Establishing the Council of Mayors of the SAŠA & Zasavje coal-intensive regions in the start of 2022
About this good practice
The European Union has identified two regions in Slovenia that will be included in the JTM - Zasavska region and SAŠA region. The mayors from all the municipalities falling under these two regions have signed an agreement on the establishment of the Council of Mayors of the SAŠA and Zasavje coal-intensive regions, which will actively monitor the procedures in the process of proper transition. Only with a united approach and strong support from the state, the mayors will be able to ensure that the transition from coal in their municipalities will be just and fair.
The problem, however, was the lack of interregional cooperation, as in addition to the fact that the mentioned regions are spread over a large area, the regions are also divided into several smaller and larger municipalities (local authorities), some of which rarely cooperate with each other or have a neglected annual budget. Common policy solutions have become a necessity and a much wider mechanism of cooperation was needed.
The council will work towards the adoption of regional plans to ensure the proper transition of both regions as soon as possible, also to establish a proper transition management system, to provide financial resources in the adopted legislation for the right transition region, to build appropriate infrastructure and to boost up energy, economy, human resources, social infrastructure and also rehabilitation of degraded areas, which are now becoming an increasing financial and spatial burden.
For this initiative, which took place on 9th of March, in the meeting room of Villa Bianca in Velenje, substantial costs or any lavish human resources were not required. The Municipality of Velenje hosted all the mayors from both regions, who signed a cooperation form, after a short presentation.
Evidence of success
The initiative is considered a good practice, due to the fact that a council of mayors of municipalities involved in the JTM has been established, which will meet regularly, and this is also the first cooperation of its kind in Slovenia. The council has already begun its active campaign, as it expresses the common interests of both regions, which are then negotiated with the state negotiator/representative (Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy) and other stakeholders.
Potential for learning or transfer
Small municipalities, which are left alone to handle the restructuring process, simply not have enough social and decision-making power, funds, stakeholders, and other resources to tackle the climate change and decarbonization issues successfully. It is necessary to unite the municipalities with common background, degraded areas, strategic energy locations, industries, goals, and interests, especially when we consider the event, as important as regional restructuring process related to the decarbonisation of the coal-intensive industry. Such a model of the “Council of Mayors” consortium, which was established in Velenje, can be easily replicated in other countries. It is necessary to gather all responsible mayors and involve all important stakeholders’ owners of coal industry facilities (districts system’s, thermal power plants, grid etc.), local development agencies, NGOs, and regional chambers of commerce.