In the run-up to our upcoming Young Professionals Seminar in Zagreb on 12 and 13 March, we publish some articles on the EU and the Western Balkans. We start with a text by Elif Dilmen, Senior Risk Consultant at Marsh in Turkey and climate change expert. She is member of United Europe and one of our Young Professionals Advisors.
The world’s agenda is changing with political and economic crises, attacks, epidemics and natural disasters. Although the agenda changes, the only issue that needs to remain on the agenda is climate change and its negative effects. Our most important agenda should be the status of the European 2020 goals set for managing and reducing climate change and what countries do for this. Because only goal of 20% reduction in GHG emissions, compared to 1990 levels is well on track for today. Countries that want to grow and maintain this growth should not ignore climate change for sustainability as well as economic development. Countries, whose agriculture is the most important source of income, especially the Balkans, have to take local and global measures for climate change.
The Balkans are exposed to risks from climate change and natural disasters while they are growing. Because people are mainly engaged in activities within weather and climate related sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, tourism and supporting services. Unfortunately, this growth does not seem very possible if the region is not ready to climate change shocks. Since 2014, more than € 6 billion damage has occurred in the Balkans due to flood, fire and drought.
Of course, it would not be right to say that Balkan countries have no awareness of climate change. Some policymakers in the Western Balkans are preparing for the disasters of tomorrow. Serbia has introduced the region’s first comprehensive disaster risk management framework, align its legislation with the Sendai Framework and secured a €66 million loan from the World Bank in 2017 to ensure immediate access to recovery funds in the wake of a major disaster.  In addition, there are also technologies that will be pioneers in preventing flood risk. Bosnia and Herzegovina is focusing on infrastructure to protect against growing flood risk. Macedonia are making investments in infrastructure, support services, and on-farm improvements. Kosovo and Montenegro is producing energy efficiency policies for upgrading heating systems. Western Balkans sustainable development cycle including climate change and environment in economic assessment was announced. 
Many of the steps taken regarding climate change seem to focus on reducing their impacts rather than their causes. Despite these steps, unfortunately there are some studies which are not supporting decrease in climate change negative effects. New coal power plants which are not incompliance with EU pollution control legislation and outdated coal power plants are still big danger for air pollution, human health and finances. Igor Kalaba, energy policy coordinator for Southeast Europe at Climate Action Network Europe, is very right in his Word “Western Balkan coal is a burden on people’s health, the climate and the wider economy.” Balkan governments are unprepared for EU pollution rules. In this case, CO2 remains as an unsolvable problem because of high amount of uncontrolled coal consumption.
This shows that the Balkans are not ready for the European 2020 goals, and there is still a lot of climate change investment and regulative changes to be done. It’s time to step in and trigger the process. European 2050 goals are also waiting for all countries’ actions.
 The World Bank News
 Study on climate change in the Western Balkans region, Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat