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Study Visit to Lusatia

The Green Rural Deal project aims to support municipalities in three regions of Greece, Kosovo* and Serbia to build up their transformative capacities and develop suitable solutions for a zero-carbon economy. Because sustainability strategy needs to build on reliable data down to regional and local level, the project engages with local stakeholders in these regions and offers a variety of capacity building opportunities.

The project team will support gathering and assessment of key socio-economic issues relevant for a transition to a zero carbon economy, based on knowledge gaps identified collectively with regional stakeholders. Among other things, GreenRuralDeal has invited regional stakeholders to co-create project ideas and concepts in a series of events and formats including this study trip to a rural region in Germany facing similar transformative change issues. 

This first study visit from 27th of September until 1st of October 2021 will be to Lusatia (Lausitz), a region in the eastern part of Germany, where the stakeholder groups from all 3 target regions go on field trips, meet German counterparts, experts on regional development and government officials. They exchange with each other and with their German counterparts on challenges and possible solutions.

During the 5-day visit, the stakeholders will meet f.e. with representatives from the Ministry for environment (BMU) from the Division for Structural Change, with several majors from Lusatian cities as well as with a regional structural development agency. Moreover, the program also includes several workshops to gain a mutual understanding of challenges in rural areas and to develop ideas on possible interventions to overcome these challenges.

Interview: Climate Journalism in Czechia and Germany

Tereza Šťastná of the Czech Radio. Photo: Tereza Šťastná

Tereza Šťastná of the Czech Radio (Český rozhlas) was a fellow of last year’s “Central Eastern European Climate and Energy Policy Scholarship for Journalists”. For two months, she worked for Deutsche Welle in Bonn to report about climate and energy issues and to broaden her view on these issues. For the second cohort of the exchange programme, she recommends not to worry but to be open to try something new.

You worked for two months at Deutsche Welle. What was your best experience during the exchange?

It is not easy to answer. The whole programme was a great experience; I met many new people and experts and could see a different kind of work in another media house. Deutsche Welle is a really big name around the world. The whole programme was a great experience.

Tereza Šťastná worked for Deutsche Well in Bonn for two months. Photo: Tereza Šťastná

What do you think the biggest differences are between climate and energy journalism in the Czech Republic and in Germany?

In my opinion, climate and energy issues are more prominently on the agenda in Germany, while in the Czech Republic the topic is underestimated. For example, renewable energies are a much bigger topic in Germany. I also enjoyed the wide net of experts on the issues, which I found in Germany.

What kind of story did you work on during your time at Deutsche Welle?

I spent some time working on insects as a new way of efficient food and ecological eating. Another story was the programme “Klimaneutral Leben” (climate-neutral living) in Berlin. I also covered the issues around Hambach Forest from two perspectives. On the one side there were activists fighting for Hambach Forest, on the other hand there were workers from the coal industry. (Find other interesting stories here).

Why do you think journalists should leave their own country to participate in an exchange?

Such an exchange can give enriching insight into different kind of issues and various options on how to solve them. It makes you leave the social bubble you might live in when you are always working in the same country on the same kind of topics.

During her time in Germany, Tereza Šťastná reported about the protests at the Hambach Forest. Photo: Tereza Šťastná

After being back from the exchange, have there been moments when you noticed the advantages of your experiences abroad?

Of course and in many particular moments. When I came back, I told my boss that we should focus more on climate and energy issues and he was very open to the initiative. I think that the number of reports on climate and energy increased by 50 percent since then. For example, I was able to prepare some kind of expert talk shows. I also brought some practical ideas back home to change workflows in our office.


“The number of reports on climate and energy increased by 50 percent.”

Tereza Šťastná, Český Rozhlas

Is there one wish or recommendation you have for the second cohort of journalists of this programme?

Yes definitely. Do not worry to try something new. Do not be afraid of not having necessary experience or skills, because you can learn them. In Germany and in other media around the world, people are kind and helpful. Moreover, you can broaden your network with people and experts. The exchange is absolutely enriching.

WWF Bulgaria: Just Transition for the Coal-Mining Regions in Southwest Bulgaria

Workers in the energy and coal industry and their trade unions face a serious challenge. On the one hand, they will have to take up much of the burden of the transition to a sustainable economy. A significant number of jobs will be transformed. This is a process that is already running due to the modernization and upgrading of current industrial technologies. On the other hand, trade unions as the driving force of social change have the best understanding of the potential and benefits of collective action. If they do not use their influence in the high carbon sectors to speed up and support the processes of modernization and upgrading during the transition to a low carbon economy, there is a risk many jobs to be closed down in the short-term. Now we are facing this problem in Southwest Bulgaria.

Decarbonisation policies and measures may in fact become the driving force for sustainable economic growth and social progress. This can be done with the active participation of the employees and workers who are most directly affected. There are various alternatives for achieving a just transition in Southwest Bulgaria. They were addressed a study conducted under the EUKI Project “Just Transition in Eastern and Southern Europe”. It outlines the possible scenarios for sustainable development beyond maintaining the current state (i.e. beyond the absence of concrete actions for change).

The analysis presents possible solutions to the problems related to the transition from coal industry to a sustainable economy in Southwest Bulgaria. It is an attempt to plan the future of coal regions in Bulgaria and can serve as a tool for policy planning and long-term strategic decision making in this region.

The documentary movie “Life After Coal” by WWF Bulgaria is presenting the situation in the focus coal region in Bulgaria and the perspectives of its current citizens.

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Project Study