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DR. VJOSA OSMANI SADRIU
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO
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Speech by President Osmani at the presentation of Kosovo’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) at COP 28

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends of Kosovo,

 

This is the Republic of Kosovo’s first inclusive and voluntary Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Therefore it is my honor to open this event at the time when the entire world is gathered here to discuss ways how can we jointly and ambitiously meet the 2050 targets.

For Kosovo, our presence at COP means an opportunity to share our story with the world. It is an opportunity to have our voice heard and to make our case for climate action. On this note, I also would like to thank our partners, GIZ and UNDP, as well as NDC Partnership for having made the preparation of our NDC and its presentation today possible.

In the post Paris Agreement era, COP meetings have played a significant role in shaping the global response to the defining challenge of our time—climate change.

As we look towards the future, we find ourselves at a crucial juncture. The 2050 goals set forth in the Paris Agreement should not remain mere aspirations; they should be perceived as the strongest call to action that demands immediate and unprecedented efforts. Whether through rising temperatures, extreme weather events, or disruptions to ecosystems and the everyday living of different communities around the world, the evidence of climate change’s impacts is all around us. The window to avert the most catastrophic consequences is narrowing, and the need for enhanced ambitions has never been more pressing.

You have heard time and again that ‘the time to act is now’. I won’t be repeating that. I am here wanting to believe that ambitious action is already underway, but hopeful that the ambition will become ever higher; ever bigger. We need to be more decisive and uncompromised in our efforts to enhance climate action. COP, as a nexus of international cooperation and joint global determination, is aimed to be a platform where countries, regardless of their size or economic power, converge to discuss, negotiate, and set the course for a sustainable future. Each COP is, indeed, a milestone. It is a checkpoint where we measure progress, confront challenges and identify opportunities to renew the commitment of the countries around the world to the shared goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

However, in this long journey, the principle of inclusivity has not always been fully honored.

Because of Russia’s blockade, Kosovo is not a UN member, yet. That means we are not a party to the United Nationas Framework Convention on Climate Change. This unjust reality has kept our country out of high-level discussions at annual COPs year after year. However, it has never faded our commitment and dedication to doing our share of work.

We always found a way to be heard. We always will. We remain restless in our ambition and unwavering in our commitment to ensure our rightful place in the global climate discussions, but not only. We are convinced that this is the only way forward, because, it is only through inclusion, equality, and participation that we can become successful in our battle against climate change.

We often hear the expression “Climate change knows no borders”. It is therefore high time that there is also representation at the table, support and financing becomes borderless as well. Nonetheless, more often than not even those in charge of climate global policies and the ones leading the climate fight tend to forget about the ‘borderless’ nature of the challenges we’re facing. But we know too well, that no matter how small or big a country is; whether in the UN or not there yet, our success will be your success. Respectively, the individual success of countries will mount to the collective success of our planet in combating climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Kosovo has set ambitious objectives to phase out coal, boost renewables, and promote innovation. These objectives are outlined in the Energy Strategy of the Republic of Kosovo 2022 – 2031, the initial draft of the National Energy and Climate Plan, and the new pending-final-approval Law on Climate Change.

Yet, today marks a significant milestone in our journey toward a sustainable and resilient future. I am thrilled to stand before you on the occasion of introducing Kosovo’s vision and ambition as part of our first inclusive and voluntary Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to combat climate change.

This document confirms our steadfast commitment to contribute to the global fight against climate change.

Kosovo is voluntarily commiting to the ambitious 1.5°C target and we are currently developing our first inclusive and voluntary NDC, built on ambitious climate policies that aim to reduce emissions by up to 49% by 2030 compared to 2016 levels.

Respectively, in our planning for a successful transition, we envision an energy sector with at least 35% renewables in gross electricity consumption by 2031 and a significant reduction of emissions in key sectors such as transport, agriculture, forestry, other land use, and waste.

