This Clingendael series ‘The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans’ provides an inside perspective on the EU climate ambitions for the Western Balkan Six (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) and the challenges ahead. In this third contribution, we analyse the state of affairs with regard to pollution.
Across the Western Balkans, air, water and soil pollution levels are incredibly high. Public health is continuously jeopardised by air pollution arising from local heating sources and energy production plants. The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans aims to assist the region in tackling pollution problems and aligning the countries’ environmental quality regulation with the European acquis. This paper analyses the state of affairs with regard to air, water and soil pollution in the WB6 and examines how it affects citizens’ health and socioeconomic prospects. The policy brief argues that countries in the Western Balkans need to address a coal phase-out while simultaneously tackling energy poverty. The EU could more actively support this, not only by providing a platform for dialogue, but through supporting programmes for renewable energy provisions and infrastructure, reskilling of workers and job creation. The Sofia Declaration, that sets out the Green Agenda, needs to be complemented with measures to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, preferably by involving civil society organisations in monitoring implementation and raising public awareness of the socioeconomic costs of pollution.
Download policy brief.