Gathering at the Green School of Pristina on 31 May 2021 to launch the fourth edition of the Kosovo Sustainable Development Week (KSDW) was not a coincidence. This is an education institution whose concept of the building is based on the principles of green architecture. Therefore, was selected for the launch of the campaign that addresses the pressing economic, social and environmental challenges and promotes sustainable development.
“While saying ‘thank you’ to the hosts, I would like to make an appeal: Kosovo needs more places like this one: aiming at decrease in the energy consumption, creation of sustainable buildings and renewable energy supplies and promotion of a healthy learning environment, to name a few”, said Dr. Annette M. Fath-Lihic, EUSR Chief Political Adviser/Executive Coordinator addressing the launch event on behalf of the Head of EU Office/EU Special Representative, Tomas Szunyog.
The EUSR in Kosovo in partnership with five other partners, namely two ministries from the Kosovo Government, German Development Agency (GIZ), Balkan Green Foundation (BGF) and Institute for Development Policy (INDEP) joined forces in 2018 to organize a campaign on the sustainable development of Kosovo. No doubt, the European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW) – the wide European initiative supported by the European Sustainable Development Network aiming to encourage and highlight activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development, was the inspiring trigger behind it.
Dr. Fath-Lihic underlined that it is ‘our responsibility to be an excellent example to the young generation, on how to respect and protect our environment’.
There is a general hope in the implementation of the new Government Program for the years 2021-2025, regarding provisions on environmental protection. The Program presents a vision which is focused on quality investments in view of sustainable development and integrated infrastructure in line with a clean environment, well-being and mobility.
Appropriate measures need to be taken immediately. It is the people of Kosovo right to live in a country, where: the air is fresh, waste is being managed sustainably, there are no illegal dumpsites, mining activities are being diminished, groundwater and soil quality gets better and is free of poisonous lead, water resource monitoring networks are being developed and overall management of water protection zones is just good.
The 1st edition of the KSDW was organised in 2018 with a 5 intensive conference days, 14 panel discussions with more than 85 guest speakers, 1 side event, 7 movie screenings and more than 10 media appearances in local traditional media. The main topics of KSDW 2018 were related to energy transition, energy efficiency, waste management, water sources, and climate change.
The2nd edition was held in September of 2019, with open discussions and side events. The partners managed to highlight and encourage the prioritization of sustainable development in political and public agenda. Throughout all of the 3 conference days, KSDW 2019 gathered more than 500 participants, discussed with 60 guest speakers in 11 panel discussions and interviews.
Considering the emerging situation with the pandemics in 2020, the3rd edition encountered slight changes in the format. It was transformed in an online format and brand new virtual platform, with 8 panel discussions, 4 online lectures designed exclusively for youth, 4 movie screenings with the solar cinema, 5 green speeches delivered by the main stakeholders, and 6 videos.
Kosovo dignitaries, President Vjosa Osmani – Sadriu, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, and ministers Artane Rizvanolli and Liburn Aliu attended the launch event. President Osmani said she believes in a green future and that this implies preserving the health of citizens. In order to achieve sustainable development, according to her, great cooperation is needed between all stakeholders and that she offers her support in this regard. Prime Minister Kurti said the pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity to work towards sustainable economic development. He assured that the Government he leads, will always aim to make decisions that contribute to achieving sustainable development for the country.
The Rapporteur for Kosovo in the European Parliament, Mrs. Viola von Cramon, said through a video addressing that she is concerned about the environmental situation in Kosovo. She called for immediate measures to be taken to align the environmental conditions in Kosovo with the countries of the European Union. She expressed optimism the signing of the Green Agenda by the countries of the region will also result in economic growth and overall transformation.
The identified activities of KSDW 2021 encompass a wide range of sustainable development issues and, similar to previous editions. Considering the high significance of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, the partners of KSDW have agreed to set as the main topic the components of this regional agreement. As such, the sub-themes of the 3 conference days will be: (Day 1) Decarbonisation: Climate, energy and mobility, (Day 2) Circular Economy: Sustainable production and consumption & Depollution of air, water and soil, and (Day 3) Sustainable food systems and rural areas &Protecting biodiversity: Protection and restoration of ecosystems.
“A green, clean, healthy and dignified future for all Kosovars can be ensured if action is taken now,” said Jorn Rohde, German Ambassador to Kosovo.
The ecological transition for Europe can only be fully effective if the EU’s immediate neighbourhood also takes an effective action”. That is why the European Union took a complex, twofold approach. European Green Deal, being a priority for the EU member states, aims at a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive economy. On the other hand, the European Commission, by adopting a comprehensive Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans in October 2020, mobilized around €9 billion of funding for the region. The objective is to spur the long-term economic recovery of the region, support a green and digital transition, and foster regional integration and convergence with the European Union.
The EU is pleased that Kosovo Government in parallel with other Western Balkans states agreed and accepted the Green Agenda launched by the European Commission at the Summit in Sofia, last year. The EU representation in Kosovo wish to be a first-hand observer as it comes to the fulfilment of obligations on addressing decarbonisation, circular economy, depollution, sustainable food systems, and the perspectives for rural areas, as well as the protection and restoration of ecosystems in Kosovo.
The EU in Kosovo hopes that Kosovo Sustainable Development Week will bring precious insight into what we can do for Mother Earth. We urgently need to get eco-friendly for the next generations yet to come.