Albania, EU and AFD launch Waste Management Programme in Gjirokastër and Vlora South

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Albania is set to receive support for its waste management and environmental initiatives through a comprehensive program aimed at enhancing recycling, establishing EU-compliant landfills and waste facilities, and reducing the environmental impact of solid waste. This initiative is crucial for improving living conditions in affected areas and aligning Albania with EU standards on its path to EU membership.

The launch event for the program in the Gjirokastër-Vlora South waste zone took place in Gjirokastër, bringing together local municipalities and stakeholders. Notable attendees included Ms. Mirela Kumbaro, the Minister of Tourism and Environment, Mr. Silvio Gonzato, the EU Ambassador to Albania, Mr. Flamur Golemi, the Mayor of Gjirokastra, Mr. Samuel Richard, the Deputy Head of Mission at the French Embassy, and representatives from the French Development Agency (AFD).

A team of international and local consultants, appointed by AFD, will spearhead programmatic activities in close collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and the Environment and the 12 municipalities in the designated regions.

Minister Kumbaro emphasized the importance of local coordination for program implementation, especially in waste management, stressing the role of mayors in changing mentalities. EU Ambassador Gonzato highlighted the program as a milestone for EU-compliant reforms and investments in circular economy and green growth. He also reiterated the key messages of the ongoing “EU Green Campaign,” urging citizens, businesses, and policymakers to contribute to environmental preservation according to European standards.

In the context of Albania’s EU accession negotiation process, the EU Ambassador underscored the challenging task of adhering to environmental standards, emphasizing the need for substantial investments, policy shifts, and societal changes. The project aims to contribute to this political and societal shift.

Mr. Richard, representing the French Embassy, emphasized the growing cooperation between France and Albania in environmental matters, acknowledging the instrumental role of AFD in this partnership.

Mayor Golemi highlighted Gjirokastër’s experience in collaborating with donors and expressed the project’s significance in contributing to sustainable tourism development by addressing fundamental issues such as urban waste treatment.

The launching event demonstrated the commitment of local municipalities to promote a circular economy and sustainable waste management practices. Aligned with the “EU Green Campaign,” it served as a reminder of the public’s impact and the EU’s assistance in protecting biodiversity and countering environmental degradation. Similar events are planned, including one in Kukës on January 19 to officially kick-start the project in four municipalities of that region.

The Ministry of Tourism and Environment of Albania, responsible for drafting and implementing environmental policies, operates under relevant legislation addressing nature and biodiversity, climate change, sustainable resource use, forest and pasture development, water quality monitoring, and tourism policies.