30 June 2021

Vienna, Austria - Today, the first Just Transition Forum took place virtually under the auspices of the Energy Community in cooperation with the Balkan Green Foundation. The Forum gathered Ministers and Deputy Ministers of the Energy Community Contracting Parties, high-level officials as well as representatives of academia, civil society, international organizations, trade unions, youth, and non-governmental organizations to discuss the best ways for the Energy Community to embrace and shape a Just Energy Transition.

Delivering the keynote speech on behalf of the Energy Community Presidency in Office, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mining and Energy of Serbia, H.E. Zorana Mihajlović, said: “Next years will see big changes in the energy and mining sectors. Nothing will and can ever be the same. The guiding principles are energy security and decarbonization, stable energy supply, and increased share of green energy and energy efficiency. The green vision we seek to achieve is also climate neutrality, increased environmental health, and high living standards. We must stay in this process together.

Forum participants agreed that decarbonization should be socially just, inclusive, in the interest of workers, women, youth, vulnerable citizens, and local communities, instead of replicating inequalities. It should be based on clear and honest communication, reliable targets, and prioritize the needs and concerns of local stakeholders by engaging communities in decision-making.

During the high-level panel, speakers underlined that there is no future for coal and this has to be accepted. At the same time, no one can afford to have stranded communities: it’s fundamental to engage with them, to build trust, and to be transparent all along the transition process.

The forum underlined that it is important to recognize that the new generations will be directly affected by the energy transition (or the lack thereof), therefore their needs, views, innovative potential and their call to climate action are an important part of the dialogue. 

The forum acknowledged that energy poverty is a serious problem in the Energy Community Contracting Parties and needs to be placed at the forefront of just transition efforts, ensuring that access to clean energy services to the vulnerable and poor are guaranteed at affordable prices. The forthcoming Energy Community Study on addressing energy poverty in the Contracting Parties will provide guidance on how to measure the level of energy poverty and design adequate policies for its reduction.