The inaugural meeting of the Coal Regions in Western Balkans and Ukraine Platform kicked off today. The virtual meeting brought together representatives from these transitioning energy economies with the goal to share experiences, best practices and lessons learned on the energy transition. The meeting was opened by World Bank Country Director for Europe Western Balkans Linda Van Gelder and the European Commission Director for Internal Energy Market in DG ENERGY Catharina Sikow-Magny. With today’s launch, the European Commission emphasised the importance of the valuable lessons learnt from the experiences shared among 34 EU coal regions across 14 EU Member States in the framework of the ongoing EU initiative for coal regions in transition, which was launched exactly three years ago.
The virtual event began by outlining the state of the transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine and the key transformation tasks ahead. Other sessions served to demonstrate the breadth of international support and coordination to help coal regions transition. Participants heard international and European perspectives along with the point of view of government representatives from the Western Balkans and Ukraine on both the challenges and the opportunities posed by the energy transition. Representatives from civil society in the region also made their voices heard and provided a number of takeaways on the best pathway to decarbonize by engaging local communities.
Deputy Director Dirk Buschle presented the Energy Community’s activities focused on decarbonization and the transition challenges of the Western Balkans and Ukraine as Contracting Parties. In his speech, he underlined: “The transition will not spare our Contracting Parties, and they are well advised to embrace it instead of opposing it. Firm political decisions should be taken now, to avoid long periods of uncertainty. For us in the Energy Community it is evident, maybe more evident than in other parts of Europe, that the transition will only succeed if it is a just and inclusive transition. In this respect, we have plenty of experience to share, but are also eager to learn from the experience made in the European Union and across the globe”.
Zsuzsana Hargitai, the EBRD’s Director for the Western Balkans, said: “We are pleased to see the start of the coal transition process in the Western Balkans and Ukraine and we stand ready to provide both policy dialogue, technical assistance and financing support to the governments to shift from coal to clean energy sources”.
The European Commission’s representatives for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations presented the Commission’s support to the energy transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine. They highlighted the recent adoption of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans and its Green Agenda and the ongoing work under the EU-Ukraine policy dialogue.
The Platform Initiative for Coal Regions in Western Balkans and Ukraine, created in September 2019, assists countries in developing and implementing inclusive strategies for transitioning to low-carbon energy systems. The Platform initiative is a joint effort by the World Bank, the Energy Community Secretariat, the College of Europe, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Commission and the Government of Poland.