Climate change presents a daunting challenge that knows no borders. In recognition of this fact, the Western Balkan Regional Advocacy Network recently gathered in Kosovo to reflect on the urgency for a green transition in the region. The event brought together partners from Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the European Union, and Helvetas to explore the challenges and opportunities climate change brings to Kosovo’s economy, peace, and society and the wider Western Balkans.
The lessons learned from the workshop emphasized the vital roles played by the private sector and civil society in tackling climate change. The network highlighted the importance of thinking globally while acting locally, engaging with communities, and building a compelling narrative to drive public and policy discourse. The urgency of the climate crisis was a central theme, emphasizing understanding its political and economic dimensions to identify effective solutions.
The climate crisis is not just a challenge; it’s an opportunity for transformative change. The network called upon everyone to take action immediately. The discussions during the event emphasized the need for innovation in addressing climate change. Participants highlighted the importance of adopting an integrated approach, incentivizing behavior change, and streamlining financially viable standards, especially in priority sectors like infrastructure and agriculture. Collaboration between practitioners and academia was stressed to collect knowledge and promote sustainability. The network also emphasized the importance of voicing the urgency of climate change and fostering public dialogue around it.
Youth engagement in climate action was a prominent theme. Recognizing that climate change is a matter concerning the youth, participants discussed strategies to enhance youth capacity to engage in policy discussions. Trustworthy youth champions of climate change, who possess legitimacy and extensive networks, were identified as key figures in driving a sustainable future.
Advocating for climate change action can sometimes feel overwhelming, but the event highlighted indirect advocacy routes that can be highly effective. These include mobilizing youth, partnering with like-minded influencers, and leveraging academic institutions to generate evidence for public discourse. Education was identified as crucial for developing awareness and the necessary skills for a successful green transition.
During the Regional Advocacy Workshop in Kosovo, participants had a unique opportunity to connect with change-makers from both the public and private sectors who are leading transformative initiatives in green cities, green transport, and green infrastructure. This exchange of expertise and experiences underscores the importance of collective action in tackling climate change and creating a more sustainable future for all.
This gathering was a powerful demonstration of the commitment of its diverse members, including representatives from local government, civil society, educators, the private sector, and researchers. Their collective brainstorming on the state of green transition in the Western Balkans will culminate in a presentation to policymakers at the Summit of the Berlin Process-Tirana 2023.