Based on the 1st Event Sustainable Economy, held on the 6th of May, 2021. 

The work of V4SDG, since the beginning, has been hallmarked by the strive to lead the Visegrad region on a sustainable path with stakeholders from various sectors. Our new endeavour – V4@30 – encompasses this mission and will kick-off on 24 June with a grand event titled: Cooperation for Sustainability – The new purpose of the V4. 

Naturally, we need to gather valuable insights in order to reinvigorate the region. In the upcoming period, 4 closed expert consultations will serve to prepare the V4@30 campaign. The first one of these events revolved around Sustainable Economy hosting the following experts:

Dr. Stanek-Kowalczyk opened up the discussion, pointing out that “the challenge is that organizations think in terms of output rather than impact”, a mindset that puts knowledge and awareness about negative social and environmental impact secondary. In her view, the first step governments and companies must take is identifying their negative impact, although collecting credible and reliable data is still an issue. As a second step, she emphasizes the importance of moving from reporting impact towards managing impact, essentially setting goals for which environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria can serve as a guideline. 

Following up, Mr. Vosecky dissected why circular economy is central to mitigate negative impact through waste management obstacles the Czech Republic faces. He argues that there is a growing number of people around the globe who feel like they have a right for an increased quality of life which results in the unstoppable flow of resources. While from a circular perspective recycling remains vital, there is a low demand for secondary raw materials with the current state of technology which complicates the case for plastic for example. However, the primary objective has to be preventing waste from entering the waste management infrastructure. Not only does it entail thinking about our own carbon footprint, but also about finding alternative technologies in giant sectors such as construction, which currently produces 80% of all waste in Prague.

Finding alternatives and making use of renewable sources lies at the center of the energy sector too, which could contribute to an effective green energy transition in the Visegrad region. Mr. Papp argues that fossil fuel dependency, especially coal dependency in Poland, is the great challenge of the V4, as these energy portfolios are deeply ingrained in our social structures. For that end, transition mustn’t be about energy systems only, but also about society and social policy in order to ensure both energy security and quality of service. He remains optimistic that technological development in solar power grants it greater competitiveness with coal. However, strong public policy and institutions are needed, while keeping in mind that for the moment renewables in themselves can’t produce reliable amounts of energy throughout the year, thus sustainable energy portfolios of countries must still include alternative technologies.

To round up the session, Mr. Szabó opened his part about sustainability in the V4 with an inspirational remark: “Sustainable development depends on you, me and all individuals in the region. We have to think about how we make our decisions and what we consume”. He argued, that our situation became unique with the European Union accession; now the new EU Taxonomy ambitions, with the Climate Change Mitigation and Adoption delegated acts in the centre, and the 1 trillion Euros the EU will allocate in the next 7 years to achieve the goals of European Green Deal (EGD) serves as a brilliant opportunity for the region. In his view, the EU coded into the mechanism the move of investors and businesses towards green transition with the incentive of the 1 trillion Euros which must be paired with a behavioural change from the side of the consumer market; more and more decisions must be based on sustainability to facilitate positive impact.

One of the key discussion points of the session was the issue of impact; Do we have the adequate data to measure the negative impact? If so, how to manage this impact, could the adoption of circular portfolios be a solution? How can we use the technology at our disposal to break away from polluting industries? Could the European Green Deal’s agenda and associated investment lead the Visegrad Region towards transforming into sustainable economies? The first expert roundtable already provided some valuable insights for the #V4@30 Campaign, moving on; the next session will revolve around building an infrastructure to facilitate cooperation for sustainability

On the 24th of June, we will be holding our kick-off event for our #V4@30 Campaign: Cooperation for Sustainability – The new purpose of the V4. During the event, we will be discussing our mission and strategy to achieve greater cooperation in the field of sustainability in the V4 region.

Please do join us for what promises to be the beginning of an exciting journey! You can register via: https://forms.gle/rjsWFZbLTvxHGoKz8

Written by: Barnabas Palffy.