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In FYR Macedonia: Taking a Long Look at Green Growth

April 21, 2014

World Bank Group

According to World Bank projections, climate change will hit Macedonia hard. So, with support from the World Bank, the government is doing something unusual: taking a long, hard look at green growth, future planning, and sustainable productivity. Green growth thinking includes everything from power plants to bike paths. The immediate challenge for Macedonia is water. There isn’t enough of it in the country, and it’s drying up with the changing climate.






In Skopje, the capital of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 42 new buses move the citizens of Skopje around town. The buses are fueled by a combination of diesel and methane, so they are energy efficient, and they also ease the city’s sometimes dense air pollution. For car and truck traffic, synchronized traffic lights will speed drivers on their way with a minimum of idling. And a new tunnel and tramway line will cut down on traffic congestion, as well.

According to World Bank projections, climate change will hit Macedonia hard. So, with support from the World Bank, the government is doing something unusual: taking a long, hard look at green growth, future planning, and sustainable productivity.

Something “rather special”

“In Macedonia, the World Bank is actually doing something rather special,” explains Erika Jorgensen of the World Bank Group. “Which is that we are approaching green growth in a very comprehensive fashion…and really delving into an understanding of what is going on, developing methodologies to understand not just what is there today but thinking about what is going to happen over the next 40 years in the country.”

Green growth thinking includes everything from power plants to bike paths. In Skopje, workers are laying down new bike paths and building parks. But the immediate challenge for Macedonia is water. There isn’t enough of it in the country, and it’s drying up with the changing climate.


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“Investments certainly should be made for construction of new water resources and dams,” says Professor Anton Causevski, of Skopje’s Cyril and Methodius University. “We need to make new water reservoirs in Macedonia; it doesn’t really matter for which purposes, i.e. for agriculture, or for water supply, or for energy.”

Difficult decisions

But, as with all planning, decisions will be difficult, says Vladimir Stavric, a consultant. “Political will is one of the key issues that has to be considered. I think that country authorities are not aware enough of how serious the problems are with water, and decisions will be hard.”

In informal interviews in Skopje, Macedonians say they’re in favor of greener growth, even though they know the process will be arduous. One woman says, “I do think we can grow and be environmentally sensitive and conscious, but we need to try harder and work more, and we must start to pay attention to not litter and pollute.” “It’s a must for Macedonia,” a man says. “And if we do this, Macedonia will be a front-runner in the region with respect to green growth.”

Solar power, though small so far, is another potential source of energy. As with all green growth strategies, the upfront costs are sometimes higher, but Macedonian officials anticipate a big, long-term pay-off.Decisions of money, resources, and change are always hard. But in anticipating climate change, Macedonia is committed to green growth and to working with its own natural resources. 


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