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Dear KSDW partners, dear ambassador, distinguished guests,
It is with great pleasure to open the Kosovo Sustainable Development Week 2019!
Before I address my open remarks to you, I want to introduce the KSDW partners and sincerely thank all those colleagues in the institutions and organisations for their commitment and hard work:
We are all driven by the desire to put sustainable development and environmental protection high on the political agenda. We want to achieve a real positive change on the ground.
KSDW activities include raising awareness, sharing relevant and critical information, and exploring bottlenecks and opportunities for a sustainable path forward.
The main objective of KSDW is to initiate a public dialogue and to seek effective ways to promote sustainable development on one hand, and green economic growth on the other.
The Kosovo Sustainable Development Week is a platform for officials, representatives of civil society, the donor community, national and international experts, and the academia to discuss about issues related to sustainable development with a focus on environmental and energy problems in Kosovo and the region.
Given the remarkable success and wide impact of this event last year, and the requests from participants, it was concluded that KSDW should become an annual undertaking. It is very positive that KSDW is happening for the second time.
The European Union is strongly committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda. Sustainable development is part of our identity and it will guide our future. The structure presented by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen shows that she is following through on her climate and environmental promises by giving the highest level of attention to delivering on a European Green Deal. Climate action and environmental protection is mainstreamed throughout all relevant sectors, such as agriculture, energy and transport.
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
For the first time in human history, our planet is approaching the end of its ability to carry us all. In the next ten years, we will need to find a way to improve the wellbeing of all people without depleting our natural resources, damaging our environment and spurring climate change. This is a huge global challenge.
This in mind, we - the European Union - aim to further enhance our efforts to shift to a green and inclusive economy by 2030.
The European Union has already developed a Circular Economy Action Plan in 2015 to move Europe away from the “take-make-consume-throw away” system and instead build a truly circular economy where products are designed for reuse and recycling, and waste is considered a valuable resource. The EU Plastics Strategy and recently adopted EU wide legislation on banning certain single-use plastics is a leading example of our circular economy plan.
The European Pillar of Social Rights is our main guidance for implementing the social dimension of sustainability. It focusses on tackling poverty in all its dimensions and ensuring fair, adequate and sustainable welfare systems. It also supports equal opportunities, including gender equality, and access to decent employment; and it promotes fair working conditions for all.
The Action Plan on Sustainable Finance is a third example I would mention as it will provide for the first time investors with full information on what is a sustainable investment, so that finance can start fully supporting our sustainability objectives.
To do all that, we need an enabling environment, which means we also have to gear our other policies and tools towards the sustainability transition. Europe has a very good starting point and we are convinced that we can greatly benefit from the green economic transition while helping to shape global standards.
We will continue working in close cooperation with all our international partners.
Here in Kosovo I have to remind you:
Sustainable development is also about Kosovo's European Integration. Kosovo needs to urgently re-focus its attention on effective and urgent measures which have a major impact on the health and wellbeing of the population. The EU published the Kosovo Report 2019 in May where the chapter on Environment and Climate change remains particularly concerning. The EU remains deeply worried about the very slow progress. Kosovo on its European path will have to come closer to EU standards and long term strategy goals.
Sustainable development is a precondition for political, economic and social stability. There is no stability and progress without a clean and safe environment, steady energy supply and a healthy population. Kosovo's natural resources are limited and it is evident that they are not used in a sustainable way! Preserving the environment is about preserving Kosovo, it is about taking care of the present and the future.
The EU is the largest investor and trade partner in Kosovo. Unfortunately, unreliable and highly polluting energy supply is not only a health hazard for the population. It creates instability for investment, jobs and business development. This is one of the major concerns expressed by companies doing business in Kosovo. A cleaner, more reliable energy supply and environment must be a top priority for Kosovo. New jobs will result from a ‘green economy’. More than 50 million € of EU taxpayer's money has been invested in environment sector alone in last 10 years. The EU on its side will continue to support activities and policies which contribute to a cleaner Kosovo and a cleaner Balkan. Environmental pollution is a cross-border issue. Renewables, energy efficiency measures, investments for the decrease of air and water pollution, waste management and measures to mitigate climate change challenges are needed in the entire region.
I wish the Kosovo Sustainable Development Week every success. It is very much needed.
Soon the winter will come and all of us are suffering from the high air pollution. A change for the better is needed urgently for the benefit of all people.
I want to end my speech this year with the slogan which is printed on the KSDW pins:
SAVE the NATURE
SAVE the FUTURE
Thank you very much for your attention!