Policy area

Environment and climate change

Sustainable development goals and international commitments

Montenegro is constitutionally designated as an ecological state guaranteeing to its citizens the right to healthy environment, to be informed about the state of the environment and to participate in taking decisions that affect the environment and the exercise of their rights. In addition, Constitution also established a specific obligation of the country to protect and upgrade the environment. Such a constitutional designation strongly oriented globally positioned Montenegro in the context of international instruments and commitments on environmental protection and combating climate change, which has resulted in translating the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda  into its national policies. Against this backdrop, the following SDGs are (directly or indirectly) linked with the environment and climate policy: SDG 1 – End poverty; SDG 2 – Zero hunger; SDG 3 – Good health; SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation; SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy; SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth; SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure; SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities; SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production; SDG 13 – Climate action; SDG 14 – Life below water; SDG 15 – Life on Earth; SDG 17 –  Partnership for the Goals.

The above SDGs are nationalised through the National Sustainable Development Strategy by 2030, an overarching strategy document setting the path for Montenegro’s long-term development and the vision of Montenegro as an ecological state where people traditionally live in harmony with their natural environment, where environment is healthy, and the values of biodiversity, water, sea, air, soil, space and other natural assets are preserved and upgraded for the generations to come.  This vision is further operationalised through a set of goals to be achieved by 2030 as follows:

  • Bring the degradation of renewable natural resources – biodiversity, water, sea, air, soil – to a halt (SDG 2, 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 I 15)
  • Increase efficiency in managing renewable natural resources (SDG 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15 I 17)
  • Enable synergies between the effects of improved state of the environment and human health (SDG 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 13 and 17)
  • Address the issue of unsustainable capacitating of space generated by unrealistic demand in terms of quantity and low quality of built-up areas (SDG 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16)
  • Enable resource-efficient use of metallic and non-metallic resources (SDG 6, 8 and 15)
  • Mitigate the impacts of natural and man-made hazards (SDG 1, 2, 3, 11, 13, 16)
  • Reduce GHG emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 1990 (SDG 2, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17)
  • Improve resource efficiency in key economic sectors (SDG 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17)
  • Improve sate management by applying circular economy approaches (SDG 6, 11, 12, 17)
  • Enable sustainable management of coastal area resources and foster blue economy (SDG 8, 10, 12, 14, 17)
  • Support greening the economy through the development and application of operational instruments for sustainable production and consumption (SDG 2, 8, 11, 12, 15, 17)
  • Increase competitiveness of Montenegrin economy for sustainable development and green jobs (SDG 2, 8, 9, 12, 17)
  • Strengthen environmental management by better application of environmental protection instruments (SDG 6, 16, 17)
  • Set up a viable finance system for the environment and preservation of natural assets as a component of sustainable development  financing (SDG 12)
  • Enable the introduction of green economy by mobilising funding for sustainable development (SDG 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17)

In addition, Montenegro is also a state party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and the Paris Agreement adopted within the UNFCC framework, which sets the obligations concerning combating climate change and climate change adaptation. The documents are linked with the UN 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Obligations in the EU accession process

The European Union incorporated the UN 2030 Sustainable Agenda in its Acquis and policies, and is one of the leading international entities in its implementation. Montenegro’s accession negotiations should be seen in this light, i.e. it should be borne in mind that fulfilling the negotiation goals at the same time means honouring the commitments under the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Within the framework of precession talks with the EU, Montenegro opened Chapter 27 – Environment and climate change, the key chapter in terms of environmental management, which deals with the topics that are critical for the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The linkages between this negotiation chapter and SDGs are well illustrated by the fact that the achievements within this chapter are closely linked with 40 different SDG sub-goals (24% of the total). The most demanding issues in this chapter concern the establishment of proper controls and air quality, setting up an effective waste management system and proper waste treatment (both at the national and at the local levels), and the amount of funding needed to fulfil the obligations stemming from this chapter estimated at EUR 1.4 billion. Given the very demanding obligations, Montenegro has been approved some transitional periods for municipal waste water, drinking water, flood protection, solid municipal waste, air quality and climate change, setting reasonable timeframes for full alignment with the EU. Chapter 27 has 8 closing benchmarks concerning legislative alignment with the horizontal directives, and alignment with the EU Acquis referring to air quality, water, chemicals, noise, civil protection and climate change, and the need to set up an adequate and EU-compliant waste management system. Closing benchmarks refer also to the need to enhance the capacity of the administrative bodies at all levels, and put adequate training in place in good time before the accession to enable implementation and enforcement of the acquis in all sectors of this chapter.