Kosovo understands well the importance of playing an active role in this existential battle. With that in mind, we have established the National Council for Climate Change. It’s turned into a platform to join forces to identify scenarios that help us make significant miles forward, day after day, in our efforts to combat climate change. In addition, we are now working towards the finalization of the National Energy and Climate Plan 2025-2030 and the plan is to adopt the first Law on Climate Change in our country. Soon, we will also be the host country of the biggest battery storage capacity project supported by the U.S.-Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as the first project in the Balkans for central heating with solar panels.

As we look forward, Kosovo will develop its first Strategy on Climate Adaptation by 2024, building on existing policies outlined in our Climate Change Strategy and Agriculture and Forestry Strategies. This strategy will focus on risk mapping, afforestation, and the creation of an early warning system to address climate threats.

But there is potential for so much more and there is certainly a lot of space for innovative projects and solutions. And this conference of parties is the perfect opportunity to discuss some of the forms this could be done through partnerships that would ultimately enable technology and knowledge transfer, but equally as important, the necessary financial flows.

In pursuit of this, there is an absolute necessity to bring everyone on board. However, one thing is clear – we’ve chosen our path forward. That path consists of investments in decarbonization, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and in circular economy.

Dear participants,

While the will to engage in a green transition to further empower the idea of a greener Kosovo is evident, we all know that it takes way much more than that to actually win the case.

One thing is clear: leaving us out of the room or the discussion table has also meant leaving us out of all of the financing instruments that could have helped my country cope with the challenges of climate change. In the face of a global commitment to leave no one behind, it is high time to make sure the practice reflects the ambition.

What we have achieved so far reflects our own commitment to do things better and to act smarter. But in the face of this existential crisis, we will not make it alone unless we constantly work together.

For Kosovo, the most pressing challenge right now lies in the limited access to key climate financing mechanisms, including UNFCCC funds. In this journey, the smaller countries will need the help of the larger ones.

At this point, the need for the Loss and Damage fund to deliver is at its highest. With good news coming from the opening of this year’s COP, I say that global leaders need to find a way for the fund to finally deliver – that is, to deliver for ALL.

Because, unfortunately, Kosovo is not resistant to climate hazards and risks. This particularly relates to flooding and storms. About 35% of our country’s territory is exposed to significant flood risk, impacting 18% of our population. We are addressing these challenges through ongoing risk mapping projects, afforestation efforts, and the creation of an early warning system for climate threats. On the other hand, our climate models show that under every emission pathway scenario our agricultural sector will be hit the most due to regular exposure to serious droughts.  And, as the country in the region with the highest water stress and with the most serious water scarcity, our critical infrastructure is at critical risk.

On the other hand, although we’re the 5th largest proven reserve of lignite in the world, we have nonetheless committed to keeping lignite in the ground and see towards a greener future. Moreover, even after having conducted numerous studies, worked with some of the best regional and international experts, aligned all legislation with the EU acquis, developed detailed financing projects, drastic limitations apply to us when it comes to accessing climate adaptation financing. This puts Kosovo in an uneven level playing field compared to the countries of the region and seriously hampers our journey towards a faster, efficient and a better energy transition.

Kosovo is ready and determined to move to the forefront of the global fight against climate change, however, we also need as many of you to stand by our side.  This first voluntary NDC we are presenting today is a testament to our commitment to a sustainable and resilient future. We are indeed facing challenges in securing climate finance, but we also remain hopeful that with determination, innovation, and international collaboration, we will ultimately overcome these hurdles and pave the way for a greener, healthier, and more prosperous Kosovo.

Now is the time for bold and transformative action. Let us not be defined by what we have not managed to do but by what we can and will achieve together. The decisions we make today will echo in time, shaping the world we leave for generations to come. Let’s make sure that COP gatherings are not just diplomatic endeavours; yet, that they become our shared commitment to a future that is not just sustainable but also inclusive and equitable. Thank you.

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