The Hunter is at an historical crossroads. How the region meets the imminent challenges associated with the closure of coal-fired power stations coupled with the decline of its economic lifeline, the coal industry, will shape its destiny for generations to come.
Business leaders, mayors, MPs and economists agree, the time to act is now if we are to avoid the worst consequences from the economic and social upheaval that could result from rapid energy transition.
The Hunter Jobs Alliance, which has researched energy transitions overseas, argues the region must develop a comprehensive and well-coordinated transition strategy that brings together all levels of government, business and industry and the community.
No one should be left behind as the region moves to a more diverse future. To this end, job creation, retraining and targeted financial support need to be key components of the strategy.
The Hunter Region, which provides the state government with billions of dollars in coal royalties annually, finally needs to receive an increased share of that wealth to assist it meet the social and economic challenges that lie ahead.
"We are seeing something that humanity has never seen before...," the federal government's adviser on low-emissions technologies Alan Finkel said.
"The complete change in energy systems is happening globally. The first thing I think Australians have to know is that we want to be participants in that and not get left behind. The second is it pays to plan and be strategic."