During last two years Members of Parliaments from the Western Balkans have embraced the topic of sustainable urban mobility following their collaboration with the GIZ ORF-EE Fund and experts in the field. With recently developed policy briefs on sustainable urban mobility in each of the countries, MPs are now not just equipped with knowledge and competences, but they are also ready to shape political decision-making processes in their respective counties.
Since initiated in 2008, the Open Regional Fund for South East Europe – Energy Efficiency (ORF-EE), as an instrument for strengthening the regional cooperation in SEE, has had a strong focus on the cooperation with the Parliamentarians from six Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia).
The Fund has succeeded to strengthen capacities of parliamentarians to shape the political decision-making process in the field of climate-relevant topics and sustainable urban mobility. In this process ORF-EE was working closely with the Energy Community as its regional partner and six civil society organizations licensed by the Council of Europe to implement educational programs for politicians, so called Schools of Political Studies.
In order to provide more information on sustainable urban mobility to Members of Parliament from Western Balkan and increase their competence and conduct national debates on the topic, a two-year project “Competence Development of SEE Parliamentarians on Sustainable Urban Mobility” was launched in July 2018.
Competence development of SEE Parliamentarians
During the project, the ORF-EE, supported by the Schools of Political Studies organized different capacity building formats for the parliamentarians on the regional and national level: trainings and consultations for MPs and parliamentary stuff, bilateral meetings to exchange experiences and know-how, study trips to Berlin and Ljubljana as well as a Parliamentary Forum on energy efficiency and climate change in Moldova in December 2019.
“Even though the sustainable urban mobility at first glance may be perceived as a topic of local interest, experience gained during this project has taught us that it surpasses the local relevance,” GIZ ORF-EE Regional Project Manager Jasna Sekulović pointed out. She also said that, of note, members of parliaments across the region have embraced the topic of sustainable urban development as important and relevant and added that MPs have demonstrated a great interest for the topic, realizing that sustainable way of transport planning have many different impacts on the quality of lives of each of us. The topic even triggered their bilateral cooperation, so four different bilateral activities have been done within the two-year cycle.”
Parliamentary sessions on sustainable urban mobility
Very important part of the project were activities related to the parliamentary work itself. The parliamentarians included the topic of sustainable urban mobility into their regular sessions of the parliamentary committees responsible for transport. Such official parliamentary sessions have been held within the respective parliamentary committees in four national parliaments: Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
Most of those sessions were organized together with the GIZ experts for urban mobility. At those sessions the policy briefs on sustainable urban mobility prepared by the Schools of Political Studies were also presented.
Policy briefs to increase knowledge and competences
The policy briefs developed for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia present the parliamentarians in a short and concise way with the most important information on the topic including difference between sustainable urban mobility planning and traditional transport planning, best examples from the region and the EU.
Moreover, those briefs provide an overview of the national transport related legislation with respective concrete proposals and suggestions how the legislation could be improved in order to pave the way for better implementation of sustainable urban mobility plan .
Policy briefs are nationally adjusted, and distributed to members of the Parliamentary Committees for Transport and to Green Parliamentary Groups.
“SEE Parliamentarians found the policy briefs very useful for their work, especially having in mind that the content has been presented in a concise way and contains valuable recommendations for parliamentarians how to act in their future work. Having in mind that this project is the first one to deal with competence development of parliamentarians on the topic, their concrete actions in the parliament are yet to take place,” Sekulović explained and concluded with saying that by gaining necessary knowledge about sustainable urban mobility developments, MPs are now ready to act on paving the way to sustainable urban mobility paradigm in the transport sector of Western Balkan countries.”