Policy area

Sustainable development

Sustainable development goals and international commitments

Montenegro laid the foundations of sustainable development policy by adopting the Constitution and the Declaration on the Ecological State in 1991. With the acquisition of independence and the adoption of the new Constitution in 2007, the commitment to sustainable development was reaffirmed. In July 2016, given the obligations stemming from the UN membership and the need to build the institutional system of an independent and economically stable country whose strategic development vision encompasses the already achieved NATO accession and the prospective EU accession aspirations, Montenegro adopted its National Sustainable Development Strategy by 2030 (NSDS). The NSDS integrates all the requirements stemming from the UN 2030 Sustainable Development and constitutes the systemic Government’s response to sustainable development challenges facing MontenegroIt sets the long-term development guidance intended to set Montenegro on a path of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, protection of natural resources, improved state of human resources and better social inclusion by taking into account future generations.

The Strategy defines priority topics: Improve human capital and build social inclusion; Support the values, norms and behaviour patterns conducive to sustainability; Preserve natural capital; Greening the economy; Improve governance for sustainable development; Financing sustainable development and goals to achieve within this topics as follows:


Improve human capital and build social inclusion

  • improve demographic trends and reduce the demographic deficit
  • improve the health of citizens of all ages and reduce health inequalities
  • provide inclusive and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all


Support the values, norms and behaviour patterns conducive to sustainability

  • stimulate an active attitude of key actors towards sustainable development
  • develop a system of values in line with the sustainable development goals of the community
  • develop the state as an effective rule of law
  • overcome the problem of managerial deficit and strengthen socially responsible business
  • stimulate employability and social inclusion
  • promote the importance of culture as a fundamental value of spiritual, social and economic development that significantly improves the quality of life of citizens
  • establish an efficient and modern system of integrated protection, management and sustainable use of cultural heritage and landscapes
  • achieve a more balanced socio-economic development of all local self-government units and the region based on competitiveness, innovation and employment, with special emphasis on the development of the northern region


Preserve natural capital

  • abstain form degradation of the renewable natural resources: biodiversity, water, sea, air, land
  • improve the management efficiency over renewable natural resources
  • enable a symbiosis of the effects emerging from improving the state of the environment and preserving human health
  • solve the problems of unsustainable space capacity generated by unrealistic requirements in terms of quantity and low quality of the built environment
  • enable resource-efficient use of metallic and non-metallic raw materials
  • mitigate the impacts of natural and anthropogenic hazards


Greening the economy

  • reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions by 30%  until 2030, compared to 1990
  • improve resource efficiency in key economic sectors
  • improve waste management by applying a circular economy approach
  • enable sustainable management of coastal resources and encourage the blue economy
  • support the greening of the economy through the development and implementation of operational instruments for sustainable consumption and production
  • apply social responsibility in the practice of all sectors in accordance with positive European and international experiences
  • increase the level of competitiveness of the Montenegrin economy for sustainable development and green jobs


Improve governance for sustainable development

  • strengthen the management system for sustainable development
  • strengthen environmental management by improving the application of environmental protection instruments
  • implement the reform of the institutional organization system for sustainable development management
  • establish a system for monitoring the sustainability of national development, including monitoring the implementation of sustainable development goals


Financing sustainable development

  • establish a system for sustainable financing of the environment and preservation of natural capital as component of financing for sustainable development
  • enable the introduction of a green economy by mobilizing funds to finance sustainable development


In conjunction with the strategy, the 15-year Action Plan setting specific measures and performance indicators in pursuit of achieving the sustainable development goals (SDG) was also adopted.

To facilitate sharing of experiences and good practices among the member states, strengthen national sustainable development institutions and policies, and mobilise a wide support for pursuing the SDGs, the UN introduced the mechanism of Voluntary National Reviews (VNR). In that framework, Montenegro furnished to the UN its VNR in 2016, thus reinforcing its commitment to the universal values embedded in the UN and the sustainable development policy.

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Obligations in the EU accession process

The European Union incorporated the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in its Acquis and policies and is one of the leading international entities in its implementation. In this context, the current European Commission, within its Political Guidelines 2019-2024, set six priorities with the ambition to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent, to increase prosperity for all its citizens and ensure social justice, to empower its citizens with the new generation of technology, to ensure equity in the EU area, and improve the democratic capacity of the European institutions, and through global leadership promote these values in its foreign policy.

