Climate Change

EBRD, EU, Austria donate 360 trees for greener Belgrade

EBRD, EU, Austria donate 360 trees for greener Belgrade

Photo: EBRD

Published

December 3, 2021

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Published:

December 3, 2021

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The EBRD, EU and Austria supported the planting of 360 trees in Belgrade out of 1,000 in total across the Western Balkans. More than 3,000 households in Serbia have improved the energy efficiency of their homes through the GEFF program.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), together with the European Union and Austria, donated 360 white ash trees to Belgrade, which were planted today near the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in New Belgrade with the support of volunteers from the Plant your Shade organization.

The trees were donated under the Western Balkans Green Economy Financing Program (GEFF), which supports households to invest in energy efficiency.

“Energy efficiency is a key priority for EBRD in Serbia. The potential for buildings renovation, in particular, is huge,” said Mateo Colangeli, EBRD Director for the Western Balkans and Director of the Office for Serbia.

“These investments have an immediate impact on air quality in cities, generate opportunities for the local economy, and ultimately pay for themselves through energy savings. We are looking forward to continue scaling up the GEFF program in the coming years, in partnership with local banks and our donors.”

Grants of 20% for energy efficiency measures in homes under GEFF

Over 3,000 households in Serbia have so far taken advantage of the GEFF program to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The program offers access to dedicated EU-donated credit lines and grants that make these investments more affordable.

Households can use the funds to invest in new windows, insulation, heat pumps, solar panels. Upon successful completion of the investment, households will receive a grant of up to 20% of the loan amount, an EU donation. In Serbia, Erste, UniCredit and ProCredit participate in the GEFF program.

In Serbia, Erste, UniCredit and ProCredit participate in the GEFF program

“The European Union is the first partner and, with more than EUR 3.6 billion in non-refundable aid since 2001, the largest donor to Serbia. The EU is also a key trading partner, accounting for almost two thirds of Serbia’s total foreign trade. In addition, two thirds of all foreign investment comes from the EU,” said Emanuel Joffre, the Ambassador of the European Union to Serbia.

The EU is Serbia’s main partner in environmental protection as well, he pointed out. “All our projects are designed and implemented so that they have a positive impact on environmental protection and the quality of life of citizens. In the past 19 years, the EU has donated EUR 402 million in grants to Serbia for environmental protection. The biggest projects are in the construction of wastewater treatment plants, regional landfills, construction and renovation of water supply systems, air protection systems, biodiversity conservation, medical waste management systems,” Joffre stated.

EUR 5 million from Austria

The implementation of the GEFF program in the Western Balkans is supported by the Government of Austria.

“With over EUR 5 million that we have allocated for this program to date, Austria has strongly supported the GEFF program in the Western Balkans since its inception,” said Nikolaus Luteroti, the Ambassador of Austria to Serbia.

To mark the results of the GEFF program and symbolically contribute to the fight against climate change, the EBRD, EU and Austria planted 1,000 trees in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo* and Northern Macedonia. The trees also represent the EBRD awards to the 18 most active partner financial institutions and 32 producers and sellers of energy-efficient technologies, for their contribution to the success of the GEFF program in the region.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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