Bregu: Circular economy strategies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create hundred thousands of jobs and unlock trillion dollars worth economic opportunity

RCC Secretary General Majlinda Bregu opening the Western Balkans Coordination Meeting dubbed  Revolve to Evolve - Go Circular on 8 February 2024 in Pristina (Photo: RCC/Andi Qarri)

RCC Secretary General Majlinda Bregu opening the Western Balkans Coordination Meeting dubbed Revolve to Evolve - Go Circular on 8 February 2024 in Pristina (Photo: RCC/Andi Qarri)

RCC launches Western Balkans Green and Circular Economy Stakeholders Platform as part of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans

The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) launched the Western Balkans Green and Circular Economy Stakeholders Platform, consisting of government, business, donor, and CSO representatives, at a high-level meeting taking place in Pristina today. 

"Though becoming a hotspot for climate change, our region, can often instinctively resort to myopic lenses. That still do not truly capture the urgency and omnipresence of the climate change nor, for instance, the alarming low recycling rates and the high municipal waste generated per capita. 
These lenses, our Balkan Barometer reveals, also hold that only 30% of business owners see climate change as a problem for their businesses, while 43% believe the green transition will not have any impact on their business, with 37 not having taken any steps to reduce the environmental impact of their businesses. Unfortunately more than a third of businesses do not perform any circular economy activities/initiatives," said RCC Secretary General Majlinda Bregu at the opening of the meeting.

The reasons behind it, as cited by the Western Balkan businesses, are: additional cost (49%); lack of skills and expertise (30%), lack of a regulatory framework (28%), and lack of government subsidies (29%). 

"Most of businesses consider it cheaper to produce a new product than a recycled one. These percentages will not take us off the track of the linear resource-use models and seem to be in stark contrast to the encouraging percentages that I am sure have rallied us all here today: the circular economy strategies can reduce the global greenhouse gas emissions by whooping 40%; create 700,000 new jobs in EU alone by 2030, or unlock 4.5 trillion dollars’ worth economic opportunity. We therefore need more action-oriented and more opportunity-oriented lenses among all key stakeholders in the area," concluded Bregu.

Besides RCC SG, opening remarks were given by Valentina Superti, Director for Western Balkans, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations and 
Lulzim Rafuna, President of WB6 CIF Management Board. The high-level panel gathered Western Balkan ministers and representatives of ministries in charge of environmental issues and representative of Germany, as the initiator and the key stakeholder of the Berlin Process, to discuss the advancing the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans implementation. Later in the day, three more panels will cover the topics of unlocking the investment potential, Western Balkans’ transition to circular economy and the way forward.

The aim of the Platform, which will function within the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (GAWB) is to renew the high-level commitments taken in the frame of GAWB, spur a regional learning and knowledge exchange hub on Circular Economy, and align funding avenues and unlock green investments.

The meeting, organised by RCC, with in-kind support of the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment Forum and the EU for Green (EU4GREEN), gathered representatives from the Western Balkans, around 20 donors and international financial institutions, 66 international organisations, companies and more than 50 representatives of Civil Society Organisations.

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The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum.

During the Western Balkans Sofia Summit, held on 10 November 2020, the region reached an important milestone by endorsing the Leaders’ Declaration on the Green Agenda that aligns with EU Green Deal. The main goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and align with the European Green Deal’s key elements. 

More info on GAWB

Full speech by RCC Secretary General