Frequently Asked Questions
About the Learning Programme
What is the PROSPECT learning programme about?
The PROSPECT learning programme aims to enable sharing of knowledge, skills, competencies, and experience among local and regional authorities on the topic of financing sustainable and climate action projects. Participants with similar interests are matched to learn with and from each other on how to apply innovative financing schemes through peer mentoring and study visits.
What are these innovative financing schemes?
Innovative financing schemes are non-traditional ways of raising funds and facilitating sustainable energy and climate investments by mixing different sources (own fund, public and private funds) or engaging different partners (e.g. citizens, private sector) outside of established financial institutions (e.g. banks).
What are some examples of innovative financing schemes?
These innovative financing schemes include energy performance contracting, third party financing, revolving funds, soft loans, green bonds, guarantee funds, and citizen finance, such as cooperatives and crowdfunding. These are also classified under five thematic learning modules, namely public buildings, private buildings, transport (both public and private), public lighting, and cross-sectoral.
About the Learning Modules
What are the five thematic learning modules?
Local and regional authorities who are interested to learn how sustainable energy and climate action projects are financed by innovative financing schemes can participate within the theme of the five learning modules. Here are the descriptions of the learning modules.
- Public Buildings: Covers buildings and facilities owned, managed, or controlled by public authorities. Facilities refer to energy consuming entities that are not buildings, such as wastewater treatment plants.
- Private Buildings: Covers buildings owned, managed, or controlled by private individuals or corporations. This refer primarily to the tertiary sector (services), such as private companies, banks, commercial, and retail activities, hospitals, etc. and residential buildings, including social housing.
- Transport: Covers the provision of and management of mass transit systems by public authorities, as well as private transport.
- Public Lighting: Covers the provision of public lighting (e.g. street lighting and traffic lights) owned or operated by public authorities. Non-municipal public lighting is under private buildings.
- Cross-Sectoral: Covers all other cross-sectoral energy efficiency investments, for example those related to climate change adaptation or to the production of renewable energy, such as local electricity and heat/cold production to satisfy consumption needs; as well as those interventions falling under two or more thematic areas.
What would I be able to accomplish for each learning module?
As a mentee, through the learning programme, you can:
- Understand the innovative financing schemes that are relevant under the learning module e.g. public buildings.
- Recognise the barriers, incentives, advantages, and disadvantages for each relevant innovative financing scheme.
- Examine which innovative schemes can finance sustainable energy and climate action projects.
- Analyse the success factors and lessons learnt from successful projects financed by innovative schemes.
- And more!
As a mentor, through the learning programme, you can:
- Share content knowledge on the topic of innovative financing schemes that are relevant under the thematic learning modules.
- Share practical experience on implementing sustainable energy and climate action projects and support others in overcoming different barriers.
- Showcase your sustainable energy and climate action projects financed by innovative financing scheme(s).
- Learn from other cities and regions on what projects they want to implement and which innovative financing schemes they want to apply.
Would I be able to learn more about one specific innovative financing scheme?
Yes, each learning module has a set of relevant innovative financing schemes and you can choose one (or more) to gain in-depth knowledge, enabling you to:
- Understand the basic concept of an innovative financing scheme e.g. energy performance contracting.
- Identify the different steps on how the innovative financing scheme can be developed and/or accessed for a project.
- Apply practical tools or techniques relevant to the scheme across one or more stages of a project – from preparation and development to implementation and monitoring.
- Examine successful projects using the financing scheme and reflect on how barriers and challenges were overcome.
About the Learning Objectives
Are the objectives set or can I individualise the learning programme?
These objectives are set for the learning modules and for each of the innovative financing schemes as learning packages will be available for local and regional authorities who would want to learn more on this topic. However, the learning programme can be individualised or customised based on your own learning objectives!
In what way can the learning objectives be individualised?
Express clearly your learning objectives in the application process! Let us know what innovative financing schemes are you interested in or have experience on, the project you have worked on, are working on, or are currently planning, and which role – whether as a mentor and mentee - you would be more suitable for.
What learning outcomes do we aim to achieve?
