Green Days 2021: Rethinking Development

September 3, 2021

Daniela Gašparíková, UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro

Opening remarks at Green Days 2021: Rethinking Development

On behalf of UNDP, I’m pleased to welcome you to the 3rd year edition of the Green Dialogues. This year’s event takes place against the backdrop of reiterated expectations from citizens, local communities, and advocates representing diverse citizen voices, to move from commitments to concrete actions in reversing climate change.

Recently published report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is unequivocal in its conclusion -  human activity  has caused a vast damage to the planet. And it’s only through the human activity and choices we make today that we can reverse this course. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century, unless deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.

That’s why, in run up to the COP26 hosted this year by the UK Government, the UN Secretary General calls:

  • on all countries to come forward with significantly more ambitious nationally determined contributions, with 2030 targets consistent with a net zero pathway, and
  • for coal phased out by 2030 in OECD countries, and by 2040 in all other countries, in conjunction with a just transition.

The Government of Montenegro has recently committed to decreasing GHG emissions by 35% by 2030, aiming for decarbonization which implies transforming the energy sector, transportation, and industry. As part of our Climate Promise, UNDP is committed to continue to work with Montenegro and provide support towards revising its Nationally Determined Contributions even sooner than the regular five-year cycle. Champions leading the way with positive examples of system transformation send a strong signal that the change is truly possible!

Montenegro, like many countries who have the least contribution to the rising global temperatures. Despite that, it is, unfortunately, bound to face consequences of climate change through its undesirable domino effect on human well being, health and economy - triggered by changes in weather such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, and droughts – and which many countries and their communities have experienced even this year.

That’s why, we must adapt and build resilience to possible future impacts of human- and nature-induced hazards, with an ultimate goal to protect lives and prevent losses and damage to the infrastructure funded today.

In doing so, the argument about somewhat higher upfront costs is a valid one. However, the experience tells us that often already in medium-term, climate-smart investments do outweigh these upfront costs.  The formulation of the country’s National Climate Adaptation Plan which is starting in earnest is an opportunity to set the baseline for making such smart adaptation investment choices.

Furthermore, as we move from the rescue to the recovery phase of the COVID-19 response, public policymakers and private sector now have also an opportunity to accelerate such investments, which, while already under way, are still not happening at the speed and scale required.

As important as mobilizing governments is, however, relying on them to solve the climate problem without the cooperation of the private sector is a losing proposition.  While more than 95% of companies in Montenegro are SMSEs,  bulk of economic value is actually created by a few larger companies. The key question is: ‘How do you get this diverse group of actors that define the vast majority of our economic decisions every day to be aligned with, supported, and ultimately incentivized by the Government to be part of the solution?’ rather than assuming that the state alone will fix the climate change problem or cover the environmental clean-up or health cost triggered by deteriorating environment.

In that regard, the recently announced formulation of the new economic recovery plan by the Government of Montenegro presents a platform to drive new investments into preservation of existing and creation of new jobs. As well as balanced reconciliation of climate and economic goals in line with the country’s commitment to the ecological state. While I realize that achieving carbon neutrality for Montenegro will not be an easy, nor simple task, I believe the shift is achievable if we all align behind this vision.

With adopting innovative practices and business models, the private sector in Montenegro has already shown competitiveness and contribution to an incremental green transition. We are proud to have supported the establishment of the Eco Fund and continue to collaborate hand-in-hand also with IRF, Chamber of Economy and other international partners.

At the same time we continue to be committed to work closely with Ministries of Ecology, Economy, Capital Investments and Finance in particular, to technically support development of integrated products and services offering to drive the vision that strives for green, low-carbon future, where economic growth doesn’t come at the cost of nature and where no one is left behind.