Capacity Building on Circular Economy in the Western Balkan Countries

According to the Circular Economy Gap Report, in 2023 only 7.2% of the global economy operated according to circular economy principles. Implementing a global circular economy would allow consumer needs to be met using only 70% of today’s material consumption (Circle Economy, 2023). This would generate positive impacts ranging from reducing the environmental and social pressures from raw material extraction, production processes, and end-of-life products to establishing sufficiency policies and providing cleaner products with less impact on human health.

As European Union aspiring candidates or accession candidates, the Western Balkan countries need to ensure that their circular economy policies and strategies are in line with Europe Circular Economy Action Plan. Furthermore, the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans also identifies circular economy as one of the five pillars that are crucial for achieving net zero by 2050 (European Commission, 2023). Strengthening the capacity of the Western Balkan countries to implement circular economy concepts and practices that go beyond waste management is therefore the central objective of the project Capacity Building on Circular Economy in the Western Balkans – CE/WB.

Specifically, the project will interact with six Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – and address  their needs in terms of circular economy expertise, insights, and practical examples. Accordingly, a capacity building programme will be designed and implemented in order to foster a deeper understanding of the topic and to facilitate the next steps towards the implementation on a national level.

In collaboration with VITO, the CSCP will first identify the needs of the target countries in order to define the focus and the format of the capacity building programme. The programme will be designed to address the identified needs, involve external experts, and actively engage country experts in defining  possible  future national follow-up activities and actions. Ultimately, the programme aims to build ownership and commitment among key experts and policy makers in the participating countries to promote and adopt circular economy principles. The goal of the CE/WB project is to support Western Balkan countries in establishing coherent and aligned circular economy practices in line with broader EU policy roadmaps and action strategies.

The project is funded by the European Environment Agency (EEA) under the framework of the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) Programme. It has started in May 2023 and will conclude in October 2024.