07. December 2021“Building confidence in the process is key”: Report on COP26 side event

Panel discussion at Glasgow climate summit shared first-hand experiences on coal phase out in Europe and beyond

On November 5, 2021, 11:30-12:30 GMT, the COP 26 EU side event “Voices from the regions: sharing first-hand experiences on coal phase out in Europe and beyond“ took place. The event brought together European and international practitioners, who shared their insights and lessons on how to ensure a just transition away from coal.

Speakers included

  • Srestha Banerjee, Director, Just Transition International Forum for Environment, Sustainability & Technology (iFOREST), India
  • María Belarmina Díaz Aguado, Director General of Energy, Mining and Reactivation, Government of Asturias, Spain
  • Maciej Sytek, President of the Board of ARR Konin, Eastern Wielkopolska, Poland
  • Dimitris Ziouzios, Researcher and Advisor for ICT and Environment, Regional Development Fund of Western Macedonia, Greece, CINTRAN project
  • Rinora Gojani, Programmes and Operations Manager, Balkan Green Foundation

The discussion was moderated by Robert Pollock, Senior Advisor EU Coal Regions in Transition Initiative Secretariat.

CINTRAN project member Dimitris Ziouzios, of RDF Western Macedonia from Greece, had the opportunity to discuss the most important actions for effective and inclusive mobilization and organization of coal transition at the regional level, challenges of regional transition journeys and how they can be addressed, as well as regional transition success stories.

Each panelist focused on his/her own region and explained the situation of each region concerning delignification. With regard to the situation in Western Mazodonia, Ziouzios stressed that the region has started the transition, a ‘Fair Transition Program’ for the period 2021-2027 was prepared, along with the Territorial Plan for a Fair Transition of the Region of Western Macedonia, which is to be approved by the European Commission. In the case of Western Macedonia, there is a pressing need to manage a triple challenge:

  • Bridging the gap between conventional and new professional skills
  • Managing the time lag between job creation and the loss of conventional ones, in order to avoid demographic shrinkage
  • Developing synergies between the areas where new business opportunities are created and the areas where there is shrinking activity

A particular success story from Western Mazedonia, Ziouzios pointed out, is that the regional development strategies reflect a wide consensus, which was achieved through transparent processes between the various regional stakeholders. The strategies also state the objectives, barriers, investment projects and pathways for the transition in a clear and well-documented way.

Rezognizing that each region has its own characteristics, everyone agreed that in order to make the Just Transition work to the new era, a clear transition plan combined with a thorough implementation concept is key. Regarding lessons learnt to promoting transition in regions that are at an early stage of the transition process, participants stressed the importance of a strategic plan combined with a clear roadmap. Moreover, investments in social infrastructure were seen as key for building confidence in the process.

A full video documentation of the event is available online.