According to many a relevant source, environmental crisis is probably the biggest challenge and the greatest threat of our time. Pollution, global warming, loss of biodiversity, waste disposal, deforestation, etc. constitute some of the key environmental issues that our generation needs to address without delay in order to achieve climate neutrality and reverse detrimental effects of harmful human activities. The crisis is of such proportions that no isolated action can achieve a dramatic impact. What is necessary is a joint response of all environmentally conscious individuals, groups, institutions and nations as a whole in order for this decisive human endeavour to stand a chance for a positive outcome.

In that context, project GROWTH (Greening Relevance in Operations in the Western Balkans Tertiary Education Habitats) joins efforts aimed at addressing the increasingly relevant and truly ubiquitous topics of environmental awareness and sustainable response to the threat of climate change. Namely, the project gathers 4 higher education institutions from the Western Balkans not associated to the Programme (from Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro), and 3 higher education institutions from the EU and Serbia with the aim of introducing necessary interventions into the higher education context of Western Balkans countries. Those interventions aim at raising environmental awareness and promoting the culture of sustainability among tertiary education stakeholders by transforming partner universities into green and sustainable campuses and introducing digital education practices with the idea of contributing to climate neutrality by 2050, in line with the EU Green Deal.
The eighth member of the project partnership is a Montenegrin non-government organisation from the
sphere of civil society which represents a key link between the planned project interventions in tertiary
education and a possible and desired impact on a wider community.

The European Union (EU) has set a very ambitious task of making our continent climate neutral by 2050. It is devised to be done by reducing greenhouse gasses emissions to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030. In order to do that, the EU Commission consulted all possible stakeholders, including the citizens of Member States to help devise optimal and comprehensive solutions ultimately presented in the document titled the European Green Deal. This strategy aims to boost recycling capacities (only 12% used materials in Europe come from recycling), reduce the pollution of air, water and soil, completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels and make a successful transition to green energy sources. Such an ambitious task can only be carried out if all our societies join forces and knowledge to achieve it. Among other solutions presented in the afore-mentioned strategy, one of the most conspicuous is education of today´s generations for the world of tomorrow, or “learning for environmental sustainability” (GreenComp:6).

Western Balkans, along with the rest of the world, is bound to suffer the consequences of climate changes. Namely, it is estimated that temperatures in this region will rise up to 5 °C by the end of the century which will have unforeseeable consequences for human communities in this part of the world. Therefore, the region of Western Balkans should seek to align with the rest of environmentally aware humanity and remain committed to the transition to modern, carbon-neutral, climate-resilient and resource-efficient economies, to unlock the potential of circular economy, fight against pollution and improve waste management (Brdo Declaration, 2021).

The GROWTH project refers to the overarching priority of green deal in a way that puts emphasis on interventions which aim to make higher education stakeholders:

  1. fully aware of the reality of climate changes and of the importance of a resolute human action in applying solutions and making critical steps towards climate neutrality, and
  2. ready to develop necessary skills and gain knowledge to join forces on a wider scale to build, foster and sustain environmentally friendly societies of the future.