The Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area provides good opportunities for municipalities to implement energy efficiency projects

The modernization of street lighting in the city is another project funded by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area as part of Smolyan Municipality's policy in the field of energy efficiency.

The program "Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Security" (REES) is financed by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA FM) for the period 2014-2021. The Ministry of Energy was designated as the Program Operator (PO) of the Program through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the implementation of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area 2014-2021 on December 9, 2016. The program is implemented in partnership with the Norwegian Directorate for Water Resources and Energy and the National Energy Authority of Iceland. The donor states are Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, and the Kingdom of Norway.

Smolyan Municipality has completed the project "Rehabilitation and Modernization of the External Artificial Lighting System in the City of Smolyan" under the "REES" program through a procedure for the selection of project proposals called "Rehabilitation and Modernization of Municipal Infrastructure – External Lighting Systems in Municipalities."

The total project value is 870,910.83 Bulgarian Leva, of which 740,274.21 Leva comes from the EEA FM, and 130,636.62 Leva from national financing.

The project's duration is 32 months, from April 1st 2021 to December 1st 2023.

The reconstruction and modernization of the city's external artificial lighting system have improved the living conditions of the population of Smolyan. Out of 4682 lighting fixtures in the city (according to a 2020 survey), the project replaced 3044, which is 65%. According to the contractor's data, the proven energy savings are about 40 watts per fixture, regardless of its power. After the project's implementation, energy consumption and maintenance costs, as well as CO2 emissions, have significantly decreased. The introduced monitoring system allows for better control efficiency and faster responses to emergencies.

Currently, Smolyan Municipality is also implementing two other projects funded by the EEA FM, but under the "Environment and Climate Change" program: the project "Partnership for Climate Change Adaptation" and "Introduction of Municipal Waste Separation and Recycling Schemes in the Territory of Smolyan Municipality and Banite Municipality."

In addition to the projects funded by the EEA FM, Smolyan Municipality continues its work to improve energy efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Smolyan is part of the European Commission's "Covenant of Mayors" initiative, committing European cities to combat climate change since 2014. In 2022, the commitment was renewed by signing the updated "Covenant of Mayors - Europe," reflecting the initiative's current ambitions until 2050 in connection with the Paris Agreement. Smolyan Municipality has Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP) for the period 2021-2030, addressing the current commitments of the Covenant of Mayors. It was adopted by the Municipal Council through Decision No. 356 on October 25th 2020.

As a partner and follower city in the +CityxChange project under the Horizon 2020 program, Smolyan Municipality developed a Vision for Sustainable Development until 2050, outlining ambitions and key objectives and measures for achieving a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable city in the long term, contributing to the European goals for climate neutrality by 2050. The project is executed in consortium with 32 partners from Norway, Ireland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy, under the motto "Let's create the future we want to live in together," providing a framework in which leading cities and follower cities, by exchanging experiences and learning from each other, work together to become sustainable cities with a positive energy balance, meaning they create more energy than they consume, aiming to improve people's quality of life. One of the main goals of the +CityxChange project is to build the capacity of local authorities in developing and implementing sustainable development measures and policies and advancing them as part of the European transition to clean energy in cities. The project does not provide direct funding for investments but offers numerous opportunities for gaining new knowledge and experience from partners who are leaders in Europe in introducing innovations for intelligent development. (

As a result of participating in this project, Smolyan Municipality also received approval to develop an investment concept for creating an energy-positive district in the city. The project was funded within the framework of the fourth call of the European City Facility (EUCF). Smolyan Municipality also had the opportunity to sign the Charter "Mission Climate Change Adaptation" (MIP4Adapt), thus joining a community for the exchange of practices in climate change adaptation and receiving technical assistance, contacts exchange, and sharing experience with other regions during the implementation of climate change adaptation measures.