As the European Commission gears up to launch an Initiative meant to help coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine transition to sustainable economies, Bankwatch publishes today a set of recommendations based on its experience working with the Platform for Coal Regions in Transition, on which the new Initiative will be modelled.
The recommendations come as the European Commission is closing this Friday a tender for a consortium to run the secretariat of the new Initiative, dedicated to the Western Balkans and Ukraine. They are endorsed by eight other NGOs from the Western Balkans and Ukraine or active in these countries.
“We’ve been taking part in EU Coal Platform meetings since the very start, making sure that the proceedings included voices of local communities and civil society, which was not obvious at the beginning,” says Alexandru Mustață, Bankwatch Just Transition coordinator and one of the authors of the recommendations. “Just as the Coal Platform has been extremely useful in inspiring and guiding coal regions in the EU on their transition paths, the Initiative can do the same for neighbouring countries – on the condition that it starts out on the right foot.”
Among the NGOs’ recommendations are:
- Ensure transparency, both in the functioning of the Initiative and in selecting participant regions and financed projects
- Create an online hub both to share knowledge and ensure transparency, and hence credibility
- Respect the partnership principle throughout all actions undertaken, meaning involving all stakeholders in all phases of all processes, from the preparatory stages through to the implementation and assessment of results
- Make any future funding conditional on proper bottom-up planning and respect for public participation, proportional to the magnitude of the challenge, and rewarding of ambition; do not give any funding to fossil fuel projects, including gas.
“We welcome the Commission’s plans to create this Initiative dedicated to the Western Balkans and Ukraine. It fills a gap in countries where the potential for transformation is huge but the political will to advance on that path is sometimes lacking,” says Ioana Ciuta, a Bankwatch energy campaigner working in the Western Balkans and co-author of the recommendations. “But what our experience with the EU Coal Platform has taught us so far is that only with the substantial involvement of local communities can a plan for the future of these regions be well developed and successfully implemented. So we hope to see this respect for grassroots participation visible from the kickoff of the new Initiative.”
Check out the recommendations here.