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Climate policies and diplomacy in Southeast Europe

Prof. Emmanuella Doussis, UNESCO Chairholder on Climate Diplomacy

Although Southeast European countries have contributed little to the climate change crisis, they are highly vulnerable to its impacts. Recent reports published by relevant international organizations confirm that extreme weather events, floods and wildfires as well as slower environmental degradation, including sea level rise, droughts and loss of biodiversity continue to spread and intensify across the region. Although significant climate changes are unavoidable and irreversible, rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can prevent further deterioration. The 1992 UNFCCC and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement set the international framework. The EU has launched the most ambitious plan, the European Green Deal, which aims to transform the European economy into climate neutral by 2050. Nevertheless, most countries in Southeast Europe (EU member states, EU candidates or potential candidates) need to catch up in implementing policies to adapt and prepare for the new climate reality.

This course aims to explore the state-of-the art of Southeast European countries' climate policies, map them in the context of the international and European framework and highlight the challenges ahead to achieve just transition and climate neutrality by 2050 as well as building societal resilience to address the impacts that cannot be avoided. It views climate change not only as an environmental problem, providing for technical solutions, but also as a social problem where the solutions expand to include economic, political, cultural and institutional changes. Some of these solutions have the potential for transforming society in ways that address multiple goal challenges, including poverty and inequality, food insecurity, water insecurity, biodiversity loss and health crises. The course will also explore the diplomatic relations between and among these countries, which target to promote synergies in addressing the respective challenges.