved in the local Pentahelix task forces. IGEMO hopes to extend that number the coming year and aims at setting up a seventh local task force in Sint-Katelijne-Waver, the only possible replicator left in its region. In the whole Province of Antwerp, 66 municipalities out of a possible 69 have now joined CoM 2030, comprising about 1,8 million inhabitants. In Belgium, the Covenant of Mayors will thus continue to be the cornerstone of local climate action in the next decade.

Illustration: The front page of each SECAP in the IGEMO region, illustrating some possible climate measures to be implemented. Design by the Province of Antwerp.