Policy area

Sustainable development

Sustainable development goals and international commitments

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, in July 2016 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.

The key goals Montenegro aspires to, according to the NSDS, include the following: 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. 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.

Obligations in the EU accession process

The European Union (EU) 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.

Reference between EU Acquis chapters and the SDGs (Source: Programme of Accession of Montenegro to the EU 2019/2020)


Europe 2020 Strategy (smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, environmental protection, high employment, productivity and social cohesion levels)

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)

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

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 labour 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)

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

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

European Agenda on Security (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)

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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