The participants of the first high level ministerial panel on Responding to Climate and Environmental Challenges in South East Europe (SEE) discussed policy responses to climate change and environmental challenges in South-East Europe and reviewed the state of ongoing regional cooperation in this field.
The First High Level Ministerial Panel on Responding to Climate and Environmental Challenges in South East Europe (SEE) took place last week in Podgorica, Montenegro. IUCN supported the event as a partner organization and participated in the Panel together with more than 70 participants, including ministers, senior state officials, representatives of international and civil society organizations and experts.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro Branimir Gvozdenovic, said that despite numerous challenges, the region needs better interconnectivity in all fields, especially including the environmental one.
Director of IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECARO) Boris Erg, highlighted IUCN’s commitment to support SEE countries on responding to climate change challenges, and shared first findings from the State of Nature Conservation Systems in SEE report being prepared by IUCN.
“There is growing evidence that we need more coherent and stronger institutional frameworks for nature conservation in SEE. Climate change adds to the existing list of environmental pressures in the region, leading to further deterioration of the state of natural resources. Only properly established and functioning nature conservation systems could respond to this challenge”, said Boris Erg, Director of IUCN ECARO.
The meeting confirmed that SEE is vulnerable to climate change and that a greater emphasis should be given to ensuring concerted regional approaches towards climate responsive planning, rather than keeping status quo with pursuing interventions at the national level only.
In a joint declaration titled “The Podgorica Initiative”, adopted at the meeting, the country representatives supported a regional approach to environmental and climate change issues. The cooperation framework recognized the role of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) in facilitating the process under the Regional Working Group on Environment. The participants also called on the host country to convey the message to the Western Balkans Summit which will be held this summer in Paris. The Paris Summit is part of the regional Berlin Process and builds on the 2015 Western Balkans Summit in Vienna and the 2014 Conference of Western Balkan States in Berlin.