At the end of the learning programme, we aim for the participants to have a better understanding about the relevant financing schemes as well as demonstrate know-how on developing and/or accessing these schemes. We aim for cities and regions to develop bankable projects (or proposals) that have high probability of success to acquire funding or attract investments; be inspired to launch sustainable energy and climate actions using any of these schemes in cities and regions; an implement, operate, monitor, and evaluate sustainable energy projects and overcome barriers and challenges!
For mentors, the learning programme can enable you to exhibit a greater degree of content knowledge on innovative financing scheme(s); transfer knowledge, skills, and experience that go beyond technical aspects; demonstrate professional leadership and mentoring skills among peers; engage in a meaningful professional relationship with another local and regional authority; and inspire other cities and regions to implement and finance their sustainable energy and climate actions using innovative means
About the Participants
Who can participate in the PROSPECT learning programme?
The main target participants for the learning programme are individuals from local and regional public authorities – and public entities who represent them on their behalf – in the European Union. Participants can be from any of the following: regional, city, or municipal authorities; regional, city or municipal energy agencies; public energy sector companies, among others.
Why should local and regional authorities participate?
The learning programme is structured in such a way that local and regional authorities can proactively support the development of each other in financing and implementing sustainable energy and climate action plans. In the long run, we aim to build partnerships from the peer engagements within or even beyond regions!
Can I choose which local and regional authority to partner with?
In PROSPECT, you will learn from successful implementers through our peer learning methodologies! However, the process of selection and matching is internal to the PROSPECT team. We will select the best pair – or group of peers – based on our matching process and criteria, such as geographical locations and political boundaries.
What roles are there in the learning programme?
Based on your level of experience and desired learning objectives, you will be assigned either as a mentor or a mentee in the learning programme. Providing support in the learning process is a facilitator who is part of the PROSPECT team.
About the Role Assignment
Who are the mentors for the learning programme?
A mentor is an individual representing a local or regional authority who have had direct experience on or have a specific expertise in financing a sustainable energy project through an innovative scheme and is willing to share insights to a mentee.
Effective mentors should be able to:
- Provide suitable advice on the topic of innovative financing schemes
- Encourage exploration of new ideas or solutions
- Serve as a source of guidance, knowledge, and resources
- Suggest appropriate skills training for the mentees
- Listen to work-related issues and provide constructive feedback
Serving as a mentor strengthens the perception of your local and regional authority as an expert on innovative financing scheme for sustainable energy and climate action projects. You will be engaged in a meaningful relationship with another local and regional authority, gain mentoring and leaderships skills, and be recognised for future ‘expert’ positions.
Moreover, you will represent your city or region at the European level and you will have the chance to showcase your achievements in the field of sustainable energy and climate actions. We will feature your city or region as a best practice on innovative financing and have visibility in our PROSPECT materials, events, and communication channels!
What is expected from the mentor?
- Carry out a peer mentoring or a study visit programme tailored towards the challenges identified by the mentee(s) with the support of the PROSPECT team. You can re-use this programme for any future peer visits and local events.
- Exchange knowledge, share your ideas, and enrich your experience directly with your peers. The programme gives you direct access to cities, regions and energy agencies!
Who are mentees for the learning programme?
A mentee is an individual representing a local or regional authority who would want to learn from an experienced or expert peer on financing a sustainable energy project using an innovative scheme and is interested to apply what they learned in their own context.
Effective mentees should be able to:
- Have an open attitude towards learning and in receiving feedback
- Be proactive in one’s personal and professional development
- Commit to the activities with the mentor
- Seek new responsibilities and challenging assignments
- Share the learning process and results back the organisation
What can the mentee(s) learn from the mentor?
Mentees can learn from mentors on innovative financing schemes relevant under the five learning modules. The mentors share their experiences regarding not just financial or technical knowledge – but also organisational matters and partnership arrangements, among others. The mentors listen and gather information, provide honest and constructive feedback, and motivate the mentees to accomplish their learning objectives.
Further, you will have the opportunity to exchange on a one-to-one basis with your Mentor and get a tailor-made assistance adapted to your learning objectives and needs. You can get direct access to a network of cities, regions and energy agencies facing the same challenges as you.
What is expected from the mentee?
