Serbian Assembly 14. November 2016
Public consultation of the Committee for environmental protection of the Serbian Parliament: Systemic solutions in the environment – Serbia 2017 – 2027 – defining the problem – hazardous waste held in the Serbian parliament on 14. November 2016. EcoDev took an active part in the debate. Sophie Kekic, the president of EcoDev, presented a well received speech which you can read in its entirety below:
Dear Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to reflect on the event that occurred on Friday during the session of the Committee for European Integration. I believe that no one is allowed vilification, insults, disrespect in the Assembly or anywhere else – towards a stranger, a woman, a member of a national minority, LGBT, or any other person who has a different opinion. And in this regard, please take the necessary measures to ensure that this does not happen again.
First of all, I would like to congratulate the negotiating team and other relevant institutions on the progress that has been made in the report of the European Commission for the year 2016 in the part of environment and climate change Chapter 27, more precisely in the part of the harmonization of policies and legislation with the acquis in the fields of environment, waste management , etc.
The theme of this public hearing are defining environmental problems and issues with hazardous waste. We think that the report of the European Commission was very clear where you need to come to grips with the problems concerning the general implementation of legislation harmonized with the EU, as this applies to waste, water, air, etc. I mentioned at the last public hearing the timetable for the full implementation of the directive and waste managementand that we stated that we should improve the deadlines for the EC landfill directive, recycling, etc. and apply other models of financing. In this regard we consider it necessary to call for international tenders for the rehabilitation of landfills in Serbia with an emphasis on the gasification of that part of the waste that cannot be reused – which we should use for the combined production of heat and electricity, adding significant electrical capacity to the Serbian grid, that would be financed mainly from private sources. This reduces the implementation time, receives technology and expertise that is in line with EU standards and considerably improves the quality of the environment in Serbia.
Also, according to the EU report for 2016 for Serbia, we wish to emphasize the importance of rapid ratification of the Paris agreements on climate change. As soon as we ratify it, we will get access to the funds that finance sectors to mitigate climate change and thus be able to invest in the necessary equipment and processes for measuring air quality, waste water purity, etc.
We see the lack of capacity in this sector as a major problem, remedy of which would help with the implementation of unused funds available for these purposes. We believe that it should strengthen the capacity of government institutions at all levels to implement these around 300 Directives. We propose to establish a State-level Eco-Project Management Unit, which will have the task of writing projects in this field, competing for the funding and most importantly – know how that can implement the resulting projects. For this purpose,we can use scientific institutions which have about 3,000 researchers and 310 environmental non-governmental organisations as well as our experts in the private sector and in the Diaspora, and of course, other foreign experts in this field. We will have such a chance only once.
Again, I wish to mention the importance of comprehensive macroeconomic indicators in the field of ecology and integrating these data into national statistics in order to better establish circular economy development policy of the Republic of Serbia.
Serbia should not be a ‘dumping ground’ for foreign investors’ outdated technology that wishes to benefit from low environmental standards, rather the opposite – the technology that is applied in the field of environmental protection, especially hazardous waste management, prevention of pollution of water and air should be in line with EU standards, and it must be imposed as an unconditional demand on all investors, whether they were from the EU or not. Profit achieved in such a way we’ll pay several times through the endangered health of people, increased medical costs and the devastation and depopulation of the entire industrial regions.
All of the above comments, referring to the necessary improvements should be included in the forthcoming Action Plan for Chapter 27, which should be the basic strategic document in this area, based on the post-screening document.
Ladies and gentlemen, our goal must be to open Chapter 27 as soon as possible, as well as the production of high-quality Action Plan, and also to close this Chapter within a reasonable time in order to provide both the economic growth and a better environment for the citizens of the Republic of Serbia. The quality of our environment, clean rivers, clean air and healthy environment without the landfills is not a secondary but a primary, fundamental issue for the future of this country and its long-term prosperity.