President Osmani's address at the Regional Conference "Regional Cooperation and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans"
Honourable Members of the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo and from the countries of the region, it is a pleasure to be together with you today,
Distinguished field experts, analysts, representatives of the business community,
I would like to start by welcoming the guests and invitees from the region and by thanking PIPS for the active and continuous engagement towards the promotion of genuine dialogue as well as towards professional research in order to advance the green agenda in our region, especially here in the Republic of Kosovo.
This year stands out for many things, but I want to assure you that in the Republic of Kosovo, it stands out for a very positive wave of domination of the discourse about the green agenda in the public debate. Our involvement in politics extends over a long time as you know, and it has never happened before that we have so many activities and so much discussion about the energy sector as much as we have had so far this year.
Realistically, such a situation makes us very happy, as we have finally come to understand that more people need to talk about the energy sector than just experts in the field and engineers. It is not enough to discuss the energy sector only once a year or only in emergency situations. Undoubtedly, expertise as well as engineers are primarily responsible for designing the right policies or proposing them, but energy is more than just a sector - the energy sector is the backbone of our economic development.
Therefore, energy can by no means be an isolated topic. We need open dialogue, inter-parliamentary cooperation as well as continuous regional cooperation.
I consider that the discussion on Regional Cooperation and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans is extremely useful and is happening at a crucial moment in the face of the extremely challenging dynamics that we are seeing in Europe as well as globally.
The energy crisis and its consequences continue to weigh on energy systems in the region and throughout our continent. On the other hand, the war in Ukraine has raised concerns and put our entire continent in an extremely critical situation in terms of ensuring energy security.
And in such a situation we are seeing how the countries of the European Union are being challenged towards the commitment to meet the objectives for decarbonisation of the energy sector as well as the meaningful implementation of the Green Agenda.
This is the most permanent danger of this time. Forced to find short-term solutions, we face situations where we may jeopardize long-term goals, which are well defined in the Paris Agreement and then embraced by our region at the Sofia Summit.
Despite clear messages of commitment to change policy-making as a result of the pandemic, global energy sector-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 6% in 2021. 36.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted into the atmosphere in the year we have left behind and this marks the highest level of emissions in the entire history of mankind. According to the International Energy Agency, the reasons for this stem from the fact that the world economy recovered strongly after the Covid-19 crisis and world economies relied heavily on coal to power precisely this growth.
It seems that the situation in 2022 will not be much more different from the one I already presented. Last night I was reading how in the face of the challenge of the need to guarantee a regular power supply, Germany is being forced to consider reactivating coal-fired power plants to cope with the shifting away from the Russian gas.
Faced with such news, the question naturally arises from some about why we should do and act differently, here in Kosovo? As difficult as it may seem at the moment, the reasons for the green transition are innumerable:
- First, the green transition means less pollution, i.e. better health of our citizens
- Second, the green transition means the creation of new jobs - new sustainable and green jobs
- Three, the green transition means vision to keep pace with the times
- Fourth, the green transition means more development and more innovation
- Fifth, the green transition means more cooperation between governments, parliaments, businesses, academics and all our people
- Also, the green transition means a step closer to the European Union
There are many, many other reasons, but, the Green Agenda, in general, should be our solution today and always. This is the wisest action in economic terms, in geostrategic terms, but above all, in terms of the well-being of our citizens, their health and the advancement of overall well-being.
The Green Agenda can no longer be seen solely as a sustainable development concept. In fact, the green agenda has become the backbone of the whole concept of economic development within the European Union. This is best evidenced by the European Green Agreement which was then transferred to the countries of the Western Balkans through the Sofia Declaration and the commitments made by all 6 countries of our region.
Focused on five pillars of action, respectively on decarbonisation, circular economy, pollution reduction, sustainable food systems and rural areas as well as the protection of biodiversity, the Green Agenda aims to become the engine of accelerating economic development precisely by promoting innovative and transformational policies focused on advancing connectivity and regional cooperation.
Moreover, all these commitments are accompanied and supported through the Economic and Investment Plan which consists of 9 billion euros in grants and 20 billion euros in guarantees, providing the financial source for turning words into deeds.
We live in realities very different today than those of 5 years ago. While it may seem that the challenges are far greater and perhaps more difficult to meet, we must realize that laboratories, research centers, and universities around the world are working with unimaginable dynamics to bring the Green Agenda to life by providing technologies and innovative solutions that give it breath.
Therefore, today more than ever we need a dialogue of this level, where beyond the discussion of political cooperation, we create space for dialogue with businesses. Because, after all, businesses will be the engine of change and the guarantors of an economic environment suitable for the needs of the energy systems of the future. They are demonstrating this each and every day.
Above all, we must make this transition tangible for everyone. We have an obligation to communicate to our citizens every day that we can not do it alone on this journey. We must put the citizen at the center of this transition, raising everyone's awareness of responsible action, but also designing policies that facilitate the daily lives of citizens and guarantee a greener and healthier future.
While we are at an important momentum for our country as one of the most strategic documents is being finalized, the Energy Strategy, we must not forget the need to coordinate our actions with the transport, agriculture and construction sectors. We need to understand the importance of dynamic action for waste management and reduction of the amount produced. We must finally be clear about the primary reason for our commitment to environmental protection, which is as much about protecting nature as it is about protecting our health. We also need to understand that climate change knows no bounds and that we are already recognizing its consequences.
Today more than ever we need clear thinking, clear vision and systematic action. Therefore, I am glad to see you all present today at this conference, but also in many discussions and numerous roundtables over the months, we have left behind, because in this way we have the opportunity to better understand the daily realities but also identify the right policies that respond to these realities in our respective countries.
Despite the challenges we face today, let us not waiver in what has already proven to be the wisest investment of our day, which is to embrace green economic development, green policy-making, green thinking, and action. green.
Thank you for the invitation. I wish you substantive discussions and a successful conference.