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 (with primary focus on the municipality of Pljevlja), 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

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

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

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, digitisation of resource tracking and mapping)

EU Biodiversity Strategy (conducive to circular economy, resources, ecosystems and biodiversity preservation, combating climate change, renewable energy sources, energy efficiency)

Europe 2020 Strategy (environmental protection)

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)

EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region  (preserving the environment quality)

EU Strategy for the Danube region (environmental protection)

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 n 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 Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (establish the EU network of protected areas, restoration of degraded ecosystems, empowering the managerial framework to ensure that public and business sectors take care of environmental protection, response to the global challenge of biodiversity preservation)

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)

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

Montenegro's strategic framework

Current strategy papers
Expired strategy papers

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.

As for the Government priorities, the Medium-term Government Work Programme 2018-2020 addresses the issue of environment in its Priority 5: Montenegro – A country taking care of the health and wellbeing of its citizens and healthy environment. This priority focuses on securing funding for environment-related projects, remediation of environmental hotspots, waste reduction, improvement of wastewater treatment systems and setting up the Centre for Care of Seized and Injured Protected Species.

Furthermore, the Development Directions for Montenegro 2018-2021 identify a set of obligations in reference to environmental protection. The focus is on the following:

  • fulfil the obligations stemming from the EU negotiation process by setting up the land and marine NATURA 2000 network to preserve biodiversity and manage protected natural assets;
  • establish new protected areas in line with the National Biodiversity Strategy 2016-2020 and adopt the new strategy with the 2021-2025 time horizon;
  • set up the Centre for Care of Seized and Injured Protected Species;
  • establish the Polluter Register;
  • expand and improving the national air quality monitoring network;
  • develop strategic noise maps for 3 mayor roadways;
  • address the issue of pollution in the Municipality of Pljevlja in an environment-friendly manner;
  • remediate and re-cultivate industrial pollution hotspots;
  • develop a strategic framework for climate change;
  • implement water supply and wastewater management projects.


The Development Directions also highlight the need to ensure sustainable energy development through further development of renewable energy, improving the regulatory and institutional energy efficiency frameworks, establishing the public energy management system, continued implementation of the energy efficiency projects in public buildings, support to citizens in using energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy, and raising awareness on energy efficiency.

In addition, the Development Directions also set the measures to establish sustainable agricultural production, ecosystem restoration and preservation in this sector, strengthen forest resilience, and establish higher construction standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the residential sector.

As regards the key challenges to be addressed in this policy area, particularly in the light of the EU accession talks, the National Strategy for Transposition, Implementation and Application of the EU Environment and Climate Change Acquis 2016-2020 identified the following:

  • insufficient capacities for the EU Acquis transposition, implementation and enforcement, and deficient communication and coordination among the enforcement authorities, as an issue identified in all areas covered by the Strategy;
  • Unsatisfactory single data collection system for waste types and quantities;
  • Lack of adequate network of measurement stations to monitor the quality of surface and ground waters and no precise EU-compliant identification of bathing water control points;
  • ANEP internal organisational setup and administrative capacities are insufficient for setting up and managing the Natura 2000 network of protected areas;
  • ANEP fails to keep and update the Pollutant Register as envisaged by current legislation which is aligned with the E-PRTR Regulation and the PRTR Protocol;
  • Insufficient administrative capacities of the relevant line ministry (MSDT) to introduce EU-compliant chemicals management system;
  • No laboratories in Montenegro accredited to test harmful properties of chemicals in line with good laboratory practices;
  • The single information system to include noise data has not been established yet;
  • The climate change policy is properly mainstreamed in other policies and strategies;
  • The system for GHG inventories is still not at the satisfactory level;
  • There is no system to monitor, report and verify GHG emissions, particularly for the ETS installations. The national administration has not been appointed nor has the national ETS register been set up in view of preparation for full implementation of the EU ETS Directive;
  • The bio-fuel market has not been established, nor has the pertinent EU acquis been transposed;

Moreover, the National Strategy for Transposition, Implementation and Application of EU Environment and Climate Change Acquis 2016– 2020 lists among the challenges identified the costs for the implementation of Chapter 27 estimated at EUR1.4 billion, noting that IPA support is inadequate for the bulk of activities under this chapter.

Apart from the above strategy papers, the Programme for Accession of Montenegro to the EU 2019-2021 envisages the adoption of the National Biodiversity Strategy with the Action Plan 2022-2026, the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification 2022-2030 and the Low-Carbon Development Strategy 2020-2030, which will complete the existing environment and climate change strategic framework.

Seeing these issues in the light of the UN 2030 Agenda and sustainable development goals, according to the UN 2019 Sustainable Development Report, Montenegro ranks 87 out of 162 countries with the SDG index of 67.3/100. In the environment and climate policy context, the best score was achieved in reference to SDG 7 (85/100), 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 (79.4/100) 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.

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