In June (14-17), the BOLSTER Team attended the 2023 RSA (Regional Studies Association) conference. It is a very multidisciplinary and international event that brings together scholars and professionals from the fields of economics, regional and urban planning, geography, development studies, political sciences, tourism and many more. It is a great opportunity to get out of the bubble of one’s discipline and hear many different perspectives on what can be done for the sustainable future of regions.

Anastasiya Ansteeg (TiU) and Jessica Clement (ULiége) co-hosted a special session called “Marginalized Communities: The missing link in climate transition policy”. Their session was linked to BOLSTER, which aims to understand if a greater implication of marginalised communities in the European Green Deal policies, namely the Just Transition Mechanism, will increase support for transition policies.

Three papers or projects were presented related to BOLSTER:

  1. A Conceptual Framework and Measurement Challenges of a Just Transition“: Asel Doranovapresented a paper (in collaboration with Sabina HodzicErin Rose Newman-Grigg) that, after reviewing existing frameworks by the European Commission and other organisations, pointed out the gap in indicators for evaluation and monitoring that can account for marginalised communities in transitions. With only one indicator currently referring to marginalised communities, reconceptualizing indicators was highlighted as a priority for next steps in the transition processes to offer more comprehension coverage of these groups.
  2. Agency and Civic Imagination for Post-carbon Future. The Voice of the Unheard“: Ana-Maria Elianand Alexandra Lulachepresented their findings on the Just Transition process in Prahova, Romania. On the backdrop of a fossil fuel collapse in the region, which led to spatialised vulnerability, they emphasised how marginalised communities perceive their sense of agency in Just Transition processes. These processes, however, depend on who is in the policy driving seat and without tackling structural barriers to participation, a transition that is Just seems unlikely.
  3. Leaving no one Behind? How European and Regional Policies aim to Address the Negative Consequences of Europe’s Climate Ambitions“: Finally, Michiel Stapperpresented the results from his recent policy paper, which analysed seven Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTPs) to see how they envision the Just Transition. The findings show that the TJTPs focused mainly on preserving jobs, and that investments in social and health care are made to attract young and educated people to the targeted regions. Related to several key transition theories, the TJTPs may support socio-technical or socio-ecological transitions but may have less of an impact on transformative structural change that leaves no person behind.

All of these insights have emerged from only 10 months of our project!