Representatives of the local authorities from Jiu Valley and Gorj met on Tuesday, October 5th to discuss the opportunities and challenges that the transition from coal brings for each region and to share their experiences so far in planning the just transition.
The meeting, which took place in Târgu Jiu at the initiative of Bankwatch Romania, brought to the table representatives of the local authorities from the two mining regions, with the aim of exchanging practices and sharing possible solutions for the sustainable development of their respective communities.
Mr. Tiberiu Iacob-Ridzi, mayor of Petroșani municipality, spoke about the importance of working together as local administrations to plan for the future of the region beyond the coal industry. He highlighted the role of the Jiu Valley Strategy and the participation in the Platform of Coal Regions in Transition in Europe for the implementation of projects in the Jiu Valley.
“Between the mining basins in Valea Jiului and Oltenia there are many similarities, but Gorj has an advantage because it is still at the beginning of transition and restructuring process, which in our area is more advanced, and the experience of our area can be a starting point for them”, said Tiberiu Iacob-Ridzi, mayor of Petroșani Municipality.
Mr. Tiberiu-Alin Şipanu, on behalf of the Gorj county council, presented the situation in Gorj and the state of play for the territorial plan for just transition. Gorj County Council had shown interest in being part of the Platform for Coal Regions in Transition.
“Taking part in the platform of mining regions in Europe is an important step that we must take because there are more advanced transition models there, that we can learn from”, said the representative of CJ Gorj.
The discussions focused on project ideas and ways in which the two mining regions could work together in the future – for example, through the development of railway infrastructure or the government’s retraining programme for miners.
“Today’s dialogue is important because the Jiu Valley already have experience. They are at a point that Gorj will reach in a few years. Once we have the plan approved with the financing directions, the hardest stage will come, that of implementation. A possible approach is to create consumer markets on the advantages that the county offers us – the green energy potential, the energy rehabilitation of public and residential buildings, the automotive industry or even the circular economy”, added Mr. Şipanu.
The meeting took place in the context of the Romanian 2032 deadline for the elimination of coal from the energy mix. In Valea Jiului and Gorj there are currently around 16,000 direct employees in the mining sector, and the economies of the two coal regions in Romania will experience systemic changes. At the same time, the three counties that use coal for energy production, Gorj, Dolj and Hunedoara have established the “Jiu Conurbation” Association, a regional initiative through which they can work together to support the economic diversification projects.