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Session 9How different local institutions and citizens can work together towards the energy transition

Throughout this site, we have used different case studies to illustrate how public (owned by a local authority or the state) and citizen (owned by a group of citizens, community group or cooperative) ownership of energy systems can be an integral part of the energy transition. In this page we examine the ways in which various local institutions and groups can work together towards the energy transition.

As we have discussed on previous pages, ensuring more of our services are delivered from the public/civic sector can have many benefits. Such as profit being returned to people through direct investment in local infrastructure, tariffs that are reviewed alongside earnings and clearer lines of accountability and oversight; overall ensuring that bosses aren’t being paid premium profit during times of energy crisis! Collaborations between different local bodies can not only increase capacity for the work, it can also ensure that more people are involved or benefit and that the public sector becomes more robust. For example, if local groups team up with the council, the council might provide capacity by allowing a paid staff member to support the group. Such as in Plymouth, UK and Kronenberg, The Netherlands.

TNI have written some great explainers on why public-public partnerships are important. You can read a brief explainer here and an article on what we can learn from countries who are moving away from public-private partnerships (and the lessons learnt), towards public-public partnerships.

Working in this way crosses over with many different economic models that explore boosting local economies in ways that centre environmental and human wellbeing. A great way of understanding this more is through the model of Community Wealth Building. The basic premise is that wealth is generated and spent in an area, thus revitalising or vitalising localities that use this approach. This is done through utilising 'anchor institutions' that have a lot of economic potential in an area due to the number of local staff they hire or assets they own - such as universities and hospitals. We recommend checking out the pioneering work that CLES have done on this. CLES also participated in the mPOWER project and have released a fantastic report on using community wealth building for the energy transition, that you can access here.

You can also check out this short video that demonstrates the potential of anchor networks which are at the core of the community wealth building approach.

Other economic models that can be useful when thinking about partnerships are the doughnut model, and circular economy. Brussels have done some fantastic work on how creating a building sector that is based on a circular economy, ensuring more jobs are created and the environmental impact and emissions are reduced. You can see the documentary we made about this below.

Alongside this, we are pragmatists; and we understand that in some cases you may feel that it is necessary to work with private bodies towards the same goal. However in these instances, we believe that greater care is needed to ensure that proper governance and accountability systems are in place, and that these are monitoring that set values are adhered to.

A fantastic example of local authority working with local organisations to further the energy transition can be found in Brussels. They worked with the local building unions and businesses to develop a circular economy, create more jobs and alleviate social issues in the process. Check out the documentary below to find out more.