Coal Regions in Transition: Engaging stakeholders in just energy transition: who and how?

On March 30th, we joined the second web seminar in the "Just Energy Transitions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine" series, hosted by the Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition. The topic of this digital session was "Engaging stakeholders in just transition planning," more specifically, whom to engage, and how to do so.

The web seminar looked at examples of several coal regions to outline best practices and lessons learned. The first example we examined was Re:Start – the Strategy for economic restructuring of the Czech coal regions Karlovy Vary, Ústí, and Moravia-Silesia. This unique approach implemented in the development of these regions brought together national decision-makers and a broad scope of stakeholders from these coal regions. Inputs on Re:Start was given by Tomáš Burdych, Consultant for the issues of Czech coal regions. The Re:Start Strategy is a part of the Regional Development Strategy 2021+, and its primary goals are:

  • Bringing together experts with competency to cope with challenges and the needs of the industry, as well as service and public authorities
  • Remove barriers to development related to social instabilities
  • Grow businesses capable of coping with changes in global markets
  • Acquire more direct investments with higher added value.

The second story on experiences was that of Jiu Valley in Romania, where the just energy transition process is monitored by a local governing body ADTI (Asociația pentru Dezvoltare Teritorială Integrată Valea Jiului) that includes representatives of local administrations, civil society, entrepreneurs and academia. Alexandru Kelemen, the co-founder of the NGO coalition engaged in the Jiu Valley, spoke about the coalition itself, created by 21 non-governmental organizations in this region, offering cooperation and an organizational framework intending to contribute to the region's economic, social, and cultural developments.

Both examples emphasize importance of the bottom-up approach and the need for cooperation and inclusive action. Speaking of which, women in coal regions and just energy transition are adversely affected. Nevertheless, this topic seems to lack attention, which is evident in the World Bank report Just Transition for All: A Feminist Approach for the Coal Sector, which was presented by Justine Sylvester, Land Tenure Specialist at the World Bank. Justine also spoke about the World Bank instruments designed to support stakeholder engagement and social inclusion, such as the Environmental and Social Framework, Stakeholder Engagement Plans, etc. A large majority of respondents in the reports conducted by the World Bank believe that citizens should be involved in the energy transition process and that we should ensure that women, in particular, take part in this concept.

The suggestions from the World Bank report on just transition and the practical experiences of an inclusive approach from the Czech Republic and Romania correlate positively to the findings of the FES SOE study Inclusive Energy Transition in Southeast Europe as an Opportunity. It was our pleasure to contribute to this topic through this comprehensive overview of the region and involvement in the web seminar through moderation by our Project Manager, Selma Šehović.

The web seminar series on Just Energy Transition in the Western Balkans provides a beneficial opportunity to look at different aspects of this process, and we are looking forward to the following activities.

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