Driving Change: Innovating Urban Mobility in The Western Balkans

Addressing the Challenges of Sustainable Transportation

Urban mobility capacity development in the Western Balkans is not just an abstract concept but a pressing reality affecting millions. Despite awareness, implementation lags due to inconsistent political will and limited capacity for change.

The Open Regional Fund for South East Europe – Energy, Transport and Climate Protection (ORF ETC) undertook a comprehensive approach to address this challenge.

Process and Outcomes

Through data-driven research, stakeholder engagement, and targeted interviews, critical gaps were identified:

  1. Institutional Gaps: The absence of internal acts, sustainable urban mobility organisational structures and a centralised traffic database hinder effective planning.
  2. Data Challenges: Incomplete and outdated data hamper decision-making.
  3. Human Resource Shortage: Insufficient skilled professionals impede progress.
  4. Monitoring Discrepancies: Discrepancies exist between intention and action in monitoring and reporting.
  5. Lack of Defined Roles: Unclear job descriptions create ambiguity in SUM planning and implementation.

The sustainable transport community highlighted the urgency to act

Tailored recommendations were crafted to address these gaps, including institutional restructuring, advisory boards for mayors, education, and cross-sector collaboration. Notable successes include:

  1. Sarajevo’s Proactive Measures: Establishment of a new Department for Development and International Cooperation with a dedicated SUM officer.
  2. Banja Luka’s Systematised Approach: Creation of a dedicated SUM work position within its organisational structure.
  3. Zavidovići’s Comprehensive Implementation: Establishment of new SUM job positions and a Sustainable Urban Mobility Advisory Body of the Mayor.
  4. Aleksinac’s Forward Progress: Adoption of a new organisational structure including a job position for sustainable urban mobility, reflecting a step in the right direction.
  5. Krusevac’s Strategic Initiatives: Introduction of sustainable urban mobility measures, though further efforts are needed for comprehensive implementation.

Implications for Future Development

These successes demonstrate that meaningful progress in urban mobility capacity is possible with dedication and strategic planning. The region’s commitment to sustainable urban mobility sets the stage for further advancements, creating inclusive and efficient urban transport systems.

By addressing critical gaps and implementing tailored recommendations, the Western Balkans are advancing toward a more sustainable and efficient urban mobility landscape. These efforts benefit current populations, laying the foundation for a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come.

The Open Regional Fund for South East Europe – Energy, Transport and Climate Protection, ORF-ETC, is co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by GIZ.

Bike parking, Skopje © GIZ, ORF-ETC project archive

Milenka Knežević, Sarajevo


Armin Wagner

10 Principles for Sustainable Urban Transport