Western Balkans authorities in charge of the environmental and climate change gathered at high-level panel in Bonn, Germany, voicing strong commitment to joint regional action in response to environmental and climate challenges. The event was organised by the Regional Cooperation Council and the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Serbia.
The participants endorsed the Declaration on Environment and Climate Action in the Western Balkans agreeing on the growing need in the region to improve the coordination of existing regional initiatives and projects as well as those which would be developed to serve the SEE 2020 Strategy goals. They also recognised strong interlinkages between energy, and environment and climate change policies, looking for ways to strengthen inter-sectorial cooperation at the highest political level.
77% of businesses say they have undertook measures to reduce harmful impact on their environment
Goran Svilanovic, RCC Secretary General addressed the participants of the meeting stressing that the environment and climate change mitigation and adaptation underpin all efforts towards advancement of regional socio-economic situation, adding that the joint action represents the only valid response that could lead to tangible results: “RCC’s annual public and business opinion survey Balkan Barometer 2017 (BB) shows that 73% of citizens of the region perceive climate change as a problem, continuing upward trend registered in 2015. 77% of businesses in South East Europe say they have already undertook some measures to reduce harmful impact on their environment. Therefore, this is an opportune moment, which should be used to identify and implement joint activities that would follow up the implementation of ambitious regional Multi-Annual Action for Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) in the Western Balkans economies in areas of trade, investment, mobility and digital integration, each one involving environmental dimension.”
Regional work on environment protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation has already been initiated through Regional Working Group on Environment (RWG Env) co-chaired by the RCC and rotating co-chairmanship of Western Balkan economies. The Working Group is tasked with the implementation of the Environment Dimension of the RCC’s SEE 2020 Strategy.
The meeting participants discussed the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, contributions of the Western Balkan economies within the environment agenda and ways for the region to properly respond and adapt to inevitable climate changes.
The discussion also included preliminary results of the Study on Climate Change in the Western Balkans Region and Impact on Various Sectors of Economy, involving representatives of the European Commission, Environmental Agency from Austria, German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, UN Environment, and other relevant agencies and organisations operating in the region. The preliminary findings of the draft Study show that the region is much more vulnerable to climate change than the rest of the Europe in many sectors, which requires close attention and action of the region’s economies.
Concluding the meeting Serbia officially handed over the co-chairmanship of the Regional Working Group on Environment to Macedonia for the following year.