[PRESENTATION PA CONF. SEPT. 2023] JRC Report on the “Status of Environment and Climate in the Western Balkans”

Claudio Belis, Senior Scientist – Project Leader, JRC, European Commission presented the topic above as part of the “Key Highlights and Insights on Instruments and Opportunities for Aligning Priorities” block of the first Plenary Session of the POLICY ANSWERS conference on “Policy Dialogue on Aligning Priorities in the Western Balkans”.

In the ongoing pursuit of a greener and more sustainable world, a comprehensive understanding of the environmental and climate status in regions is crucial. Claudio Belis from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Unit Clean Air and Climate, presents an insightful report that for the first time, summarizes the state of air, climate, water, and soil in the Western Balkans (WB).

Insights into the Western Balkans (WB)

This report, current as of 2021, represents a significant milestone in assessing the environmental and climate situation in the Western Balkans. It not only describes the existing knowledge but also highlights the gaps in alignment with the EU acquis, specifically Chapter 27.

Objectives of the Study

The study is motivated by several key objectives:

1. Benchmarking Progress: One of the primary aims is to benchmark the progress made by the Western Balkans in the realm of environmental and climate issues. This evaluation is particularly important during the accession process, where alignment with EU standards is a pivotal goal.

2. Supporting the Green Agenda: The report plays a vital role in supporting the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. This agenda has a strong emphasis on depollution and decarbonization priorities, both of which are critical for environmental sustainability and reducing the impact of climate change.

3. Contribution to the WB Agenda: The study is not isolated but intricately connected to the broader Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport. Environmental and climate issues are integral to this comprehensive agenda, as they influence and are influenced by innovation, research, education, and youth engagement.

The Path Forward

As the Western Balkans continue their journey toward a greener and more sustainable future, reports like these become essential tools for decision-makers, researchers, and policymakers. The insights provided by Claudio Belis and the European Commission shed light on the current status and the steps needed to align with EU standards.

This data-driven approach offers a roadmap for addressing environmental challenges, such as air and water quality, climate resilience, and soil health, while advancing the depollution and decarbonization efforts of the Green Agenda. Furthermore, it forms an integral part of the broader Western Balkans Agenda, linking environmental and climate concerns with innovation, research, education, and the aspirations of the region’s youth.

With this report as a guide, the Western Balkans are better poised to make informed decisions and take actions that promote sustainability, cleaner environments, and a reduced carbon footprint. It is a significant step toward a more environmentally responsible and climate-conscious Western Balkans.