Action Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change With Vulnerability Assessment for the City of Belgrade


February 25, 2016






February 25, 2016






  • Project: Climate Change Adaptation in the Western Balkans (CCAWB)
  • Component 5: Integration of adaptation to climate change into urban planning and development
  • Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Countries: Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo*, Macedonia (FYR), Serbia
  • Duration: 2012–2015

Secretariat for Environmental Protection is the implementer and organiser of project activities on behalf of the City of Belgrade.

The goal of this component of regional project was to integrate mechanism of adaptation to climate change into city management processes and urban planning in Tirana, Podgorica and Belgrade. The objective of the component was development and adoption of the Action Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change.

In order to enable project implementation, the following has been established:
Management Group, chaired by the City Manager Goran Vesić; the group comprises the following members: Secretary of the Secretariat for Environmental Protection Goran Trivan, Assistant Secretary Nataša Đokić, representative of GIZ Jakob Doetsch as Project Leader and Peter Heiland from German Consultancy Agency Infrastruktur & Umwelt and

Working Group, composed of 31 representatives of city secretariats and public companies as well as other state and city institutions with work related to climate change.

The entire drafting process related to the action plan was implemented in a multi-departmental manner, having included active participation of all relevant departments of the city administration of Belgrade, with the support of international and national consultants. After the public hearing process and integration of the collected useful suggestions and comments, Assembly of the City of Belgrade adopted the Action Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change at its session held on October  23, 2015.


Climate change as global challenge

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face nowadays. Climate on Earth is changing, so we can expect, inter alia, extreme weather conditions to become more frequent and powerful than those we faced in the past. Current forecasts for South-East Europe are already predicting greater climate variability. Increase of temperature, extreme weather conditions, floods and storms will have negative impact to life quality in cities in Serbia, and these are challenges we must face. Our cities must be well prepared to face the consequences of climate change, because they, being developed structures and presenting urban environment, are particularly vulnerable. At the same time, cities functioning successfully are a leading precondition for sustainable economic development.
If response to climate change is not systematically planned, costs for adaptation measures will be higher.
Continual development of strategic and planning documents containing forecasts of climate change is necessary to adapt urban structures in such a manner to minimise the impact of changing climate conditions and endangerment of urban environment. Being aware of that, Belgrade has developed this Action Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change with Assessment of Vulnerability.

Belgrade as a region – size of the city with regard to two other cities

A problem faced at the very beginning was to define the urban area which would be covered by the project. The concept implied focusing on city cores of three capitals, but Belgrade is different and more complex in many respects. The area of 322 hectares indicated an area of a region. When it comes to Belgrade as a city, it is actually an administrative area composed of 17 municipalities with a variety of mixed natural and spatial areas. It is only the city core that is characterised by urban structures, while the edges are characterised by rural structure of different properties. The Working Group decided that the project context should take into account different structures in parallel, and that it should observe all specificities.

Complex city structure

In administrative and organisational terms, Belgrade is also a very complex mechanism. Luckily, the city administration is very well organised and functional, regardless of its size. Well defined competences of authorities and departments have facilitated its functioning greatly. Certainly, a very important fact is that work of city administration is politically and organisationally supported by the city management. City Manager Goran Vesić, has chaired the Management Group, which provided safety and support to the process already at the very beginning.


In the course of document drafting, the secretariat coordinated activities with the Working Group members. It was in permanent session and communication about certain issues and areas, and six joint meetings were held with representatives of GIZ, Infrastruktur & Umwelt (Germany), local experts and representatives of the Secretariat for Environmental Protection.

Developing the map and graph of all vulnerable receptors

It was particularly difficult to develop a vulnerability map. There were a lot of available maps and plans of different levels of detail, so that the scope of graphically presented locations and vulnerability was challenging. Two graphic layouts were adjusted along with defined need for further elaboration of new mapping process.



Figure 1: MP map = Spatial distribution of potential climate change impacts related to the highly vulnerable receptors within the administrative territory of Belgrade



Figure 2: GUP= Spatial distribution of potential climate change impacts related to the highly vulnerable receptors within the boundaries of the area covered by the Master Plan of the City of Belgrade

THE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT builds on the analysis of information about extreme weather events in the past and the assessment of the current vulnerability to extreme weather events in Belgrade, including spatial relevance with regard to extreme weather events, and mapping of current vulnerability in the administrative area of Belgrade.

THE ASSESMENT OF FUTURE RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES builds on an analysis of climate data for the city of Belgrade until now and an analysis of projections of climate change on the basis of modelling as well as on the results of the vulnerability assessment for the city of Belgrade.

THE ACTION PLAN includes a list of measures and activities that will be undertaken to adapt to climate change, including responsibilities, time frame, i.e. description of short–term measures and activities (until 2017); medium–term measures and activities (until 2020); long–term measures and activities (until 2025) and prioritisation of measures.

Based on the results of the vulnerability assessment, the working group explored adaptation options (fourth phase) and determined the need for action and selected measures (fifth phase) to develop an adaptation action plan for the city. The action plan contains measures and actions to adapt to climate change, including descriptions of each measure, potential locations, responsibilities, additional specifications (criteria like additional benefits or negative external effects), as well as prioritisation of measures (based on specific criteria).

