In 2019 the Greek Government announced that it would phase out lignite by 2023 and replace coal capacity with renewables. The Municipality of Kozani is one of the major coal municipalities of Greece and the official retirement of the lignite units in the area underlines the urgent need for supporting the country’s lignite municipalities, which are already facing the consequences of the observed collapse of Greece’s lignite production.

After seeing through the implementation of SYMBI project the achievements of our partners on Circular Economy, the Municipality of Kozani, in 2020 declared that circular economy will be one of the main pillars to support the future development of the area, and requested for finance on this sector. The Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy responded by announcing a special program for promoting Circular Economy in Greece and the first call, with beneficiaries the coal municipalities, was for financing the development of Action Plans on Circular Economy (short term and long term actions) that will lead to the transformation of the linear economic model to a circular.

The program is being managed from the Green Fund, a public-law entity reporting to the Ministry of Environment and Energy. It is the mission of the Green Fund to utilize Green Resources via programs for funding actions and supporting development, aiming at preserving and enhancing the environment, supporting the environmental policy of the country and serving the public and social interest.

The Municipality of Kozani, after the experience gained from SYMBI and other INTERREG projects, succeeded on gaining a finance of 50,000.00€ for developing a new Action Plan on Circular Economy in co-operation with the Waste Management of Western Macedonia DIADYMA A.E., which was one of the main stakeholders of SYMBI project.

The Action Plan on Circular Economy of the Municipality of Kozani, is separated on two parts∙ the first one includes all the necessary information for evaluating the present situation of the municipality. A thorough description of the municipality, regarding existing infrastructure, human resources and economic activities, relative activities included in other action plans, present legislation and shortcomings was made and an analysis was implemented in order to recognize the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats (SWOT).

The second part includes proposed activities in order to achieve the transition to Circular Economy. The activities are separated into 4 axis:

1. Regulations, legislation and policy issues

2. Sustainable management of natural resources, energy and transportation

3. Circular management and enhancement of industrial symbiosis

4. Education, research and innovation, dissemination

Additionally, a prioritization tool was developed for assessing the proposed activities, taking into account the financial, environmental and social impact of the activities∙ at a final stage an implementation timeframe and implementation quality indicators will be determined.

The Municipality of Kozani and DIADYMA are mobilizing the existing stakeholder network formed during the SYMBI project and are extending it with new stakeholders. More than 50 activities are proposed by the municipality and the stakeholders and after their assessment they will be prioritized so as to proceed with finding the necessary funds for implementing them. Many proposed activities are best practices and examples from our partners in SYMBI project eg. Circular Economy Park, Industrial Symbiosis Office, Green Public Procurement enhancement.

The Action Plan on Circular Economy of the Municipality of Kozani will be concluded by the end of May 2021 and, will actually set the priority axis of a second call from the Green Fund which will concentrate on funding the implementation of selected activities included in the Action Plan.