Environment and Climate Change

(Text from the Programme of Cooperation 2017-2021)

Government and non-government actors adopt and implement innovative, gender-sensitive national and local actions for environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and disaster risk reduction.

Overview

Albania is State Party to all the three Rio Conventions, on climate change, desertification and biodiversity. In addition, Albania is a party to the following Environmental Conventions: Convention of Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a transboundary context, Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents and Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. The protection of Albania’s environment has not kept pace with its economic growth. The increased demand for natural resources and uncontrolled exploitation has caused significant damage to the environment.

Some 36% of the territory of Albania is forested, providing significant livelihood resources. The decline in forest area is due to clearance for agriculture, overgrazing, and woodcutting for fuel and building. More than 60% of forest and pasture lands are under municipal or commune management. This provides local incentives to improve the management and protection of forest, land and water resources. An important challenge is to recognise and strengthen the role of women in forestry value chains and non-timber forest products (NTFP), as well as women’s representation in the regional and local boards of communal forests and pastures.

Albania has doubled its protected areas over the last 10 years. Ongoing challenges include: lack of financial resources, low management capacity of LGUs and legal enforcement, shortage of qualified scientific staff and lack of data and trend analysis about protected species, poor community involvement in protection, and lack of trust in local administration. Weak law enforcement reflects broader governance and rule of law concerns.

Over 90% of energy production is from hydropower, while agriculture is critically dependent on irrigation. Irrigation, energy production, and industrial activities place serious strains on the country’s water resources. Most electricity generated in Albania has been produced by hydropower, although increased demand has led to regular power shortages. Irregular supply and outages blights the living conditions of low income families who lack physical and economic access to modern energy services.  The Government is committed to diversify its energy supply and promote other forms of renewable energy – such as solar energy and biomass energy.

The national MDG target of 98 per cent of people with access to safe drinking water by 2015 was not reached. This is despite the increase in access to safe drinking water from 69 to 82% between 2002 and 2009. The pollution of water resources and the marine environment is a serious problem, mainly due to insufficient wastewater collection and treatment, leaking sewers and waste dumps. Sanitation is a persistent problem in the country with about one half of the urban population having a sewer connection. In rural areas, only a small proportion of the areas with piped water supply is equipped with sewer networks. The risks and costs of water pollution on health and nutrition are not addressed, nor factored into disaster preparedness planning. Municipal waste management has become another major source of pollution due to poor planning and budgeting, inadequate taxation for waste management services at local level, no attempt to implement the national waste strategy, illegal dumpsites, and a very low level of recycling. Industrial pollution is concentrated in 35 hotspots where copper, chromium, iron-nickel and oil industries have produced several million tons of industrial waste. Remediation costs for 14 hotspots are estimated at 112 million Euros.

Albania is one of the most vulnerable countries in the region to a changing climate and it is estimated that summer rainfalls will decline by about 10% by 2020 and 20% by 2050. Energy production and agriculture will be acutely impacted with an estimated loss of 60% of power generation capacity. The rural poor, in particular poor women and older, poor women and men, will be disproportionately affected because of their greater dependence on agriculture, their relatively lower ability to adapt, and the high share of income they spend on food. Currently Albania is a low emitter of greenhouse gases with 2.76 tons CO2 per capita compared to EU 9.9 tons per capita but they are projected to increase in the coming years, mainly from transport followed by agriculture and waste sector.

Albania ranks as one of the countries with the highest economic risk in the world from multiple hazards, with 86% of its territory prone to two or more disasters. Impacts fall disproportionately on vulnerable women and children. Legislative gaps remain and Albania does not yet have a comprehensive and countrywide disaster risk management strategy. Organisational and technical capacities at national and LGU levels to anticipate and manage for disaster risks, and to respond effectively to emergencies are extremely low. The floods in 2010 and 2015 showed that Albania’s national disaster preparedness is reactive rather than preventive and that investments are needed to develop and implement national and local measures to adapt to changing climate conditions and reduce risks from future disasters.

Strategies:

In line with the cross-sectoral linkages in SDGs, the overall programme strategy will build institutional capacity, data, and knowledge to integrate environment and climate considerations more fully into the national regulatory framework, and to develop new capacities and systems for implementation and compliance monitoring across major sectors. These changes will also support the GoA to align national laws, policies, and regulations with the requirements of the EU Acquis. Specific efforts will:

  • Support the implementation of environment policies and strengthen the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, with a specific focus on the poor and (female) farmers;
  • Support the development of LGU capacities for environmental protection planning and budgeting;
  • Support the improvement of the management of protected areas and biosphere reserves;
  • Assist in the formulation of action plans regarding land degradation and deforestation;
  • Scale-up action on DRR and climate change mitigation and adaptation across sectors and support the development of a national disaster risk reduction strategy and local disaster early warning systems, that adheres to international and Hyogo Framework standards , with particular attention being paid to vulnerable groups living in areas affected by climate change;
  • Support LGUs to prepare high quality, costed DRR plans, including for world heritage sites, and including rural areas;
  • Support LGUs, school administrations, civil society organizations, youth and children in promoting environmental education and developing initiatives aimed at natural resources preservation;
  • Promote innovative technologies for renewable energy;
  • Enhance local capacities for sustainable forest management, taking into consideration the needs of poor households regarding bio-fuels;
  • Promote integration of health and environmental considerations into transport policies - particularly when it comes to city dwellers suffering from air pollution-  including strengthening national capacity in road safety management;
  • Support ministries and departments to incorporate sustainability and low emission measures into sector policies, strategies, and regulations;
  • Support the GoA to fulfil its international reporting commitments to Multilateral and Regional Environmental Treaties, including transboundary water management in the Drin river basin.

Efforts will be made to mainstream environmental considerations into other areas of the PoCSD as follows:

Outcome 1: Support for enforcement of environmental legislation

Outcome 2: Inclusion of education on environment and sustainable development

Outcome 3: Measures to safeguarding natural & cultural heritage, such as Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and the inclusion of environmental sustainability and climate resilience in agricultural policies.

Vulnerable groups:

This outcome will respond to: Poor population; Farmers; Women; Communities, elderly that live in areas affected by climate change and environmental degradation; City dwellers; Children.

For more information, please see Joint Work Plan 2047-2018 - Outcome 4 Enviornment and Climate Change.