The application of the multi-criteria decision analyses method, which involves the use of four criteria for defining priorities in the implementation of adaptation measures, has revealed that:

  • protection from flooding and
  • green infrastructure

are the two highest priority measures for the City of Belgrade. Next in order are high priority measures in different areas:

  • establishment and improvement of early warning systems,
  • dissemination of information and awareness raising, as well as other institutional and organisational measures,
  • urban planning for flood protection,
  • construction of retention basins, drainage, saving and reuse of water,
  • establishment and rehabilitation of green areas and streets.


Towards the end of last year, using the funds provided by GIZ, an awareness-raising campaign was launched to point out the need of adaptation to climate change. In collaboration with the association Environmental Improvement Centre and company Smart Web Ltd, web page Klimatskepromenebeograd.rs was established and a public presentation of the action plan was organised at the Belgrade Youth Centre on November 19, 2015. Bilingual publication of the action plan was printed, and panel discussion ‘New Horizons – Future Starts Now’ was organised during international green culture festival Green Fest. Promotional materials and short animations, which are yet to be presented on television, were prepared. The content can be found on the website.  A survey was developed, with more than 1,000 respondents participating so far, just to assess the level of knowledge about climate change and to hear the needs of future implementation. It is worth mentioning that more than 70% of respondents have identified the need of awareness raising as one of activities which has to be implemented.

Figure 3: Survey results (1,000 respondents have participated so far) 

Statements by projects’ participants

Nataša Đokić, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Protection

“The biggest challenge of  projects like this one is sustainability. Unfortunately, in our region, there are plenty of Natasa_webexamples that activities continue until such time as donors are present. When donors go activities can reduce and eventually stop. Our intention is to continue with the activities on implementation and establishment of  mechanisms for permanent monitoring of progress.

I see great potential in the team that will continue to work on monitoring of implementation and I expect new ideas and projects as upgrade of the entire process. We are aware that even such well-developed document as this one need to be further worked on, primarily through coordination among departments, because the matter of climate change is not a matter only of relevant secretariat, but also of overall readiness of the city infrastructure as a response to challenges”.


Goran Vesić, City Manager

The importance of this document for Belgrade is great, taking into account that we are making the first step forward Vesic_webtowards the establishment of a system for future events which are not too optimistic. Climate change will be ever more important in our everyday life and in the city business life. This is way it is very important that we are ready as city to what is upon us in the decades to come. Once made, damage can put a lot of pressure on generations and generations of Belgrade citizens. It is important that we go on, that Action Plan does not become a dead letter, which has often happened in the past. Everything we have done will have sense only if implemented in practice.

In order to achieve results, it is necessary that competent institutions and other stakeholders have multi-departmental approach, and we are working hard on that already. Public companies and line secretariats will develop their own plans, which will impose certain obligations.

It is difficult to change the attitude and level of our social conscious that we first need to get rich to protect the environment, or that climate change is a problem that rich countries can only deal with. It is actually opposite – timely assessment and forecasting and investing into prevention is a condition for development”.

Goran Trivan, Secretary of the Secretariat for Environmental Protection

“It is important to stimulate people to behave as modern societies do. Situation in the environmental area is the bestTrivan_web indicator of regulation of a society – regulated societies deal with risk assessment and control, unregulated ones deal with consequences. It is the crossroad where we are: we want to be a regulated society, but we deal very little with assessment, although its importance is indicated by the area of environmental protection. It is care for climate change what makes the best example, and I do not expect an easy way. The Secretariat for Environmental Protection has proved through its work so far that it has quality in the development of strategic documents, but it has also proved to be consistent and persistent in implementation thereof“.

Peter Heiland, Consultant, Infrastruktur & Umwelt (Germany)

As we know from climate projections, Belgrade will increasingly suffer like most large cities worldwide from Peter_webconsequences of climate change, such as increasing heat waves, flash floods and water scarcity. Especially in rapidly growing cities, the adaptation capacities are limited due to high development pressure but there are many existing options to adapt, at least for new developments.

The principles we tried to build on in the climate change adaptation project for Belgrade, as well as in the parallel processes in Tirana and Podgorica, are the following:

  • Adaptation to impacts of climate change in a city like Belgrade needs no new invention of the wheel. We can use many known actions.
  • A comprehensive, trustful cooperation of many different disciplines is needed.
  • It has to be done by hundreds of different actors, in their specific fields, together.
  • It needs communication, communication, communication – to raise awareness.
  • It has to be started with simple measures and then with more sophisticated ones. Now!

One success factor of the Belgrade process developing the adaptation strategy and action plan was the early agreement of participating actors that climate change needs to be integrated as cross-cutting issue in all urban fields of action. It tackles health, social, economic and environmental impacts. This requires awareness of the problem and a participation and cooperation culture within the city administration and stakeholder groups. A second success factor is the strong political and administrative support in all relevant departments in the City of Belgrade that has formed the ground for a sound process. Thus, straightforward adaptation options could be developed, ones that are in most cases no extra or expensive task, but shall become part of daily administration, daily planning procedures, daily public campaigns and political decision making. Mainstreaming towards all relevant stakeholder groups is the most important, to make the approach sustainable, to implement all measures in time and to create the intended adaptation effects”.





* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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