180 white ash trees were planted in Tirana in an effort to make the city greener. The trees were donated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Union (EU) and Austria, as part of the Western Balkans Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF) which supports households to invest in energy efficiency improvements.
To mark the results of the GEFF programme and to symbolically contribute to the fight against climate change, the EBRD, the EU and Austria will plant 1,000 trees during November 2021 in six Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. The trees also represent the EBRD award for the 18 most active partner financial institutions, and 32 producers and sellers of energy efficient technologies, for their contribution to the success of the GEFF programme in the Western Balkans.
Ekaterina Solovova, Head of EBRD in Albania said: “Improving energy efficiency leads to lower energy use and bills and overall better quality of living, and we are glad that households in Albania have been able to feel these benefits thanks to our GEFF programme. We would like to thank all our GEFF partners and donors EU and Austria, OTP Bank Albania and Union Bank Albania as well as vendors of green technologies Al-Nobel, Helti Construction, Infinity Power, ECS (Eco Climate Solution) Daikin Albania, Everest and Kontakt for helping us to successfully extend the GEFF programme in Albania.”
“Climate change is the challenge of our time. The EU is taking a leadership role in tackling this issue, and programmes like GEFF reflect the EU’s efforts to help Albania reduce their emissions by promoting energy efficient solutions at home. We strongly encourage Albania to take advantage of this programme as we all need to work towards protecting nature and securing a future for the next generations to come” noted Andrea Vera, Head of Section at the EU Delegation to Albania.
On the other side, Christian Steiner, Ambassador of Austria in Albania added: “Energy efficiency is a powerful resource to be exploited and requires a collective commitment to make it happen. Together with EU and EBRD, Austria has been one of the key promoters of the GEFF programme in the Western Balkans since its beginning, with over €5 million committed to the programme to date. We are pleased that the programme has achieved great results already and has enabled so many people in Albania and wider region to improve energy efficiency of their homes”.
The Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj said: “I am very happy that we have gathered today to plant 180 more trees. It is a step towards our goal of 2 million trees in the Orbital Park. A park that will not only add oxygen to the lungs of Tirana, but will also stop the formal and informal spread of construction by protecting the agricultural landscape and natural monuments that surround Tirana with this green belt, which will serve as a border for development. further horizontal of Tirana. I am very grateful to the EBRD, EU, Austria and Green Line Albania for joining us in this initiative. It is probably the best gift or contribution that someone can give to our capital, Tirana ".
Households that wish to improve the energy efficiency of their homes can apply for special-purpose loans through partner banks OTP Bank Albania and Union Bank Albania. Upon successful completion of the investments, households receive incentive grants funded by the EU worth up to 20 percent of the loan amount, making these investments more affordable to citizens.
GEFF, which is developed by the EBRD and co-financed with grant resources from the EU, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance, and bilateral donors to the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), has supported over 9,000 households in the region to improve energy efficiency over the past four years with investments in new windows, insulation, heat pumps etc. The programme, which offers specialised credit lines and grant resources, has financed green technology investments worth over €45 million. It is part of the Regional Energy Efficiency Programme (REEP) for the Western Balkans and implemented in partnership with the Energy Community Secretariat.