City of Belgrade in global UN initiative SE4ALL – our endeavors to make capital wealthier, healthier and economically stronger

May 3, 2017

City of Belgrade in global UN initiative SE4ALL – our endeavors to make capital wealthier, healthier and economically stronger

By Miodrag Grujić, Head of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources,  City of Belgrade – Secretariat for Environmental Protection

As a member of the City of Belgrade delegation, I have recently participated at the UN Forum Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), held in New York, USA. Our goal was to present Belgrade’s sustainable energy and development potentials, needs and ambitions to the most prominent energy and climate change global leaders, as well as to get a feedback on possible partnerships and cooperation.

Belgrade participating in global UN initiative with two projects

During 2016 the city of Belgrade has joined two United Nations Environment (UNEP) projects  that have been implemented in the cities worldwide with the aim to facilitate so much needed improvement of their energy efficiency status. The first one is Global District Energy in Cities (DES) and the other one Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA), the latter being a joint project of UNEP and World Resources Institute from Washington.

Both projects have been implemented within the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL), founded by the UN Secretary-General, while the President of  the World Bank is heading its Advisory board. The initiative’s global goal is to provide safe, sustainable and sufficient energy until 2030. The truth is that Belgrade is the only city in the world in which both projects have been implemented according to “deep dive” approach. For DES project, Belgrade has the status of “Champion City”, which means that the results to be obtained in this project will be replicated in other cities in wider region.

The expected results of the project after 2018 are the following: a high-quality Action plan for implementation of recently adopted Strategy for district heating in Belgrade should be produced, also  a Program of priority investments and two feasibility studies both envisaging applications of new technologies and renewable energy sources in Belgrade district heating system.

BEA project should facilitate Belgrade in its endeavors to adopt new energy efficiency in buildings policy, taking into account new Law on housing and building maintenance. The goals of BEA project encompass defining the procedures and measures for energy refurbishment of both public and private buildings, including insulation and refurbishment of HVAC installations. One important output of the project will be a demonstration project that should serve as a practical example for all applied measures.

In fact, expectations from both projects are much bigger and more complex – through the process of analyzing the current situation and the potentials Belgrade provides we hope to generate interest of big players for our city: big international companies, financial institutions, funds, consultants, technology and equipment producers and distributors etc.

Many of them have already participated at initial kick-off workshop held in October last year, when the Mayor Siniša Mali also expressed considerable expectations from those projects and added that BEA project will follow the activities of the Fund for energy efficiency, which the city of Belgrade has recently established since the need for energy efficiency refurbishments in Belgrade is huge.

After the workshop, we have established coordination groups for both projects comprising representatives of state and city institutions, Belgrade university, public companies, international consulting and financial institutions.

Third  SE4ALL Forum with representatives of Belgrade participating

The Forum in New York  gathered around 1,700 participants from the whole world. It was created with the idea of facilitating new partnerships, exchanging ideas, models, sharing experiences, networking, creating strong links and relations between the cities, countries, technology producers, project design companies, consultants and financial institutions. It was very useful for all parties.

The event’s goals could be, perhaps, in the best way summarized in the motto of the forum that was conveyed by the Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for this initiative who said: “Going further, faster – together”, pointing at the need of fast development of renewable energy and efficient technologies, becoming more resilient to climate change. For some people this means achieving savings, improvements or luxury, for some food, job and survival.

Sessions and important contacts

 The first day was very important for us, because after the initial “wake-up call” by representatives of leading international organizations, Gina Hall, Investment Director in Carbon Trust organization and I took active part in the Forum, first by delivering presentations and after that by joining the discussion as panelists.


Photo 1: Gina Hall from Carbon Trust and Miodrag Grujić participating at one of the panels at SE4ALL 

I presented the current situation and potentials of Belgrade district heating system (DH), what has been done so far and the plans for future, in parallel trying to create interest of present investors. Projects related to utilizing renewables in DH system, replacement of old DH distribution pipelines and construction of a 28-kilometer-long DH pipeline from thermal power plant in Obrenovac are all big projects that require huge investments and represent excellent opportunity for public-private partnership.

We had opportunity to listen to presentations and speeches of a representative of the GEF, deputy CEO of UNEP and several other key participants, and all of them were addressing the topics of well-being of mankind, partnership, health, climate, economy, savings. Following this agenda, it can be concluded that energy efficiency and renewable energy sources are the places where all those topics meet.

The following session was organized by UNEP and World Resources Institute (WRI). It was dealing with efficiency in buildings (BEA). Vice-President of Johnson Controls was moderating it and high officials of the cities of Warsaw and Bogota were participating.

Our colleague Petar Vasiljević from public utility company Beogradske elektrane presented the investment cost of the complete refurbishment of buildings connected to Belgrade DH system in order to double their efficiency, which is the goal of the very initiative. The investment reaches EUR 1,1 billion, however it can be executed in phases, according to different models such as PPP, ESCO etc. Our delegation was very satisfied to have had Marcene Broadwater, one of directors in IFC, very much interested in investing in efficiency of buildings, sitting at the same table and carefully listening to our ideas and potentials.

Photo 2: Belgrade delegation at UN Forum Sustainable Energy for All 

On the second and third day of the Forum, we had a workshop on financing models and project development monitoring. Among numerous meetings we had, I would emphasize the ones with other cities participating at BEA project, International Energy Agency (IEA), big international companies, financing organizations etc. The conclusion is clear: we have established and presented the opportunities for business development in this sector to some influential and interested people.

What are the next steps?

We know what are the first concrete steps in both projects – to make the projects activities taking place faster, to prepare data, make plans, studies, policies etc. We have a serious work in front of us with the aim to generate investments to improve the lives and security of citizens, quality of environment, save resources and money, to open new jobs and contribute to economic development.

And at the end, my impression is that we have finally started putting pieces together thus creating one beautiful sustainable energy mosaic. We are not that bad as we thought in the past, however we can reach much more advanced levels in our endeavors to become wealthier, healthier and develop economy dealing with energy efficiency and renewables. And we are not that far from reaching our intentions.