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Communicating and advocating sustainable development in the Balkans

September 24, 2018 | Comments: 0

Photo: Balkan Green Energy News
Communicating and advocating sustainable development in the Balkans

Balkan Green Energy News and its founder and editor Branislava Jovičić have recently had several landmark achievements, not least of which is the fact that the portal is the only SEE project in the running for the Best Climate Solutions 2018 Award. This called for an interview, in which Branislava invites readers or simply people who like our portal to take five minutes of their time and register and vote for us! She also looks back on her career path, which has led the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce to invite her to join its Global Sustainability Leaders program.

What does the Balkan Green Energy News portal stand for?

Balkan Green Energy News is a comprehensive, objective, and independent news and communication outlet dedicated to the promotion of sustainable energy and the green economy concept in the Balkan region. We have gone a long way since 2015, when the portal was launched with the support of the Swiss Cooperation Office (SECO) in Belgrade to remove one of the most common non-financial obstacles to the promotion of sustainable energy – unavailability of information.

For a full year, we published a newsletter once a month. Even at that time, our audience, both domestic and international, was huge, since we covered topics other media outlets paid no or little attention to. After that, we started with regular news production.

Through our work, we are communicating and helping achieve 11 out of 17 SDG goals in the Balkans region

The portal has since grown into the leading sustainable energy and green economy news outlet in the region. It is a “meeting spot” for investors, decision-makers, academia, the business community, international organizations, citizens, and other media outlets. By sharing news, the best practices and challenges that various stakeholders face in the region, we also educate and raise the awareness of local communities and stakeholders and motivate them to truly embrace the green concept and the Sustainable Development Agenda and the numerous potentials it creates. Through our work, we are communicating and helping achieve 11 out of 17 SDG goals in our region.

The portal has been selected as one of the 42 best climate action communication projects globally competing for the Best Climate Solutions 2018 Award. Is there a way to support it?

Balkan Green Energy News is one of a total of 42 projects on the global level that have been selected for the Best Climate Solutions 2018 Award. It is an enormous success, especially since we are the only project from South-East Europe in the running. Today we are starting a campaign to invite our readers and people from the whole region and the world to vote for Balkan Green Energy News and help it achieve an even more remarkable success in the competition!

It will be tough, as projects from the entire world are in the game, yet we will give it our best and we invite our readers or simply people who like our portal to take 5 minutes of their time, register at the website of the Best Climate Solutions 2018 Award, and mark our portal with higher scores across four criteria. We hope for the best, though being one of the top short-listed projects globally makes us very proud and motivates us to be even better in the future.

You have recently been invited by the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce to join its Global Sustainability Leaders program and you gave an interview for the chamber’s portal. What is the program about?

The U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce is a voice of hundreds of thousands of American and global companies and organizations who like to believe that business success and sustainability go hand-in-hand, but also that long-term business profits, global leadership, and environmental stewardship are inseparable from each other. As this organization puts it, it has been traveling the globe searching for the best and brightest sustainability leaders. When I was reading their explanation why they selected me for an interview in which I told my story about sustainability and the project our organization, the Center for Promotion of Sustainable Development (CPOR) has been implementing, I was deeply touched by their words of support and appreciation for the work I have been doing the last couple of years. There is a lot of work to be done in this field not just in Serbia, but in the whole Balkan region as well.

We should understand what sustainability really means and that one sector does not necessarily have to be observed either black or white, as there are many shades in between

First off, we should understand what sustainability really means and that one sector does not necessarily have to be observed either black or white, as there are many shades in between. Also, that a multidisciplinary approach should be introduced –when we speak about the energy sector today, we have to consider its effects on the environment, human health, and how it contributes to climate change. These areas have become complementary and require a nexus approach for further development.

Please share any new projects your organization will be implementing in the near future.

We plan to replicate the WISE SEE project (Women in Sustainable Energy SEE) in the region. After its successful piloting in Serbia, wherein we did a study on the position, attitudes, and roles of women professionally engaged in sustainable energy and the environment and established a professional network comprised of almost 200 women professionals, we are now looking for donors and partners to help us expand this project.

We are now looking for donors and partners to help us expand this project

In Serbia, we also plan to help women in agribusiness and the owners of SMEs to green their business by improving energy efficiency and implementing green and smart technologies. This project has been presented as a success story at several conferences worldwide, and we are sure its impact will be even bigger once we implement it in other countries in the region.

What inspired you to choose your career path?

I started my career in communications and that is something I love to do. However, I changed sides, and from the fossil fuel sector, I switched to the green sector, which ended up being one of my best professional decisions. During my postgraduate studies in communications, I opted for PR in the promotion of renewable energy sources, and at that time, some ten years ago, that was pure avant-garde in Serbia. When my thesis was chosen for the best academic thesis by the Serbian Society for Public Relations in 2013, it represented an important encouragement for me to step outside the box and try to develop innovative communication solutions and formats which would help in mainstreaming the topic of sustainable energy and the green economy.

Also, I am deeply grateful to Professor Jeffrey Sachs – I completed his online course, “Sustainable Development,” at Columbia University, during which he inspired me to start thinking in what ways I could contribute to the promotion of sustainable development. That’s when I realized that the greatest contribution would be to combine sustainable development and my communications expertise and knowledge.

In my work, I advocate sustainable development based on the application of smart, sustainable, and environmentally friendly solutions which recognize the common good as the ultimate value. The goal I am trying to achieve as a communications professional is to bring the topics of sustainable energy, environmental protection, and climate action closer to as wide as possible a circle of people from Serbia and the region, through innovative, clear, and effective models and channels of communication, as well as through networking and synergy with professionals and organizations – true and devoted leaders of sustainable development.

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