Expanding investments in sustainable development essential for the Western Balkans

June 20, 2024
UNDP Montenegro/Ivan Mandić and Nebojša Perković

Bar, 20 June 2024 - Investments in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are increasing and, at the same time, remain insufficient to meet the growing needs of the Western Balkan countries, especially in the context of their accession to the European Union (EU) and achieving the 2030 Agenda.

This was highlighted at the first UNDP SDG Finance Academy for the Western Balkans, held on 19-21 June 2024 in Bar. 

Recognizing development financing as crucial for scaling up sustainable human development, UNDP launched the SDG Finance Academy in 2022. Now open to the Western Balkan economies, this platform facilitates the exchange of experiences and best practices, fostering cooperation among Western Balkan governments, the private sector, and international financial institutions. In collaboration with the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro, UNDP in Montenegro organized the event with support from UNDP’s Global Sustainable Finance Hub, the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub for Europe and Central Asia, and the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic

UNDP Resident Representative in Montenegro, Ekaterina Paniklova, emphasized that while globally, only 16% of the SDGs have been achieved so far, half of the designated period has already passed, leaving us only six years to reach the 2030 Agenda.

Ekaterina Paniklova, UNDP Resident Representative in Montenegro

UNDP Montenegro/Ivan Mandić and Nebojša Perković
“Achieving the SDGs requires synergistic action from public and private investments, as traditional financing methods are insufficient to meet development goals. This is particularly important in the context of the Western Balkans’ accession to the EU, as the EU accession process and the achievement of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda are largely complementary. In Montenegro, two-thirds of the measures within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are linked to the negotiation chapters and requirements of the EU accession process”
said Paniklova.

State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro, Bojana Boškovićć, highlighted the long-standing cooperation between UNDP and Montenegro, which has resulted in significant progress towards Montenegro’s sustainable development - from renewable energy initiatives and substantial economic reforms to innovative social projects that have positively impacted our communities.

Bojana Bošković, State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro

UNDP Montenegro/Ivan Mandić and Nebojša Perković
“As we think about the future, we must not overlook the importance of the 2030 Agenda, especially now, when EU integration is accelerating, and aligning our development strategies with the SDGs becomes even more important. The Goals provide a comprehensive framework for guiding our policies and actions, ensuring that our progress is inclusive, sustainable, and beneficial. The focus now should be on budgeting for the SDGs and using innovative financing tools. Integrating the Goals into our national budget ensures that our financial resources are efficiently allocated to meet our development goals. This will increase transparency and accountability and help us more accurately track our progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”
said Bošković.

Deputy President of the Municipality of Bar, Tanja Spičanovićć, stated that the Municipality of Bar is dedicated to the SDGs, emphasizing the importance of initiatives like the Academy to exchange experiences and knowledge and further align business operations with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tanja Spičanović, Deputy President of the Municipality of Bar

UNDP Montenegro/Ivan Mandić and Nebojša Perković
“The Municipality of Bar recognizes the importance of efficiently using public and financial resources in achieving the SDGs. We are working on improving policies and practices to achieve sustainable development of the local community. Bar Muncipality is ready to be a leader in implementing sustainable financial practices and to serve as an example to local communities not only in Montenegro but also in the region”
said Spičanović.

As noted during the first day of the Academy, it is important to discuss how the SDGs can be translated into development strategies and integrated into the public finance system, as the Goals are fundamental to all national-level strategies. UNDP, as a development agency present in over 170 countries and territories worldwide, with expertise in achieving the SDGs, is a natural partner for countries in the process of system transformation, capacity building, and providing technical support in this process. The first day of the Academy was dedicated to public finances in the function of achieving the SDGs, while the second day will focus more on financing so-called green growth.