Jiu Valley, Romania
About the case study
Jiu Valley is a micro-region in the Hunedoara County of Romania, comprising seven localities in which coal mining has represented the dominant employment opportunity. At the beginning of 1990, the Jiu Valley could be characterized as a strong urbanized zone, almost exclusively related to coal mining, with more than 60,000 of the inhabitants employed directly or indirectly in this industry and with 17 coal mining perimeters exploited. Since 1997 the Romanian government has implemented programs of labour contract buyouts, which resulted in the closure of several mines. There are four coal mines still active and two coal-fuelled power stations in the area.
The main research aim of ENTRANCES is to identify the principal socio-economic, socio-technical, socio-ecological, socio-cultural, socio-political, socio-psychological, and gender-related challenges facing coal and carbon-intensive regions in transition, and the coping strategies that have emerged in recent years. The relevant socio-economic data was collected from national sources, Eurostat, and regional firms. The socio-cultural component is focused on the territorial stress induced by different sources or “stress vectors”, which we investigated through a focus-group in which six local stakeholders participated. The socio-psychological component was explored through a survey completed by 126 residents of the region. The socio-political component was investigated through text analysis on several types of sources. The socio-ecological & technical component, focused on the transformative capacity of the region, was explored through mixed quantitative-qualitative interviews with ten stakeholders representing four groups
The main findings / results so far are the following:
- The main results on the socio-economic component indicate that from 2000 to 2018 Jiu Valley showed a higher percentage of population loss compared to the other regions, including the country and the EU, representing about 28% of the local population, and a significant lag in the socio-economic development of this region, for instance through the fact that the share of employed individuals in this region is lower by 10% than the country’s level.
- The research on the socio-cultural component concluded that there are four stress vectors (further causing more than twenty strain situations in the territory): the dependence of the region on political interests, the rapid disintegration of the mono-industrial economy, the dissolution of the Jiu Valley administrative cohesiveness, and the reluctancy towards new alternatives and inertia.
- On the socio-psychological component, findings indicate that in comparison to the other case studies from ENTRANCES, Jiu Valley participants have higher place attachment, optimism and resilience, more intense nostalgia and perceived unfairness regarding decarbonization and its impacts, as well as less economic optimism.
- Results of the research on the socio-political component suggest that the most important issue in the realm of the Jiu Valley decarbonization debates has been the actual decarbonisation itself, in terms of closing the remaining coal mines in the areas and proposing alternative development pathways, or, alternatively, procrastinating the phasing out process. Furthermore, our findings on the socio-ecological & technical component indicate that important decisions within the governance of the Jiu Valley clean energy transition are perceived as made in a top-down manner by governmental authorities, while local and regional authorities have a minor role.
The following 3 local organisations agreed to support the research activities in Jiu Valley: Petroșani City Hall, The National Bituminous Coal Company, Planeta Petrilă.