Coopenergy’s mission has been to share good practice and promote coordinated approaches to delivering sustainable energy plans. As part of this work, Coopenergy partners organised knowledge exchanges with other European regions, lying outside the partner consortium, in order to test if different MLG models for energy planning could be transferred from one region to another. From these knowledge exchanges we identified several factors that are essential for ensuring an MLG model can be effectively replicated from one region to another…
10.1 Top tips for replicating MLG models
- Get commitment from decision makers to make replication happen. Officialise your commitment to work together in the long-term. Committing resources to work together will ensure you can effectively share practice and techniques and have the time to implement them properly within your own regions;
- Understand regional contexts - it is important to understand the local context, governance structures and frameworks in both regions. Identifying differences and similarities will enable both partners to identify the most realistic and effective way of replicating a model from one region to another. Allow extra time to build this understanding and communicate regularly, documenting what has been agreed;
- Allocate resources - budget for both time and for the costs of having some personal and remote meetings between partners. It takes time to build trust and to understand the partnership approach (MLG model) another region has taken. Don’t forget to budget for implementing this MLG model and for follow-up!
- Arrange smaller meetings – small meetings - where MLG models can be discussed in depth, questions can be asked and confidential conversations can be had - are often more useful for replication models than big workshops or conferences. Well prepared prior communication between partners is a must to ensure rewarding work and results;
- Face-to-face communication – while there are more and more tools for distance learning with each other, face-to-face meetings are helpful to build trust, enable clear communications and discuss in detail how good practice in one region can be replicated to the other;
- Share the lows as well as the highs – share any barriers or lessons you learnt, as well as the successes of your model. Learning about what went wrong, why, and how this was overcome, is an effective exercise for determining how an MLG model can be replicated;
- Involve your stakeholders early – consider involving external stakeholders in your meetings early on – they will be more positive to replicating the model as a result;
- Be specific! Try to focus on one or two models in order to reach concrete results and make limited resources go further;
- Both regions can benefit – the learning process is rarely ‘one-way’. Both partners will learn from each other. However, exchanging knowledge with a very similar region offers more chances of equal and mutual learning; while exchanging with a dissimilar region might have more potential for innovation on both sides;
- Long-term collaboration – an established contact will hopefully last and grow even after the implementation of one specific MLG model. To achieve this, look beyond the MLG model and be open to further fields of collaboration. This is really rewarding!
10.2 Replicating MLG approaches in your region: step-by-step
As part of our work to test and transfer good practice models in MLG from one region to another, partners developed a step-by-step approach to ensure a successful transfer.
Recommended steps for successful replication
Coopenergy partners adapted the RUR@ACT methodology for transferring good practices and took into account results from other IEE projects that held knowledge exchanges in the context of the EU 202020 targets and SEAP development. This method is based on having one region who is sharing information on their MLG model (the advisory region) with another region who wishes to learn more about that model (partner region)The method involves 7 steps for an effective exchange:
- Step 1: define the expectations and needs of the partner regions – to ensure the MLG model or good practice that is transferred corresponds to a real need in the region who wishes to replicate it
- Step 2: self-evaluation of the advisory region to describe their areas of competence – this step ensures that the knowledge, good practices and information shared by the advisory region will be useful to the specific needs of the partner region;
- Step 3: comparative analysis and building pairs - steps 1 and 2 determine how well the advisory region can meet the needs of the partner region. Based on steps 1 and 2, both regions should now assess whether they are best matched to undertake an exchange, or whether they need to undertake further work to identify a suitable region to hold a knowledge exchange with;
- Step 4: preparing the ground for visits: organisational issues and partnership agreements - step 4 is about making the preparations for organising a successful exchange. A partnership agreement will be signed (such as a MoU) to show willingness to work on MLG in sustainable energy together;
- Step 5: implementing exchange visits and providing remote support – a minimum of two visits should be held, one in the advisory region and one in the partner region, to undertake a detailed, confidential exchange of knowledge, and practical training or site visits where appropriate. The programme should be developed jointly between the two partners. Remote support should also be provided (e.g., by email or phone);
- Step 6: evaluating the transfer activities - both the transfer process and the resulting operational implementation process should be monitored and evaluated;
- Step 7: promoting the transfer - representatives from both regions might share their experience and promote the implementation of the MLG model to other regions.