Collaboration is key for improved air quality

Feb 06, 2024

Copyright: Mak Kapetanović

The EU4Green project, implemented by the Austrian Environmental Agency, held a regional workshop on local measures to improve air quality on January 31 and February 1, 2024 in Sarajevo. Participants included the Ministries of Environmental Protection of Serbia and of North Macedonia, the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism (BIH), the RS Hydrometeorological Institute, the World Bank, as well as numerous local and international organizations.

The two-day workshop specifically addressed individual heating sources at the local level, focusing on air quality management plans and financing opportunities for changing energy sources in households and burning agricultural waste. The workshop was led by experts from the Environment Agency Austria, Mr. Christian Nagl and Mr. Siegmund Böhmer, who presented general requirements for air quality plans and programs, along with examples of good practices for funding heating measures. Mr. Zijad Lugavić, the mayor of Tuzla, spoke about coal replacement measures and other steps taken in Tuzla.

Maja Čolović-Daul, the representative of the EU4Green project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, stated, ‘The focus of the EU4Green project is to catalyse processes towards achieving the goals and strategic commitments defined by the activities of the Agenda for the Western Balkans and the EU Green Deal in the Western Balkans, signed by Bosnia and Herzegovina within the framework of the Sofia Declaration. One of the segments is improving air quality, and emissions from individual heating sources and burning agricultural waste are significant air pollution sources in the Western Balkans. The question of contributing to decarbonization and improving air quality at the local level is reflected through the systematic replacement of fuel types in individual heating systems and insulation. The contribution of local communities, both in terms of planning and finances, is a crucial link in achieving emission reduction goals.

One of the leading European air quality experts from the Austrian Environmental Agency, Mr. Christian Nagl, stated, ‘The emissions we discussed, from household heating and burning agricultural waste, are indeed a significant problem in the context of air pollution in all Western Balkan countries. Therefore, it is important to establish good coordination and collaboration between different levels of government, both horizontally and vertically, and to have good communication and collaboration between economies in the region and at the city level. We are pleased that, as an agency, we can offer a lot of relevant knowledge and experience, examples of good practices, and successful models that can be of great benefit to local and national levels in the region for improving air quality. Implementing measures is also essential to meet the goals of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans.’


The EU4Green project supports the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia – in implementing the “Green Agenda for the Western Balkans,” greening their economies in consultation with all relevant partners and improving monitoring and reporting.

EU4Green in the region will contribute to transitioning to a circular economy, monitoring and reducing pollutants in air, water, and soil, making agriculture more sustainable and climate-resilient, helping preserve biodiversity, providing ad hoc high-level policy support, strengthening monitoring and reporting on the Green Agenda, improving understanding of the Green Agenda through communication activities, enhancing green education, involving civil society and other stakeholders, and promoting financing for green transition.

To ensure ownership and strengthen acceptance, EU4Green involves decision-makers and stakeholders in the process. EU4Green activities will also provide concrete support for aligning economies’ legislation with the EU acquis communautaire.

During the EU4Green project, the Western Balkan economies will enhance their cooperation to bring economic and environmental benefits to the region of over 20 million people.

The European Union funds the EU4Green project with 10 million euros, and the Austrian Development Agency with 1 million euros. The project is implemented by the Environment Agency Austria in collaboration with state authorities and institutions in the Western Balkans.


The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (GAWB) will enable entities in the region to overcome obstacles, develop, and approach the EU in their green policies. Simultaneously, through GAWB, the European Union will provide financial and technical assistance through various projects and activities to support the Western Balkan economies in their transition efforts.

The Western Balkan economies adopted the Green Agenda by signing the “Sofia Declaration” in November 2020.

The GAWB Action Plan envisions 58 actions and 7 roadmaps for implementation, focusing on cleaning energy sources and climate protection, transitioning from a traditional to a circular economy, reducing air, water, and soil pollution, building sustainable agriculture and food systems, and protecting biodiversity and ecosystems. The GAWB Action Plan also foresees adopting 2030 energy and climate policy goals, such as pollution control, biodiversity protection, and plans for phasing out coal.