Skills for a green future


In July 2021 the UIA Permanent Secretariat commenced a two-year knowledge management assignment focused on Just Transitions[1]. This has the goal to move to climate neutrality[2] without leaving any person or place behind. The UIA knowledge management activity comprises three specific dimensions:

  • Job market renewal - Skills for a green future
  • Making the transition affordable for all
  • A democratic transition for all

The research focusing on the job market renewal - Skills for a green future is part of the wider two-year long knowledge activity that will also consider the urban exclusion risk and the renewal of governance and participative structures. The overall objective is to showcase UIA projects that can instruct, motivate, and inspire cities across Europe in relation to Just Transitions. The scope of this work comprises the following sub-themes:

  • Forecasting future skills for the green economy
  • Supporting emerging green sectors
  • Skilling and reskilling

The following sections report on the results of this research process focussing on the job market renewal. 

[1] A detailed definition of the Just Transitions term is contained in the overall Inception Report

[2] Climate neutrality can be achieved if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to a minimum and all remaining emissions are offset with climate protection measures


Inception report

The shift to climate neutrality presents many opportunities for Europe’s economy and labour markets. However, it also poses significant challenges, particularly as its distributional impact will be uneven – both in territorial and societal terms. Some industry sectors will be disproportionately affected whilst the implications for workers – particularly those with lower-skills levels – are significant. If not managed effectively, the transition can widen inequalities across Europe. This could undermine social acceptance of the climate neutral transition, especially in the short term, with societies already under pressure following the coronavirus pandemic.

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The entry point on cities, jobs, and Just Transitions

This report is one of a series of final written outputs focused on the contribution UIA cities are making to jobs, skills, business, and Just Transitions. It is the result of a process that began with a high-level scan of all 86 UIA projects which identified 24 highly relevant city cases . Their challenges, interventions and experiences were then explored through a survey conducted in autumn 2021 followed by a series of city hearings through November and December 2021. 

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Forecasting future skills for the Green Economy

In this chapter, the experiences of 4 city projects are discussed in the light of skills forecasting. Respectively, the barriers they faced, the key lessons that can be drawn from their experiences, as well as the replicability of their interventions are analysed.

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Supporting emerging green sectors

Cities are increasingly seeking ways to become carbon neutral, climate-resilient, and biodiversity-rich.

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Skilling and Reskilling

Skilling and reskilling activities are crucial for fostering Just Transitions in European cities.

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A Roadmap for cities

This final chapter summarises the key findings from this work. It includes the conclusions drawn from the research and fieldwork as well as a set of recommendations, packaged as a roadmap for cities.

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Case studies


UIA has funded 86 urban innovation projects in this programming period. These have been spread across the 14 identified call topics, closely aligned with the priorities of the Urban Agenda for the EU.
Just Transitions was not one of the UIA’s call themes. Consequently, this has not been the focus on the ten case studies presented here. Rather, they have utilised their resources under the banner of Energy Transitions, Climate Change Adaptation, Circular Economy or other topics. 

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Listen to our podcast episodes on "Skills for a green future":

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About UIA
Urban Innovative Actions

The Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) is a European Union initiative that provided funding to urban areas across Europe to test new and unproven solutions to urban challenges. The initiative had a total ERDF budget of €372 million for 2014-2020.

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