Apart from this chapter, the environmental issues are also reflected in  Chapter 11 – Agriculture and rural development, in reference to ecosystem preservation and prevention of soil degradation, but also in Chapter 12 – Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy where the phytosanitary policy has a strong link with the SDG 15, in addition to the manifest strong link with the SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production. In reference to Chapter 12, the closing benchmark is quite noteworthy: Montenegro continues to set up and develop, in accordance with the acquis, the relevant administrative structures, in particular as regards food safety controls, and to further increase its administrative capacities and infrastructures. Montenegro demonstrates that it will have sufficient administrative capacity to correctly implement and apply all the acquis covered by this chapter on accession. The strong link the environment has with other negotiation chapters is also evident in Chapter 13 – Fisheries, where the focus is on preservation of marine ecosystems and sustainable use of natural resources.  This chapter contains two closing benchmarks relevant from the environmental standpoint: Montenegro adopts legislation that provides a substantial degree of alignment with the EU acquis for fisheries and ensures that Montenegro will be able to fully apply the Common Fisheries Policy upon accession and Montenegro substantially strengthens the administrative, inspection and control capacity required by the Common Fisheries Policy and ensures that EU requirements will be fully met at the date of accession, in particular as regards inspection and control.

The link with environment-related SDGs and the accession negotiations is also evident in Chapter 14 – Transport policy, which sets the standards for reducing the harmful impact of transport on the environment, and in Chapter 15 – Energy which includes the rules and policies which, among other things, promote renewable energy and energy efficiency (the link with environmental protection), where particularly relevant is the closing benchmark for Montenegro: Montenegro to comply with the energy efficiency acquis. Apart from the above, there is an evident link of the environment with Chapter 21 – Trans-European networksgiven that it sets environmental protection standards, and the pertinent closing benchmark for Montenegro is as follows: Montenegro and the European Commission have agreed on the future TEN-T network concerning Montenegro, according to Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network.

An Outline of the EU Strategic Framework

European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy (reducing GHG emissions, renewable energy, energy efficiency, bio-economy, sustainable communities)

European Green Deal (sustainable resource management, circular economy, energy efficiency, environment, combating climate change)

European Green Deal Investment Plan (mobilization of resources for investment in sustainable development and combat against climate change)

EU Climate Target Plan 2030 (defined values in terms of reducing GHG emissions, energy efficiency, renewable and clean energy, health promotion, environmental protection from pollution, green economy)

Shaping Europe’s digital future (development of reliable technologies that will encourage the development of a strong, competitive and sustainable economies, and enable the transition to a green Europe)

The EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change (capacity building, resilience and adaptation to climate change with a particular focus on agriculture, fisheries and cohesion policy, strengthening the knowledge and information of decision-makers on climate change towards more effective decision-making)

The Circular Economy Action Plan (introducing standards on sustainable production/products, improving recycling, increasing resource and energy efficiency in production processes, reducing carbon and environmental footprints in production, promotion of circular economy, empowering the participation of consumers in circular economy, spreading circular economy in industry, digitization of resource tracking and mapping)

EU Bio-economy Strategy (contribution to the establishment of a circular economy, conservation of resources, ecosystems and biodiversity, combat against climate change, renewable energy sources, energy efficiency)

EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030 (establishing a network of protected areas in the EU, restoring degraded ecosystems, strengthening the governance framework to ensure that the public and business sectors take care of the environment, responding to the global challenge of biodiversity conservation)

European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy (improving the economy and quality of plastic recycling, reducing plastic waste and environmental pollution, encouraging investment and innovation in solutions related to the circular economy, encouraging measures at the global level)