Seeing this systemic approach of the EU towards the 2030 Agenda through the lenses of Montenegro’s accession, there are strong synergies between the EU accession process and the pursuit of sustainable development goals, so the legislative and policy alignment with the EU de facto fulfils the commitments under the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and gives a strong push towards achieving the SDGs.

Sustainable development in the EU strategic framework

EU Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024 (sustainable, inclusive, climate-neutral growth towards stronger EU economic development, while improving security, rule of law, social justice and social cohesion)

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

European Green Deal Investment Plan (mobilizing funds to invest in sustainable development and combat 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)

EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (civil rights and liberties, equality, solidarity, justice)

EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (protection and strengthening of human rights, building an inclusive and democratic society, global promotion of human rights and democracy)

2019-2023 Strategy on e-Justice (communication technologies in the judiciary, efficiency and transparency of the judiciary, access to data, interoperability)

European Regional Policy (investment support to job generation, sustainable development and better quality of life for its citizens)

The European Pillar of Social Rights (equal opportunities and access to labor market, fair working condition, social protection and inclusion)

Common Agricultural policy (support for farmers, combat climate change, sustainable natural resource management, food safety)

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

European cooperation in education and training – ET 2020 (lifelong quality education, social cohesion, equity and enhancing entrepreneurship)

Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 (equal opportunities, gender-based violence, gender stereotypes, participation in public and political life, equal pay)

EU GENDER ACTION PLAN (GAP) III (the EU’s external action plan for women’s empowerment and gender equality)

Union of Equality: LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025 (discrimination and security of LGBTIQ people, inclusive societies, promotion of equality)

EU Youth Strategy (connecting the EU with young people, gender equality, inclusive societies, information and constructive dialogue, mental health and well-being, support for youth in rural areas, quality employment for all, quality learning, space and participation for all, a sustainable green Europe)

European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (accessibility, participation, equality, employment, education, social protection, health)

A EUROPEAN AGENDA ON MIGRATION (illegal migration, rescue of shipwrecks, human trafficking, relocation of migrants, protection of displaced persons)

EU strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse (implementation of Directive 2011/93 / EU, effective response to cases of sexual abuse of children, identification of legal gaps, best practices and priority activities, strengthening law enforcement and preventive action, establishing a European Centre for Prevention and Combating Sexual Abuse of Children, protection of children from child abuse economic activities of the economy, coordination of stakeholders)

EU action plan against migrant smuggling (human rights, exploitation of migrants, drug trafficking, organized crime, law enforcement, international cooperation, instrumentalization of migration by national authorities)

EU Strategy on victims’ rights (access to justice, support for victims of crime and violence, effective law enforcement)

New Consumer Agenda – Strengthening consumer resilience for sustainable recovery (green transition, digital transformation, legal protection and realization of consumer rights, special needs of consumers, international cooperation)

The Youth Guarantee ( instrument for combating youth unemployment)

Farm to Fork Strategy(sustainable production, processing, distribution and consumption of food, prevention of food waste and food losses)

European Agenda for Culture (strengthening social cohesion and well-being, gender equality, support for creativity based on culture in education and innovation, and with the aim of employment and economic growth, strengthening international cooperation in the field of culture)

European framework for action on cultural heritage (cultural heritage as a resource for future development, integrated approach through various European policies, planning of policies based on verifiable data, cooperation of stakeholders)

Smart Specialization Platform (EU support to regional and national decision makers for the establishment and implementation of smart specialization strategies)

Horizon Europe (research and innovation)

Erasmus + (support to mobility and learning)

EU Adaptation Strategy (capacity building, resilience and adaptation to climate change with a special focus on agriculture, fisheries and cohesion policy, strengthening the knowledge and information of climate change decision makers in order to make more effective decisions)

The post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action (adaptation to climate change, risk reduction of disasters caused by climate change, financing of disaster risk reduction)

European Strategy for Low-Emission Mobility  (improving the efficiency of transport systems through the use of digital technologies and the transition to low-emission modes of transport, development of low-emission alternative forms of energy for transport needs)

EU Circular economy action plan (introduction of standards related to sustainable production / products, improvement of the recycling process, increase of resource and energy efficiency in production processes, reduction of carbon and ecological footprint as a result of goods production, promotion of circular economy, strengthening consumer participation in circular economy, expanding circular economy in industry, digitization of resource tracking and mapping)

SME Strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe (capacity building and support for the transition to sustainability and digital transformation, reducing the regulatory burden and improving market access, improving access to finance)

Masterplan for a competitive transformation of EU energy-intensive industries enabling a climate-neutral, circular economy by 2050 (creating a market for climate-neutral products of the circular economy, creating climate-neutral solutions and their financing, resources)

