How networking in the Western Balkan and Eastern Europe boosts ambitious climate actions

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  • {{"article.posted"|translate}} 25-03-2021

How networking in the Western Balkan and Eastern Europe boosts ambitious climate actions



Though the World is struggling to get grip over serious challenges triggered by the COVID 19 pandemic, the effects of climate change are becoming more prominent and the damages to infrastructure and threats to human life more serious. Never before, in the newer history, has the struggle of countries, globally, been so great to maintain their economies in an environment threatened by climate change and human health risk, while, at the same time, making efforts in meeting their commitments to the Paris Agreement in stopping climate change. This is especially true for developing and least developed countries, and the UN and other international organizations are doing their best in supporting them through various programmes and projects, and the UNDP/UNEP Global Support Programme (GSP) is one of them.

The GSP has established 6 MRV/Transparency Networks Worldwide with 65 countries being actively supported by this programme, with the Western Balkan and Eastern Europe being the youngest network (WBEE Network), established in April 2020,  and including eight countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Georgia, Republic of Moldova, and Lebanon. UNDP country offices support each of these countries to enhance their climate targets and to cope with establishment of sustainable national systems that will efficiently monitor implementation of climate actions (MRV systems).


While home-office has become our reality and Zoom, Microsoft teams, Skype, and other apps our main communication tools in organizing meetings, workshops/webinars and virtual trainings, great collaboration with network countries, creativity and patience were key for good results the GSP achieved within the WBEE Network so far.

The GSP support in 2020 was provided following a detailed capacity building action plan that was developed using ‘tailor-made’ approach fitted to the needs and challenges all eight countries face. Implementation of this plan was not easy, and was followed by various challenges, such as limitations imposed due to the global pandemic situation, limitations of government institutions in using new communication platforms such as zoom and/or skype, over-saturation of webinars/online meetings/trainings and fatigue and loss of motivation by stakeholders and beneficiaries to participate in webinars/online meetings towards the end of the year.

But the results of WBEE networking were impressive. In the first year, the GSP managed to support  11 different regional events (webinars, technical trainings, peer-to-peer exchange) and to bring together more than 300 active participants willing to jointly collaborate and support each-other in enhancing climate ambition within their countries. Serbia, Lebanon, Albania, Georgia, and North Macedonia, have contributed with experiences and knowledge sharing on institutional capacity building, climate finance, gender and climate change, and others, leading to interesting and constructive discussions that helped the network countries, as well as countries in the Central Asian Region to take additional steps to build political support and grow implementation capacity for climate policies and actions.

Capacities are built faster and more efficiently when stakeholders and Countries are given the possibility of exchanging constructively, together and among peers, on different views, ideas, lessons learnt, successes as well as failures. The establishment and facilitations of such collaborative spaces, or networks as we call them, are at the core of the GSP’s intervention, as we strongly believe that only by joining forces, we will be able to achieve, together, our collective climate goals. – Damiano Borgogno, GSP Coordinator

While the level of institutional and human capacities in most of the network countries on climate change MRV and Transparency remain moderate, some countries, such as Republic of North Macedonia, with its developed institutional capacities and ‘know-how’ has prepared and implemented a technical training on energy sector GHG inventory for relevant institutions and GHG inventory team members of the network countries.

“I was surprised by the presentations of North Macedonia, thery are really very knowledgeable about IPCC Methodology” – I. Vasiliev, Republic of Moldova

“I liked the most about the training the practical examples and hearing experiences from other countries on Energy sector GHG Inventory issues and salutation” – R. Radic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

“What I liked the most about this training was the clear and interesting presentations and explanations by experts” – S. Radonjic, Serbia

“I learnt a lot in this training. The training was easy to understand and I liked the discussion among participants the most” – E. Gusheva, North Macedonia

In addition, appreciating the great support from UNDP Macedonia and its climate change project team, the GSP was able to share Macedonian knowledge and expertise in various areas, such as  climate change, innovative communication and gender issues, promoting a coordinated and coherent response to climate change across government and society with other Western Balkan and Eastern Europe Network countries. Sharing practical solutions to similar challenges countries face has proven to be beneficial and has resulted in increased demands of other organizations to connect with North Macedonia and learn more about their approaches and lessons learned.    

What we have learnt so far is that with dedication, creativity, resourcefulness and great collaboration with the Western Balkan and Eastern Europe Network countries, there are no limitations, and the results are evident in the raised ambition of their Nationally Determined Contributions on Climate Change. We are looking with optimism into 2021 sure that it will be an amazing year, with even greater results and achievements beneficial to the network countries and to other countries in the region.

Damiano Borgogno -Coordinator - UNDP/UNEP Global Support Program for National Communications and Biennial Update Reports, Climate Technical Advisor for MRV and Transparency. Snezana Marstijepovic - MRV Coordinator, Western Balkan and Eastern Europe Network UNDP/UNEP Global Support Programme (GSP).

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