The Serbian Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Regional Environmental Center (REC) jointly organized multi-stakeholder workshop “Building an Operational Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR)” in Belgrade on October 26.
The event was held in the framework of the project “Support Establishment and Advancement of Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) in Western Balkan Countries and Moldova”.
The meeting was held with the aim to provide an overview of the efforts made during the last years regarding the development and operation of the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) in the region and implementation of UNECE PRTR Protocol and the E-PRTR Regulation.
Serbia’s new national PRTR web portal was also presented at the meeting. With the portal in place, data availability is improved as well as public access to the register. It contains information such as database of pollutants, useful instructions for the operators, reporting methodology, both domestic and international regulations and similar. The participants also discussed streamlining the reporting procedure and ensuring better data quality and use of data.
The workshop gathered experts working on the project, representatives of SEPA and REC, media representatives as well as representatives of operators who presented their experience in reporting and challenges of providing good quality data and opportunities to improve the companies’ performance. Representatives of SEPA also presented next steps in developing and improving the PRTR reporting procedure and the web portal
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety’s Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) for environmental protection in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucus and Central Asia and other countries neighbouring the European Union. German Environmental Agency is supervising it.
Serbia’s PRTR portal improved with new features added
Magda Toth Nagy, project consultant of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) said that Serbia has the most advanced PRTR register at this moment in the Western Balkans. “Through the project “Support Establishment and Advancement of Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) in Western Balkan Countries and Moldova” we are offering to Serbia funding and technical assistance to improve already functioning register”, she explained.
In 2008 Republic of Serbia made first steps towards PRTR Protocol, producing the list of 292 companies which are obliged to annually report to public their source of pollutions into the air, water, soil and transfer of waste. After that, in 2010, Serbia signed protocol and in 2011, after ratification of the protocol, Serbia started sending reports to the European Environment Agency on the voluntary basis, having in mind that Serbia is non-EU member.
The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers was adopted at an extraordinary meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention on 21 May 2003, of the fifth Ministerial Conference ‘Environment for Europe’, held in Kyiv,Ukraine. The PRTR is a publicly accessible database or inventory of chemicals or pollutants released to air, water and soil and transferred off-site for treatment. It brings together information about which chemicals are being released, where, how much and by whom.
“We supported adding a module to Serbian register which is an online tool for quality control which helps the Agency for Environmental Protection and operators of facilities who reports online, to check data. It also helps them entering these data without mistakes. And we supported the improvement of the website, making it more user friendly and interactive. New maps are also included. In comparison to previous version when only documents could be accessed, now there is a map containing information about location and the city where you can receive information according to activities of different facilities or air, water and soil pollution. This is a GPS based system and through this new improvements, Serbian PRTR will be more user friendly and accessible for the public and for the operators”, Magda Toth Nagy explained activities of the project related to Serbia PRTR development.
PRTR in Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova and Kosovo
“In Macedonia REC is supporting the launch of online reporting. In the previous project we provided to Macedonia a German software for online reporting and now this software is translated into Macedonian language. We have provided them with a tool for voluntary reporting to European E-PRTR system. Also we will help them to improve their website. In Macedonia operators still don’t have a possibility for online reporting but from next year this will be possible”, she added.
“Albania had a big EU project few years ago but they could not finish it and did not launch the register. Our project now, is building upon the previous project and we are helping them to launch their reporting tool. It is expected that Albania will have online reporting system as of next year. In both countries we had a trainings for the operators on different reporting methodologies and also on quality control of the data. We organized events like this today in Belgrade, a dialogue with stakeholders with the ministries, agencies, representative of civil society sector and the facilities. And we talk about the status of PRTR development in each of the countries, what are the difficulties, about the ways to overcome the challenges and the next steps. We are also identifying the needs of the countries for PRTR development and helping them in finding the funds for further activities”, Magda Toth Nagy explained.
“The next regional meeting will be held in Skopje, Macedonia, on November 8-9, where the representatives of seven countries participating at the project will share their experience (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Serbia). The issues each of the countries is facing will be discussed with PRTR experts from different EU countries and the Protocol Secretariat in order to improve their systems and to share best practices. The second Protocol meeting will take place in 2017 in Budva, Montenegro. This meeting is to provide insights into the status of PRTR project in the Western Balkans and recommendations for the future activities.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina the issue with PRTR reporting is a bit complicated because of the country’s complex administration: there is a Federation of BIH, Republic of Srpska and Brcko district. In reality this means that they have two or three levels of registers, yet without the funding. Bosnia and Herzegovina is still waiting for the next project round when they will actually launch the registry.
Moldova still does not have proper legal framework. Some laws need to be amended. They still haven’t decided what kind of software they will use as an online reporting tool. They are at the very beginning like Kosovo, for example, which does not have a register but would like to develop one. In Moldova we are more assisting in law drafting, preparing assessments and feasibility studies.
“In all four countries in which we have more extensive activities we organize trainings and provide support guidance for the operators. Our goal is not limited to providing support to authorities, operators and CSOs, but also to ensure more transparent discussion on PRTR issues in the countries of Western Balkans and Moldova”, said Magda Toth Nagy.