- Identify a local challenge you face in terms of financing and implementing sustainable energy and climate actions. Learn how to overcome challenges by engaging with a more experienced peer who has done it successfully!
- Establish and express clearly your personal learning objectives – from the time you apply until you meet and discuss with your mentor. Be proactive in your professional development!
How will the facilitator provide support?
The facilitator, which will come from the PROSPECT team, will create and manage effective processes that enable the participants to achieve their learning objectives and produce the expected learning outputs and outcomes. The facilitator supports the interaction between the matched pair and provides over all guidance throughout the learning programme.
An effective facilitator :
- Is committed to the learning programme and the participants
- Communicates effectively the structure and plan of the learning programme
- Comes prepared with the information and resources necessary in the learning process
- Follows through the commitments by the participants
- Keeps the learning process open to relevant perspectives and ideas
The facilitator will facilitate the learning process and ensure that the learning programme runs smoothly as possible. As such, the facilitator will not be responsible for booking your travel and accommodations during physical meetings. Instead, the facilitator guarantees that you will be where you are expected to be at a set date!
How can the facilitator interact with the participants?
The learning facilitator establishes the purpose of the learning programme through an orientation session and introduces the participants to each other; supports the development of the learning plan and in carrying out online peer learning activities; monitors the discussions and activities during peer mentoring and study visits, including online engagements; collects feedback on the peer learning process and carry out a transferability analysis. Further, the learning facilitator will ensure that the learning participants – or mentors and mentees – adhere to specified administrative, financial, and practical guidelines.
About the Learning Methodologies
How can local and regional authorities learn from each other?
Local and regional authorities can learn from each other via two learning methodologies: peer mentoring and study visit. Peer mentoring entails a one-to-one relationship between a mentor and a mentee characterised by more in depth counselling and joint problem solving, while study visits, which are participated by a peer group of up to 7 peers, allow mentees to visit an area for knowledge exchange and to learn good practice from a mentor.
What is the difference between peer mentoring and study visits?
The differences lie in the scope of learning, in the number of participants, and the number of mentees. Fundamentally, peer mentoring is more in depth, while study visit is more introductory. Also, the structure for the physical visit (Meeting Up!) differs for each method.
Are there similarities between the two methods?
Both learning methodologies entail one (1) physical meeting. This, however, is complemented by three (3) online learning engagements. Supporting the participants are facilitators who will be present in all physical and online engagements. Moreover, both learning methodologies have the same steps and will run for a maximum period of nine (9) months!
About the Learning Cycles
How many times will the PROSPECT learning programme run?
PROSPECT offers three learning cycles:
- Learning Cycle 1: May 2018 - January 2019
- Learning Cycle 2: September 2018 - May 2019
- Learning Cycle 3: March 2019 - November 2019
What does a learning cycle comprised of?
In each learning cycle, there are five learning modules. In each learning module, there are two learning methods: peer mentoring and study visit. Each peer mentoring method has two participants, a mentor and a mentee. For the study visit, there is one mentor and up to 7 mentees. For each learning cycle, we offer 5 peer mentoring programmes of 10 participants in total and 5 study visits or 40 participants all in all. For all three (3) learning cycles, we aim for 15 peer mentoring programmes and 15 study visits!
How many participants does PROSPECT aim for?
We aim for 150 participants from local and regional authorities in Europe! Of course, we can also accept more participants. However, we can only fund one (1) participant per local and regional authority. Additional participants need to get funding from their own organisations.
Is the learning programme for free?
We will reimburse the actual costs for travel and accommodations of participants. As a mentee - whether you are in peer mentoring or study visit, which both have one physical meeting, you will have a maximum budget of 600 euros for return travel and accommodations.
As a mentor, for hosting the learning programme, you will receive budget for materials and logistics e.g. food and refreshments and local transport for participants. The budget is 270 euros for peer mentoring (1 mentee and 1 learning facilitator) and 730 euros for study visits (up to 7 mentees and 1 learning facilitator). The expenses incurred, which you need to report after the learning programme, will be reimbursed.
About the Participation Process
How can I apply for the PROSPECT learning programme?
