Since 2018, UNECE has been assisting Montenegro in the implementation of the recommendations from the third Environmental Performance Review (EPR) carried out in 2015.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, activities have been adapted, with funds being redeployed to support the preparation of additional strategic and policy documents with a view to strengthening Montenegro’s environmental governance and enhancing its resilience.
Improving air quality
In response to the third EPR, Montenegro identified air quality as a priority. The country has relatively good air quality in its coastal region, which benefits from short, mild winters and many windy days, while its central zone and the capital suffer from episodes of poor air quality due to heavy traffic year round and domestic heating in winter. The northern region, with its harsh winters, is also exposed to emissions from household heating with coal and firewood.
Overall, the air quality in Montenegro is considered to be moderately unsafe according to World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines, especially in Podgorica, Pljevlja and Nikšić, causing premature deaths, hospitalizations and other health impacts. Air quality is worsened by domestic industrial activity in the form of the steelmaking and aluminium industries, alongside agriculture (use of land, methane emissions from animal husbandry) and tourism (increased road traffic). In 2018, according to the European Environment Agency, due to exposure to high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) an estimated 8,600 years of life were lost for the country’s population of 622,227 and there were 640 premature deaths.
Assisted by UNECE, the country has developed and adopted a set of legal, policy and guidance documents aimed at reducing air pollution, especially emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), ammonia (NH3) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
A new National Strategy for Air Quality Management has been developed and is undergoing public consultation before being submitted for adoption in the second quarter of 2021. The National Strategy aims to contribute effectively to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals related to air quality and biodiversity and ecosystem protection by reducing the levels of air pollution in line with the WHO Guidelines and the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention). The Strategy is also expected to contribute to reducing the health-related costs of air pollution by improving the well-being of the population, as well as favouring the transition to a green economy.
The National Strategy integrates several elements, all of which were prepared with UNECE support, including: an analysis of air quality trends in the ten-year period 2009–2019 and an analysis of air quality during the COVID-19 outbreak; a programme of measures for reducing air pollution (Air Pollution Control Programme); and air quality plans for three air quality zones in Montenegro (northern, central and coastal).
These activities enabled Montenegro to submit an updated inventory of emissions covering the missing data for the period 2012–2018, and with recalculation of the entire time series according to a new methodology, to the European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet) and the Air Convention secretariat in 2020. UNECE is also helping Montenegro to become a Party to the Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone (Gothenburg Protocol) under the Air Convention. Moreover, through a mix of short- and long-term measures, the Air Pollution Control Programme is expected to reduce emissions and thus mitigate the negative effects of air pollution on human health and the environment.
Addressing climate change and promoting sustainable mobility
The third EPR determined that the country’s energy sector, comprising energy supply and consumption in the transport, residential and service sectors, had the highest share in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 68 per cent of the total emissions in 2011 (72 per cent in 2015). The EPR also found that the Government was making efforts to raise public awareness on climate change and energy efficiency.
In 2019, Montenegro adopted a law on protection from the negative impacts of climate change, thus regulating the implementation of measures necessary to establish a comprehensive system for the reduction of GHG emissions. To meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and global air quality targets, the transport sector needs to shift to low- and zero-emissions vehicles.
UNECE has helped the Government of Montenegro to prepare legal and guidance documents for monitoring GHG emissions to address climate change and promote sustainable mobility.
Two rulebooks were developed and adopted in September–October 2020 to regulate the content of the plan for monitoring GHG emissions from stationary plants and the aviation industry, determining the content of monitoring plan procedures, required data and methodology for the respective industries.
A third rulebook on the content of signs, guides, posters, displays and promotional literature and materials on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from new passenger car models was developed and adopted in November 2020 in order to raise public awareness of the negative impact of GHG emissions.
Moreover, in 2020, a guide on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for new passenger car models available on the domestic market was prepared as a living document to be updated annually. The guide also gives tips to drivers and an explanation of the environmental impact of GHG emissions and the use of passenger vehicles and various fuels. This is one step towards implementing target 13.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals on the integration of climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
Scoring global goals for sustainability
The assistance provided by UNECE to the Government of Montenegro furthers the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and assists the county in its ongoing Sustainable Development Goal nationalization process. Moreover, it helps the country advance its delivery on many SDGs, including targets of Goals 3 (good health and well-being), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 13 (climate action), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).
The assistance is made possible in the framework of the Project on evidence-based environmental governance and sustainable environmental policies in support of the 2030 Agenda in South-East Europe (2018–2021), headed by the UNECE EPR Programme with support from the United Nations Development Account.