Published on November 27, 2023

The State of Youth Engagement in the Process of Just Transition in the Western Balkans

In 2018 the European Green Deal laid the foundation for a large-scale energy transition away from fossil-based energy carriers and towards renewable energy solutions. Two years later the Western Balkan governments signed the Sofia Declaration on the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans as a concrete plan to expand the European Green Deal to the region. A key component of the energy transition is ensuring that no one is left behind by providing strategic, case-specific support to the regions and people most adversely affected.

The success of the just transition depends on the widespread engagement of all stakeholders, particularly the next generation that will shape the future of post-coal regions. Young people must therefore be engaged in every stage of the energy transition- from agenda setting to implementation and monitoring.

To explore the extent of youth involvement in the design of the just transition in the five Western Balkan states (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia), GCE reached out to civil society and youth representatives from the region, incorporating their perspectives.  Leveraging the local expertise of CEE Bankwatch Network, this briefing also provides an initial overview of the development of the just transition in each country.

The findings reveal that although all Western Balkan governments are taking steps to advance the energy transition, there are notable differences in progress across the countries. Unfortunately, youth engagement in the just transition is still in its infancy in all examined countries, with no clear evidence of meaningful youth involvement in state-led consultation formats. There is ample room for improvement, and we bring forward some clear recommendations to strengthen youth engagement in the ‘just’ transition of the region.

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