1st BOLSTER regional policy dialogue held on 26th September

On September 26th, the BOLSTER consortium held its first policy dialogue, presenting perspectives from Croatian regions going through the Just Transition process (Istria and Sisak-Moslavina), as well as cases from Carinthia (Austria) and Eindhoven (The Netherlands).

This online event opened a series of 10 regional dialogues focused on the project’s target regions. This series of dialogues will be organised by ECAS – European Citizen Action Service, one of the partners in the BOLSTER project. The dialogues will stimulate cross-regional policy learning among regional and EU policymakers and will involve important players in the regional Just Transition Process, such as local companies, trade unions, NGOs and civil society representatives.

The first dialogue focused on challenges and lessons learned for an inclusive green transition process in the regions involved.

It started with an introduction from Prof. Sabina Hodžić (FTHM, University of Rijeka), who provided an overview of the European Green Deal principles and of the Just Transition Mechanism, as well as of the general objectives and work plan of the BOLSTER project. Ms Mags Bird – Senior Policy Officer for Climate & Energy and Just Transition, WWF European Policy Office, provided further insights on Just Transition principles and key findings in the assessment of EU Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTP).

This introduction was followed by the presentations of representatives of the regions of Istria and Sisak Moslavina regions (Croatia). Anamaria Škopac Pamić, Assistant Director of Regional Coordinator of the County of Istria for European Programs and Funds, focused on the implementation of the Just Transition Fund in the Istrian region and particularly on the operations foreseen by the TJTP that aim to foster research and innovation, circular economy, business, agribusiness and food business infrastructure programs creating future competencies, and reduction of regional greenhouse gas emissions. Tatjana Puškarić, Head of Regional Development and Strategic Planning Department at Regional Coordinator of Sisak-Moslavina County, presented the operations carried out under the TJTP in the region, which include, among others, the development of the ICT industry and particularly of the gaming industry, representing a driver of employment and skills development.

Perspectives from other regions experiencing the green transition in Europe were presented by Eva-Maria Wutte-Kirchgatterer, Head of the department for EU Cooperation at the Carinthian Economic Promotion Fund (Austria), and Anastasiya Aansteg, postdoctoral researcher at University of Tilburg. Ms. Wutte-Kirchgatterer highlighted the importance of a using local integrated approach in Just Transition regions, focusing on the specific needs and possibilities of the region and creating a regional ecosystem. Ms. Aansteg showcased lessons learned in the context of the green transition of the Brainport region in The Netherlands, specifically concerning the governance model for the transition process.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion where speakers commented on the previous presentations and provided their perspectives on the key elements for a successful Just Transition process, as well as on what the EU could do to (further) support this process. Panellists were Julija Škoro, Head of Sustainability at Holcim (Croatia), Miłosława Stępień, Just Transition Coordinator at CEE Bankwatch Network, Lovro Novoselac, Head of the sector for Programming, Coordination and Strategic Monitoring of ESI Funds at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds (Croatia), Anja Ademi, Head of Urban Planning and Development at City of Pula, and Jasna Vekić, Director of Red Cross Pula.

Attendees actively contributed to the dialogue by responding to live polling questions (Slido) and by interacting with the speakers through the event chat and “live” questions.

The main recommendations gathered both from attendees and speakers included: enhancing cooperation among regional and local actors of the transition (public sector, businesses, trade unions, civil society) as well as among different Just Transition regions across Europe, engaging and learning from vulnerable communities, fostering a participatory and bottom-up approach in planning and implementing the Just Transition process, supporting upskilling and reskilling of workers, and requiring the coherence of regional transition plans with social policies.

The presentation slides are available here.