Helping local communities in fighting against the adverse effects of the climate change is the main aim of a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) project announced at a conference in Belgrade on October 26.
The “Climate Smart Development at Local Level in the Republic of Serbia” conference was co-organised by the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and the local UNDP office. Irena Vojackova Sollorano promised the UNDP’s support for municipal communities around Serbia through project planning, sharing of knowledge and various incentives.
The panel’s host, Christine Moro, Ambassador of the French Republic in Serbia, expressed her strong support for Serbia in both reaching its authentic climate goals and within Paris COP21 agreement from 2015.
Serbia’s path towards joining the European Union include bloc’s ambitious plans to cut emission of the CO2 and other green-house gas (GHG) by at least 20% before 2020, reminded Stana Božović from the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection.
The panel was held just ahead the COP22 climate conference in Morocco in November, for which Driss Hachaq, Charge d’Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco, promised to be “a conference of action.”
Calling for more action within the “Local Development Resilient to Climate Change” project, the UNDP’s Miroslav Tadić outlined the importance of data sharing from all sectors related to energy efficiency.
Experts on the project encouraged municipal authorities to follow example of the smart European cities, promising more innovation challenges and incentives based on success, rather than grants. Participants were presented with energy efficiency projects in Helsinki, capital of Finland, where heating is the major cause of high energy consumption.
Danijela Božanić from the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection said that moral, ethical reasons should be the key driver behind the action. At the same time, fight against global warming is a significant tool of economic development, provided that the 195 signatory countries invest in infrastructure and new production technologies. The country will provide financing through its Green Fund that is to start as of January 2017.
Representatives of the Serbian municipalities said the main problems they face were lack of funds and administrative capacity. More important, they noted poor information exchange and a lack of coordinated action between adjacent municipalities. Some of them, like city and municipality of Vrbas, were praised for taking all the steps towards an energy efficient local economy. Southern Užice municipality representative informed the panel about its own bold steps: to assist private house owners in the housing insulation effort.
The nature NGOs like World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reminded that keeping the existing natural reserves was a key, while also undemanding, way for a municipality to keep GHG emissions lower.
Other participants, among them architects and engineers, complained that their expert voice is often ignored in bringing regulation and action plans, despite their attempts to be included in the projects.