Panda Labs for a Just Transition
Advancing the Just Transition in Bulgaria, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro by engaging young people in green entrepreneurship.
Bulgaria, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia
10/21 - 09/23
Educational institutions, Local governments
Coal regions in Bulgaria, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have been under severe economic strain and face severe social issues as Europe embarks on a course for rapid decarbonisation. Funding to ensure a Just Transition is often made available, yet a critical ingredient is missing in all four countries: the human and social capital, future vision, and entrepreneurship potential of a young generation, which is rapidly moving to large cities and Western European countries in search of better economic opportunities.
The project team addresses young people from coal regions in transition. Its goal is to raise awareness on climate change and Just Transition challenges and to actively involve them in problem solving. Key to this is the establishment of an innovation culture that encourages young people to engage in green entrepreneurship and to eventually create green jobs and sustainable livelihoods in the regions.
The project team designs and implements a programme for education and youth entrepreneurship activities. This includes delivering a high school curriculum and establishing an entrepreneurship pipeline for people aged 15-25 in coal regions.
Focusing on one coal region in each country, project team members work with high school students and university-aged entrepreneurs. They encourage them to stay in their home regions by enabling and empowering them to found businesses or to work for emerging green start-ups. School administrations, local authorities, green technology representatives, climate innovation as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) mentors support these efforts. The programme builds on the established WWF methodology of the EUKI project Panda Labs to develop innovative solutions. This includes design thinking, learning by doing, and cross-country exchange on green innovations between young people.
In the long-term, this enables the establishment of local networks of green entrepreneurs, who will tackle the technological and social problems of transitioning their local economies away from coal mining economy.
Just one year after the project started, the EUKI project "Panda Labs Junior for Just Transition" receives strategic support for its work from a Macedonian municipality and two Bulgarian cities. In Bitola, Macedonia, home to the largest coal-fired power plant in the country, a collaboration was signed with EUKI partner organisation JA Macedonia to promote a just transition to decarbonisation and green entrepreneurship. In the Bulgarian cities of Kyustendil and Pernik, WWF Bulgaria achieved that the cooperation will involve communities, schools and youth in decision-making processes in the future and support them in further climate action activities throughout the EUKI project.