Conference on the Future of Europe _ Just and effective transition of Croatia towards climate neutrality
Lidija Pavic-Rogosic, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), participated in a panel discussion on just and effective transition, during the conference held on 27 October 2021.
The Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development (MINGOR) of the Republic of Croatia, Directorate for Climate Activities held a series of panel discussions from 20 September to 11 October 2021 to stimulate discussion with various stakeholders on the challenges and opportunities for a just and effective transition to climate neutrality. The final conference was organised on October 27, 2021 in a hybrid form.
The EU’s climate ambition, shared by Croatia, will affect all segments of society and the aim is to establish a dialogue in society so that it is aware of the changes that need to be undertaken, while reaching a broad consensus of all parts of society. The question is how various stakeholders can help our society in this demanding process!
Through eight separate panel discussions, the target groups were given the opportunity to first discuss within their group and consider their role in the transition. The panels were held for the business sector, local and regional decision-makers, youth, media, education sector, scientists, trade unions and civil society organizations. Lidija Pavic-Rogosic prepared the questionnaire for the civil society organisations, prepared the report and moderated the panel with CSO representatives held on October 6, 2021.
At the final conference on October 27, 2021, the representatives of each of the panels presented the conclusions and recommendations from their panel discussion, discussed among themselves and with participants on different issues related to green transition. The consolidated conclusions and recommendations will be published on the MINGOR website and on the Conference platform.
These events were held in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe, launched by the European Commission to hear the voice of EU citizens on Europe’s challenges and priorities. EU Member States have adopted a European Climate Law, which sets a common goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. Scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are described in the Low Carbon Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia until 2030 with a view to 2050, which together with the new legislation will direct Croatia’s development towards a drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Findings – CSO panel:
- The results of the survey show that people are aware of personal responsibility and that as individuals they are ready to be active and involved
- However, the transition should be guided and should be serious in the goals setting, and the Government of the Republic of Croatia is responsible for that
- The issue of citizen motivation is related to the precondition for establishing a good system, e.g. citizens have an intention to separate waste, but the waste management system is deficient in many parts of the country
- Awareness-raising should be upgraded towards the implementation of environmentally responsible behavior in practice
A significant number of local authorities do not link climate change to effects on society, such as potential damage to food production or changes in the energy system due to restrictive measures to mitigate the effects of climate change
The role of institutions in building environmental responsibility is crucial, for example, starting from the system of educational institutions to the universities
- Global climate change should be viewed as a political and ethical issue due to the negative effects on vulnerable groups in society, and not exclusively as an environmental issue. The transition will generate losers, so the consequences need to be mitigated and a strong social dimension ensured; we need to think about a “fair transition” and in addition to establishing a social fund to mitigate the consequences, we also need innovative solutions such as universal income
- CSOs can certainly support this process through awareness-raising and education activities because citizens say that the policies are often abstract and need to be brought closer to citizens and their role in this process should be explained.
- Funding for the work of associations which are dealing with environmental protection and sustainable development has not been sufficiently supported at the national and local level and from EU funds programmed in Croatia, as is the case with other sectors, and recently it is further reduced.
On the other hand, this sector has played a significant role in attracting EU funds through which successful environmental and nature protection projects have been financed and implemented, while at the same time developing expertise in a number of associations for the implementation of various types of projects.
Public calls should be designed to respond to real needs and to ensure the sustainability of projects and to expand topics related to climate transition neutrality policies, such as sustainable mobility.
- Work at the local community level is extremely important, because a well-informed local community can implement the transition well, the “bottom-up approach” is important, e.g. the work of the association on the island of Krk has sparked community debate and initiated activities towards climate neutrality
- Associations can be partners and catalysts of the process, can help local authorities design a sustainable development agenda for a specific local community and implement processes of involvement of citizens and other relevant stakeholders
There are already examples of good practice in Croatia at the local level, which emerged through a long-term and persistent work of associations for environmental protection and sustainable development.
These practices should be communicated to the wider community in order to encourage others to initiate low-carbon development measures; a system of shared experiences needs to be developed at the national level
- Associations have an important role in this process, they have the skills and knowledge (e.g. sustainable urban mobility network CIVINET Slo-Cro-SEE ), but many will cease to exist without project funding
- Associations also need to develop capacities for “advocacy processes” to be more visible and involved in the design and monitoring of regulations and strategies
- National and local authorities should consider and recognize the possible contribution of associations and involve them from the beginning in policy-making processes, as well as in implementation and monitoring.
- The question is also how to attract young people to be active in associations and thus learn to be active in society
Young people can be attracted, for example, by creating cooperation with faculties that have introduced the concept of service learning into the curriculum, which is scored. This allows students to gain experience working in associations, which is mutually beneficial. (For example, the Sunce Association has cooperation with four faculties in Split. Other associations have similar experiences, such as ODRAZ, Green Action-FoE, etc.)
- Cooperation with the media should be strengthened in order to increase the visibility of the work and benefits of associations for local communities and society
- It is important to establish partnerships among associations, but also cross-sectoral partnerships with the public, business and academic sectors in order to increase performance and achieve longer-term, sustainable results.
Before the panel discussion, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development as well as envoys of the Croatian President and Parliament gave speeches explaining their view of needs and steps towards the transition. Besides, the ambassadors of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and the USA shared their experience from their countries on how they are or intend to accelerate the process towards climate neutrality.
The recording of the Conference is on the Youtube channel (the panel starts at 1,28 min; interventions by Lidija Pavic-Rogosic at 2,05 and 2,39 min):
More information at the Ministry’s web site (in Croatian), including conclusions and recommendations of all panels:
Registration on the CoFoE platform (conclusions not yet published): https://futureu.europa.eu/processes/GreenDeal/f/2/meetings/27755?toggle_translations=true
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