The “Climate Change Matters” workshop organised by the Helvetas Regional Advocacy Network on September 5-6, 2023, in Kosovo, brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, to reflect on the urgency for a green transition in the Western Balkans region. Partners from governmental institutions, the private sector, civil society, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the European Union, and Helvetas addressed the urgent need for collective action against climate change and environmental degradation.
“We wanted to bring together as many actors from the development sectors but as well from other sectors, municipalities, academia and donor community to discuss different policy challenges in the region, across the Western Balkans. The workshop was very useful as in the last two days we could discuss the climate change policies from different angles. We have heard what the perspective of donors is, of municipalities, perspectives of local partners, but also from different project team members across the region”, said Bernd Steimann, Development Policy Coordinator and Advocacy Advisor at Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.
Helvetas Kosovo hosted for the first time the workshop of the Advocacy Regional Network, which convenes annually in one of the Western Balkans countries to advocate for a specific topic of critical importance.
“Our decision to host this event underlines our commitment to addressing one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. Furthermore, the topic of climate change is highly relevant to Kosovo’s development aspirations”, noted Ertan Munoglu, Country Manager of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation Kosovo.
The discussions during the event emphasised the need for immediate action from everyone. Even small countries like Kosovo have an important role to play, according to the Minister of Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure in Kosovo, Liburn Aliu.
“Although as a topic it seems very distant, especially for countries such as Kosovo, which can be considered as a small and powerless country to influence climate change, Kosovo not only is influenced, but also influences climate change. Floods, droughts, forest fires are elements that we always see becoming more frequent compared to the past, especially in a country that has little water”, he added. Minister Aliu emphasised the efforts of the Government of Kosovo in developing policies and strategies for effective solutions in addressing climate change issues.
Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation has been working on the topic of climate change in different countries for more than 15 years now. Rupa Mukerji, Director of Advisory Services at Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation highlighted the commitment of Helvetas to driving meaningful change on a local and global scale.
“Climate change is a key topic in the Western Balkans and in the Western Europe region as well. We want to transverse this topic, we want to address it through policy advocacy, through concrete actions, always working with partners for systemic change that is making livelihood secure for people in this region but also contributing to local global action”, she said, also emphasising the vision for the future.
“For the future, we want to enhance our climate action, we want to work with Government, municipalities, private sector, with young people and we want to invest in training and capacity building because a lot of people do not understand what climate change is, and what might bring in our lives. So, we want to build capacities, we want to work with multiple stakeholders and develop partnership projects, but also integrate climate change in our ongoing projects, and in new phases,”, she concluded.
The regional workshop on climate change also provided a unique opportunity for participants to connect with change-makers from private sector who are leading transformative initiatives in green cities, green transport, and green infrastructure.
Helvetas will continue collaboration with diverse stakeholders, including governments, NGOs, local communities, and private sector to generate innovative ideas and projects that will move the region toward a sustainable, green transition.