Taking regional action

October 1, 2012

Albania hosts regional ministerial conference on climate change response

By Genta Hoxha, REC Albania

Albania, as part of the Western Balkans, is feeling more and more the effects of climate changes occurring at global level. Among other phenomena, seasons are becoming more irregular, extended droughts and intensive floods are annual events, coastal dynamics are disrupted, and forest fires are frequent occurrences. All of these combined have a great impact on human security and quality of life.

GETTING TOGETHER: Various ministers from the SEE region gathered in Tirana to discuss long-term impacts of climate change. Photo: REC Albania

Within the EU membership framework, the Albanian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration of Albania organised a regional ministerial conference titled "The Regional approach to the Challenges of Climate Change," held on September 21, 2012. The purpose of the conference was to bring together ministers of environment and government officials from the Czech Republic, Kosovo (as defined under UNSCR 1244), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey, as well as from Albanian institutions, to exchange experience and knowledge. The meeting served as a discussion platform for making preliminary preparations to establish regional cooperation in finding possible solutions to climate-related problems.

The Albanian Minister of Environment, Forests and Water Administration, Fatmir Mediu, highlighted that regional agreements are most likely to result in appropriate solutions. "For all of us, it is clear that climate change represents a global challenge," the Minister said. "It therefore requires a global and regional approach. But regional action is smarter, because it the necessary measures can actually be taken. Our country remains committed to fulfilling its obligations, and is also committed to continued partnership with the private sector, which is a vital partner in projects for protecting the environment from natural disasters."

The Ambassador of the European Union Delegation in Albania, Ettore Sequi, stressed the need concrete actions on climate change. "There is still more to do on climate change. Climate change projects are very challenging. There is a need for regional cooperation by setting concrete targets. All stakeholders must to be together to slow climate change for the coming generation," said Sequi.

One new development is that climate change education has emerged as a pivotal topic. The Director of the Regional Environmental Center (REC) Albania, Mihallaq Qirjo, brought up the subject during the technical panel session. "Climate education presents a big challenge for all of us in terms of articulating global climate issues on an individual level, and in terms of understanding our role in a global context," Qirjo explained. "In order to leverage our environmental policies in such a way as to drive new models of development, we need, among other things, to positioning education, capacity building and awareness at the core of policies."

The Statement of the Ministerial Conference outlined a series of recommendations and commitments for further regional cooperation on mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change in Western Balkans.