08. December 2021Coal+ transformation through collaboration: European Commission launches the exchangeEU programme

To help achieve the transformation towards carbon neutrality, the European Commission has launched exchangeEU, the exchange programme for coal, lignite, peat and oil shale, known as “coal+”, regions in the European Union. The multidisciplinary programme matches coal+ regions with their peers to deepen their understanding of each other’s challenges around the transition process.

exchangeEU is embedded in the Coal Regions in Transition (CRiT) initiative and implemented by Guidehouse, ifok, ICLEI and Wuppertal Institute. Coal+ regions can apply by January 14 2022 for the first of two rounds of exchanges.

With its European Green Deal, the European Commission has set an ambitious goal: Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. This objective requires an extensive transformation of the societies and economies within the European Union. While the shift away from fossil energy sources will presumably affect everyone who lives in the EU, it will be felt most distinctly in those regions where these energy sources are being extracted.

exchangeEU is a new exchange programme for regions producing coal, lignite, peat and oil shale, known as “coal+ regions”, aimed at helping them to achieve a just energy transition. The multidisciplinary programme will bring together delegates from regions across the EU to share insights and create unique opportunities for dialogue, cooperation, peer-to-peer learning, and networking.

The call for applications to participate in the first of two rounds of exchanges in 2022, is now open until January 14, 2022. Regions participating in the exchangeEU programme will benefit from innovative and customised solutions, hands-on learning opportunities, and tangible results to take meaningful actions together. exchangeEU strives to create a community and network of practitioners with a lasting impact.

Collaboration is key

exchangeEU focuses on the participating regions’ specific demands. Whether coal+ regions are just beginning their transition journey, or are more advanced in the process, exchangeEU encourages stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds to apply and help leverage the unique learnings of each region.

It will strive to create a community and network of practitioners with a lasting impact through a demand-driven programme design, tailored to the needs of the participating regions. A region will be selected based on how well its profile aligns with a potential partner region.

Tailor-made solutions for a just transition

Once the participating regions are selected and matched, the design of the individual exchange formats begins. This process will take the specific needs and suggestions from the coal+ regions into account. The exchange in each match will be guided by a facilitator from the exchangeEU team. This facilitator, along with the regions, will define the focus of the exchange, objectives, key challenges, areas for which expert input is needed, as well as collaboratively develop an exchange agenda. The issues to be explored in-depth in the exchanges include topics such as: Clean energy transition, economic diversification, regional development, project implementation and infrastructure. Examples for exchange formats include group workshops, site visits and peer-to-peer learning formats such as one-on-one mentoring. The goal is to create highly customized formats for each pair. The results, while tailor-made for the partnering regions’ challenges and specific circumstances, will be made available to all participating regions so they can learn from them or draw inspiration for the challenges they may face on their transition journey.

All active stakeholders are welcome

As the just transition affects a multitude of sectors, exchangeEU addresses all active stakeholders driving the transition process. While the programme is targeted at local and regional public authorities, it welcomes stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds. This can include development or energy agencies, NGOs, unions, associations, businesses, and academia. Interested stakeholders from coal+ regions are welcome to either apply as individuals or form delegations and submit joint applications. This ensures that a variety of perspectives and experiences from each region is included in the exchanges. Concerning delegations that do not include public authorities, the programme aims to ensure meaningful support and involvement in the process on the political level in each region. These measures help maximize the impact of exchangeEU on the just transition processes in participating regions.

Results and next steps

exchangeEU aims to enable the delegations to become catalysts for change in their respective coal+ regions and leverage the results of the programme. After the first round of exchanges has concluded, a second one is planned for the year 2023. The process does not end once the exchanges are over: In order to maintain the network and personal connections the delegations have formed over the course of the programme, exchangeEU will host a digital platform to stay engaged and share transition stories and insights with each other. Accordingly, the exchange programme is only a steppingstone for its participants across the European Union on their journey towards a carbon neutral, just and prosperous Europe.

Interested in joining exchangeEU?

You can apply until 14 January 2022 as an individual region or as a pre-defined pair.

To learn more about exchangeEU and how to apply, you are invited to visit the website.




Hanno Focken
ifok GmbH

Racien Nowak
ifok GmbH

David Mairle
ifok GmbH