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RECONOMY Engages Western Balkan Chambers of Commerce in Promoting Better Waste Management and Circular Business Models
January 31, 2024
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RECONOMY Engages Western Balkan Chambers of Commerce in Promoting Better Waste Management and Circular Business Models

RECONOMY, a program of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, focused on regional inclusive and green economic development, has taken a significant step in the Western Balkan region by partnering with regional chambers of commerce. This collaboration aims to promote better waste management practices and circular business models, driving inclusive and sustainable economic growth across the region.

The regional hybrid event, held on 31 January 2024 in Belgrade, Serbia, marked a milestone for RECONOMY. It brought together representatives of the private sector and civil society from Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia, emphasizing the importance of regional cooperation and knowledge sharing in addressing sustainable development challenges.

The event was opened by Mihailo Vesović, Director of the Sector for Strategic Analysis, Services, and Internationalization at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia. “The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia is dedicated to regional cooperation, and this is one of the main pillars of its activity over the past 10 years. Together, we have made significant progress and as the Chamber of Commerce an Industry of Serbia, we want to be the driving force of further progress in integrations within the region. We must preserve the environment to leave something behind us. The circular economy is part of the green transition, and the green transition is a condition for us to be sustainable as a country and as an economy, on the path of regional integration and the integration of the region into the European Union. The environment knows no boundaries, borders are administrative lines you see on maps, but air, water, and pollution move freely across borders. This is a common problem and that is why this project is very important. One country cannot be an isolated island, likewise, the Western Balkans cannot be an island within Europe. It is the future integral part of the European economy and I believe that is why this project should be supported,” said Vesović.

Remarks by the Swedish Deputy Head of Mission in Belgrade, Ms. Anna Sofia Erasmie, underscored Sweden’s commitment to environmental sustainability and its support for the Western Balkans in transitioning to a circular economy.

“The Western Balkans have a very strategic geographical location. It has great potential for cross-border cooperation in the circular economy and many trade linkages with the EU for reprocessing and exporting recycled materials. The potential for improvement is huge in the Western Balkans, putting waste in landfills is not only bad for the environment, and ultimately for all those that live there, but it is also a terrible waste of resources and a lost business opportunity,” said Erasmie.

Nenad Celarevic, the Serbia Country Manager at HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, emphasized that the focus of this RECONOMY initiative is not about the financial support. Instead, “it rather is about utilizing the soft power of knowledge,” said Celarevic. Herr further said that it aims to leverage the existing knowledge within the Western Balkans to enhance regional cooperation towards a green economic transition.

“Leveraging the innovation power of the private sector by promoting sustainable business models and practices that are not only good for people and planet, but also for profit. In Helvetas, we believe true sustainability lies in the ‘triple P’, and we see it as our mission to broker knowledge across the region to achieve this objective,” added Celarevic.

Paulo Rodrigues, Program Manager of RECONOMY, presented the goal and projected impact of RECONOMY, emphasizing the importance of the circular economy in the Western Balkans.

RECONOMY’s unique contribution lies in its focus on regionality. By tackling shared problems, engaging common actors, and understanding systems in countries, RECONOMY is setting a new standard in regional cooperation. Through this initiative, RECONOMY aims to empower disadvantaged groups through green and digital transformations, with a keen focus on supporting micro, small, and female-led enterprises.

In light of the Western Balkans’ geographical positioning, RECONOMY will leverage cross-border cooperation opportunities in the circular economy. This initiative will foster collaboration and synergy among Western Balkan countries, encouraging cross-border discussions, sharing of insights, and alignment of strategies elevating the collective potential of the Western Balkans and promoting sustainable development.

A key component of RECONOMY’s strategy involves enhancing the services of the Chambers of Commerce to better support smaller and underrepresented businesses. These enterprises often struggle with adapting to regulatory changes and implementing sustainable practices due to limited resources.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro have established a Circular Economy Center and digital platform. This platform has notably improved the readiness of the private sector for circular business practices. With RECONOMY’s support, this model will be extended regionally, fostering regional dialogues and capacity building.

A panel discussion included key figures like Nebojša Vraneš from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia; Ada Güven from the Union of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Albania; Milena Rmus from the Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro; Jelena Zakonović from Metalfer; and Bojan Gligić from Eso Tron.

A formalization of commitments between RECONOMY and the Chambers of Commerce from the region was witnessed. This included a ceremony of formal signings of Memorandums of Understanding, symbolizing a partnership and collaborative future.

RECONOMY is poised to create a significant impact in the Western Balkan region, promoting sustainable practices and inclusive economic growth. This regional event is just the beginning of a transformative journey towards a greener and more prosperous future.

The event was live-streamed. Watch the video here.

Watch the video


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