Non-profit organization Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) has urged heads of states of the Western Balkans to adopt and implement the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans in order to prevent ill health and move towards zero pollution.
The HEAL has sent them an open letter a day before the next Berlin process meeting scheduled for November 10 in Sofia.
The European Commission presented the guidelines for implementing the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans last month and announced that the Green Agenda, envisaged by the European Green Deal, is expected to be endorsed by the regional leaders at a summit in Sofia.
Greening the Western Balkans must be based on four principles
In a letter to leaders of the Western Balkan countries, HEAL said that from a health perspective, greening the Western Balkans and addressing the unacceptably high pollution in the region would bring many benefits, with reduced rates of cancer, heart and lung diseases, and improvement for children’s healthy development.
The countries in the region should adopt binding dates to phase out coal power generation and end public financing for all fossil fuels
The HEAL has called leaders of the region to base the greening process on the following principles and actions: a zero pollution conditionality for all measures and financing, commitment to update air quality standards in line with the World Health Organization recommendations, binding date to phase out coal power generation, and ending of the public financing for all fossil fuels.
Coal pollution from the region’s 16 outdated power plants is responsible for an estimated 3,900 premature deaths
A recent HEAL analysis demonstrated that coal pollution from the region’s sixteen outdated power plants is responsible for an estimated 3,900 premature deaths, 8,500 cases of bronchitis in children, and other chronic illnesses annually, leading to health costs of up to EUR 11.5 billion, the letter reads.
The organization also asked for the creation of the national inter-ministerial working groups of environment, health, and climate ministries to facilitate the implementation of the Green Agenda.