New European industrial strategy ( transition to climate neutrality, circular economy, innovation)

Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability – Towards a Toxic-Free Environment (health and environmental protection, innovations for sustainable and safe chemicals)

Directive 2000/60/EC  (protection and improvement of water resources)

Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (transformation of economy, sustainable production and consumption, waste as a resource, innovation and research, ecosystem services, biodiversity, natural resources, energy efficiency)

European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility (improving efficiency of transport systems by using digital technologies and transitioning to low-emission modes of transport, development of alternative low-emission energy for transport needs)

EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) (combating climate change, GHG emission reduction, setting up a market for trading emissions, support to industry and energy sectors in reducing GHG emissions through financing mechanisms)

Innovation Fund (innovative technologies and processes in energy-intensive industries, carbon capture, use and storage, innovative solutions for renewable energy, energy storage)

European Regional Policy is the main investment policy in the EU providing direct support in pursuit of the EU policies in various sectors, including environmental protection and combating climate change.

Common Agricultural Policy (combat climate change, sustainable natural resource management)

Common Fisheries Policy (sustainable natural resource management, ecosystem preservation, sustainable communities)

EU 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework (combat climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency)

2020 Climate and Energy Package (reduce GHG emissions by 20%, 20% renewable energy, energy efficiency increased by 20%)

Strategic Energy Technology Plan (integration of renewable energy energy systems, energy efficiency in industry, renewable fuels and bio-energy, carbon capture and use, new building materials and technologies, new consumer technologies and services)

EU Strategy for Energy System Integration (establishment of circular energy systems characterized by energy efficiency, greater energy supply to consumers, use of renewable and low-carbon fuels, greater flexibility of energy systems from the consumer’s point of view, reduction of negative impacts on climate and environment)

The post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action: Managing risks to achieve resilience (adaptation to climate change, reducing risk of climate change induced disasters, financing for disaster risk reduction)

Read more

International indicators

Environmental footprint - EF

Monitors societal demand for natural ecosystem resources and services and compares them with the supply of natural ecosystem resources and services

Domestic material consumption and resource productivity – DMC and RP

DMC measures the total weight of materials directly used in a country. Dividing GDP by the absolute amount of DMC gives the resource productivity indicator, which is a measure of value added linked with the DMC unit

Environmental performance index (EPI)

It measures country performance in two areas of priority for the environment – protecting human health against adverse environmental impacts and protection of ecosystems and resource management

Environment and climate change in Montenegro’s strategic framework

Montenegro bears the constitutional designation of an ecological state; hence, sustainable development with the preservation of healthy environment, biodiversity, preservation and upgrade of water, sea, air, soil, space and other natural resources for the generations to come is its enduring commitment.

Seeing these issues in the light of the UN 2030 Agenda and sustainable development goals, according to the UN 2020 Sustainable Development Report, Montenegro ranks 72 out of 193 countries with the SDG index of 70.19/100. In the environment and climate policy context, the best score was achieved in reference to SDG 7 while noting certain stagnation in its achievement in reference to household access to clean technologies and energy for food preparation, and in reference to SDG 13 noting at the same time great challenges regarding CO2 emissions per capita and in trade of commodities. The response to these issues should come in the form of the Law on Protection against Adverse Climate Change Impacts, currently being enacted, under which the Low-Carbon Development Strategy will be adopted, which, together with the National Climate Change Strategy 2015-2030, should be mainstreamed in all relevant sector-specific strategies.

According to the same report, Montenegro is making moderate progress in achieving the SDG 6, where the greatest challenges refer to wastewater treatment and ground water depletion embedded in international trade; lack of progress in meeting the SDG 11 where the urban air pollution should be significantly reduced and infrastructure improved to ensure drinking water to all; under SDG 12 there is a need to reduce the quantities of waste generated and of reactive nitrogen imported, while the fulfilment of SDGs 14 and 15 show negative trends with key challenges concerning natural habitats, health of marine ecosystems, negative fishing practices (trawling), combating alien invasive species threatening biodiversity, and protection of endangered species. The findings of this Report correspond to Montenegro’s obligations in the EU accession negotiations, clearly illustrating the coherence between the two processes.
Within the National Climate Change Strategy 2015-2030, Montenegro has made commitment to reduce GHG’s emissions for 30% by 2030 compared to the 1990 as a base year. This reduction should be achieved through a general increase in energy efficiency, improvement of industrial technologies, increase of the renewable energy sources participation and through modernization of the energy production sector.

