EDITORIAL – Building macro-regional partnerships is essential for implementing green transitions in the Western Balkans 

GreenFORCE project aims to foster the development of macro-regional governance partnerships for green transitions in the Western Balkans. Building transnational collaboration networks is essential for the implementation of joint initiatives, such as the Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. Enhancing cross-border regional cooperation is also a one of the goals of the Berlin Process designed to support the regional collaboration while supporting the accession of the candidate states into the EU’s multi-level governance processes, including participation in EU macro-regional strategies. 

European macro-regional strategies promote cooperation between European countries to help find joint solutions to common economic, social, and environmental challenges that transcend national borders and require a transnational response. On a practical level, this is achieved by 1) identifying policy areas and opportunities where cooperation is of mutual interest; 2) developing joint policy initiatives; 3) pooling financial resources; 4) building stakeholder collaborative networks; and 5) building capacities of institutional actors and other stakeholders by sharing experience, knowledge, and policy best practices. The overall aim of EU Macro-Regional Strategies is to increase integration and territorial cohesion between countries through strong multi-level governance partnerships. 

The Macro-regional strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region facilitates the participation of five Western Balkan candidate countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and North Macedonia). The strategy is committed to implementing the European Green Deal (EGD) and provides support for implementing other green transition initiatives, such as the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. West Balkan countries are, therefore, already immersed in EU level macro-regional collaboration activities, but there is a need to develop targeted macro-regional governance partnerships for green transitions in the Western Balkans.   

The GreenFORCE project contributes to this process by 1) identifying existing institutional policy arenas, sectoral groups, and other key stakeholders that can work together in the preparation of transnational green transition policies; and 2) by building knowledge through shared experience and best practices from other macro-regions. For example, the Nordic and Baltic Sea Regions have been frontrunners in transnational collaboration activities promoting cross-border labour markets, trade, innovation, transport connections, energy markets, and environmental protection (Read about partners’ participation in the Nordregio Forum in Iceland here). As an outcome of this work, GreenFORCE partners will develop a roadmap outlining pathways towards the development of a macro-regional partnership for green transition in the Western Balkans.  

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