Energy, transport and mobility are typically managed by different departments within a local authority. These areas rarely fall under the responsibility of the same political decision maker, making internal horizontal integration a difficult process.
Energy, transport and mobility planning processes in themselves are often a challenge for local authorities, because these processes entail the participation of stakeholders and the local population, vertical integration with other governance levels and a long-term vision, trying to balance costs and benefits and to achieve and maintain consensus.
As a result, local authorities often come up with individual separate sectoral policies and measures (urban planning, parking, cycling, public transport, production from renewables, energy efficiency in buildings, etc.), lacking a common strategic vision, and with poorly coordinated sectoral planning tools, to the extent that they sometimes each plan seems to be going its own separate way.
Coordination and integration in strategic planning is important for the effectiveness and efficiency of any local authority’s action. They will lead to economies of scale, harmonization and synergies between individual policies and measures. A harmonized approach resting upon a solid knowledge base, furthermore, offers political decision makers and technical officers crucial coordinated support for their actions
SIMPLA acts on this, offering a structured process and methodology addressed to lead the harmonization of strategic sustainable energy, climate adaptations and mobility plans (in Europe typically SECAPs and SUMPs, although some countries prefer to refer to different working frames), coordinated with the main relevant local strategic documents, especially land use planning tools.
These guidelines aim to provide a description of the harmonization process leading to the formal approval of two harmonized plans (a SECAP and a SUMP) and their harmonized implementation and monitoring.
The SIMPLA approach is consistent with the SUMP principle of “Horizontal and vertical integration” since the planning of sustainable mobility is required to be coordinated with energy and land use planning, the harmonization process is the operational description of how integration this could be achieved. Also SECAP guidelines require an harmonization of the SECAPs with other existing plans and urban policies including therefore also SUMPs.
The participatory approach is a common pillar of both SECAPs and SUMPs, and the active involvement of stakeholders is planned also during the harmonization process.
The assessment of the current and present performance is a common principle since both plans are requested to set objectives and SMART indicators.
Regular monitoring, review and reporting are a critical area of the harmonization, as later described in details, a monitoring process is envisaged by both SUMPs and SECAPs, but the way the monitoring plan is structured is significantly different and specific actions are required to harmonize the monitoring plans.
 At present, a major debate is going on European level: Also in the context of local governments economy of scale applies. If small municipalities each deliver their own services independently this will result in higher expenditures for the same level and quality of output than the same services delivered by fewer larger councils, therefore small municipalities in the same area could aggregate to develop jointly their plans. This could also prevent from the risk of environmental dumping i.e. a municipality trying to attract businesses and residents by setting lower environmental standards than their neighbours.