What is the issue?
Climate change and environmental degradation are increasingly affecting people’s lives, disrupting economies and transforming ecosystems. The Western Balkans region is no exception. While climate mitigation and adaptation measures will be essential to overcome these challenges, catalysing green investment and innovation can give rise to new economic opportunities and ensure a sustainable green transition. The green transition holds promise not only for rendering economies more environmentally sustainable, but also making them more resilient to future shocks.
The greening momentum has been reinforced in the Western Balkans in recent years, underpinned by strong EU support, in particular as part of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans and supported through the European Commission’s Economic and Investment Plan. Nevertheless, the economies of the region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) often lag behind their peers in the EU and OECD members states in meeting global greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, due to high dependence on fossil fuels, untapped potential for renewable energy and limited advancements in increasing energy efficiency. In addition to air pollution remaining a predominant environmental issue, the condition of water bodies and state of soils is worrying.
How is the OECD South East Europe Regional Programme supporting the region’s green transition?
For more than 20 years, the OECD has been assisting the Western Balkan economies in becoming more environmentally friendly through the greening work undertaken under Competitiveness Outlook and SME Policy Index assessments and the related meetings and peer exchanges. These assessments aim at supporting the Western Balkans’ public, private and civil society sectors in their green transition, particularly in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation, clean energy transition, resource efficiency, protection of ecosystems and depollution.
Recognising that the shift to a circular economy, a concept based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use for longer, and regenerating natural systems, is of growing importance in the Western Balkans, the OECD launched the project Supporting Green Transition through Circular Economy Roadmaps in 2022. It is co-financed by the European Commission as part of the four-year project to reinforce competitiveness and sustainability in the Western Balkans. The project aims to assist governments from the region in preparing and implementing circular economy roadmaps to accelerate their green economic recovery and growth, in line with the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. A regional Circular Economy Peer Dialogue established under this project, facilitates regular knowledge exchange and peer learning on circular economy policy developement.
The OECD is scaling up its greening work in the Western Balkans and reinforcing the ongoing circular economy project in 2024 thanks to a voluntary contribution from Italy. The new project seeks to strengthen institutional capacities, contribute to inter-governmental coordination on national greening policies and foster the development of intra-regional networks for region-wide greening initiatives through peer learning and best practice sharing.
Sources (in order):1-European Environment Agency (2021)- Air pollution country fact sheets, 2- Data based on responses to Environmental Policy questionnaires sent by domestic authorities (2020) and statistical offices and European Environment Agency –Nationally designated terrestrial protected areas in Europe, 3- Eurostat (2020) - Resource productivity , 4- European Environment Agency (2021) – Municipal Waste Management in the Western Balkans , 5- Data based on responses to Environmental Policy Questionnaires sent by domestic authorities and statistical offices (2018) and OECD - Wastewater treatment, 6- European Commission (2022), Eurobarometer: SMEs, Resource Efficiency and Green Markets.
Notes: 1. For key figure 6, data unavailable for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
Regional Peer Dialogue event:
- 19 April 2023, Istanbul, Türkiye, Regional Kick-off Event, Towards a Circular Economy in the Western Balkans - Agenda - Presentation
- 26 September 2023, Skopje, North Macedonia, Circular Economy Roadmap Prioritisation meeting – Agenda - Presentation
- 14 September 2023, Tirana, Albania, Circular Economy Roadmap Prioritisation meeting – Agenda- Presentation
- 8 June 2023, Zoom meeting, Circular Economy Roadmap Diagnostics meeting – North Macedonia – Agenda - Presentation
- 22 May 2023, Zoom meeting, Circular Economy Roadmap Diagnostics meeting – Albania – Agenda - Presentation
- 2 March 2023, Tirana, Albania, Circular Economy Roadmap Stakeholders’ Kick-Off meeting – Agenda - Presentation
- 28 February 2023, Skopje, North Macedonia, Circular Economy Roadmap Stakeholders’ Kick-Off meeting – Agenda - Presentation
- SME Policy Index: Western Balkans and Turkey 2022: SMEs in a green economy
- Competitiveness in South East Europe: A Policy Outlook 2021: chapters on Environment policy and Energy policy (including clean energy transition).
Relevant OECD work on green transition:
- Environmental policy tools and evaluation
- Environmental indicators, modelling and outlooks
- Climate change
- Resource productivity and waste
- Biodiversity, water and natural resource management
- Inclusive Forum on Carbon Mitigation Approaches
Funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244/99 and the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.