Balkan region

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EXI activities in the Balkans: around EUR 2.7 million of funding for 17 projects in six years

The ‘Export Initiative Environmental Protection’ (EXI) promotes the use of German environmental technologies and know-how transfer, with a particular focus on emerging and developing countries. Since the formation of EXI in 2016, a wide range of projects has been funded in the Balkans, an area in south-eastern Europe that is typically considered to include ten countries, plus parts of Turkey and Romania. EXI’s engagement with the Balkans encompasses the following nine countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

The projects funded aim to support sustainable development in this region while promoting optimised environmental standards in the key focus sectors for EXI. An overview.

Projects in the Balkan region since the formation of EXI and their implementation

Projects in nine countries in the Balkans have received EXI funding.

Since 2016, the year in which EXI was formed, a total of 17 projects have been funded in the Balkan region, with a funding volume amounting to EUR 2.7 million. The projects were implemented in nine countries. During the overall funding period, the projects can be grouped by a total of three focus topics: the circular economy, water/waste water management and cross-sectional technologies.

The Export Initiative cooperates with international partners to implement its projects. In the Balkans, 5 of the 17 projects were implemented with the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs) represented there: AHK Bulgaria, AHK Croatia and AHK Croatia2, AHK Romania and AHK Romania2.

Focus countries and focus topics for the Balkan region, 2016–2023 

Focus countries

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, four projects
  • Albania and Romania, three projects each
  • Croatia, two projects
  • Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia, one project each

Focus topics

  • Circular economy, nine projects
  • Water and waste water management, five projects
  • Cross-sectional technologies, three projects
During the period 2016–2023, projects were implemented in three key EXI priority areas.

Current projects 2022–2023

During the 2022–2023 period, five projects have received a grant from the funding programme to date. The total budget for these projects in the Balkan region runs to more than EUR 1.5 million. The EcoTourism and GreenBuzau Projects addressed the topic of the circular economy, with WSSP and WSSP2 being devoted to water and waste water management, while IrnAK2.0 implemented a project in the topic area of cross-sectional technologies.

Projects in the topic area of the circular economy

EcoTourism – Regional development of tourist villages on the Adriatic coast with energy-efficient and sustainable supply/disposal (German-language only)

Rising tourist numbers in holiday destinations along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts are causing widespread pollution of marine waters, high energy consumption (and associated high levels of carbon emissions) as well as large volumes of waste. With the landscape and tourist industry characteristically involving small villages and hotels, the necessary refurbishments and measures to ensure an environmentally friendly and efficient management of the facilities and accommodation has been absent or inadequate to date. EcoTourism launches Phase II of the previous EXI project ‘Feasibility Study for the Promotion of Sustainable Tourism Along Albania’s Mediterranean Coast’ in the four countries of Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia. This project aims to develop transferable and country-specific models within the areas of energy, waste water and waste for sustainable supply and disposal, and so establish a basis for ecologically sustainable tourism.

GreenBuzau – development of an inclusive and integrative model project for the City of Buzău/Romania

This project aims to develop the City of Buzău into a green and smart city with an implemented circular economy. The project encompasses the development of a model for integrating the waste and recycling industries with water management and regional urban development. Key goals here include reducing the level of emissions and pollution in water, air and soil, increasing system efficiency by applying closed-loop models and digitalisation, and the reclamation of landscape areas, including the recultivation of land required for agriculture as well as urban greening.

Projects in the topic area of water and waste water management

WSSP – Water and Sanitation Safety Planning in the Balkans

In the project countries of Albania, North Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, there is a lack of sustainable water and sanitation management in rural areas, which in some cases has resulted in serious impacts on the environment and the health of the population. The aim of the WECF and its project partners is to introduce the Water and Sanitation Safety Planning (WSSP) instrument to the target countries and develop it further. WSSP highlights methods for risk analysis and assessment in water and sanitation supply systems, and defines measures for minimising risks, and for improving the water and sanitation situation. The project addresses SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) in particular.

WSSP2 – Risk management relating to water, sanitation and microplastics in the Balkans

The ‘Water Classroom’ online education portals developed in the preceding WSSP project, which are now providing free-to-access interactive educational materials on WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) topics in Macedonian and Romanian, will be expanded to include Albanian and Serbian translations, and made available online.

In a range of educational programmes, the WSSP Compendium from the WECF is being introduced to educators, pupils and various stakeholders from local government, policymaking and institutions from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. In North Macedonia, children with disabilities also participate in the educational activities, with materials modified to suit their needs. Within these educational activities, a particular focus is placed on Menstrual Health Management (MHM), with the topic of sanitation technology accordingly being linked to social and gender aspects of environmental policy. 

Project topic area cross-sectional technologies

IrnAK.20 – intercommunity, resource-efficient and sustainable waste water and circular economy models for Bosnia and Herzegovina

The plan here is to use the project to advance implementation support and further development of the sustainable waste management model (WMM) completed in 2019 into a circular economy model (CEM) for eleven municipalities in three neighbouring valleys in the canton of Central Bosnia. The project is also targeting the preparation of a study for an integrated wastewater management model adapted to local prevailing conditions as well as accompanying measures relating to knowledge transfer and capacity building.