November 22, 2018 | Thursday
Remarks by Ambassador Apostolova at the meeting with mayors of Kosovo municipalities organized as part of the Environment campaign
Dear Mayors, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank all of you for being here on this special occasion. I am happy to be together with all of you, the representatives from different municipalities.
So, let us use this special opportunity and discuss the environment in Kosovo, and how to improve it.
Today, the EU is one of the world-wide frontrunners in the improvement of the environment. Over the years it has already invested hundreds of Millions to reach these improvements, also in Kosovo.
The EU has advanced environmental rules and laws in place, which are implemented and enforced. We invite you to think about the improvements you can make in this regard. Not only because the environment sector is one of the crucial sectors for the path of Kosovo towards the European Union, but mainly to improve the living standards of the people in Kosovo.
One of the main issues is that the people in Kosovo need to be aware of the environmental problems we currently have on earth, and in Kosovo. The environment challenges we face nowadays, are not only the problem of Kosovo. It is a Global Problem and needs to be addressed as such. We need an integrated and collective approach, where stakeholders take responsibility and ownership.
Let’s face it. Kosovo has a lot of steps to take to improve the environment. Kosovo is still facing significant challenges regarding air pollution, water pollution, energy efficiency, and waste management.
The current state of Waste management poses serious threats for the public health and environment. Kosovo still has much room for improvement, regarding the collection, separation, recycling, the treatment systems and the infrastructure of waste management.
The people from your municipalities are in their everyday life affected by these pollutions. The beautiful lakes and forests are polluted with waste; the school children do not have the opportunity to play outside because of the polluted air. Think about what effect an integrated approach throughout Kosovo will have on their life, the people and youth of Kosovo.
The EU has developed a strategy to step by step tackle the environmental challenges. With the concept to first reduce the production of waste, then reuse the products, and finally recycle the products, Kosovo can make significant improvements. Yet again, I invite you to think of solutions regarding these three elements.
Yet again, the EU is not in Kosovo to take over the responsibilities of the Kosovo institutions. You are the ones to take the responsibility to improve the environment in Kosovo. You are the ones to take ownership of the environmental problem and the lives of the Kosovo people.
Today Kosovo is more and more drafting environmental legislation. Next step is to implement them. Then, the next step will be to enforce them. Not only by the central government, but also, by the municipalities, together with the law enforcement. Enforce the rights that people have for a healthy life and a clean environment.
Include the Civil society in the process of environmental improvements. Together you can complement each other. Work together to find efficient solutions with positive impact on the quality of life in the communities.
Only then, the EU can effectively assist you in the challenges you face regarding the environment and waste management. Something the EU has already done over the past years. The EU has previously allocated 10 million EUR (IPA 2018) and has planned to invest another 10 mil EUR (IPA 2019) to support the waste management in Kosovo.
For the upcoming years, we are preparing more projects for the management of waste, in order to avoid the pollution of rivers, lakes and fields in Kosovo. This includes the construction of a new landfill in Peja, and the closure of many illegal dumpsites.
The EU funding will be used to support the municipalities in the improvement of waste collection, the disposal practices, and the improvement of the existing infrastructure as well.
Today’s practices in the EU member states to deal with waste offer many choices and models for the Government of Kosovo to choose and implement.
Start developing a circular economy, in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. The main idea is to use products in the most sustainable way possible. The people and government will take responsibility during the whole cycle of a product. The polluter pays.
Most importantly, the Kosovo citizens must be made aware that waste has a value and it should be dealt with as such. Point out the things they can do. It is also about the small changes in their life.
We can start separating their waste at home, which will create the opportunities for reuse and recycling of waste. For example, in the EU today over 50% of waste is recycled. Kosovo needs to get closer to this number.
The EU is in Kosovo to assist you to improve the environment and waste management.
But only with an integrated approach, our action can be effective. Only with the awareness among the citizens real changes can be made. Only with the commitment of you, the government of Kosovo, significant improvements will be made.
For that reason, I invite you to share your ideas to improve the environment and waste management in Kosovo.