The Leaders' Dialogue conference, held in Tirana on June 7, 2023, united representatives from Western Balkan and German governments, European Commission, regional bodies, international donors, and civil society organizations to advance the Green Agenda for economic and societal prosperity. The conference acted as a precursor to the Berlin Process Summit and underscored the collective commitment to environmental and climate goals.
During the conference, participants engaged in discussions highlighting the importance of EU integration and the Berlin Process in enhancing the Green Agenda. Economic and societal prosperity were closely linked with the effective implementation of this Agenda, and the need for multilateral cooperation was emphasized. EU’s partnership and increased funding were highlighted, aiming for a broader engagement of the Western Balkans in EU climate instruments. The necessity for public awareness and education regarding the Green Agenda and the accompanying financial implications was a focal point of the discussion.
Themes of government-private sector-civil society collaborations emerged prominently. Effective Green Agenda implementation necessitated enhanced governance frameworks and active involvement of local and regional authorities. The role of civil society in monitoring and implementing the Green Agenda was emphasized, indicating a need for a structured dialogue among governments, business communities, and civil society.
Socio-ecological transformation underscored the role of green and digital transitions in economic development and EU integration. Challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation in the Western Balkans required substantial adjustments in policies and societal behaviors. The digital economy’s integration with the EU Digital Single Market was seen as pivotal for economic revitalization. Emphasis was placed on supporting SMEs and start-ups, and addressing the agricultural sector’s sustainability challenges.
The discussions also covered the need for decarbonization and investment in renewables. Private and public sector partnership was deemed essential for expanding renewable energy and electrifying the transport system. Regional cooperation was highlighted for maximizing funding and resources to enhance energy efficiency and reduce pollutant emissions. The role of initiatives like the Initiative for coal regions in transition was acknowledged for supporting green growth processes.
Lastly, the conference lauded the Regional Climate Partnership between Germany and the Western Balkans. It was seen as a platform for high-level policy dialogues and regional cooperation, supporting the Green Agenda’s objectives. The partnership aims to facilitate EU integration by aligning the region with EU climate and sustainability goals and is backed by financial and technical cooperation, including a EUR 1.5 billion commitment announced at the 2022 Berlin Process Summit. Participants expressed the need for more such meetings to foster exchange and collaboration for a green and socially just transition.
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