Green Transition


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. Boosting economic growth that does not come at an environmental cost is particularly pertinent in the post-COVID-19 context. As such, 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 has launched a new project Supporting Green Transition through Circular Economy Roadmaps in 2022, co-financed by the European Commission. 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 will be created under this project, which will facilitate regular knowledge exchange and peer learning.


Key Figures: 



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. 



  • 19 April 2023, Istanbul, Türkiye, Regional Kick-off Event, Towards a Circular Economy in the Western Balkans
  • 2 March 2023, Tirana, Albania, Circular Economy Roadmap Stakeholders’ Kick-Off meeting
  • 28 February 2023, Skopje, North Macedonia, Circular Economy Roadmap Stakeholders’ Kick-Off meeting 


 Relevant OECD work on green transition: 

Contacts: Anita RICHTER, Deputy Head of Division and Jovana PAVLOVIC DJUKICTeam Lead – Green Economy and Sustainability 


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*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.


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