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“It's a Piece of the Puzzle”: Ingrid Cailhol from the European Commission on why this Knowledge Hub matters

The Just Energy Transition in Coal Regions (JET-CR) Knowledge Hub is co-funded by the European Union (EU) Commission and the German Federal Government as part of the IKI JET project. We spoke to Ingrid Cailhol of the European Commission to find out why this Knowledge Hub is so important, what makes it different from other platforms, and how it fits into the EU Commission’s wider ambitions on climate action and just transition.

Knowledge exchange through the new Knowledge Hub is an important component of the IKI JET project. Why has the EU Commission chosen to fund a project that emphasizes this public outreach so much? And what makes the platform so important in this regard?

Two points are very important for us: first, we would like to see this platform establish a link with content that already exists rather than duplicating it. Second, we’d like to ensure that the Knowledge Hub outlives the duration of the program. We want it to be sustainable over the long term and to be used as a source of reference for accurate documentation on the topic of a just energy transition in coal regions. Of course, this topic is being addressed by many institutions and stakeholders. But to have some kind of central repository—one that is recognized as such by our partners in the project’s target countries—that would be the ambition.

So, this means building on all major initiatives launched in the field of just energy transition thus far, including within the EU. Several projects have been financed so far, within Europe but also in the Western Balkans and Ukraine. The idea is to try to link the Hub with all the content and experience gathered throughout these initiatives. Content-wise, the objective from the EU perspective should be to create a sort of one-stop shop for everything related to a just energy transition for our partners.

What makes this project different from previous projects in your eyes?

Well, it’s the first time that we have financed a program for such a diverse group of countries. In the same group, we have Colombia, Vietnam, and Mongolia, plus Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, and Chile. So, what makes this project different is its global scope. The Knowledge Hub should gather information and documentation that is equally relevant for Asian, Latin American, or European readers, a sort of common ground on a global scale.

What would you like to see the JET-CR Knowledge Hub achieve? What are the main objectives from your point of view? Who should the Knowledge Hub reach?

The Knowledge Hub’s content should be quite comprehensive because the topic of the just energy transition is complex and covers many policy areas. And that’s the challenge: just energy transition covers topics such as skill development, economic development, ecological remediation, or the repurposing of mines. The Knowledge Hub should be both exhaustive and easily accessible, in the sense that navigation within the site should be facilitated so that readers do not get lost in the details. It should branch from the more generic for newcomers to the topic to more specific for the most knowledgeable readers looking for in-depth information, but not pull too much information together to start with because then it might get difficult to digest.

In terms of potential users of the Hub, I believe it should be widely available and accessible for both the general public and stakeholders involved in a just energy transition. It should include both general knowledge and reference documents on the topic and more specific reports and analyses on niche dimensions related to a just energy transition.

“This is the first time we’ve financed a program to support key stakeholders in coal regions in their efforts to plan and implement just energy transition pathways away from coal in such a diverse group of countries.”

Which areas of focus or projects do you particularly want to see highlighted on the Knowledge Hub, and what types of content would you like to see published there?

We would like to see content drawn from reliable sources—not necessarily research papers from elite academic channels but validated, recognized sources of information. And the content should be accessible and digestible. On the areas of focus, I think we should base ourselves on the International Labour Organization Guidelines for a just energy transition and on the different areas that have been defined therein. In other words, the Hub should cover social aspects, economic aspects, industrial policy, gender, environment, governance, civil society—the spectrum is broad.

Also, there should be some showcasing of the experiences implemented in various regions or countries through EU-funded programs, maybe with the testimonies or videos of people who have benefited or who have gained something from the project. This involves drawing lessons and experiences from past projects, such as the Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition or the Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition in the Western Balkans and Ukraine, as well as establishing links with ongoing initiatives, such as the Just Transition Platform. The Hub should be a lively place, demonstrating that the just energy transition is already happening. And Europe is supporting this.

Another important aspect from our perspective is the inclusion of events. There are many ongoing events on many topics, so it seems relevant to have an overview, a calendar featuring these and the main actors involved, to get a more accurate view of who does what. There’s a lot happening these days.

Do you foresee any challenges, in particular with the implementation of the Knowledge Hub?

The main challenge, in my view, is that information soon becomes outdated and obsolete. Some outdated websites remain on the web forever, even after the closure of the program, and are not maintained any longer. To me, this is the main challenge. Another challenge is accessibility. The site should not be too complicated, but at the same time, be informative. So maintenance and sustainability would be the two keywords.

How does the Knowledge Hub fit into the EU’s wider ambitions on climate action?

Well, it’s a piece of the puzzle. The big ambition and challenge for the EU is to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels and to decrease CO₂ emissions. With coal mines being a large contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, it’s clear that the JET-CR program has an important role to play. The EU is committed to cooperating with countries that rely heavily on fossil fuels, especially coal, and to accompany them on the path toward a just energy transition.

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