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Climate change is becoming a growing threat every day – both for the way we live today and for the mark we leave for the future, in our country, but also globally, on the planet.

The United Nations emphasizes that climate change is the defining issue of our time. From climate change threatening food production to increasing uncertainty and fear of the effects of growing floods and earthquakes, through acid rain, extreme air, water and soil pollution – the effects of climate change are global and can be catastrophic. Unless drastic action is taken, and as soon as possible, the UN considers that adapting to these influences will be increasingly difficult and costly in the future.

The implementation of well-designed, relevant, effective and efficient climate action can no longer be delayed. As never before, it is especially important now to stand side by side with each other and, taking interdependence as an advantage, to selflessly invest ourselves to be sure that we will achieve the set goals and respond to the growing uncertainty about the drastic reduction in quality of human life – both in developed and underdeveloped countries. Besides the existing ones, additional resources are needed, but it seems equally important that a clearly defined and expressed political will and a great understanding of the economic, technical and socio-cultural aspects of the challenges we face are needed. The Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, which is harmonized and includes the main references of the European Green Agreement, is a new and provocative comprehensive framework for thinking and acting – not only for governments, but also for the business community and civil society in the Western Balkans.

In addition to pointing out that action needs to be taken immediately, the document reminds us of the need for sustainable decision-making, which is essentially based on an inter-sectoral integrated approach, which should ultimately guarantee economic growth, improving the lives of the citizens of the region, but also the integration of the region in the EU. Recommendations for increasing awareness and participation of stakeholders in the creation of measures and policies, opens countless opportunities for redefining public awareness and sustainable decision-making, at central and local level, whose solutions meet the needs of stakeholders. In addition to citizen participation, advocating for a fair transition is crucial for us, ensuring that even the most marginalized and socially vulnerable groups of citizens have the necessary support and understanding to ensure that no one lags behind the dominant development trends and no one is excluded from them.

Climate action is one of the three priorities of the Foundations Open Society (i.e., the so-called 3-C priorities – Climate Action, Covid 19, Corruption) for the next period.

In the coming period, the work of the Open Society Foundations will focus on mitigating the effects of climate change and climate action adaptation, with a special focus on civic participation in defining and implementing relevant policies, but also on ensuring the protection of the rights and interests of the poorest and most marginalized populations. Consequence mitigation, as well as climate change adaptation, requires a systemic and structural transformation that rejects previous models that have benefited only a small number of individuals, corporations, and countries. That transformation should create new economic opportunities, which will be distributed in a fairer and more sustainable way.

The Foundation Open Society – Macedonia in the coming period will deal even more intensively with this key issue. To this end, we have launched a new work portfolio (GREEN LEAP – Climate Action Partnership), whose strategic goal is to empower civil society actors to take on and maintain a leadership role in shaping climate action policy solutions and sustainable development. Activities will include: 1) grants to civil society actors for monitoring and advocacy activities; 2) strengthening the existing and new actors in the civil society, including the members of the socially excluded and marginalized communities; 3) mapping existing gaps in policies and legislation, and 4) conducting public education campaigns and creative activism to challenge dominant narratives and motivate the public to participate and be more interested in climate action. We expect our efforts to significantly contribute to the revitalization of this field, which is currently characterized by an insufficient number of well-informed and adequately prepared CSOs that can respond to the many serious tasks arising from the complexity of content and approaches to sustainable and effective policies in this sphere. We expect to strengthen the civic platform for accelerated climate action, so that the civil society sector can profile itself as a serious partner of the authorities in defining appropriate sustainable policies.

For some time from the beginning of this strategic cycle, we will continue to direct our work in three municipalities (Tetovo, Bitola and Štip), which act as industrial, economic and socio-cultural centers in the Republic of North Macedonia. By trying different approaches, we explore and support the strengths of these communities, as a basis for accelerated and more effective contribution to local development and the advancement of local democracy.

In the joint efforts we make with our local partners, we will need thematic and financial assistance to continue our search for innovative and sustainable approaches and small business models that will be beneficial – but not only financially – to members of the socially disadvantaged communities, and which will make a significant and substantial contribution to more efficient use and management of waste, cleaner air and water, pollution reduction and socio-economic progress at the local level. We want to show that by making economic progress, involving communities in activities, and advocating and campaigning for sustainable solutions for cleaner air, water and soil, we will make a significant contribution to sustainable climate action and a better future.



EU environmental policy aims to promote sustainable development and protect the environment for present and future generations.

According to the new EU Accession Methodology, Chapter 27 (Environment and Climate Change), as well as three other chapters, is in the fourth cluster “Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity”.

Leaving aside the first cluster (Fundamentals), i.e. Chapters 23 and 24, Chapter 27 is the most extensive chapter and, definitely, the chapter that requires the most finance and investment.

Chapter 27 contains more than 200 legal acts that cover horizontal legislation, water and air quality, waste management, nature protection, industrial pollution control, etc. The fact that the regulations owed to us by the EU, which are related to the environment, represent at least one third of all EU regulations speaks volumes about the volume of the chapter.

Regarding the amount of investments needed to ensure EU compliance for this chapter, I will mention only as an example that, according to the plan, the Skopje Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is currently under construction, should cost around 136 million euros, while the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Prilep cost just over 9.5 million euros. EU water management rules and standards require that every settlement with more than 20,000 inhabitants should have a treatment plant.

The volume of regulations and the amount of investment only further confirm the importance of involving all stakeholders in policy-making on these important topics. The sectoral approach dictated by the EU, as well as the sectoral working groups, are a great chance for that, of course if used properly.



The sectoral approach is a coordinated planning, implementation and monitoring of policies in a particular sector, by clearly setting the priorities, goals, indicators and responsibilities for funding. The IPA II sectoral approach is a prerequisite for the allocation of funds and a significant driver of change. The efficiency of the sectoral approach is one of the key criteria for assessing the readiness of the country to receive EU funds.

Hence, sectoral working groups play a very important role, because – as you already know – they are widely set up inter-ministerial forums for reviewing, creating and monitoring policies related to the European Union (EU) accession process, the implementation of which is supported through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).



I would like to point out a few things that I think can significantly improve the work of this very important sectoral working group.

First, from the conducted monitoring of the situation, it can be concluded that there is no unified way of organizing and regulating the membership and participation of civil society in all sectoral working groups, including the SWG for environment and climate action. An additional problem for this sector group, which was established in 2015, is the fact that it has not yet adopted rules of procedure, nor a solution for work.

Therefore, our commitment in the future, in cooperation with the Secretariat for European Affairs, will be to review the model for electing representatives of civil society organizations in all sectoral working groups, by changing / adopting rules of procedure. We will also strive to establish an obligation for two-way communication between the participants from CSOs in SWG with end users or other civil society organizations on issues directly related to their participation in SWG.

Second, as a formal mechanism for cooperation between civil society and institutions, it is necessary for the sectoral working groups to have annual work plans, in order to be able to anticipate the dynamics, documents and expectations from the work of this group.

Finally, or thirdly, an additional condition for structural participation of CSOs in the operation of the SWG is the availability of information, i.e. compliance with the principle of transparency on which the operation of the SWG is based. In that regard, it is necessary to post news, documents, decisions and minutes from the meetings of the sector working group on the website of the line ministry, as a way to inform all stakeholders.


The Sector Consultation on Environment and Climate Change is part of the activities implemented within the project “Dialogue with CSOs – a platform for structural participation in EU integration”, implemented by the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia, in partnership with the Center for Civil Communications, Reactor-Research in Action and Eurothink, funded by the European Union. The collaborator of this project is the Secretariat for European Affairs.


5 March 2021