Valea Jiului Development Society Project crowned “Transformative Action of the Year 2022”

Valea Jiului Development Society Project crowned “Transformative Action of the Year 2022”

The civil society coalition of 21 local NGOs active in the Jiu Valley was launched in 2019

The Valea Jiului Development Society Project was announced as the winner of the sixth edition of the Transformative Action Award at a ceremony hosted by the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels. The Romanian civil society coalition’s transformative action focuses on spearheading systemic change in the Jiu Valley, a former mining region, by strengthening local civil society, promoting sustainable development, fostering collaboration and encouraging equitable investments.

The initiative was selected by the jury for its potential to catalyse a socio-cultural, socio-economic and technological transformation within its community, and for its efforts to advance the local implementation of the European Green Deal. Alongside a trophy and the title of “Transformative Action of the Year 2022,” Valea Jiului also receives €10,000 to help support further actions.

On behalf of the Valea Jiului Society, President Adina Vintan expresses the organisation’s excitement on winning the award:

“It’s just awesome that we are among the finalists and now we are the winner! I want to congratulate you on taking this initiative because I think that the local actors have to be supported. It’s amazing for us. We want to continue with what we did in Jiu Valley. We are lucky because we could find involved people that still trust in the future of the Jiu Valley…We want to work to have a better quality of life and to show everybody that the Jiu Valley is the most wonderful place on earth.”

Valea Jiului is a civil society coalition of 21 local NGOs active in the Jiu Valley, and was launched in 2019. The ‘Engaged Jiu Valley’ is a co-designed and co-implemented action involving civil society and citizens in the development of public policies and collaboration across levels. Examples of the coalition’s work include: a signed protocol with six mayors, the local University, private sector stakeholders, a mining company, and more promoting the Valley as an investment destination; the reconversion of the Petrila Mine into an administrative, economic and cultural centre, where community events for all ages such as a showing of the PetrilaPlanet documentary and a RoboticsValley festival take place; hand-painted murals on the Petroșani University Campus and former Petrila & Aninoasa Mines, and more.

Kata Tüttő, Deputy Mayor of Budapest and Vice Chair of the Commission for Environment, Climate change and Energy of the Committee of the Regions and Transformative Action Award Jury Member, emphasises the importance of community action for a greener future:

"Solutions are urgently needed to make our communities more sustainable and resilient. The (Valea Jiului) project clearly shows a successful engagement between local community actors working in synergy to ensure a green future for the region. We value enormously the effort that a former coal region is making to achieve the necessary systemic change, protecting nature through a just transition."Thomas Kastrup-Larsen, Mayor of Aalborg (Denmark) and Transformative Action Award Jury Member, underlines the fundamental role of local actors in furthering the European Green Deal:

“Local governments and organisations play a big role in advancing the implementation of the European Green Deal, as it is at a local level that the transition will need to take place. It is also at the local level that we are able to involve citizens and key stakeholders, creating local green deals, which is absolutely necessary in order to achieve a successful implementation. Therefore, it makes me very optimistic about the difficult road ahead, when I look at this year’s finalists and winner. They all take a very holistic and inclusive approach to the challenges they are faced with, knowing that the solutions are based on a strong sense of community. It is very inspiring and I cannot thank them enough for sharing it with all of us.”
Alongside Valea Jiului, two cities were nominated for the Award: the City of Łódź, Poland for its City Development Strategy, which frames the third largest Polish city as a ‘living organism’ and aims to improve quality of life, and the Municipality of Caldes de Montbui, Spain for its local energy community that prioritises the reduction of Co2 emissions, the use of photovoltaic energy, and the involvement of citizens in co-designing a new model for energy efficiency and independence.

All of this year’s finalists impressed the jury with their transformative actions and desire to build a better Europe, however, Valea Jiului stood out for reasons that Hakan Lucius, Head of Corporate Responsibility, European Investment Bank, and Transformative Action Award Jury Member, makes clear:“Congratulations to the civil society coalition “The Engaged Jiu Valley”. This inspiring project reinventing the former largest coal mining area in Romania illustrates that the collaboration of key stakeholders can successfully shape a green, inclusive, innovative, and sustainable future.”

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