20. June 2023Successful CINTRAN Academy event in Ida-Virumaa

The CINTRAN project hosted the second Regions in Transition Academy, a face-to-face capacity-building event in CINTRAN focus region Ida-Virumaa.

Walkshop at the Narva-Jõesuu beach in Estonia in 2023.

Following up on the successful event in Kozani, Western Macedonia, the second Regions in Transition Academy took place in the CINTRAN focus region Ida-Virumaa, Estonia, on 8-10 May 2023. During this face-to-face capacity building event, researchers and practitioners had the opportunity to discuss and unpack coal+ regions’ top priorities and exchange on a just transition in Europe, with a focus on the four CINTRAN regions: Ida-Virumaa, Estonia; Western Macedonia, Greece; Rhineland, Germany; and Silesia, Poland.

The two-day event was comprised of several parallel sessions, each focusing on a CINTRAN region, which allowed over 50 participants from over 16 countries to ask questions and brainstorm ideas to solve one or more challenges faced by coal+ regions. Other agenda points were keynote talks and a “WalkShop” on the beach in Narva-Jõesuu, which gave participants room to informally discuss the results of the analyses of the economic, political, and demographic dimensions of structural change in the four CINTRAN regions and their significance for their policy-making efforts. During a site visit at the VKG Ltd shale oil plant ‘Petroter’ in Kohtla-Järve, participants were able to gain insights into challenges of the transition in Ida-Virumaa, discuss issues of planning certainty, and critically assess the role of government and businesses in the region’s just transition process.

The goal of the CINTRAN Academy event was to develop strong interaction, co-learning opportunities and chances for networking amongst all participants to find replicable solutions to mutual challenges. To get a glimpse of the action-packed agenda, please  have a look at the following session highlights:


1       Depopulation and deurbanization of Upper Silesia – a challenge for development and successful transformation

This workshop, hosted by WiseEuropa Institute, focused on the challenges of managing a just transition under unfavourable demographics. The region of Upper Silesia in Poland, which used to be an essential industrial region, has been suffering from depopulation and suburbanization for decades. How, under these circumstances, can the region sustain growth without falling into the trap of slow development amid an aging and shrinking population?

Participants worked in small groups to brainstorm ideas and co-create solutions, such as converting vacant sites to community centres offering culture, arts, and education in order to revive city centres and attract younger people. A key result of the workshop was that the strengthening of soft location factors and quality of life is essential for a just transition, especially in situations of skills shortages and unfavourable demographics.

2       Ida-Virumaa (Estonia): How to attract young leaders to the region?

situation of the Ida-Viru region, presented by Hardi Murula from the Association of Local Authorities, showed many similarities with the Upper Silesian and other cases in terms of unfavourable demographics. To address these challenges, Ida-Virumaa wants to be a fore-runner of the green transition in Estonia and market itself to Generation Z in particular.

The transition in the region includes actions both for fast relief and long-term economic, social, and environmental change. Among the projects to attract young skilled workers are the planned ‘incubator’ projects in Narva, focusing on industry and multimedia, respectively .

3       Western Macedonia (Greece) – Governance and investment of Just Transition in Greece

This workshop dealt with the JTP and National Master Plan for the lignite region Western Macedonia with a focus on the implementation of funds through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and its interaction with local stakeholders. The SPV, Metavasi, is a separate legal entity that specialises in the economic transformation of the region and will be responsible for the rehabilitation of depleted lignite mines and the upgrading of former power station sites.

Among the priorities of the just transition in Greece are economic diversification and the avoidance of future mono-dependencies, as lignite jobs cannot be replaced by a single alternative economic activity. Further transition foci are infrastructure as well as research and innovation.

4       Germany – Just Transition and Democratic Processes: Involvement of local actors who are left behind

The participation of civil society is an essential pillar of the just transition. In the lignite region of Lusatia, Germany, civil society organisations provide important social infrastructures, such as extracurricular education, recreation, and sports. However, many organisations are struggling due to lack of funding and political support.

Meanwhile, a quarter of Lusatians are interested in getting active shaping their region, but topics of interests and hurdles for participation vary greatly between genders and different age groups. In order to develop  ideas which can help increasing civil society participation in the transition, participants took different roles in an ACT interview (aim, customer, topic) and asked questions such as: What is the overall aim of the target group? What are the needs, issues, and resources of the target group? What is the topic and what are the essentials to cover?

A key takeaway of the workshop was that participation processes always need to keep their target group(s) in mind to be successful. Low participant numbers are often interpreted as a lack of interest from citizens, but the Lusatian case shows that the issue is more complex than that. While many would like to participate, they often face hurdles such as care responsibilities that keep especially women from being able to attend in-person meetings. Keeping such issues in mind is key to successful participation in coal+ transitions.

5       Keynotes and talks

The event additionally featured a series of presentations and keynotes. Speakers included:

  • Andres Vainola (CEO of Enefit Power)
  • Annela Anger-Kraavi (EKUK – University of Cambridge – Vice-Chair of UNFCCC SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific & Technological Advice)
  • Lukas Hermwille (Wuppertal Institute)
  • Ivan Sergejev (Estonian Ministry of Finance)
  • Viljar Kirikal (VKG Viru Keemia Grupp, on site at Kohtla-Järve)



Did you miss the event, but are interested in joining the discussion on a just transition in carbon-intensive regions? Join our next webinar in the coal+ regions in transition event series.




Visit at VKG Ltd shale oil plant ‘Petroter’ in Kohtla-Järve in 2023.



Nora Stognief

Research Associate and PhD Candidate | Europa Universität Flensburg

Department of Energy and Environmental Management