Second Transformation: On Green Transition in Post-communist Countries

Seminars and Colloquia

Although climate awareness is on the rise all over Europe, attitudes toward the green transformation seem to vary greatly from region to region across the continent. This is especially evident in post-communist countries, which need to undergo a second big transformation just a few decades after their transition from state-socialist regimes to market societies. 

The widespread skepticism toward a green transformation in former Eastern Europe may have its roots in the memory of the 90s transition, which serves as a case study for unjust transformation. This holds true especially in regions that have been—and still are—dependent on what are now the remains of a heavy industry that largely collapsed in the early 90s and a fossil-fuel infrastructure that is to be supposedly dismantled over the next decade. 

Looking at the sociological data, we are met with a paradoxical situation: Although public opinion in such countries is changing rapidly toward pro-climate attitudes, strong skepticism towards the proposed transformative solutions (mainly that of the European Green Deal) remains. 

However, what is perceived by citizens as a threat to their social security (and duly exploited by national-conservative populist politics) can also serve as a unique historical opportunity to undo the mistakes and injustices of the first, post-communist transformation. In the case of Ukraine more specifically, the green transformation of its economy is already part of its efforts not only to rebuild post-war but to better align itself with European institutions and energy infrastructures.

Martin Vrba is a journalist, essayist, editor and cultural critic specialising in climate awareness and climate change as well as domestic and foreign issues in the Euro-American sphere. His work has been featured in publications such as TAZ, The Green European Journal and Alarm, a Czech news platform dedicated to social and environmental issues. Martin Vrba is currently a Milena Jesenská Visiting Fellow at the IWM.

IWM Permanent Fellow Ivan Vejvoda introduced the speaker and moderated the colloquium's discussion.


Fellows Colloquia are internal events for the IWM Visiting Fellows and Guests.