The Valea Jiului Development Society Project was crowned the winner of the sixth edition of the Transformative Action Award at a ceremony hosted by the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels (Belgium). ICLEI Europe and the ICLEI Member City of Aalborg (Denmark), with support from the European Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank, have organised the award since 2017.
Valea Jiului was selected by the jury for its potential to catalyse a socio-cultural, socio-economic and technological transformation within its community, and for its efforts to advance the local implementation of the European Green Deal in Romania’s largest former mining region. Alongside a trophy and the title of “Transformative Action of the Year 2022,” Valea Jiului also receives €10,000 to help support further actions.
“Jiu Valley is the most beautiful place on Earth! I’m extremely happy there are more local people that consider the same and [that] we manage to attract around us more and more involved people, [who are] confident in the Valley’s future, actively contributing to its sustainable development,” shares Adina Vințan, President of the Valea Jiului Society.
Valea Jiului is a civil society coalition of 21 local NGOs active in the Jiu Valley, and was launched in 2019. The ‘Engaged Jiu Valley’ is a co-designed and co-implemented action involving civil society and citizens in the development of public policies and collaboration across levels. Examples of the coalition’s work include: a signed protocol with six mayors, the local University, private sector stakeholders, and a mining company promoting the Valley as an investment destination; the reconversion of the Petrila Mine into an administrative, economic and cultural centre, where community events for all ages such as a showing of the PetrilaPlanet documentary and a RoboticsValley festival take place; hand-painted murals on the Petroșani University Campus and former Petrila & Aninoasa Mines, and more.
Alongside Valea Jiului, two cities were nominated for the Transformative Action Award: the City of Łódź (Poland) for its City Development Strategy, which frames the third largest Polish city as a ‘living organism’ and aims to improve quality of life, and the Municipality of Caldes de Montbui (Spain) for its local energy community that prioritises the reduction of CO2 emissions, the use of photovoltaic energy, and the involvement of citizens in co-designing a new model for energy efficiency and independence.
While Valea Jiului emerged as the clear winner for its innovative and collaborative approach to advancing a green transition in the Jiu Valley, all three finalists provide compelling evidence that local leadership and action is necessary to ensure a better future for Europe.
“Local governments and organisations play a big role in advancing the implementation of the European Green Deal, as it is at a local level that the transition will need to take place. It is also at the local level that we are able to involve citizens and key stakeholders, creating local green deals, which is absolutely necessary in order to achieve a successful implementation,” says Thomas Kastrup-Larsen, Mayor of Aalborg (Denmark) and Transformative Action jury member.
For more information about the Transformative Action Award and this year’s winner and finalists, visit the Sustainable Cities Platform.