2023 can be a year of action for energy transition in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Swedish EU Presidency, the EU Delegation/EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina held today a Conference entitled “Action for energy transition in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, in the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Conference was hosted by the Green Club, which is a cross-party club of parliamentarians in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Saša Magazinović, Chair of the Green Club and Member of the House of Representatives of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly stated:  ”It is my pleasure to welcome you all as the host of today’s conference on behalf of the Green Club, which consists of representatives from parliaments at all levels of government, who are members of different parties, gathered around the topics of energy efficiency, ecology and energy. Our work is based on the principle that, while respecting all differences, above all political, we believe that there are topics on which we can successfully cooperate on and set a good example that political engagement does not have to and should not be based exclusively on conflicts and misunderstanding. I call on all decision makers and key political leaders not to close their eyes to such important topics that have been unjustifiably pushed aside. We at the Green Club look forward to being partners with all of you, to face reality together and make smart and sustainable moves today so that in 27 years we can say: we succeeded, we did our part and helped Europe become carbon neutral continent.”

The participants were MPs, relevant authorities, experts from the public and private sector, as well as international representatives and civil society organizations, who discussed how 2023 can be a year of action for accelerating the energy transition in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Staša Košarac, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina thanked the organizers for this important event and topic, stressing that difficulties and disturbances in the energy market can be answered with a multi-sector and comprehensive approach and stated: “Decarbonization of the energy sector is imperative for us, because only in this way we can ensure the stability and security of the system, along with the transition to clean, renewable energy sources. This is not only our obligation based on the Energy Community Treaty, the Paris Agreement and the Sofia Declaration, but also a huge development opportunity, because energy is one of the most important economic sectors in Republika Srpska and Federation of BiH. In this regard, the process of decarbonization needs to be detailly planned and systematically implemented, which the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH is actively working on, in close cooperation with the entity ministries of energy and environmental protection, in order to develop a modern, competitive and climate-sustainable energy system.”

In January 2023, Sweden took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. At today’s conference, Johanna Strömquist, Ambassador of Sweden to Bosnia and Herzegovina presented one of the four main goals of the Presidency “Prosperity – Green and Energy Transition”. She also talked about Sweden’s longstanding efforts in the in the fight against climate change; in Sweden, as well as globally – including in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where Sweden is among the largest bilateral donors and have made substantial investments in energy efficiency: “I am particularly proud and happy that the methods and mechanisms developed during years of implementation of energy efficiency projects financed by Sweden has paved the way for acceleration and scale up of energy transition in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with EU funds and in line with the goals of the Swedish EU Presidency and of the EU Green Agenda for the Western Balkans”.

The EU has made significant resources available for Bosnia and Herzegovina to speed up and scale up action towards a green energy future in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including through the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, which makes 9 billion euro in grants available for the region. Moreover, to support citizens in the Western Balkans cope with rising prices as a result of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced during her recent visit to the region an EU Energy Support Package for the Western Balkans worth 1 billion euro. First half of it is allocated as immediate support worth 500 million euro, of which 70 million is allocated for Bosnia and Herzegovina to support vulnerable families as well as encourage energy transition.

Johann Sattler, Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina called on newly formed authorities to make full use of the available resources for energy transition, and underlined that change is achievable: “With Bosnia and Herzegovina taking an important step forward towards EU membership by becoming a candidate country, it will need to fully align with the EU’s climate and energy agenda as it advances on the EU path. The good news is that change is absolutely achievable. This country has natural resources that could make it a renewable energy powerhouse in the Western Balkans. There is no good reason not to embrace a cleaner future. The EU and its member states will provide support every step of the way”.

Energy efficiency as an essential component of energy transition in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a topic of the panel discussion organized within the Conference, with the participation of Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency of Republika Srpska and Fund of Environmental Protection of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During this discussion, representatives of the beneficiaries of Swedish and EU-funded projects shared their experiences on the advantages of the energy efficiency measures as well as representatives of municipalities/cities from BiH where these measures were implemented.

Progress achieved through successful models tested in different parts of the country within the projects financed by Sweden and implemented by UNDP were presented in concluding remarks of Steliana Nedera, UNDP Resident Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. UNDP has sustainable energy at the heart of its mission worldwide and in Bosnia and Herzegovina it constitutes a large part of our portfolio of work. We are a long-term partner of Sweden in climate action work in BIH, but also work with Japan and Slovakia, as well as support global funds such as GCF and GEF. Through these partnerships, we supported models of energy efficiency in public, private and residential sectors that are ready to be scaled up. Today, we call on all partners to use the strong EU support coming through the Energy Package, as well as financing from other development banks and IFIs to accelerate and scale up energy efficiency measures and use of renewable sources of energy – and make 2023 a year of action and a year of results,” Nedera concluded.