Special Address by H.E. Dr Dragan Čović, Chairman of The Presidency Bosnia and Herzegovina


Nov  3rd

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. Sustainable development maintains a balance between the requirements to improve the quality of life and achieve social well-being and peace for all, and the requirements to protect environmental components as a natural resource upon which the present and future generations depend.

Respect for the principles of democracy, gender equality, social justice and solidarity, legality, respect for human rights and preservation of natural resources, cultural heritage and the environment contribute to preservation of the Earth for the sake of preservation of life in all its diversity. In this way, sustainable development is achieved through a dynamic economy with full employment, economic, social and territorial cohesion, and a high level of education of citizens and the protection of health and the environment.

Sustainable development implies the realization of three general objectives: stable economic growth, social equity, and environmental protection. At the same time, it changes the whole concept on which we operate, as well as ourselves. Institutional framework and public services must create the preconditions for that and base the strategy and development on respect of the principles of sustainability – less focus on maximum profit and more focus on well-being of the community and the environment. There will be no change without the effort and hard work of every individual, and mutual cooperation is crucial.

We are witnessing high degree of inequality in the world.

The richest use 85% of overall resources, while accounting for 20% of the population and producing up to 90% of the waste. That is why it is always important to talk about sustainable development. The same spirit characterizes the UN General Assembly Resolution adopted on 25 September this year, called Transforming our world: Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also aims to strengthen world peace and to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, as the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

17 sustainable development goals and 169 associated targets show the extent and ambition of this new universal agenda, and create the integrated and indivisible balance between the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental, while taking into account different
national realities, capacities and levels of development, and respecting national policies and priorities of each country. Besides the environmental balance, it implies economic security and social justice.

Bosnia and Herzegovina can in no respect be viewed in isolation from global trends. The experience of this country has often showed and still shows that even if the country does not follow the global trends, those trends do follow the country and manifest themselves drastically in all areas of life and work in it
and around it.

Sustainable development, as one of the objectives of the strategic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina, implies the development of environment and environmental infrastructure, energy and renewable energy sources, transportation infrastructure and telecommunications, and the development of agriculture and rural areas with the aim of diversifying economic activities.

Key challenges to face in promoting sustainable development are:

  • Globalization and the world financial and economic crisis
  • Climate change – vulnerability of Bosnia and Herzegovina to floods, droughts and other extreme events
  • Visible reduction of non-renewable energy sources and increase of energy prices
  • Position of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the region (ie. regions it belongs to) and cooperation with the neighbors


One of the consequences of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period between 1992 and 1995 was the migration of highly qualified workforce, that had a strong impact on the development of the country. The World Bank estimates that the percentage of migration of the highly qualified from BiH has reached 28.6%. There are no precise data on the “brain drain” from the country, but an illustration of the extent of that can be the information that Bosnia and Herzegovina lost 79% of technical research engineers, 81% of masters of arts/sciences and 75% of PhD graduates. Today the European and American universities and leading international companies employ professors, researchers and experts from BiH who are willing to help the development of the country in some form of temporary engagement.

During the war, 260,000 children of primary and secondary school age has also left the country. Many of them, as well as the new generations, have meanwhile acquired higher education.

Therefore, we all together must do more and work better to create a new force able to implement the necessary and the planned changes in the country, because making progress towards sustainable development is a matter of societal choice by individuals and families, communities, organizations and
associations of civil society, as well as the executive and legislative authorities. For the very reason that it includes the possibility to choose, change is possible only with the broad involvement of both public and the decision makers, because that process is a two-way street.

Bosnia and Herzegovina wants to join the European Union on the basis of its solid commitment, and therefore seeks to further improve the competitiveness of its economy with its development policies. On those grounds, it aims to fulfill the economic condition for becoming a member of the EU society.

The pillar of the economy of the European Union are SMEs, which make up for over 60% of private sector employment, and in some economic sectors (metal processing, construction, furniture) even more than 80%.

Comparison of the situation and the existing policy development for entrepreneurship in BiH with the five strategic areas of action of the European Commission indicates the following mid-term key challenges:

  • Strengthening entrepreneurial thinking;
  • Encouraging people to become entrepreneurs;
  • Providing support to entrepreneurs to become more competitive;
  • Improving the companies’ financial flows for more successful financial operations;
  • Creating a better regulatory and administrative environment for the SMEs.

Improving the single economic space and inclusion in the regional markets and the EU market opens up endless possibilities for economic and social development in Bosnia and Herzegovina and overcoming problems of absorption capacities of a very small and financially inferior domestic market.

The term “single economic space” should not be exclusively linked to the structure of the internal space in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the contrary, acceptance of EU rules and standards and inclusion of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the wider regional and EU markets will mean that the problem of
establishing a single economic space is definitely overcome, regardless of whether the internal space of Bosnia and Herzegovina or its position is viewed within the wider regional integration, and the EU itself.

The key political, social, technological and environmental factors that affect the international competitiveness of Bosnia and Herzegovina, its macro-stability, the EU future, including its potential to provide sustainable growth and employment are:

  • Changing of the demographic situation in both Europe and Bosnia and Herzegovina: the aging population, increased life expectancy, lower birth rates with strong influence on pension and health systems, fluctuations of educated people towards the countries of greater economic power
  • Climate change and the increasing importance of renewable energy sources
  • Long-term strengthening of international competition as a result of greater economic globalization, and the “middle-income trap” as a threat to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the countries at that stage of development
  • Strengthening of the role of innovative and research activities, which are becoming a central element of economic development
  • Global financial and economic recession and its repercussions on the economic partners of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bosnia and Herzegovina itself
  • Volatile energy and food prices on the world market.

The experience of the European countries shows that creating jobs is an irreplaceable path towards a modern society, characterized by:

  • Entrepreneurship, reflected in creating large number of small and medium-sized enterprises, and restructuring those existing, to include as many people as possible to be in position to actively influence their destiny, and
  • A new approach to regional and local development, which primarily relies on its own strengths.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the relatively serious problems of the recent years, largely preserved its geo- and bio-diversity, which can serve as a firm foundation for its sustainable development. Transposition of the EU acquis communautaire in the foreseeable future should support sustainable
development, instead of presenting a burden for the economy, ie. it should strengthen and not weaken its competitiveness. The area that can contribute the most to sustainable development is an increased efficiency in the use of energy.

Also, Bosnia and Herzegovina has significant land resources, an almost ideal climate and rather developed processing industry, so its agriculture can strongly service its own food market and export.

However, there are serious challenges along the way.

Economic globalization is increasingly relativising national borders and providing opportunities to capable entrepreneurs, while the role of public administration of the states is to contribute, through its activities, to greater competitiveness and abilities of the business people on as wide of a scale as

Sustainability becomes the art of correct choices within the existing – rather than ideal – frameworks, and it is not “a fixed state of harmony.”

This is the guiding principle for the 21st century, focusing the concensus on respect for the following three dimensions: environmental, economic and social, which must be observed with equal consideration within the local, regional and national strategies for sustainable development, as well as
international agreements reached within the framework of global management in order to achieve sustainable development.

It is clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing a challenging path of achieving the goals of sustainable development as a necessity for the new generations, as well as the creation of legal and economic system in line with the EU standards and rules. But, that is the only possible approach on the road to becoming a full member of the Union and equally competing with the other countries in the region in the areas of economy and development. In order to overcome the obstacles on its way in an easier manner and accelerate the accession process, Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to show more respect for all its diversity and specificity, as well as its own constitutional structure, and use to the maximum its healthy and capable human resources in the society, willing to move the country forward, for the sake of joy and pleasure of the generations to follow.

Thank you.