There are 2 registration forms that will be distributed to local and regional authorities: one for the role of mentor, and another for the role of mentee. The registration is open during the recruitment campaigns until 2 months before each learning cycle. During the engagement campaign the registration forms are available here.
What do I need to provide to apply for the learning programme?
The registration forms ask specific questions on your level of experience and expertise in terms of innovative financing schemes for sustainable energy and climate actions across the five modules; the projects that you worked on or are currently planning, including project descriptions; as well as your local challenges and difficulties; and finally, your specific learning objectives.
How will I be matched with other interested participants?
At the end of the recruitment campaign, which is a month before the learning programme, the PROSPECT team will carry out a matching process to select and group the participants into matched pair for the peer mentoring as well as the peer group for the study visits.
How long do I have to wait to get matched for the programme?
You should be able to know the results of your application a month after the recruitment period ends and a month before the start of the learning programme. For Learning Cycle 1, kindly expect for an announcement from the PROSPECT team in the month of April.
Learning Cycle 1
- Recruitment Campaign: January - February 2018
- Matching Process: March 2018
- Communication to Learning Participants and Signing of Peer Learning Agreement: April 2018
- Start Month for Learning Programme: May 2018
- End Month for Learning Programme: January 2019
Learning Cycle 2
- Recruitment Campaign: May – June 2018
- Matching Process: July 2018
- Communication to Learning Participants and Signing of Peer Learning Agreement: August 2018
- Start Month for Learning Programme: September 2018
- End Month for Learning Programme: May 2019
Learning Cycle 3
- Recruitment Campaign: November – December 2019
- Matching Process: January 2019
- Communication to Learning Participants and Signing of Peer Learning Agreement: February 2019
- Start Month for Learning Programme: March 2019
- End Month for Learning Programme: November 2019
How will I know if I get accepted for the PROSPECT learning programme?
PROSPECT will inform you via email communication that you are selected for the learning programme. The learning facilitator assigned to you will inform you directly.
If I do not get matched, can I apply again for the learning programme?
In case there is no match, we can have you in our wait list until a match is found or apply again in the next round!
Another representative from my organisation is interested to apply as a mentor. Can I still apply?
Yes, many mentors from one city or region can apply as we will match accordingly. However, for one method – whether peer mentoring or study visit, there will only be one mentor. You can be a mentor on a different module and for a different method.
Do I need approval for my city or municipality?
Yes, the representative of your organisation will sign your peer learning agreement. Before you apply, ask for permission from your employer!
About the Learning Preparation
If am accepted, what do I need to do to proceed?
A peer learning agreement needs to be signed by all participants – mentor, mentee, and facilitator. The peer learning agreement is a written commitment by the participants to take part in the learning programme. This should be signed at least one (1) month before the start of the learning programme.
What happens after I sign the peer learning agreement?
The facilitator will set an orientation session with you – whether you are part of peer mentoring or study visit. The orientation session is a requirement before you start the learning programme.
Do I need to register for the PROSPECT learning platform?
You will have access to the content of the learning modules and use the online discussion boards via the learning platform. Instructions on how to register and use the learning platform will be provided by the facilitator.
Who should I contact with regarding the learning programme?
If you have any questions regarding the learning programme, contact your facilitator directly. The name and contact information of the facilitator will be given to you via email communication.
Energy Efficiency Actions
- Sustainable energy and climate actions: These refer to actions that fall under the five (5) thematic modules of the PROSPECT learning programme; namely public buildings, private buildings, transport, public lighting and cross-sectoral.
- Public buildings:This covers buildings and facilities owned, managed, or controlled by public authorities. Facilities refer to energy consuming entities that are not buildings, such as wastewater treatment plants.
- Private buildings:This covers buildings owned, managed, or controlled by private individuals or corporations. This refers primarily to the tertiary sector (services), such as private companies, banks, commercial, and retail activities, hospitals, etc. and residential buildings, including social housing.
- Transport:This covers the provision of and management of mass transit systems by public authorities, as well as private transport.
- Public lighting: This covers the provision of public lighting (e.g. street lighting and traffic lights) owned or operated by public authorities. Non-municipal public lighting is under private buildings.
