Smart & Sustainable Citie Award presentation

A European certification label to guarantee local authorities balanced transition for their territories

The VDI label is a tool for steering local authorities’ public sustainable development policies designed to complement a European label – the European Energy Award (EEA) – focusing on climate, air and energy issues, rolled out in France by the French agency for ecological transition ADEME under the name of Cit’ergie and renamed the Climat Air Energie label in September 2021 (now part of the new “Territoire Engagé Transition Ecologique” programme). The VDI label – developed since 2019 by Efficacity and Cerema – offers a complementary perspective to the Climat Air Energie label on local authority policies:

  • adding three new themes: social cohesion and quality of life, economic transition and resilience;
  • and one cross-cutting theme: innovation

 Why create this new label?

The label has been developed in response partly to the growing number of challenges facing local authorities, and partly to the emergence of a Sustainable City label at international level that calls for a European response. Thanks to the complementary nature of the EEA/Cit’ergie and VDI labels, Europe would thus be provided with a certification system covering every aspect of the sustainable city.

In France, Efficacity and Cerema are working closely with ADEME on this proposed certification, the aim of which is ultimately to provide local authorities with a consistent overall means of evaluating the results of all their sustainable development policies on the basis of reliable indicators, consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What are the benefits for the local authority?

From the local authority’s standpoint, the labelling process is not only an indicator of quality but also a cross-cutting tool for evaluating its public policies and a decision support and steering tool.

Such a tool is becoming increasingly necessary in response to the growing number of challenges local authorities are having to contend with, combining as it does environmental, social, economic and resilience issues in a coordinated manner, and relying on innovation ecosystems and on the contribution that digital technologies can make to sustainable cities.

The purpose as regards local authorities is therefore to:

  • provide overall and systemic assistance in steering and evaluation of local policies,
  • provide support in formulating their sustainable development strategy,
  • encourage the exchange of good practices between different local authorities,
  • enhance their profile and attractiveness,
  • ultimately facilitate access to financing, both national and international.

A label tested in France in 2021 preparatory to launch in 2022

Efficacity and Cerema have been working since 2020 with seven pilot communities in order to validate the label’s technical reference framework and how it operates:

  1. an initial phase running from January to June 2021 gathered feedback from the local authorities, ADEME and a committee of experts on the initial version (V0) of the label,
  2. from July 2021, the local authorities tested the label by using it to evaluate their current policies and actions.

This test phase should provide a means of stabilising the technical reference framework, validating the label roll-out process and, at the same time, working on its economic model.

These various stages should make it possible to launch the label in France in the first half of the year.

Contact us

Thomas Schwager-Guillemenet (Référent VDI France)R&D project manager

Email :

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