‘Selling a house on a landslide. Low mileage.’ From what I have been told and witnessed, a sense of humour is an inherent part of life and a coping strategy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yet this old joke is no longer funny when you consider the losses that communities around the country experienced only a few years ago. Instead, this has become a warning sign for a future influenced strongly by climate change.

We are now way beyond the discussion on whether climate change is real or not and it is increasingly clear that no country or community is safe from disasters caused by climate change. This is why the countries of the world are meeting today in what is the biggest global coalition for immediate action on climate change.

Last week, ahead of the Climate Summit, UNDP and UNFCCC launched a new report: The Heat Is On: Taking Stock of Global Climate Ambition. It is a litmus test for the success of climate action and shows how many countries intend to increase their ambition and how many are still thinking about it. This report is one part of UNDP’s climate promise, which is a multi-part campaign focused around ambition, acceleration and mobilisation. As part of the campaign, UNDP announced its support for 100 countries to accelerate and enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) by 2020. It builds on our climate portfolio in over 140 countries and UNDP will allocate US $25 million to this end. UNDP also pledged to cut its own emissions in half by 2030.

Mrs. Steliana Nedera, UNDP Resident Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina

How is Bosnia and Herzegovina addressing the climate challenge?

Back in 2013, Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted the Climate Change Adaptation and Low Emission Development Strategy and ratified the Paris Agreement in March 2017. Yet the country has yet to begin implementing the Paris Agreement in a systematic manner.

The country is also committed under the Energy Community Treaty to achieving a target of 40 per cent renewable energy in its energy mix by 2020. However, the reform of the renewable energy framework regarding net metering and development of incentive mechanisms has yet to be conducted. It is crucial that both entities and the state authorities find a compromise solution under the Energy Community rules in order to implement the provisions of the Third Energy Package throughout the country.

The most valuable progress related to CO2 emissions reduction has been achieved in the public buildings sector by actors such as MoFTER, entity’s environmental funds and spatial planning ministries as well as some cantonal Ministries - by growing implementation of the energy efficiency infrastructure measures from just a few public sector buildings annually in 2014 and 2015 to retrofitting at least 50 public sector buildings a year for the past three years and with the ambition to continue achieving the same or a greater number. This has been made possible thanks to grant support provided by the Swedish SIDA and IFI financing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. An investment of more than BAM 30 million created annual savings in local budgets of approximately BAM 4 million. A second project funded by the Green Climate Fund will cover retrofitting of another 430 public buildings; the total investment will be USD 122.5 million with co-financing. The outcome of these two projects will reduce CO2 emissions total for public sector buildings by approximately 8 per cent.

Yet Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to struggle to cope with the big polluters, such as heavy industry, thermal power plans and individual polluters (residential housing sector) which rely on coal.

Speaking about adaptation to climate change, the greatest progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina is achieved at the municipal level. Thanks to actions on flood prevention and response in flood-affected areas, 28 municipalities have already significantly improved their protection against floods.

Several projects UNDP implements directly support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s preparation for the Energy Climate Plan 2020–2030. In practical terms this means increased energy efficiency, greater usage of renewable energy and improvement of the energy and transport infrastructure and services. The intention is to lead to international investment, job creation and the growth of business in a resource efficient economy.

We are together on the right path and yet greater ambition and more acceleration are required and now. Bosnia and Herzegovina can play a significant role in global climate action in a number of ways:

Further scale up implementation of measures aimed at improving the energy efficiency infrastructure in public sector buildings and the introduction of energy efficiency financial support schemes for the residential sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • Enforce the concept of low carbon urban development in cities across the country.
  • Increase the use of public transportation in urban areas and develop a national e-transportation strategy.
  • Increase the utilisation of renewable energy in district heating systems across the country.
  • Introduce a carbon tax for heavy polluting industries.
  • Continue to increase the country’s ability to prevent and respond to climate disasters.

Does this seem overly complex and unachievable?

It is not. First, we are aware of what needs to be done and have started the journey together. Second, with the numerous agenda and goals being discussed climate change is not ‘just another one’. Climate change is the defining issue of our time, because it is the one that transcends and connects all others. Third, acting today to save the future begins with change lead by everyone ranging from a child in a kindergarten to a governmental official.

There is no more time for bad jokes and discussing the obvious.

It is time to act and we must ACT NOW if we are to respond to the immediate and imminent impact of climate change in order to safeguard lives, food and water security and to sustain resilient livelihoods.


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