Date: 29 jan 2021
Theme: Environment, Research and innnovation, Research & Development
On 11 December 2019, the European Commission adopted the Communication on the European Green Deal, setting out an ambitious roadmap towards a new sustainable growth policy for Europe. This landmark strategy is on the one hand about cutting emissions, and on the other hand about transforming the EU into a fair and prosperous society with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. As such, it is an ambitious growth policy that strives to reconcile the economy with our planet, and to reconcile the way we produce and the way we consume with our planet, as well as to make this new economy work for people.
In order for the European Green Deal’s ambitious objectives to be achieved, the transition to a climate-neutral economy needs to be just and inclusive, leaving no one behind. The engagement of the Union’s citizens is crucial in this respect. It is a strategy ‘based on ambitious climate and environmental objectives and on participatory processes bringing citizens, cities and regions together in the fight against climate change and for environmental protection’.
Two of the main pillars of the European Green Deal are the European Climate Pact and the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM). The first will be the vehicle for raising awareness about climate change and support broad social mobilisation towards climate and environmental action. The latter will support the EU regions most affected by the transition to a climate-neutral economy so as to ensure that no citizen is left behind.
The Just Transition Fund is the first pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism and will ease the economic and social impacts of the climate transition on regions most dependent on fossil fuels or carbon-intensive industries. The success of this initiative, and the transition more broadly, will rely on the ownership and buy-in of the concerned territories and their citizens. The Regulation establishing the Just Transition Fund states clearly that it ‘will be implemented through shared management in close cooperation with national, regional and local authorities and stakeholders’. This will support shared ownership of transition strategies and provide ‘the tools and structures for an efficient management framework’.
In this context, it is clear that young people have an important role to play. Their future will be directly affected by the upcoming transition, and their needs, opinions, fears and hopes are an important part of the dialogue. There are several important reasons why meaningful participation of young people in the decision-making process of the Just Transition Fund, as well as buy-in in its implementation, is crucial.