Keeping an eye on the transition: how is progress monitored in the just transition regions?



Energy governance
Energy poverty
Implementing energy and climate measures at local level


By Mary Connors and Diana Süsser

The Just Transition Mechanism is a key strategy to enable a just transition to climate neutrality under the EU Green Deal. Eligible Just Transition regions have developed their Territorial Just Transition Plans and are now moving into the implementation phase. As regions face a number of challenges, such as tight project implementation timelines, a lack of project implementation capacity and lack of roadmaps, it is necessary to apply progress monitoring mechanisms. But how do we measure progress? What is the experience to date?

To discuss these questions, some forty participants took part in the online event “Keeping an eye on the transition: are we monitoring our progress?” on the 30th of May 2024. The event was co-organised by three EU LIFE projects, JUSTEMSITRANSRePower the Regions, as part of the Sustainable Energy Days.

Monitoring challenges

After a short introduction to each project, the event was divided into two debates. The first discussion focused on the challenges regions face in monitoring progress. The session heard cases from Romania, Poland, Hungary and Greece, presented by Maria Elena Boatca from AISVJ, Krzysztof Pietruszewski from the Polish Green Network, Alexa Botar from MTVSC/Friends of the Earth Hungary and Tasos Sidiropoulos from the Western Macedonia Development Agency.

It became clear that countries and regions have different monitoring arrangements and encounter different monitoring challenges. A common challenge in areas with Monitoring Committees was bureaucracy. Especially in countries with monitoring bodies at different levels of government (local, regional, national), as these larger structures make communication difficult. Overspending over a short period of time and a lack of transparency were additional problems with these processes. 

The discussion concluded with the recognition that monitoring is complex and needs to be done thoroughly, measuring the right data to ensure we are monitoring the right things. The specific situation in a region also needs to be understood, as the monitoring process can vary.

Approaches and tools for better monitoring

The second discussion focused on how best to monitor progress in the regions. 

At EU level, a critical question is: is the Just Transition process a success? To evaluate it effectively, we need to ensure that regions are all monitoring the same types of data. But what methods are already being used in the regions?

Miłosława Stępień from Bankwatch explained that, in addition to the Monitoring Committees, there are various EU initiatives, such as the Just Transition Platform and the Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition, which act as evaluation spaces, bringing together stakeholders and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and the identification of citizens’ needs.

She also presented the example of the Just Transition Observatory in Silesia. The two-year observatory involved a wide range of stakeholders and has three main elements:

  • Research and evaluation of just transition plans;
  • Capacity building activities;
  • Gathering data and knowledge and ensuring that this information reaches the people who need it.

Cesar Valmaseda from FAEN presented the Asturian Observatory for Just Transition. He showed the region’s selected set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for monitoring and emphasised the involvement of citizens and other stakeholders to ensure greater transparency. In addition to the KPIs, the composition of stakeholders is also an important factor in setting up an Observatory to ensure that it is representative of the whole community (local administrations, universities, entrepreneurs, trade unions, etc.).

Anastasia Makridou of KIKLO presented the SITRANS Just Energy Transition Observatory (JETO). The Observatory includes economic, social and environmental indicators as well as specific energy poverty indicators.

Diana Süsser from IEECP presented the Just Transition Impact Matrix for the assessment of Territorial Just Transition Plans. The tool allows for a qualitative and quantitative assessment of (expected) just transition impacts to facilitate tailor-made policies and investments. She called for improved impact assessment and monitoring due to existing gaps, especially in the consideration of social and cultural impacts.

The different approaches showed that a monitoring structure can serve to evaluate not only progress but also to outline regional strategic priorities.


Policy recommendations stemming from the event

Four key policy recommendations can be drawn:

  • Greater streamlining is needed to monitor and evaluate the process and feed it back into policy. To share knowledge across countries, there are plans to set up an EU-wide Just Transition Observatory to create a repository of evidence and good practice. 
  • The involvement of different stakeholders and citizens, especially marginalised groups, in monitoring processes is crucial. The necessary monitoring data needs to be transparently shared among stakeholders to assess progress. 
  • Indicators to measure progress are a key feature of the monitoring process. Grouping indicators into different categories (e.g., social, demographic, environmental, economic) can give a clearer picture of the impact of the just transition process and is a method to evaluate the effectiveness of just transition plans.
  • An important point to note is that not all impacts can be quantified, for example, how can we measure areas such as social cohesion and identity? Therefore, to be truly transformative, monitoring needs to go beyond numbers and look at the different aspects of the just transition process. In particular, more attention needs to be paid to social and demographic impacts. This is also crucial to assess the transformation potential of projects.

Did you miss the event? Listen back to the recording or download the slides


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