By Diana Süsser
The 8th conference of the Just Transition Platform took place from 23 to 25 October in Brussels, Belgium. JUSTEM attended the conference and presented a poster at the exhibition booth. This enabled the JUSTEM project to receive and share insights on the challenges and opportunities of just transitions in different European regions.
The event started with a multi-level dialogue on just transitions. The discussion with Jakub Chelstowski (PL/EPP), Governor of the Silesian Region, Poland, Alternate Member of the CoR, Miloslawa Stepien, CEE Bankwatch Network, Wolfgang Munch – Deputy Head of Unit at DG REGIO, European Commission, Frank Siebern-Thomas – Head of Unit at DG EMPL, European Commission, focused on the opportunities and challenges of the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM).
Much was emphasised that the JTM is a great achievement, not least because it focuses on the territories, their needs and challenges. Projects funded under the JTM can have lasting impacts, such as reducing emissions, creating jobs and providing clean and affordable energy. Multi-level governance was seen as a key component of just transition, ensuring that people can participate. Employment, re-skilling and training were also central to the debate, as many jobs will be affected, and new skills will be needed for the transition to climate neutrality. However, the quality of jobs, job stability and changes in mobility need more attention in the debate. Another “blind spot” discussed was the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are crucial for just transition regions but (often) not eligible for funding because they are too small to apply for large projects funded by the JTM.
On the 24th and the 25th the conference of the Just Transition Platform took place. JUSTEM coordinator Diana Süsser presented a poster at the exhibition stand, which allowed her to engage with other actors and initiatives in the field. The conference consisted of several panels, including the panel on the Just Transition Implementation for practitioners, and the communication of the just transition process.
JUSTEM poster at the exhibition booth.
Photo from the Opening Session.
Some conclusions from the great discussions:
#Speed. Just transition plans need to be implemented quickly, although the timing of funding and spending is a challenge.
#Employment. New jobs need to be created and this requires planning. It is important to know how many people need to be attracted to the regions, how many need to be retrained and how many need to be upskilled.
#Socialcohesion. A survey of conference participants showed that most expect the transition to have a negative impact on social cohesion in the short term, but a positive impact in the long term. For this to happen, projects that support social exchange, identity and social infrastructure need to be funded.
#Stakeholderengagement. Meaningful engagement and collaboration between different stakeholders is key. We need to be creative in how we do this.
#Youth. Young people should be empowered in the just transition process, concretely now in the implementation phase of the plans, to enable youth to shape the future they want to live in. An example was given of how this could be done through the format of Citizens’ Assemblies. In 2024, the Commission plans to launch a Youth Task Force.
#Education. Education on climate and just transition needs to be improved to fill the gap in basic understanding of these issues. Language should also be adapted to be more appealing to young people.
#Narratives. New narratives are needed to change mindsets and facilitate positive perceptions of just transitions. This can be done by creating a movement around the JTF and its opportunities.
A highlight of the event was Commissioner Elisa Ferreira sharing her experiences of the different situations in just transition regions from her visits to regions across Europe. She stressed the need to stay true to our projects and to create “beautiful projects”. Commissioner Elisa Ferreira also called for broad and inclusive participation across sectors and levels of governance. This call is very much appreciated by the JUSTEM project as we aim to improve citizen participation in the just transition process.
Talk by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira.
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