Belgrade, 30 November 2016
Sophie Kekić, President of EcoDev attended the public hearing at the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and on that occasion met with MP Sonja Vlahović, member of the Committee for the Environment.
The integral part of the speech of our president can be read below:
Dear Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,
Waste water management is more complex than solid waste management in terms of funding and such investments are generally of little interest to the private sector and so require strategic investments by the state.
Currently as it stands in relation to the post screening document, Serbia should have a complete treatment of urban waste water by 2041, and in that respect it is necessary to encourage strategic planning for water management based on smart (innovative) technologies through the principles of circular economy.
In this regard we would like to draw your attention to innovations in this area, because it seems to have been largely ignored, and we believe that a lot of professionals and companies in the country can contribute to improving the situation of water management and relieve a little the necessary state investment in these projects, market and commercialize innovative products and thus increase the number of jobs.
It should foster innovation in the field of water treatment in particular with small and medium enterprises. Innovation would be applied primarily in the following areas: reuse and water purification, testing and quality analysis, production of energy from water, emergency management of flood and drought event by using smart technology.
In terms of innovation we think that the competent institutions – the relevant ministry, together with chambers of commerce should start providing information to businesses about funding opportunities for innovation in the field of water management in support of the implementation of EU policies and directives. The information should be available to companies regarding funding of innovation in water management, possible partnerships, legal regulations to support innovation e.g. through innovation hub or direct demonstration in the field in order to make specific products for the market.
The biggest challenge in the cities as centers where waste water is created is the production, consumption and disposal of waste, this is where it is necessary to develop sustainable water management. It is estimated that developed countries for the development of infrastructure in water management invest about 1% of GDP, while studies have estimated that this percentage should be from 3.5% -6% of GDP at an annual level, for developing countries (due to lack of infrastructure and smaller GDP). In order to change the status quo, emphasis should be put on sustainable water management in terms of saving the water resource, production of energy from water, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, controlled discharge of waste and water treatment as well as the popular education.
Finally, bearing in mind that one of the recommendations in the European Commission report on Serbia’s progress for 2016 aims at improving the management of the Sava river basin points out that certainly one of the key problems is the general management of river basins, and so it is necessary to apply the EU directive on water quality 2000/60 EC. That means stating clear definition of responsibilities in accordance with the EU rules, analysis of the characteristics of water, human activity and economic assessment of the use of water, preparation of the management plan for the management of river basins, as well as its implementation, is of course subject to prior public hearing.