EU Strategy for plastic in 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)

EU Bio-economy Strategy (contribution to the establishment of a circular economy, conservation of resources, renewable energy sources, energy efficiency)

New European industrial strategy (better connected and digitalized market, equal market competition on a global level, transition to climate neutrality, circular economy, innovation, skilled labor, financing transition)

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

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

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

EU Security Union Strategy (cross-border cooperation, fight against extremism and terrorism, cybercrime, respect for human rights)

EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region (sustainable economic growth and tourism, preserving the quality of the environment and connecting countries in the region)

EU Strategy for the Danube region(regional connectivity, environmental protection, building prosperity and strengthening the region)

Energy union (The aim is to create a resilient energy union with an ambitious climate policy and the intention to provide consumers in the EU with secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy. The Energy Union has five closely related and mutually reinforcing dimensions designed to increase energy security, sustainability and competitiveness, namely: energy security, solidarity and trust; a fully integrated European energy market; energy efficiency that contributes to reducing demand; decarbonization of the economy; research, innovation and competitiveness)

Directive 2012/27/EU (defines the obligations of EU members in terms of energy efficiency, in order to increase energy efficiency to 32.5% by 2030, with the possibility of revising the set target in 2023. It is the obligation of the EU member states to transpose the Directive by June 25, 2020)

EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) (combating climate change, reducing GHG emissions, establishing a market for GHG emissions trading, supporting industry and the energy sector in reducing GHG emissions through funding mechanisms)

Strategic Energy Technology Plan (integration of renewable technologies into energy systems, energy efficiency in industry, renewable fuels and bioenergy, “carbon capture and storage, new materials and technologies for buildings, new technologies and services for consumers)

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)

Innovation Fund (innovative solutions for renewable energy sources, energy storage)

Principles of Public Administration (guidelines for EU candidate countries, strategic framework for public administration reform, policy making and coordination, civil service and human resource management, accountability, service delivery, financial management in the public sector)

EU Global Strategy  (Union security, investing in building the state and social resilience of its neighbors to the east and south, an integrated approach to conflicts and crises, supporting regional cooperation forums around the world, global governance for the 21st century, with a focus on global order)

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International indicators

Human Development Index – HDI

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

Sustainable development in Montenegro’s strategic framework

Montenegro bears the constitutional designation of an ecological state and is firmly committed to sustainable development through a balanced and sustainable social, economic and environmental development. In Montenegro’s strategic framework, the NSDS 2030 is positioned among the overarching strategy papers, and the Decree on Strategic Planning requires all policy proposals to be aligned with its goals and targets, i.e. each new strategy paper must follow the priorities set in the NSDS and be conducive to achievement of its goals.

Montenegro’s commitments as a UN member state in reference to the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development were translated into the national context based on previously identified national needs and the assessment of national resources; thus, 2030 Agenda goals and targets are nationalised around the following priorities: human, social, natural and economic resources, governance for sustainable development and financing for sustainable development.

Given the cross-sectoral nature of sustainable development, mainstreaming sustainable development principles and goals into sector-based policies is a responsibility for all state institutions. With a view to proper monitoring of the NSDS implementation, the Indicator Reporting Information System (IRIS) for NSDS progress reporting against the sustainable development indicators from the UN list (to date Montenegro adopted and monitors 60 indicators from the UN list of SDG indicators) was established. The challenge here is to set up an integrated reporting system and increase the number of indicators monitored (the UN Statistical Commission defined 232 SDG indicators).

In the light of sustainable development challenges facing Montenegro, the NSDS set a number of ambitious goals to be achieved by 2030 which may be summed up in reference to key areas and strategic goals as follows:

  • Eliminate discrimination against vulnerable social groups, discriminatory laws, policies and practices, trafficking in human beings, and significantly curb all forms of violence with parallel strengthening of social inclusion;
  • Reduce poverty rate and inequality index and ensure free universal primary and secondary education, and upgrade the quality and efficiency of healthcare and social protection;
  • Ensure sustainable, inclusive and stable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work, increase competitiveness of the economy and establish economic, social and territorial cohesion;
  • Preserve, enhance and harness cultural heritage as a resource that can have economic benefits through establishing the protection system in line with best international practices;
  • Reduce GHG emissions by 30% compared to 1990 as the base year by introducing green economy and combating climate change, increasing air, water and soil quality and improving resource efficiency;
  • Improve the legal framework and strengthen administrative capacities of national institutions for sustainable governance.

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