In this regard, the Energy Development Strategy of Montenegro 2014-2030 identifies energy security, development of a competitive energy market and sustainable energy development as key priorities, setting: Primary energy production – 43,888; Gross domestic energy consumption – 65,927; Available for final consumption – 46,382 and Final energy consumption – 46,151 as target values for 2030. Observed by the share of energy sources and fuels in consumption, the Strategy sets the following target values for 2030:

  •  Solid mass and waste – 8.9%
  • Hydro – 11%
  • Coal – 21,243%
  • Petroleum products – 21.7%


In addition to the above, the pressure on the environment should be decreased through minimizing the negative impact of the development of transport and transport infrastructure, as defined by the Transport Development Strategy 2019-2035.

From the aspect of chemical pollutants, the National Plan for the Implementation of the Stockholm Convention 2019-2023 sets as strategic goals:

  • Elimination or restriction of production and use of POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants);
  • POPs waste management in a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly way.


which can be achieved through proper handling of chemical products in accordance with the Stockholm Convention, their safe removal from the market, monitoring of their presence in the environment and food, as well as through better public awareness about these pollutants. In addition, the National Chemicals Management Strategy 2019-2022 emphasizes the establishment of a chemical management system that provides a high level of protection of human health and the environment, as well as improving free trade with EU and other countries while encouraging competitiveness of the Montenegrin economy through the introduction of safer chemicals and technological processes.

The Water Management Strategy 2018-2035, emphasizes the obligations to protect water resources for the future and their rational use, protection of water resources from various forms of pollution, establishment of protected areas and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.

Environmental protection from the aspect of waste management is defined by the Waste Management Strategy 2015-2030. This policy aims to establish a successful, functional and sustainable waste management system in Montenegro through the establishment of a circular economy, raising the level of public awareness regarding the problem of waste, as well as through:

  • achieving a satisfactory level of development and intensive application in practice of the system of primary and secondary waste selection;
  • increasing the level of separation and utilization of biodegradable waste;
  • increasing the level of separation and adequate recycling and disposal of construction waste and demolition waste;
  • providing sewage sludge treatment;
  • reducing the amount of waste that needs to be permanently disposed of in one of the landfills;
  • preparation of a waste management system for future use of energy from waste and / or thermal treatment of waste.


Within the strategic framework, special emphasis is placed on the management of the coastal area of Montenegro. This issue was elaborated through the National Strategy for Integrated Coastal Zone Management of Montenegro 2015-2030, which develops the vision of the coastal area as resilient, healthy, attractive, diverse, productive and recognizable by its uniqueness. This vision is to be realized, among other things, through:

  • more efficient protection of nature and landscapes;
  • significant improvements of management system’s efficiency in managing protected natural assets, ecologically valuable habitats and the coastal zone ecosystems;
  • improving environmental status of marine ecosystems;
  • improving system of spatial planning;
  • remediation of pollution due to inadequate disposal and treatment of solid waste;
  • stimulating green mobility and development of green infrastructure;
  • protection and improvement of costal area resources.


In the context of environmental issues, the importance of forestry policy should be pointed out and therefore it is important to emphasize that the Forest and Forestry Development Strategy 2014-2023 specific focus places on sustainable use of wood resources as well as on the integration of Natura 2000 requirements and the introduction of ecosystem approach in forests management and nature protection.

In the context of climate change, it is important to point out the Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction 2018-2023, which through “Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction in Key Areas of Focus” addresses the issue of unsustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem degradation as key drivers of disaster risk which need to be addressed.

Finally, it should be emphasized that the issue of environmental protection is a horizontal issue, and that it is treated to a different extent and with a different focus in other sectoral policies.

Other policy areas in the same sector