07 Feb International Expert Roundtable
Sustainability in the Western Balkans: challenges in tourism, agriculture and smart cities.
2018 – 2020
International Expert Roundtable
20 October 2018
This roundtable was hosted by Mrs. Ornela Cuci, deputy Minister of Tourism (Albania) and Mr. Zoran Sapuric, Minister for Regulations Investments and Climate (Macedonia). The main topics discussed included:
Tourism sector is playing a vital role in the social and economic development in the Western Balkans. Nevertheless, it is hard for these countries to promote themselves individually which is why a regional approach could be both sustainable and profitable for all.
Agriculture has been a backbone of the Western Balkans for centuries. There are three important aspects frequently talked on sustainable agriculture: (1) employment; (2) food productivity and; (3) economic performance. Is a re-orientation to organic farming a promising solution for the Western Balkans region? EU is funding NGO projects like “Sustainable agriculture in sustainable Balkans” aiming to build a regional working platform on sustainable agriculture. Is it enough?
The role of local governments in Western Balkans has been evolving, along with increased responsibilities, but capacity gaps remain that need to be addressed. Local governments in the Western Balkans face particular challenges from decentralization, a mismatch of revenue and expenditure management, a lack of infrastructure investments, and weak local institutions – all of which are coupled with the need to combat corruption and increase the pace of reforms. Other environmental challenges range from local air quality concerns, traffic congestion and limited land resources to pressure on water resources and the challenges associated with municipal solid waste. Is peer-to-peer supporting a better option today?