Environmentally sustainable development
Albania is rich in biological diversity and natural resources. However, overexploitation and poor management have had significant negative effects on the diversity and abundance of biological wealth.
Due to recent rapid growth, solid waste management, as well as water and air quality have become pressing issues. Deforestation and land degradation also need to be addressed. Protected land has increased significantly in recent years – from 3.6 percent of the country’s surface area in 2002 to 8.3 percent in 2005. Nevertheless, the size of protected areas remains insufficient to ensure effective conservation of the country’s biological diversity.
Progress has been made with environmental management, and the legal framework in Albania regarding environmental issues is already quite comprehensive. However, increased legal, institutional, human capacities and funding are necessary to meet the levels appropriate for EU integration – a major national priority.
UN support has gone towards supporting the use of renewable energy sources, biodiversity protection, and streamlining commitments to international environmental conventions – specifically those related to Biodiversity, Land Degradation and Climate Change. The UN has also been supporting environmental governance for ozone layer protection, persistent organic pollutants and the promotion of nature-based tourism. Several environmental studies have been carried out since 1992, and have contributed to the availability of environmental information in Albania.
The UN has been supporting the Climate Change Unit within the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Water Administration since 1998. In addition to the technical and financial support given to government counterparts, the UN supports a number of non-governmental- and community-based organizations working in the area of the environment.
Albania’s One UN Programme not only ensures coordination between UN Agencies working in the area of the environment, but the Programme is an opportunity for the United Nations to further respond to national priorities. National environmental priorities come out of a growing awareness of the importance of environmental sustainability, requirements for EU accession as well as regional and international environmental commitments.
Under the One UN Programme, sustainable development will be incorporated in the policies and strategies of sectors such as energy, agriculture, tourism, forestry and industry, observing the commitments of the Albanian Government within the EU accession process.
Civil society involvement in environmental protection will be increased, as will awareness of environmental issues through media training, and environmental curriculum in schools.
The One UN Programme includes supporting the Government to develop an affordable waste management system in compliance with EU legislation. The UN will also support environmentally friendly urban planning that addresses air pollution, water supply, sanitation, and lack of green spaces, with an emphasis on environmental legislation.
Support is also going towards the cleaning up of environmental “hotspots” from industrial pollution. The UN is working with international partners to clean up “hotspots” in the region. Currently one hotspot is being rehabilitated in Shkodra.
Incentives will help reduce pollution, and will promote investment in clean technologies and efficient use of natural resources. This will be complemented by the setting up of an ‘environmental fund’.
Support will go to the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Water Administration to designate more protected areas for nature protection, biodiversity conservation and nature-based tourism.
Support will be given to energy sector investment based on Climate Change risks and on the analysis of potential alternative energy sources. The UN system is promoting investments in local Carbon Financing opportunities, and is supporting the Government to implement the National Environmental Strategy.
UN support will go towards strengthening mechanisms and capacities for improved and more coordinated environmental management.