08 November 2021

On November 5th, Balkan Green Foundation’s, Programmes and Operations Manager, Rinora Gojani, was part of the side event panel within COP26: “Voices from the regions: sharing first-hand experiences of coal phase-out in Europe and beyond”.

The panel brought together international actors involved in coal transition of different coal regions. The experts provided practical perspectives and inspiring insights for coal phase-out in their respective regions. Together with Ms. Gojani, in the panel were: Srestha Banerjee, Director, Just Transition International Forum for Environment, Sustainability & Technology (iFOREST) from India; María Belarmina Díaz Aguado, Director General of Energy, Mining and Reactivation, Government of Asturias from Spain; Maciej Sytek, President of the Board of ARR Konin, Eastern Wielkopolska from Poland; Dimitris Ziouzios, Researcher and Advisor for ICT and Environment, Regional Development Fund from Western   Macedonia, Greece; The session was moderated by Robert Pollock, Senior Advisor, Secretariat of the EU Initiative for coal regions in transition.  

The discussion was focused on giving answers to: (i) actions for achieving an effective and inclusive mobilization and organization of coal transitions at the regional and local level; (ii) challenges of regional transition journeys and how they can be addressed; (iii) promoting coal transition in regions that are at an early stage of the transition process or have not yet commenced.

Ms. Gojani, said that “Restructuring the traditional sectors of the region is not enough. There is a  need to facilitate and support the development of new economic activities, level the negative impacts of mining, develop human and social capital and increase the overall quality of life in the region.” When speaking about the challenges of the regional transition journey, Ms. Gojani summarized challenges in three main groups: those of policy and legal nature, technology and investments, and also economy and society ones. On promotion of transition in regions that have not yet commenced or are on the early stage of transition, Ms. Gojani stated that: “Legitimate transition processes are dependent on the inclusion of affected communities and groups”, she also said that  “there is no time to lose in declaring phase-out dates from fossil-fuels and to ensure investment project planning and just transition activities, to unlock investments in RES, make a transparent debate about energy, elaborate public awareness campaigns at the national and regional levels, etc”.

The panel agreed that there are tried and tested approaches that can facilitate change, as such those who haven’t started have no time to lose for transformation. The transition requires strategic plans and a strong political will. There is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy for just transition. The transition needs involvement of employees, unions, governments, communities and CSO’s.