Legacies of the past – opportunities for a sustainable future

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News Published 30 Apr 2008 Last modified 21 Jun 2016
3 min read
Breaking the link between economic growth and its environmental impacts is one of the key challenges facing economies in South East Europe (SEE), Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA), says a new report.

'Sustainable consumption and production in South East Europe and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia’, released today in Belgrade, Serbia was jointly prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). The report was launched at the Sixth Ministerial Conference 'Environment for Europe' taking place in Belgrade.

'The economic restructuring in these regions offers a unique opportunity to 'leapfrog' towards more sustainable production patterns and also to guide consumption patterns towards sustainability before consumption reaches the levels observed in Western Europe' said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA.

The report provides detailed analysis in selected economic sectors: industry, food, building, transport and waste. The analysis is illustrated with examples of implementation of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) initiatives at the local level, through 18 city studies commissioned specifically for this report.

Many SEE and EECCA countries face similar problems and there is huge potential to share knowledge and experiences and work towards a common path to sustainability. Cities have acted as potential catalysts for change as shown by a large number of local sustainability initiatives. These need support from national policy, if they are to spread throughout the region.

Elements left-over from the past have the potential to support more sustainable production and consumption patterns in some of the countries studied. These include:

  • widespread existence of district heating systems, railway infrastructure, and operational reuse and recycling systems;
  • tradition of using public transport, low car ownership and extensive collective transport networks;
  • various business opportunities exist for more sustainable practices, such as organic farming or improvement of energy efficiency of buildings.

However, rapid economic growth since the beginning of the decade presents potential environmental challenges as consumption and production increase, the report says.

'Policy effort should not only focus on the technical 'fix'. Experience from western countries shows that technological improvements and efficiency gains are not sufficient on their own. They must be supported by measures, both economic and information based, aimed at influencing consumer behaviour. Without this, technological and efficiency gains risk being undermined by the ‘rebound effect’ where increased consumption resulting from reduced prices cancels out technological gains,' Professor McGlade said.

Notes on the report

View the full report here: Sustainable consumption and production in South East Europe and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

About the report


The report's geographical coverage extends to the following regions and countries:

South East Europe (SEE), Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA)

  • South East Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia
  • Eastern Europe: Belarus, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Ukraine
  • Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
  • Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Note: due to data collection practices prior to 2006, data is available for Serbia and Montenegro jointly. Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the European Union in January 2007, are used throughout the text as reference points for comparison. Comparisons are also made with other countries of the European Union, or with the EU as a whole.


The objective of the report is to identify opportunities and barriers to sustainable consumption and production (SCP) success, and to discover lessons learned and experience which could replicated throughout the region.


The report provides detailed information and analysis of SCP initiatives in selected economic sectors — industry, food, building, transport and waste — and identifies prospects for achieving greater sustainability. The region-wide and country-level analysis based on available statistical data is illustrated with examples of implementation of SCP initiatives on a local level.

Contact information

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Brendan Killeen
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Phone: +45 3336 7269
Mobile: +45 2368 3671

Marion Hannerup
Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs

Phone: +45 3336 7160
Mobile: +45 5133 2243

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