Filed under: Climate change Environment Governance

Green future for Montenegro infographic at

On April 24-25, the National Council for Sustainable Development in Montenegro and UNDP will organize a 2-day meeting on sustainable development in Kolasin (tip for the would-be tourist: around this northern city there are a number of hidden gems worth exploring).

The event is Montenegro’s contribution to a global dialogue on sustainability and an opportunity for the country to consolidate the platform it will present at the global Sustainable Development Conference, the Rio+ meeting in June.

There are several dominant themes of the meeting:

  • How does Montenegro deal with the legacies of its economic past- energy intensive industries and heavy reliance on foreign direct investment- in a resource-constrained world?
  • Can green economy deliver on a promise of social equity, in addition to competitiveness and low emissions?
  • How can tourism and agriculture reduce regional economic imbalances?
  • Where are the most immediate opportunities for renewable energy and energy efficiency in Montenegro?

Opening up the dialogue

We will hear a lot of globally popular phrases during the meeting- smart growth, green growth, de-carbonized economy.   But chances are that most of the public doesn’t tend to use these terms in their daily lives. They tend to talk about their kids and the education they are getting.  They worry whether gas prices will continue rising and with them the prices of bread and milk.  They use modern technology to collect food and clothes for those who were most hit by the snow storms.  They mule over lost jobs, high energy bills and low monthly retirement checks.  They worry whether a dry summer season will hurt their produce, and how will they recover from the snow storm that destroyed their green houses.

How can we echo these concerns and ideas in our event? We know from experience in our projects that public participation is a key to success, whether these concern energy efficiency and cultural buildings in Beautiful Cetinje, or adventure tourism in Mojkovac.  So how do we extend the discussion in Kolasin to the wider public?

We like to think that social media have some potential here, since they favor immediacy, two-way communication and, perhaps most importantly, if used effectively, they provide a personal and informal voice to what are often jargon-filled policy debates. Montenegro is the first Tweeter Government in the region, so we thought: why not have a live tweeting session from the event and provide opportunity to all interested to get involved? Can we use social media to turn the “big Rio” discussions into something that resonates with the concerns of ordinary citizens? We are well aware that this is a medium that has still a relatively small penetration in Montenegro – at the same time, those early adopters are quite passionate, so why not experimenting with opening up this channel (after all, it comes for free).

Here’s how to get involved
Are you interested in sustainable development? Do you care about the future of Montenegro? Are you worried about job security? Are you working on an idea at the moment that leaders at the event should know about?

Here’s an opportunity to have a say and get the attention of decision makers in Montenegro. Mark the date: Apr 24-25 and the hashtag #RioMe. Post your question or comment in advance or during the meeting and we will make sure it is reflected at the event. On our side, we will do our best to capture the key takes from the speeches and the debates. And if you miss anything, we will summarize your questions and comments, the discussion and share it at our website after the event. Let the dialogue begin!

  • The promise of sustainable development has always been relevant – healthy soils, water, air, foods, communities etc. However we’re about 40 years behind on delivery and many people’s concerns are, as you say, now absorbed by the harsh impacts of unsustainability. Is Rio really something new? Or is worldwide public dialogue seeking legitimacy for global phrases that are mere conceptual bubbles with little grip on the issues they cover? And as each decade passes are these phrases getting bubblier rather than grippier?

    Ideas that might help… Give the global phrases a rest. Talk about policy – what will we actually do now? Make it tangible but also about deep systemic changes. Maybe jobs, resources and money need not be so constrained in future if we identify and make those changes!

    • Millie

      thanks for the comment!  we really do want to try and get the dialogue along the lines of what matters to average people who dont use buzz words and jargon, people who deal with rising electricity and food prices, students who have cool ideas that may not be coming out but that could change the way we do things.  it’s a try and it’s a start… you ask if Rio is really something new?  No, of course not- but it is happening at a time when we seem to be running out of options and i think that’s putting the emphasis on the event.  These mini-Rio summits, like the one Montenegro is putting together this coming week- they are really about what happens after Rio.
      Thanks again!

      • Your mini-summits sound super! I enjoyed helping run similar mini-summits in 1992, when the 1st Rio summit wasn’t something new either compared to the 1972 Stockholm summit. Wondering if we’ve all spent 40 years missing the option to think differently about what would make these summits really relevant to people and to the issues they were supposed to solve?

        • Millie

          I think it’s an evolving process no? We are able to tune in thousands of people into a discussion today via various social media tools, something that wasnt possible just years ago.  I think it is a revolution in making- having such a large numbers of people having ever greater access to information and being more demanding about a 2-way communication with the policy makers.  I think if anything is going to get sustainable development off the ground so to speak will be the grass roots energy and reaction to rising resource prices, degrading ecosystem services… these voices are so much louder and more powerful today then they were in the past.

          • Good question! It’s an evolution if we see a trajectory of meetings and calls for action that leads soon enough to the revolution we await. It’s evolution in reverse if we see time and options running out without much interest in trying different ways of making the sustainable development dialogue relevant. 

            Wishing you every success in Montenegro!

  • Bella_Peric

    For a country like Montenegro, Rio is not only “new” (as Greyson asks) but it is also a great opportunity!! This country is on the cusp of building an exciting new governemental system that could be a rolemodel by implementing “green” sustainable policies within its foundation. How is a culturally historic society like Montegro’s suppose to emerge on this daunting task without the input, knowledge and assistance of a larger community (RIO!!!!)? 
    Being an American with parents from Montenegro I am so excited in the countries eager involvement with this movement….It is the right direction and the ideal time to take advantage of all the international environmetally friendly communities have to offer.
    Im impressed! Bravo.. Svaka vam cas!

    • Millie

      Hey- always great to have friends from abroad, especially those with Montenegrin roots, get involved!  Thanks so much for the post!!