The launch of the fourth edition of Kosovo Sustainable Development Week (KSDW)

On May 31, 2021, the partners of Kosovo Sustainable Development Week (KSDW) marked the beginning of the fourth edition, in which occasion it was confirmed once again how important is the inter institutional dialogue and public awareness on sustainability issues. Similar to the previous editions, KSDW, which is an annual event now, is being organized in close partnership between the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure, EU Office in Kosovo / EU Special Representative, GIZ, Institute for Development Policy (INDEP) and the Balkan Green Foundation (BGF).

The event was attended by representatives of the Office of the President of the Republic of Kosovo, the Office of the Prime Minister, line ministries, diplomatic missions, and civil society. Furthermore, special guests from the European Parliament greeted the guests with a keynote speech via video message considering the situation with COVID-19. The event was held with a limited number of guests in accordance with the anti-COVID measures, but at the same time the KSDW audience was able to follow the event in real time on KSDW social networks.

The event opened with an artistic performance by students from the Green School Music Club who spread the message to attendees and audiences to take action to protect the environment and planet Earth through Michael Jackson’s famous song ‘Earth Song’. The guests were addressed by the Director of the School, Mrs. Fahrije Latifi Retkoceri, with a word of hospitality in the premises of the only efficient school in the region.

The event continued with the speech given by the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Vjosa Osmani, who which emphasized that she believes in a green future and that this implies preserving the health of citizens. President Osmani concluded that in order to achieve sustainable development, great cooperation is needed between all stakeholders and that she offers her support in this regard. After the President, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Albin Kurti held his speech. In his introductory speech, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Albin Kurti, said that the pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity to work towards sustainable economic development. Mr. Kurti said he believes that social inequality and climate change, in addition to being the main dangers threatening the world, are also interrelated. Therefore, he assured that the Government he leads, will always aim to make decisions that contribute to achieving sustainable development for the country. To conclude, Mr. Kurti said that we owe the commitment to a sustainable future to future generations, hence we shall all mobilize to achieve this.

At the level of ministries, on the one hand, the Minister of Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure, Mr. Liburn Aliu, said that sustainable development is a wide spectrum and that the implementation of strategies to achieve sustainable development should be inclusive, as this is the only guaranteed form to achieve sustainable development. He also wished that the Kosovo Sustainable Development Week raises awareness among citizens and guaranteed the support of the Ministry he leads for the Week of Sustainable Development in Kosovo. On the other hand, the Minister of the Ministry of Economy, Mrs. Artane Rizvanolli stated that the sustainable development should be one of the daily focal point of activity that each one of us should work on. “I am committed to ensuring that planning and decision-making is well-informed, realistic, affordable and as eco-friendly as possible. Simultaneously, as a Government, we remain committed to a constructive dialogue between us, civil society, the opposition, citizens, and our development partners in order to reach a consensus on these decisions.”

In addition to important local representatives, attendees and the audience, the Rapporteur for Kosovo in the European Parliament, Mrs. Viola von Cramon, said that she is very happy to be part of the Week for Sustainable Development in Kosovo, because she is concerned about the environmental situation in our country. Mrs. Von Cramon called for immediate measures to be taken to align the environmental conditions in Kosovo with the countries of the European Union. At last, Mrs. Cramon concluded that he hopes that the signing of the Green Agenda by the countries of the region will also result in economic growth and overall transformation. Meanwhile, the German Ambassador, Mr. Jörn Rohde, emphasized the importance of the annual conference as a good opportunity for all actors to review and jointly agree on further steps towards Kosovo’s sustainable development: “Kosovo’s initiatives and efforts can count on the support of many stakeholders – including Germany which is offering support in particular on Circular Economy, waste management and Energy Efficiency. A green, clean, healthy and dignified future for all Kosovans can be ensured if action is taken now. Germany is glad to support these efforts.”

Opening remarks were also given by Mrs. Annette Fath-Lihic, Chief Political Adviser and Executive Coordinator at the EU Office/EU Special Representative in Kosovo. She claimed that is shared responsibility to preserve the environment and that rapid action must be taken to achieve a more sustainable environment. Mrs. Fath Lihic called for bold and coordinated action for sustainable development. “I truly hope that this great initiative, which is Kosovo Sustainable Development Week, will bring us precious insight into what we can do for Mother Earth. We urgently need to get eco-friendly for the next generations.”.

On behalf of the civil society, the Executive Director of the Institute for Development Policy (INDEP), Mr. Burim Ejupi, stated that Kosovo Sustainable Development Week provides expertise on which policies should be pursued in order for the Green Agenda to become a reality in Kosovo. From his part, he offered unconditional collaboration of INDEP to the governing institutions but also warned the Government that INDEP will monitor their actions to meeting the criteria and obligations arising from the Green Agreement for the Balkans, of which Kosovo is a signatory party. This was also confirmed by the Program Manager of the Balkan Green Foundation (BGF), Mrs. Rinora Gojani. Mrs. Gojani emphasized that sustainable development, protection of water, air and land have never been a priority of Governments in Kosovo. Regardless, Ms. Gojani said that after the speeches given by the government give hopes that sustainable development will be supported and accompanied by technical assistance. She also promised support to the Government in decisions that serve sustainable development but also unsparing criticism whenever this development is not taken into account.

The event ended with the unveiling of the KSDW 2021 program, which has numerous activities to be held until June 11 which are open to attend by all interested parties. To join the main and side events, follow the KSDW Facebook page and the website.

This event is taking place in parallel with the EU Green Week event organized by the Directorate General for the Environment within the European Commission, which serves as an opportunity to engage all stakeholders and interested citizens towards reaching the zero pollution target and clean environment.