Improved planning in the sector ‘energy and energy efficiency’ is a priority – due to its impact on economic development, environment and the daily life of local communities. To increase the capacity of Iraqi Local Authorities in this regard, LADP supported the three KRI Governorates – Erbil, Dohuk and Suleimaniah – to develop Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs) and to become the first Iraqi members of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (CoM).

SEAPs provide efficient tools of concrete planning for clean energy and renewable energy actions. SEAPs should be seen as sectoral plans which provide instruments to optimise the use of energy and natural resources, optimise financial resources, decrease fiscal constraints, and add value to the economy – including through green solutions for priority infrastructure and public services. While they seek to reduce CO2 and GHG emissions, SEAP also support the fight against climate change. Local Authorities in Iraq regard SEAPs as tools to move away from oil-dependent economy and introduce new culture of sustainable resource use and environmental protection.

LADP introduced Iraqi Authorities to the SEAP concept at the LADP Regional Workshop on Sustainable Planning and Saving Clean Energy for Cities (13–14 Dec 2015, Istanbul). The workshow discussed the benefits of involving local actors in energy sector planning and the applicability of EU best practices to the Iraqi context – with focus on developing strategic planning frameworks. It was vital for linking Iraqi participants with the EU CoM and CES-MED initiatives. Most Governorates pledged an interest in developing SEAPs. Additionally, the benefits of engaging in SEAP preparation were promoted to a wide range of stakeholders at the Conference for start of NDP preparation (29 Apr-01 May 2017, Erbil).

With support from the LADP/UNDP team, the pilot Governorates completed their SEAPs by end-2017 following the EU CoM methodology for the Southern Mediterranean Region – including: (1) data collection and elaboration of Baseline Emissions Inventory; (2) identification of sustainable energy actions in 4 areas (urban transport, residential buildings, public and industrial sector buildings, public lighting); and (3) elaboration of the SEAP and 5 priority project fiches. The bottom-up participatory process involved a number of focus groups with stakeholders, while 8 projects were identified through Student Competition on sustainable energy. The methodology maintained the main principles of CBSP.

The implementation of the SEAPs will have a direct effect on meeting of Iraq’s INDCs commitments per COP 21. The SEAPs are ready to be presented to potential investors and funding instruments. MoP-KRG has demonstrated political will to draft and adopt a regional framework for SEAPs implementation.

In Feb 2018 the three KRI Governorates became the first Iraqi signatories to EU CoM. As such, they now have the possibility to exchange knowledge and experience and form future partnerships with local authorities from the EU and the region to work together toward cleaner energy and sustainable development.

Beyond government action, resource preservation and climate action require conscious and informed effort by individuals. Therefore, to support the preparation of SEAPs and their future successful implementation, in 2017 LADP carried out a major public awareness campaign targeting youth as key community mobiliser – including through dedicated SEAP Facebook page. The Student Competition and educational playgrounds were a huge success. The very high interest in all events accompanying the development of SEAPs testifies to the growing priority of the environment for people.