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Initiative for coal regions in transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine

Building bridges for a just transition by helping coal regions to move towards a carbon-neutral economy

The Initiative for coal regions in transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine was launched in December 2020 and aims to help countries and regions to move away from coal towards a carbon-neutral economy, while ensuring that this transition is just. It will deliver support to coal regions in EU neighbouring countries, namely in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine.

It is managed by the European Commission and 6 collaborating international partners: the World Bank, the Energy Community Secretariat, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), Poland’s National Fund for Environment Protection and Water Management (NFOSiGW), and the College of Europe in Natolin.

Regions in focus

An initial screening has identified at least 17 regions with significant coal mining activities and coal-based energy production that are eligible to participate in the initiative. Their participation in the activities of the initiative is voluntary, and while 17 regions have been identified, it will remain at their discretion to actively engage.

Moreover, the initiative is open to any region with coal mining activities and possibly coal use for energy purposes in the six countries covered by the initiative. Regions with no ongoing coal mining activities but with a significant reliance on coal for energy production (like electricity, heat) would also be considered eligible to this initiative on a case-by-case basis.


Tuzla canton, Srednjobosanski canton, Zeničko-Dobojski canton, Ugljevik region, Gacko region

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Prishtina region


Pljevlja region


Bitola region, Kičevo region

North Macedonia

Kostolac region, Kolubara region, Obrenovac region, Pomoravlje region


Donets’k region, Luhans’k region, Lviv region, Volyn region


Actions and assistance

The initiative will provide an open platform allowing region-wide, multi-stakeholder dialogue. It will create a space for sharing experiences, knowledge and best practices on transition-related issues and encourage ties between coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine and their EU counterparts through coal region-to-region exchanges.

Capacity among relevant stakeholders will be built through a Coal Regions Learning Academy that will offer dedicated trainings on governance, community engagement, environmental reclamation, and repurposing of land and assets.

The selected pilot regions will be provided with access to technical assistance in the form of expert support to develop transition roadmaps for relevant public authorities. The initiative also aims to help coal regions access financing for transition projects or programmes, based on various sources available from the European Commission, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the European Investment Bank.


The initiative’s secretariat will provide direct support for its implementation and ensuring collaboration across the diversity of institutions and actors that the initiative will engage. The secretariat will moreover be actively involved in maintaining relationships with relevant stakeholders in the coal regions and engaging them in the discussion through communication activities and tailored events, such as public meetings and local workshops. It will also develop and implement the coal region-to-region exchange programme with coal regions from the EU.

The secretariat of the initiative for coal regions in transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine was launched by the European Commission on 9 February 2021. It is based in Brussels and co-run by Ecorys, Climate Strategies, the Central Mining Institute (GIG), ICLEI Europe, and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy, which together build a consortium with expert knowledge of the situation in all of the participating countries.

Get in touch with the secretariat:

Relation to EU coal regions

The new initiative builds on the experiences of the EU Initiative for coal regions in transition, which has connected stakeholders, provided technical assistance and developed support materials for affected regions since 2017.

Both initiatives contribute to implementing the European Green Deal, thereby helping build Europe’s strategy for green, sustainable growth. The EU Green Deal focuses on making the EU climate-neutral by 2050, and early involvement of key EU partners and neighbours, such as the Western Balkans and Ukraine, is crucial for its successful implementation. Coal regions across and beyond the EU are key players in this development.

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*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.