W trosce o sprawiedliwą transformację For the sake of a just transformation
Economic diversification in mining regions, in the context of challenges related to the transformation, was discussed by the participants of the panel “Green” innovations as a flywheel of the coal regions transformation” in the framework of the conference "Towards a green economy".
Representatives of European mining and post-mining regions took part in the debate on economic diversification, including Laurence Capelle from Wallonia, Zdenek Karasek from Moravian-Silesian region, Marta Sláviková, as well as Janusz Michałek, President of the Board of the KSEZ Co and Goetz von Thadden, Head of unit from the European Investment Bank. The Silesian Voivodeship was represented by Deputy Marshal Wojciech Kałuża, who spoke about the region's activity in talks with representatives of the European Union.
"We've been very active on this issue from the beginning. Together with the government we have presented 28 projects to the European Commission and at every step we try to stress that just transition should not exclude anyone. We put great importance on the role of local governments in the transformation process, we hope this support will pay off in the future. We have great potential, but we should work together to ensure that the transformation is carried out with the interests of the social side in mind" - said Deputy Marshal Wojciech Kałuża.
Wojciech Kałuża presented some interesting examples in this respect, including SPINplace, a project carried out by the University of Silesia and consisting in creating a place where science will meet business. The total value of the project is PLN 30 million, and the EU co-funding is PLN 25 million. Another interesting project is the creation of the KSSENON Business Accelerator, a place that can become a center of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Janusz Michałek, president of the board of the Katowice Special Economic Zone Co, drew attention to the issue of inventory of mining areas in the region.
"No one in Europe has such a well-developed investment areas as post-industrial areas. If we want to locate the largest investments here from around the world, then there is no need to build them in green areas, only in post-industrial areas. Let's agree on ownership issues and give them a second life. There are hands to work here, it is a chance for further functioning of the region and development" – explained Janusz Michałek, President of the Board of the KSEZ.
Participants in the discussion unanimously stressed that an important factor in supporting the transformation process is the exchange of experiences between regions with similar industrial origins throughout Europe.
"In our region, 10,000 people work in the coal industry. Today, the transformation process is not as difficult as it was twenty years ago, we have low unemployment. The employment structure is also different, with many people working in the service sector, IT or automotive. It is important to think about the future and changes in education, consisting of soft skills training, as well as contacts between schools and entrepreneurs, where their graduates can go" noted Zdenek Karasek, vice-governor of the Moravian-Silesian Region.
Goetz von Thadden from the European Investment Bank mentioned that for example post-Soviet grey houses were a challenge in Lithuania. It was possible to improve their aesthetics by involving central and local authorities and residents. The problem concerned practically whole regions, so whole districts were revitalized. The actions were also aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of buildings.
Marta Sláviková, Director of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation TRITIA, pointed out that the Silesian Voivodeship, the Moravian-Silesian Region and the Region of Zilina have similar problems and air pollution knows no borders. International cooperation should be developed also in order to protect the environment.
The last panellist Wojciech Psonka, President of the Management Board of Prointegra S. A. stated that for his industry the biggest challenge is the quality of life. Employees will come where there are jobs and clean air, clean environment. In a few words, he also presented a project in which they are currently involved and related to air quality monitoring.
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