GIZ Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy Efficiency

  • Regional project: Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy Efficiency (ORF-EE)
  • Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Implemented by: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • Partner Countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia (FYR), Serbia
    *Croatia (as model country)
  • Area of work: Energy Efficiency and Climate, Sustainable Urban Mobility
  • Duration: 2017-2020



The German Government supports the EU approximation process of South-East European (SEE) countries in the energy sector through the Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Energy Efficiency (ORF-EE) since 2008. Sustainable Urban Mobility has been added to ORF-EE’s.

The ORF-EE actively contributes to sector reforms in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The project focuses on using the potentials arising from the similarities between South-East European countries, culturally, structurally, and in terms of development challenges. This common ground offers great potential for building and sharing relevant expertise in and through regional networks.

The ORF-EE aims for climate change mitigation by promoting energy efficiency and sustainable urban transport. The goal is to promote regional cooperation among stakeholders with the capacity to drive the process of energy and transport reforms in the climate protection sector.
Regional networks, supported by the ORF-EE, share their experiences among themselves and externally on the implementation of energy efficiency and sustainable urban mobility measures. In this context, networks and actors become more adapt, and are empowered to address issues of common interest and implement activities in their respective countries, therefore becoming more effective in bringing sector reforms forward.

Political and civil society actors of three governance levels are supported and connected in this process: National ministries, national parliamentarians in collaboration with NGOs and municipalities. The stakeholders receive support in achieving the national climate protection targets and implementing required EU regulations through networks in South-East Europe.

Since 2017, the ORF-EE has extended its development efforts in SEE. It has integrated a more comprehensive climate protection approach in its work, in line with the EU Energy Strategy 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and Goal 13 (Climate Action).


The ORF-EE works with four main partner networks on three governance levels:

  • National Ministries and Agencies responsible for Energy, Climate and Environment
  • NGO Sector in collaboration with SEE National Parliaments:
    Network of Schools for Political Studies in SEE
  • Local Level: Network of Energy Efficient Capital Cities and Cities in South-East Europe, Network of Municipal Associations from South-East Europe

The ORF-EE also operates in close cooperation with the Energy Community (EnC). The Energy Community brings together representatives of national ministries of SEE contracting parties to the EnC, responsible for energy and climate. Supported by the ORF-EE, representatives meet regularly at the Parliamentary Plenum, the Energy Efficiency Coordination Group, the Energy and Climate Committee and the Environmental Task-Force. Together they work to advance energy and climate sector reforms in the region. Acknowledging the positive experiences of the ORF-EE in working with the NGO sector in SEE, the EnC Council of Ministers also decided to intensify its cooperation with NGOs. This contributes to promoting more transparent and participatory decision-making in the region.

The ORF-EE coordinates its activities with other GIZ projects, as well as with bilateral and multilateral donors and financial institutions to avoid overlapping and duplicating sector relevant activities, including to enable synergistic efforts.


Building on the accomplishments of the past decade, the ORF-EE currently focuses on four components that encompass different levels of governance:

  1. The ORF-EE collaborates with the Network of Schools of Political Studies in SEE aiming to strengthen the political will for reform processes in the energy sector of the partner countries. Starting out as the Public Dialogue Initiative on Sustainable Use of Energy in SEE, efforts have been directed at participatory policy making processes by inclusion of various stakeholders, such as members of parliaments, civil society, business/private sector, media and governments. Aa result of these efforts, public hearings of parliamentary committees responsible for energy efficiency were held for the first time in SEE countries. These helped accelerate the development and implementation of laws and strategies in the energy efficiency sector. The ORF-EE also established the collaboration between the members of SEE parliaments and the Energy Community through the initiative. It further led to the creation of the official EnC body in 2015 – the Parliamentary Plenum, represented by members of parliaments of contracting parties. The current project phase seeks to further strengthen capacities of parliamentarians and also parliamentary staff members in SEE partner countries in effectively shaping policy-making processes. The engagement with energy efficiency and climate now also embraces the field of sustainable urban mobility.
  2. The ORF-EE has advised national ministries of SEE countries on developing and monitoring National Energy Efficiency Action Plans, which are mandatory across the EU. The process was strengthened through the introduction of a monitoring system that enables the effective creation of national energy efficiency policies and support programs. The system is complemented by a software program: the Monitoring and Verification Platform (MVP) for calculating energy savings and CO2 reductions that are achieved through energy efficiency measures. It allows for a more precise assessment of the policies’ direct energy saving impacts and their effectiveness. The system has been provided to SEE partner countries for use. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Montenegro MVP was integrated in national legislation, while Albania and Serbia are currently working to include it into their. The tool was also endorsed by the Energy Community, i..e. the Energy Community Secretariat recommends the MVP as the official tool for sector-relevant reporting and it has been shared with EnC contracting parties. MVP’s most recent features also align with the EU’s EE Directive requirements. The MVP was more recently introduced to the municipal level of SEE partner countries. This approach complements its use on national level and helps improve the communication between different administrative levels for more effective sector policy making.
  3. Since 2017 the ORF-EE also supports the SEE Energy Community contracting parties in bringing together their climate and energy efforts. ORF-EE helps Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia develop their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). It aims to establish the NECP development framework, strengthening the cooperation between institutions responsible for energy and climate policies at national level and enhancing the work of the Energy and Climate Committee at the regional level.
  4. Extending its reform and development efforts in climate protection, the ORF-EE now also focuses on sustainable urban mobility solutions in SEE. It collaborates with SEE capital cities and towns, including municipal associations in this matter. Efforts, among many, include support in developing roadmaps, implementation of urban transportation smart-models (e.g. bike and car sharing), P2P knowledge transfer, as well as subject focused mentoring, including advisory and coaching services. The project also supports SEE partner towns and cities in partaking in the European Mobility Week, showcasing their commitment to clean and sustainable urban transport. More recently, these efforts more strongly focus on developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) and, together with municipal associations, also pertain to the implementation of projects in SEE capital cities and municipalities.

The current components build on previous engagements of the ORF-EE that set the ground for regional cooperation on climate protection in energy efficiency and urban mobility in the SEE region:

  • The ORF-EE helped establish the Network of Energy-Efficient Capital Cities in SEE. The network comprises the cities of Zagreb, Sarajevo, Podgorica, Skopje and Tirana. The German city of Freiburg im Breisgau acted as the model city within the network.
  • The ORF-EE supported partner cities in joining the European Covenant of Mayors Initiative. It helped establish energy management structures, EE info centres and supported the development of the Sustainable Energy Action Plans.
  • Using a cross-border peer-to-peer approach, the ORF-EE worked to strengthen capacities of municipal associations to provide efficient services in the field of energy efficiency to their members – the municipalities. The municipal associations of the partner countries exchanged on their experiences and best practices. The municipalities were empowered to more effectively offer energy services to their citizens.
  • Through implementation of various activities and events, including the international Energy.Development.Democracy Conference and Energy Days, a platform for exchange of know-how and experiences was created. Furthermore, collaboration possibilities between SEE countries and energy sector-relevant regional and international actors were secured.
  • In collaboration with the Energy Community Secretariat and the Višegrad Fund, the ORF-EE co-funded and co-organized the EnC Summer School from 2016 to 2019. Although only a few years in the making, the program quickly became one of the most sought-after summer school programs in the SEE region.
  • Another success story is the Regional Summer School on Sustainable Development and Low Emission Planning, organized in 2019 for the fiftheenth year in a row. It was implemented by the Regional Education and Information Centre (REIC) in cooperation with the ORF-EE, and the GIZ projects Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Promotion of Energy Efficiency in BiH. This summer school concept has successfully served as a basis for another regional summer school, organized in Kosovo for several years.
  • The ORF-EE also supported the establishment of the ‘South-East Europe Parliamentary Forum on EE and Climate,’ a regional exchange platform that successfully puts the topics of climate protection, energy efficiency, and sustainable urban mobility on the regional sectoral agenda.
  • SEE parliamentarians also cooperated and exchanged with parliamentarians from Germany and the EU – a regular collaboration of SEE parliamentarians with EUFORES, the parliamentary network of EU parliamentarians on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, which has been established with the help of GIZ ORF-EE.
  • The MVP was enhanced through the ORF-EE multEE project, implemented under the EU Horizon 2020 program in collaboration with a consortium of specialist partners from EU and non-EU countries. The project worked on the improvement of the consistency and quality of EE planning, adjusting it to fit the specific needs of different countries. The MVP has proven to be a smart and innovative solution in practice. It is a unique example of a tool developed in the SEE region that also serves several EU countries.
Project type
  • bilateral
Geographical focus
  • Germany
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary
February 2017 - February 2020

Entry created by Admin on July 15, 2020
Modified on July 15, 2020