SEE governments inaugurate Working Group on Environment for SEE 2020 Strategy
Convened by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and hosted by the Government of Montenegro in Podgorica, representatives of the governments of South Eastern Europe (SEE) met on May 14, 2015, to establish the Regional Working Group on Environment (RWG Env) for the SEE 2020 Strategy. The RWG Env will operate under the auspices of the RCC Secretariat, with the main responsibility of guiding strategy implementation, programming, and monitoring activities within the Environment Dimension of the SEE 2020 Strategy. The annually rotating co-chairpersonship of the RWG Env will be held for one year by the Government of Montenegro, while the RCC Secretariat assumes permanent co-chairpersonship.
Ivana Vojinovic, deputy minister at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro, congratulated the RCC on the progress achieved during the second year of implementation of the SEE 2020 Strategy, and expressed appreciation to the REC as coordinator of the Environment Dimension, along with the coordination partners Global Water Partnership - Mediterranean (GWP-MED) and the Standing Working Group for Regional Rural Development (SWG RDD). On behalf of the Government of Montenegro, Vojinovic underscored the SEE ministers' essential role in the activities of the RWG Env in terms of ensuring political guidance and ownership, and called for an annual high-level forum of SEE environment ministers to be hosted by the REC as coordinator of the Environment Dimension for complementing the deliberations of the RWG Env.
The REC was appointed in 2013 through the adoption of the SEE 2020 Strategy as coordinator of the Environment Dimension in cooperation with other identified regional responsible structures and national partners, particularly ministries of environment, other relevant ministries and stakeholders such as civil society. The areas of action and the respective cooperation themes of the regional programme 2015-2017 "Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Support of Green Growth", endorsed by the RWG Env at its inauguration meeting, encompass:
- Climate change adaptation-related issues, addressed through the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership Programme (GGKPP).
- Water, land, energy and ecosystems interrelated management in support of Green Growth, addressed through the Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem Nexus (WEFEN).
- Rural areas management, addressed through Rural Development via Natural Resources Management (RDNRM).
Sanjin Arifagic, coordinator of the SEE Strategy and head of SEE 2020 Strategy Coordination Unit at the RCC Secretariat, concluded the constitutive meeting of the RWG Env with an outdoor ceremony during which SEE government representatives planted a tree in the city of Podgorica to mark the inauguration of the RWG Env. In a follow-up effort to steer the process at the highest political level, the REC offered to host the first high-level forum of environment ministers from SEE on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the REC on June 11, 2015, in Szentendre, Hungary.