- Cross-sectoral:This covers all those interventions falling under two or more thematic modules; climate change adaptation; local electricity production (e.g. wind power, hydroelectric power, photovoltaic); and local heat/cold production (e.g. combined heat and power and district heating plant).
Innovative Financing Schemes
- Citizens finance (crowdfunding and cooperatives):A crowd-funding involves an open call, mostly through the internet, for the provision of financial resources either in form of donation or in exchange for some form of reward and/or voting rights. This can happen in combination with energy cooperatives, which are business models based on shared ownership and democratic decision-making procedures.
- Energy Performance Contracting (EPC): EPC is a method to implement energy efficiency projects, by which an ESCO (Energy Services Company) acts as a unique contractor and assures all of the steps of a project, from audit through installation up to operations and maintenance. The ESCO delivers a performance guarantee on the energy savings and takes responsibility for the end result. The EPC contract is the contractual agreement by which the output-drive results are agreed upon.
- Green bonds:Local government (or their agencies) can issue green bonds to fund their sustainable energy and climate actions. A green bond can operate as a normal bond, which is a debt that will be paid back, depending on the characteristics of the bond, with interest. These can be made attractive via tax-exemptions.
- Guarantee funds:These are loan guarantees provided to lenders which serve as buffers against first losses of non-payment by the borrowers.
- Soft loans:Soft loan schemes are loans below market rates and with longer payback periods derived from public funding to facilitate investments.
- Revolving funds:A Fund established to finance a continuing cycle of investments through initial amounts received from its shareholders, creditors or donors and later on through amounts received from reimbursements of provided funding or loans to projects. These recovered funds become available for further reinvestment in other projects under similar scope (e.g. revolving funds for sustainable energy will use the loans recovered funds to finance new sustainable energy projects.
- Third party financing:This refers solely to debt financing. The project financing comes from a third party, usually a financial institution or other investor, or the ESCO, which is not the user or customer.
Project & Investment Cycles
- Bankable projects:Project or proposal that has sufficient collateral, future cash flow, and high probability of success, to be accepted for funding by a financial institution or investor.
- Investment cycle:This refers to the stages of pre-financing or servicing/operations from the financial institution’s perspective.
- Pre-financing:This includes origination (e.g. own funds, technical assistance, EU facilities e.g. PDA, ELENA), underwriting (determining value and risk, requiring final project information, accurate costs and savings, procurement and contracting approach), and the investment decision.
- Post-financing includes (servicing and operations):Investment administration (legal documentation), draw down of funds (the external financing entity’s final inspection) and on-going servicing for the life of the investment (following the agreement).
- Project cycle:This refers to the stages of development, implementation, and monitoring of a sustainable energy and climate action project financed by an innovative financing scheme.
- Mentor:An individual representing a local or regional authority who have had direct experience on or have a specific expertise in financing a sustainable energy and climate action through an innovative scheme and is willing to share insights to a mentee.
- Mentee city/region/agency:An individual representing a local or regional authority who would want to learn from an experienced or expert peer on financing a sustainable energy and climate action using an innovative scheme and is interested to apply what they learned in their own context.
- Peer mentoring:A one-to-one relationship between a mentor and a mentee and is characterised by open ended counselling and joint problem solving.
- Matched pair:A pair of mentor and mentee who would participate in the peer learning programme through peer mentoring.
- Peer mentoring visit:This refers to an activity wherein the mentor visit the mentee to understand the learning context and carry out mentoring activities.
- Peer group:A group of more than two peers (maximum of seven) with similar learning needs and objectives who can participate in the learning programme via study visits with the support of a mentor and a facilitator.
- Study visit:An activity that involves a peer group observing first-hand how a mentor city or region has implemented its sustainable energy or climate action project using an innovative financing scheme and get insights and recommendations directly from the implementers.
- Online peer learning:A learning activity that involves virtual discussions wherein the matched pair or peer group can discuss their issues and challenges and work on how they can achieve their learning objectives.
- Facilitator:An individual who supports the interaction among the matched pair or peer group by establishing the purpose of the program, steering the discussions, and collecting feedback on the peer learning process. All partners in the PROSPECT consortium will act as facilitators.