Deputy PM for Economic Affairs Fatmir Bytyqi and Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Kaja Shukova met Wednesday with Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Inger Andersen, who is on a regional tour that includes Macedonia.

Discussions focused on the crisis and its impact on the country, prior and future cooperation, and sustainable development, the Government said in a press release.

Regarding the triple planetary crisis – climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss – Deputy PM Bytyqi said that despite covering only five percent of the Balkan Peninsula, Macedonia represents a European treasure of biodiversity.

“Therefore, the presence and engagement of UNEP in Macedonia is of enormous significance. One of the greatest achievements of this Government and UNEP is the proclamation of Shar Mountain as national park, six decades after the proclamation of the last one,” sayd Bytyqi.

He informed that Macedonia is preparing for the Sustainable Development Goals Summit that is set to take place in New York this September, during the United Nations General Assembly.

The Deputy PM said UNEP is seen as a partner for fresh cooperation over transition to low-emission and a climate-resilient economy, including adaptation in spatial planning and climate-resilient infrastructure.

UNEP’s Andersen thanked the Government for its proactive involvement in the management of environmental challenges, especially in the context of the triple planetary crisis.

“We discussed the Government’s efforts to address the urgent issues related to climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, which together represent a big threat to our planet and its population. The commitment and leadership demonstrated by your administration have not remained unnoticed and we commend your commitment to sustainable development, benefiting current and future generations,” said Andersen.

She added that UNEP has supported the Government in the environment protection programs, such as the proclamation of Shar Mountain as national park, revaluation of Lake Ohrid and the efforts to save its UNESCO status, as well as the sustainable management of natural resources and all environmental priorities.

“UNEP is ready to support the Government of Macedonia and committed to ensuring technical expertise, policy advice and capacity building support for further enhancement of sustainable development and environment protection in the country,” said Andersen.

UN Resident Coordinator Rossana Dudziak voiced satisfaction from the cooperation between the Government and the UN agencies in addressing the environment-related challenges, through committed engagement for maintenance of biodiversity, reducing air pollution, addressing climate change, disaster risks and hazardous waste.

“Achieved results include an increase of the protected area to 14 percent of the entire territory, an ambitious pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 53 percent until 2030 and inclusion of the environment and climate change aspects in preschool and elementary education,” said Dudziak.

Minister Shukova said partnerships in the environment sector are exceptionally important, expecting UNEP’s support to resume in the coming period, especially in regard to the triple planetary crisis.

“Alignment with challenges in Chapter 27 – Environment and Climate Change, implementation of the Green Agenda, as well as cross border cooperation and regional approach in protecting the common ecosystems with neighboring countries would be of great help”, said Shukova.