Unlocking the Future: Innovate, Eco-vate, Elevate - Western Balkans Unite for Smart Cities Bregu: Supporting cities in accelerating their transition to environmentally-friendly & digitally advanced urban environments is imperative
- 12 Oct 2023
RCC launches structured regional dialogue with local self-governments on Green Agenda for the Western Balkans
Tirana – The first Local Self-Governments Forum, organised by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) together with the Municipality of Tirana and the Network of Association of Local Authorities of South East Europe (NALAS), opened in Tirana today.
“Launching the structured regional dialogue with local self-governments here today, in the eve of the Berlin Process Summit, and amidst the reinvigorated discussions on accelerated EU integration and a bolder Growth Plan, but also after a prolonged energy crisis – is a timely opportunity to pave the way of localisation and decentralisation of the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. This Forum, along with the voice of the civil society within the NGO Forum we initiated earlier this year, can be an important lever for translating the global and regional strategies into local, grounded and tangible actions,” said RCC Secretary General, Majlinda Bregu in her opening address.
The Forum: Unlocking the Future: Innovate, Eco-vate, Elevate - Western Balkans Unite for Smart Cities marks the beginning of a structured regional dialogue between Local Self-Governments from the Western Balkans, aiming to charge the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans at the local level.
“Cities are often at the forefront when faced with pressing environmental issues, from air pollution to waste management, and the impacts of climate change. They consume more than 65% of the world's energy and are responsible for over seventy percent of global carbon emissions. Tackling these issues requires substantial changes in our urban infrastructure, transportation systems, and energy sources, which can be complex and costly endeavours. Therefore, it is imperative that cities and regions are supported in accelerating their transitions towards environmentally-friendly and digitally advanced urban environments. Today’s event and dialogue is about ramping up the collective efforts to innovate, eco-vate and elevate. Collaboration between local and central governments, engagement with the civil society and the private sector and our talented entrepreneurial youth can bring diverse expertise and resources to the table and help our region transition to a greener and more digital future,” concluded Bregu.
Besides Ms Bregu, the opening remarks were delivered by Arbjan Mazniku, Minister for Local Government of Albania, Luigi Soreca, EU Ambassador to Albania, Mehmet Ergün Turan, President of NALAS and Mayor of Fatih, Istanbul, and Mathieu Mori, Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. In continuation, the participants will have an opportunity to be part of the panel dedicated to the green transformation of cities across the Western Balkans with Erion Veliaj, Mayor of Tirana, Danela Arsovska, Mayor of Skopje, Përparim Rama, Mayor of Pristina, Samir Avdić, Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo, and Luka Rakcevic, Deputy Mayor of Podgorica.
The part of the Forum programme is also presentations of best EU practices, as well as digital solutions that can make a concrete impact towards cleaner and smarter urban environments. The digital solutions have been produced within the RCC’s flagship initiative Balkathon, an annual competition for the best regional digital solution, being held since 2020.