UNDP organized the two-day Regional Conference "Unpacking the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans ➡ the way forward"
The representatives of the Western Balkans countries reiterated their commitment to the Green Agenda
December 9, 2022
The United Nations Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNDP) organized a two-day Regional Conference "Unpacking the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans ➡ the way forward" from 7 to 8 December 2022 in Sarajevo, within the project "Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency" - CBIT, which is financed by the Global Environmental Facility - GEF.
The Conference was attended by a large number of representatives of domestic and regional institutions from the Western Balkans, as well as international organizations, financial institutions, experts in the field of energy and the environment, in order to discuss priority actions and next steps that the countries of the region should take to address climate change issues and achieve carbon neutrality, as well as how to strengthen their cooperation on the way towards green and just transition.
The event was held on the occasion of the recently concluded UN Climate Conference - COP27, where world leaders gathered to discuss how to translate the promises from the Paris Agreement into concrete climate action. Therefore, the goal of this event was to bring together representatives of relevant institutions from the Western Balkans countries and engage them in a constructive dialogue, exchange experiences and best practices, to identify ways how to overcome challenges, take advantage of opportunities, and create conditions for joint progress towards climate neutrality, as this issue has no borders and requires the participation of the whole world.
The Western Balkan countries have taken the initial step by signing the Sofia Declaration on the Green Agenda. These commitments are demanding and challenging, and national institutions need support to react swiftly and respond adequately to the tasks before them. UNDP has provided significant support to the authorities in BiH to meet their climate promise made in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which is at the heart of the Paris Agreement and represents a pledge from countries to reduce national emissions and adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. We have been working with the international and domestic partners for many years now, in providing financial resources for the direct implementation of measures and projects, as well as in providing technical assistance for improving the capacity of institutions. These activities should be carried out on a larger scale, much faster everywhere in the country and wider, and UNDP remains committed to continue supporting BiH in these efforts.Stephen Kinloch Pichat, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in BiH
Senad Oprašić, Head of Environmental Protection Department at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH and GEF Operational Focal Point, joined this event together with Dr. Yasemin Biro Kirtman, GEF Coordinator for Knowledge and Learning. In the previous days, they hosted the GEF Regional Workshop for Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East in Sarajevo. On this occasion, Dr. Biro Kirtman expressed her appreciation that she had the opportunity to attend this conference and see first-hand the exchange of experiences of the countries of the Western Balkans, which have been cooperating with this Global Facility for many years, and where several climate projects are financed and supported by GEF.
As part of the Conference, three panels were organized on the following topics: Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, Project Financing, and Implementation of climate policies and projects in the countries of the region.
The participants talked about the current energy situation, which requires new, alternative and ecologically acceptable energy sources, as well as the fact that climate change is becoming more and more expensive, representing an additional burden for the weak economies of the Western Balkan countries. In this regard, it was emphasized that climate actions also bring economic benefits, because the green transition can make the economy sustainable, led by renewable energy sources that can create new jobs and generate savings.
The participants agreed that it is necessary to find new, innovative ways of accessing green/climate finance that will support countries to fulfill their obligations, as well as to strengthen their technical, financial and administrative capacities for the preparation and implementation of climate projects. In addition to the results related to climate change, the projects should address socio-economic inclusion, strengthening of female entrepreneurship and have a positive impact on the gender imbalance in this region. Furthermore, it was emphasized that this transition process must be just and inclusive, and in this sense, it is necessary to encourage stronger inclusion of vulnerable groups, women, youth and more active participation of citizens. The need to further strengthen the cooperation of existing expertise in the region, as well as the active participation of decision-makers in the implementation of the Green Agenda, was also encouraged.
All participants thanked UNDP for organizing this important conference and reiterated the commitment of the Western Balkans countries to fulfill their obligations from the Green Agenda and the Sofia Declaration.