UJEP A Leader in Just Transition Initiatives
With climate change continuing, the European Union has long been recognized as a global leader in climate change mitigation, recently adopting the European Green Deal – a set of strategies and instruments supporting a just transition to a decarbonized European society. The new European strategies and financial instruments also deal with the important question of how to achieve carbon-neutral economies without unequally affecting the communities living and working for generations in coal-dependent regions. This poses a major research and educational challenge for universities located in old coal-mining regions. UJEP is the only university founded and located in northwest Czechia, one of Europe’s regions most affected by the mining industry and its related social, economic and environmental impacts.
“While the transition studies with a strong link to social inclusiveness have been the long-term area of focus at our university, the new impetus for our research and educational effort was recently provided by the Just Transition Fund within the European Green Deal”, says Jaroslav Koutský, rector of the university. Since 2021, the university has been putting together two strategic projects, and has been participating in another two, that brings together our experience and knowledge across different research areas. “Our major focus within these projects is to develop and validate new mechanisms that support cooperation across university centres and regional actors in order to ensure the real-life impact of our research”, continues Koutský.
The first strategic project is abbreviated as RUR, emphasizing links between the Region and the University. The project embraces four areas focusing on the theme of creativity. These areas include creative people (focusing on inclusive and life-long education), a creative community (aiming at innovations in regional decision-making), a creative environment (developing new approaches to environmental planning), and a creative campus (integrating all of the above at our university campus in Ústí nad Labem).
Another project GET, which stands for Green Energy Technologies, wants to create a new hydrogen energy infrastructure at the university. “This is in perfect accordance with European strategies, which list our region among the European Hydrogen Valleys”, explains Martin Balej, who is responsible for European Funds at the university.
We expect that if funding is secured, both projects will be launched in late 2023 or early 2024, helping to establish UJEP as a leader in international transition studies and will present the Ústí nad Labem region as a good example of how just transition can be approached and achieved.