The Western Balkans have to make it circular | WeBalkans | EU Projects in the Western Balkans

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Young European Ambassadors share their dynamic initiatives, events, and ideas shaping the EU integration journey of the Western Balkans.


The Western Balkans have to make it circular

Author: Lazar Simić, a Young European Ambassador from Serbia

How often did you think you were making one big endless circle? For example, school/faculty – job – free time and then again and again? If that seems familiar to you, then you know what circularity is, but have you heard of the circular economy and its main principles?

My name is Lazar, and I am a Young European Ambassador from Serbia. I will do my best to share the most important insights from the World Circular Economy Forum 2024 and not get too bureaucratic as if the event took place in Brussels (it did!).

Wait, can you tell me more about what circular economy is first?

When we say economy, we usually mean linear economy. We take materials from nature, make some products, use them, and then throw them away as waste.

In the circular economy, due to our awareness that there is no planet B, we stop producing something that would end up as waste. Thus, we change the whole process.

Circularity means changing how we produce, consume, use and waste. Three “r” are to be learnt by heart: reduce, reuse and, of course, recycle.

And this gets better – the circular economy tackles climate change and biodiversity loss together while addressing many social needs, like new jobs.

Can bugs and larvae save us from garbage?

Marija Burgieva, YEA from North Macedonia, and I had an opportunity to listen to the world’s leading circularity thinkers, doers and leaders from Europe, Africa, and Asia, showcasing the most impactful green circular solutions.

Insect-based solutions like larvae eating styrofoam in Serbia, black soldier fly reducing organic waste in South Africa or using elegant grasshoppers as a natural insecticide in Lesotho, were to be heard at the event hosted by UNDP Serbia.

Sharing is caring, they say, and we could hear that this project based in Serbia is spreading to other WB6 partners – Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania. Marija was eager to make it even wider and include North Macedonia, which is why YEAs should be sent to all important events.

The magic wand and key discussions

European Union is all in it regarding the circular economy, but where is our region on that path? Right there, and we have got the proofs!

Marija and I, together with our counterparts from Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood programs, Oleksandra Verheles and Abdallah Emad, had an opportunity to have a conversation with Mr. Mathieu Bousquet, Director of DG NEAR A, about the circularity in the Western Balkans: what has been achieved and what can we expect soon for the further regional green development.

I even had a chance to be a bit sincere and silly and to answer Mr. Bousquet’s question about what I would do if I had a magic wand – of course, get the whole region to the EU immediately!

Deeds did come after a lot of speeches

On the Forum’s last day, two circularity roadmaps were signed, one for North Macedonia and the other for Albania. This meaningful ceremony showed the EU’s dedication to further developing the partnership with WB6 on such a crucial topic.

Empowering the Western Balkans to become more green and circular means making this part of the Balkans resilient and ready to go hand in hand with new economic and environmental trends needed to ensure a safe and healthy future.

Switching to the circular economy model is a task for everyone: you, me, all citizens, companies, politicians and everybody has to cooperate to succeed. Shall we try?

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