How will the Western Balkans shape its environmental future?

News Published 12 May 2010 Last modified 21 Jun 2016
2 min read
Economic development in the Western Balkan countries is putting additional strains on the environment, affecting primarily resource use, waste and biodiversity. A new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) provides a detailed analysis of the environmental pressures and forces at play and urges policy-makers to take action towards sustainable development.

The EEA report "Environmental trends and perspectives in the Western Balkans: future production and consumption patterns" asserts that the outcomes of current trends are not inevitable and implementing appropriate policies could minimise their adverse effects on the environment. To shape a sustainable environmental future, all the actors in the region need to cooperate with each other and with the neighbouring countries to tackle key challenges such as pollution and health issues, climate change impacts and ecosystem threats. Today’s choices will influence not only the region’s environment in the coming decades, but also that of other European countries. 

Consumption and production trends and impacts  

  • New consumption patterns and growth of consumerism, facilitated by new supermarkets and processed food products, are spreading quickly and will increase environmental impacts related to food.
  • Passenger and freight transport grew by 40 % and 100 % respectively in the period 2000 - 2007, in the case of freight transport far faster than GDP. The volume of air travel tripled in the same period. These trends affect air pollution, especially in urban areas, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Many private motor vehicles in the region are old and highly polluting, which increases pollution problems.
  • Urban areas have sprawled; so has construction for tourism along the coastlines. This is one of the main threats to the region’s rich biodiversity.
  • The generation of municipal waste has risen steadily in recent years. It is currently estimated to be at levels similar to those in the EU-12. Municipal waste management is weak in many parts of the region and many waste facilities are old. Abandoned landfills, accumulated industrial waste and mining waste, are also a serious problem in some areas.
  • Agricultural land abandonment has biodiversity impacts. At the same time, agricultural production and fertiliser use are increasing; indicating that farming in the region has become more intensive.


The Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) are all EEA cooperating countries.  

Report annexes



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