Increasing individual traffic, bad conditions of transport infrastructure, safety issues, noise, and air pollution – for decades, the capitals of the Western Balkan have been facing a broad range of concerns on their transport situation. Suffering from these conditions, cities all over the Western Balkan have started to rethink their urban mobility approach over the past years. The SUMSEEC II project of the Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy Efficiency (ORF-EE) has supported capitals of the region in developing and implementing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs).
The development of SUMPs is actively promoted by the European Union. The plans foresee an interdisciplinary approach to mobility: SUMPs require good cooperation between different policy areas and sectors, as well as the transparent involvement of civil society.
In spring 2019, Tirana, Sarajevo and Podgorica have started the process of their SUMP development and there has been significant progress in the capitals’ transport planning since. Despite the limitations in free movement and for meetings since the outbreak of the Corona-Virus, the SUMP development in the region is currently still taking big steps forward.
Tirana has been dealing with uncontrolled urbanization, but in the past years, their leadership has recognized sustainable urban mobility as a serious and important matter for the city.
Erion Veliaj, Mayor of Tirana, highlights that “developing a smart, green and open city is the solution, and our shared challenge, that is why we take full commitment to the SUMP process and have the dedication and energy to take further steps in fulfilling our goals.”
The Albanian capital, after defining the vision and objectives and after conducting the status analysis, has entered the third step of the SUMP development. Over 20 stakeholders came together in order to discuss scenarios of different levels of investment and to prioritize the measures. The first draft of the SUMP Tirana will be presented tomorrow in an online meeting. It sets the ground for detailing the key measures and paves the way for defining The Action Plan and the Monitoring and Evaluation Plan.
Sarajevo has just reached the last phase of drafting the SUMP. The improved version of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan of the Canton and the City of Sarajevo was presented online to almost 30 stakeholders on 17 June 2020. They discussed the scenarios, strategic pillars, measures, activities, and the financial plan for the implementation of the SUMP.
“Sarajevo’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan measures and activities focus on strategic directions for the development of the system that will provide citizens with the expected mobility and accessibility, a successful dynamic environment that promotes sustainable development and environmental protection,” said Professor Osman Lindov of CEDES Consortium, expert of the technical working group.
Among other challenges, the activities target Sarajevo’s main concern: air pollution. Also, considering the experiences shared by professional transport drivers in the Bosnian capital, issues of traffic safety found also recognition in the measures. Now follows the finalization and presentation of the plan that will enhance the quality of the urban environment for the benefits of citizens, the economy and society.
Anna Loffing, an urban planner with SEE Change Net and involved with the communication strategy for Tirana and Sarajevo, emphasizes the integration of many stakeholders and the public.
“Planning for people requires planning with people. Sustainable urban mobility planning needs to be a democratic and transparent process, and that means engaging citizens and stakeholders. How we get around in cities affects everyone in their daily life!” she said.
Tirana and Sarajevo are following the path of Podgorica, where a finalized SUMP was already adopted in February 2020 by the city parliament. The Montenegrin capital – for long concerned with insufficient public transport and increasing numbers of cars – now promotes walking and cycling but also improves planning regulations. The SUMP is now ready for implementation, building on the experience of the process and a big network of stakeholders and supporters.
The city of Belgrade, too, has prepared a SUMP. GIZ ORF-EE provided expert assistance to the Capital’s working group for monitoring the drafting of the capital’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) and supported the implementation of the Superblock demonstration project.
ORF-EE Sector Fund Manager Julia Nagel is content with the swift progress and the outcome of the SUMPs in the region: “Although the process is still ongoing, the development of SUMPs has already been a valuable experience for all. The project has connected stakeholders of different sectors, organizations and governance levels of the cities. But the capitals have also shared their experiences with each other across the region. This will be to the benefit of quality of life and public space in the cities of the Western Balkan.”