Western Balkans: EC launched new initiative for coal transition

, SEE Energy News

Mirroring the successful EU Initiative for coal regions in transition, the newly established secretariat will deliver support to coal regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Seventeen regions with significant coal mining activities and coal-based energy production will be the key beneficiaries.

Director-General for Energy in the European Commission Ditte Juul Jorgensen said that the EU has put just transition at the very heart of its roadmap towards a resilient, climate-neutral and future-proof economy and the European Green Deal. It recognizes that not all regions and countries have the same starting point on the path to climate neutrality and that is why the European Green Deal includes a just transition chapter, which provides for specific support to the regions and people most affected by the transition. This includes regions with ongoing coal mining activity and people currently active in the coal sector.

The new initiative builds on the experiences of the initiative for coal regions in the EU, which has connected stakeholders, provided technical assistance and developed support materials for affected regions since 2017. These activities focus on the EU’s just transition efforts, which aim to alleviate socioeconomic consequences of transition, while promoting the development of new, future-oriented economic activities. The two initiatives will benefit from manifold synergies and support each other’s implementation.

The first objective of the new initiative is to create an open platform allowing for region-wide, multi-stakeholder dialogue and providing a space for sharing experiences, knowledge and best practices on transition-related issues amongst coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine. From there, the aim is to build ties between EU coal regions and their counterparts in the Western Balkans and Ukraine through twinnings, as a way to foster exchange and to transfer knowledge, experience and best practices on transition-related issues.

A further ambition is to establish a coal academy in order to provide capacity building among relevant stakeholders on transition-related issues, providing dedicated trainings on governance, community engagement, environmental reclamation, and repurposing of land and assets. Selected pilot regions will be provided with access to technical assistance in the form of expert support in order to develop transition roadmaps for relevant public authorities. Finally, the initiative’s partners will help coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine to access financing for transition projects or programs, based on various available sources, including from the European Commission, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The secretariat of the initiative for coal regions in transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine is based in Brussels and run by a consortium with expert knowledge of the situation in all of the participating countries.