|GP: The City of Zagreb and the Croatia Regional Energy Agency organized an Energy Week-Croatia|
This project focused on raising the awareness of citizens on various issues related to energy consumption and energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and alternative fuels, as well as achieving a better synergy between the economic and scientific institutions.
The City of Zagreb, together with the NW Croatia Regional Energy Agency, implemented the project 'Zagreb Energy Week (ZEW)'. The main objective of this project was to encourage the involvement of all stakeholders in the fight against climate change and the reduction of CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020. ZEW was a unique combination of various events aiming at promoting energy savings, measures of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and environmentally friendly fuel. The project included all the major networks and structures that are essential for the promotion and dissemination of knowledge in the field of energy.
As part of the ZEW project, a variety of different target groups and institutions were involved; the participants ranked from small children (17 kindergartens); pupils (18 primary schools, 7 high schools); students and professors (5 technical faculties); chambers (economic, craftsman); development agencies, scientific institutions, as well as NGOs.
A charter of cooperation between energy agencies in Croatia was signed as a declaration of willingness to support each other in national and international projects. It also acted as a commitment for raising awareness about sustainable energy use among the general public. At the main city square in Zagreb an exhibition of companies, entrepreneurs and professional associations active in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources was held.
The ZEW was organized by the City of Zagreb, the City Office of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development together with the project's main partners: North-West Croatia Regional Energy Agency, the University of Zagreb, various institutions, trade associations, private companies and civil associations. The City of Zagreb provided the main source of funding for this project, while other partners made smaller contributions.
The main result of the ZEW project were that the educational programs were presented to approximately 500 kindergarten children (in 17 kindergartens), more than 7000 primary and secondary school pupils (in 18 primary and 7 secondary schools), as well as over 500 students (across 5 faculties). In addition, more than 50 primary school principals are now familiar with the benefits of the application of energy efficient and healthy lighting in classrooms.
More than 200 entrepreneurs and business owners are now familiar with the possibilities for development existent within the energy sector, along with the necessary adjustments to new market conditions. More than 100 innovator-entrepreneurs are aware of the possibility of developing innovative products, the commercialization process, as well as institutional support for innovative entrepreneurship.
More than 150 economists are now familiar with the Action Plan for implementing the energy strategy of the Republic of Croatia and the possibilities for economic development and financing of projects in the field of energy. And over 400 engineers were addressed and encouraged to apply new technological solutions to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
Finally, over 180 mayors and representatives of local government were informed of the objectives and obligations of the Covenant of Mayors initiative (namely producing a Sustainable Energy Action Plan), as well as the expected results and opportunities to finance planned activities and sustainable actions.
Lessons learned and replicability
The main barriers for project realization were the public prejudice and suspicion regarding the benefits of RES and energy efficiency; and the cooperation amongst public authorities, agencies and private companies regarding energy and spatial planning to tackle sustainable development. The latter drove into indifferent from the citizens for sustainable development issues
However, more possitive lessons learned refer to the importance of public awareness on sustainable development; the involvement of different institutions, agencies and local governments in order to achieve sustainable development and cooperation between public bodies and all other stakeholders is essential. It was highlighted the necessity of education regarding energy issues and sustainable development; this applies to education at all levels, from childhood (kindergartens), faculty professors, technical experts; to politicians and decision makers.
Additionally, cooperation must be established amongst energy agencies – the charter of Croatian regional and local energy agencies is a good example of such cooperation; and the media representatives must raise public awareness of the need for sustainable development
The Zagreb Energy Week uniqueness as an event must be emphasized. All the relevant stakeholders for sustainable dev0elopment have been involved in this project. It has presented an innovative approach and tailor-made materials for each different target audience. Furthermore, it has involved numerous institutions, from public authorities, schools, faculties, energy agencies, international experts, media and non-governmental institutions. Above all, it has successfully highlighted the issue of sustainable development among citizens, pupils, students, as well as experts and decision makers. It is therefore an excellent example for cities and counties across Europe.