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Challenges ahead for South-East Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia

A joint UNEP-EEA study of environmental issues in the countries of South-East Europe (SEE), Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia (EECCA) — now also available in Russian — shows that the region is facing many challenges in the wake of economic growth. The report identifies several opportunities to 'leapfrog' and avoid some of the environmental problems experienced in western Europe.

The report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Environment Agency (EEA) surveys the progress of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in the 18 transition countries of ex-Soviet Union and ex-Yugoslavia.

The study lists three areas where both transition countries and the EU could enhance cooperation: major environmental problems, positive and negative aspects of economic growth and opportunities and obstacles for sustainability. The findings of the report include many sensible — and at times quite ambitious — policies and political declarations that have been adopted. Yet the problem is a lack of concrete action and implementation.

There are, however, pockets of change often at the local level. 18 city studies covering 13 countries reveal local experience of implementing sustainable programmes and initiatives. This includes cleaner production, improved waste management, energy efficiency projects in buildings and district heating systems, use of cleaner vehicles and fuels, investments in public transport, and eco-technologies such as solar and geothermal power for buildings.

The UNEP/EEA report shows that there are many good reasons for both the EU and its neighbours to the east to become more actively involved in taking on the sustainability challenges of the transition economies.

About the report

The report provides detailed information and a review of SCP initiatives in key production-consumption areas — industry, food, buildings, transport, and waste. The following countries are covered: SEE: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia; and EECCA: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

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