Water and air pollution, land degradation/soil erosion, biodiversity losses and waste management are Albania’s key environmental challenges.
Rapid urbanization and increasing demand for natural resources has led to increasing depletion and degradation. Disaster risks and climate variability and change pose other threats to Albania making the country more vulnerable to climate change.
Currently Albania is a low emitter of greenhouse gases, but they are projected to increase in the coming years (mainly from transport followed by agriculture and waste sector). Albania has significant potential for clean and renewable energy and transport.
The challenge is to achieve a balance between the use of natural resources for jobs and industry, with environmental protection. Environmental policies required as part of European Union accession are helping to integrate sustainable development principles across all sectors.
Albania is working hard to develop legal and institutional framework in the area of environment, renewables and energy efficiency, but still needs to implement them fully, devote more resources through broader environmental fiscal reform that will support green investment schemes and reform environmentally harmful subsidies.
UNDP supported Albania with its First, Second and the Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and the Fourth National Communication together with the First Biennial Update Report are underway. Preparing the National Communications has helped the country to integrate issues related to climate change into national planning. Furthermore Albania has submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to UNFCCC as part of the country commitment towards convention and in line with EU climate and energy framework.
The private and public sector in Albania has gained experience accessing the global carbon market, and is able to identify, implement and mobilize resources for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are eligible for the Clean Development Mechanism.
Albania prepared a national action plan for renewable energy (2009 - 2020) which includes a target of 38 percent of renewable energy by 2020 fulfilling EU energy community obligations; and is growing a market for solar (panel) water heating systems.
Regional and local authorities in communes of Shengjin, Fushe Kuqe and Shenkoll included climate change adaptation measures in their development plans and priority measures are part of Lezha Regional Development Concept 2010-2015. Local authorities rehabilitated 4,500 square meters of degraded sand dunes in both sides of Gryka e Matkeqes-Vain (protected area) on the Adriatic coast critical for buffering the vulnerable coast from sea surges and long term rising sea levels.
As a result of UNDP interventions, the first marine protected area was established in Albania (Karaburun - Sazani) in 2010 and Narta ecosystem has been declared a Sea-Landscape Protected Area in 2005. Narta, Llogora, Orikumi and the Vjosa River outlet are supported with management plans and some priority measures are implemented. Karaburuni –Sazani management and business plans are in process.
Albania, together with partners in Montenegro, fYR Macedonia and Kosovo is joining forces for the joint management of the shared water resources of the extended transboundary Drin River Basin, including coordination mechanisms among the various sub-basin commissions and committees (Lakes Prespa, Ohrid and Skadar). The initiative is aiming at (i) building consensus among countries on key transboundary concerns and drivers of change, including climate variability and change, reached through joint fact finding; (ii) facilitating the agreement on a shared vision and on a program of priority actions deemed necessary to achieve the vision; (iii) strengthening technical and institutional capacities.
UNDP Albania is supporting establishment of an operational environmental information management and monitoring system address the need for an environmental monitoring system that is integrated throughout relevant government institutions and that uses international monitoring standards for indicator development, data collection, analysis, and policy-making.
UNDP and the Global Environment Facility funded over 300 small grants (1.6 million euros leveraging an additional 735,000 Euro in co-financing) to local community projects that protect the environment.
UNDP is supporting the Government of Albania’s efforts to accelerate a sustainable market development of renewable energy and energy efficiency in public buildings with good quality products and services by an i) enabling policy framework, ii) increased awareness and advocacy iii) available financing, iv) supply of reliable technology and services and v) replication. The Albanian Program fits in with the National Energy policy and the objective, which aims to develop an effective energy sector that guarantees the security of the energy supply in general, and of electricity in particular, and promotes an efficient and economic use of energy, with a minimal environmental impact, in order to support the sustainable development of the entirety of the economic sectors. In terms of Renewable Energy, Albania has committed to a binding 38% target of energy from RES in gross final energy consumption in 2020, starting with 31.2% in 2009.
Call to Action
To address environmental challenges in Albania, UNDP recommends:
• Implementing policies that address climate change and nature protection, which also provide opportunities for citizens to improve their livelihoods, health and wellbeing in line with EU requirements.
• Including principles of biodiversity protection throughout all relevant areas of social and economic development; and unlocking the potential of protected areas.
• Establish bottom-up, country led, national mechanisms to support low emission, climate resilient national development plans.