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Coal regions exchange programme

Allowing regions in the Western Balkans, Ukraine and the EU to share knowledge on coal phase out and clean energy transition.

Coal regions exchange programme banner

The coal region-to-region exchange programme is an opportunity for regions to start direct, one-to-one dialogues, connect with different stakeholders, learn from each other and transfer knowledge. The possibility to explore peers’ experiences and reflect about own challenges and developments will help to accelerate coal regions’ clean energy transition.

Selected participants 2022

We received 32 applications from regions wanting to participate in the exchange programme. Based on the assessment, 14 selected delegations have been paired up with one another to form 6 sets of exchange partners. Another 2 sets – each co-led by Ukrainian applicants – were foreseen, but to our greatest regret, these exchanges are – temporarily – put on hold.

All the exchanges are either long- or medium-term, featuring, respectively, reciprocal in-person visits or a single visit to one of the target regions. The 3 first exchanges started in April 2022 ("first wave"), and the preparation of the other 3 exchanges is now starting, with a view to launch in-person activities in 2023 ("second wave").

Initial in-person visits within the first wave of exchanges took place in June-July. Despite tight agendas allowing participants to make the most of each other’s experience in working towards a just transition, the visits were a big success. Most importantly, they allowed for a joint reflection by participants from the Western Balkans and the EU on the crucial importance of a holistic and strategic approach when preparing for a transition. The visits thus became a powerful source of motivation as well as practical knowledge needed to ensure that the transition is just. Watch this video to “join” one of the visits for a day and see how the regions in the Western Balkans and the EU work together towards just transition.

The first wave of exchanges foresaw 2 reciprocal visits, for the long-term exchanges #2 and #3. They took place in November and October 2022, respectively.

Exchange 1

Focal delegation, Western Balkans, led by:

Kosovo Energy Corporation, with contributions from the Ministry of Economy and the Office of Prime Minister

Target area: Kosovo coal basin, Kosovo*

Focal delegation, EU, led by:

Association of Mining Communes in Poland

Target area: Upper Silesian coal basin, Silesian Voivodeship, Poland

Exchange duration: medium-term

Topics in focus: regional and local transition strategies; repurposing of post-mining/post-industrial areas; transformation challenges of coal-based enterprises in mining and utility sectors; knowledge creation and partnerships for change.

Related documents

Exchange 2

Focal delegation, Western Balkans, led by:

Municipality of Lukavac

Target area: Municipalities of Lukavac, Živinice and Banovići, Tuzla canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Focal delegation, EU, led by:

Economic and Social Council of the Ústí Region

Target area: Ústí region, Czechia

Exchange duration: long-term

Topics in focus: rehabilitation and repurposing of mining sites; renewables and alternative energy solutions; economic diversification and developing business opportunities; just transition governance.

Related documents

Exchange 3

Focal and contributing delegations, Western Balkans, led by:

Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts - with contributions from the delegation led by the Municipality of Kičevo

Target area: Municipalities of Bitola, Novaci and Kičevo, North Macedonia

Focal delegation, EU, led by:

DCN Global, of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Target area: Region of Western Macedonia, Greece

Exchange duration: long-term

Topics in focus: regional strategy development; rehabilitation and repurposing of mining sites; renewables and alternative energy solutions; smart agriculture for economy diversification and job security; communicating the transition to and with citizens.

Exchange 4

Focal and contributing delegations, Western Balkans, led by:

Belgrade Open School and Trade Union Confederation “Nezavisnost” – with contributions from the delegation of the Serbian Ministry of Mining and Energy

Target area: Kolubara and Kostolac districts, Serbia

Focal delegation, EU, led by:

Coalition of NGOs in Jiu Valley

Target area: Jiu Valley region, Hunedoara county, Romania

Exchange duration: medium-term

Potential topics to exchange on: reskilling workers and employment creation; social dialogue, partnership, and participation; strategic project development.

Exchange 5

Focal delegation, Western Balkans, led by:

Municipality of Kakanj

Target area: Municipalities of Kakanj and Breza, Zenica-Doboj canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Focal delegation, EU, led by:

Stara Zagora Regional Economic Development Agency

Target area: District of Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

Exchange duration: medium-term

Potential topics to exchange on: land and infrastructure repurposing; reskilling workers and employment creation; responsive governance.

Exchange 6

Focal delegation, Western Balkans, led by:

Municipality of Pljevlja

Target area: Municipality of Pljevlja, Montenegro

Focal delegation, EU, led by:

Municipality of Velenje

Target area: Municipality of Velenje, Slovenia

Exchange duration: long-term

Potential topics to exchange on: local transition planning and stakeholder engagement; energy efficiency; land and infrastructure repurposing.

Following steps

Led by facilitators from the initiative’s secretariat, the exchange programme participants are developing exact roadmaps of their exchanges. The roadmaps nail down the topics on which the want to exchange within this programme, define formats most suitable for them and point out any subjects for which they might need input from external experts.

Though all exchanges feature either 1 or 2 in-person visits, regions will truly solidify their relationships with one another through virtual interactions and discussions leading up to those visits; this relationship-building should lead to fruitful cooperation even beyond the programme.

Updates about their progress are provided on this webpage, in the initiative’s newsletter and on social media, and via the channels of all involved partners.

Selection process 

Applications for the coal regions exchange programme closed on 30 September 2021.

The 32 submitted applications speak to the active interest from the side of coal regions, with a very good geographic spread of applicants.

The applications were carefully evaluated by the initiative secretariat’s team of experts, and their assessments were further peer-reviewed. The best-scored applications were selected for participation in the programme. Based on the exact needs, interest and experiences of the selected applicants, the secretariat developed suggestions for match-making among delegations. These suggestions were further discussed with the selected applicants. In some cases, the evaluators highlighted complementarity among delegations and suggested they join forces, with one being a focal delegation and the other being a contributing delegation. After consolidating feedback of all involved parties, the above-presented sets of delegations were confirmed.

Exchange programme benefits

To enable a direct and beneficial exchange, participating regions are paired based on their interests and expertise.

As part of the programme, they can benefit from study visits, knowledge exchange, expert support, and other opportunities to share experiences.

  • Participating regions from the Western Balkans and Ukraine will get tailored and specific inputs from experts supporting the exchanges. They will also access advice from their EU pairs, as the EU regions can share their specific knowledge and good practices, through hands-on learning opportunities offered within study visits.
  • Participating EU coal regions will have the opportunity to reflect on their transition so far. Guided by inputs from experts and methodological tools, they can evaluate their own work and map out next steps. The experts can give further input on how the EU coal regions can achieve those identified steps and speed up their local just transitions.

The programme is also a networking opportunity, as the participants can access a network of regions from the Western Balkans, Ukraine, and the EU, as well as interact with the European Commission and 6 more international organisations leading the initiative.

Documents and resources

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.