January 10, 2014
TheSrpskaTimes

Southeastern Europe and B&H included are at a crossroads. A staggering 30 billion Euros are planned to be invested in regional energy projects within the next 10 years. Regardless of the advantages or disadvantages of these projects, one can pose some questions such as: what kind of heating the citizens will have, how safe the energy projects will be and to what extent air and water will be clean or polluted? All this is dependent upon the decisions taken by the governments of the countries of Southeastern Europe. The goal of EU is to achieve energy efficiency of 20% by 2020, whereas that of B&H is to reach 9% by 2018.

By: Predrag Ćurković

The concept of sustainable development has become widely accepted as a prerequisite for the survival and progress of humankind. One of the key concepts of economy based on natural resources and the environment is the concept of sustainability, whose popularity stems from strong moral and evolutionary reasons to equip posterity with equal opportunities for life and development. There is an ecological aspect to it, that is, preservation of nature and all its resources in order for humankind to use them to an optimum level, as well as an economic one too. Unless the approach to the economic development is changed, we will be rushing headlong towards inefficiency with increasing dissipation of resources and energy. The main driving force behind such an approach is EU, which uses different ways and methods to foster the development of green economy and the concept of sustainability. The EU, along with numerous United Nations organizations (UNDP, UNEP, IPCC), has recognized that issue as one of the most burning ones, which offers a lot of possibilities for the development of Republika Srpska.

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Republika Srpska on the ecological map of the world

The above-mentioned organizations provide significant resources through different funds aimed at fostering sustainable development, decreasing the green house effects and adapting to climate change. The Programme of Preservation of Environment and Climate Change is a programme supported by the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) financed by the Government of the Kingdom of Spain. The programme is jointly implemented by the United Nations Development Program, UN Volunteers (UNV), UN Environment Program, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Relations and Civil Affairs of B&H, Ministries of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology, and Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Republika Srpska and the Federation of B&H, municipalities and civil society organizations. The goal of the programme is to address some of the key shortcomings of environment management and effective provision of services in the field of environment protection. UNPD has proposed a new NAMA project for B&H that defines investments in authorized projects in the institutions of both entities and in public sector facilities, which is related to the reduction of emission of harmful substances in the air, energy consumption, as well as to energy efficacy projects for certain public sector facilities. The ultimate goal is to reduce the emission of harmful substances that cause the global warming effect, as defined by the Kyoto Protocol.

„The Funds for that project have been provided and the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of Republika Srpska, which is the main implementer of the Kyoto Protocol Convention for B&H, is supposed to initiate, at the level of the Council of Ministers of B&H, signing of the amendment of the decision within that convention for the implementation of NAMA project“, said Ms Srebrenka Golic, the Minister Ministry of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of Republika Srpska after a meeting with the acting resident representative of UNDP for B&H, Ms Zahira Virani.

According to Sanjin Avdic, the Head of the Energy and Environment Sector of UNDP in B&H, the country could achieve even more in the field of ecology. “It is obvious“, says Avdic, “that in a country, in which the official unemployment rate has reached 28%, the protection of the environment is not one of top priorities; however, this has to be made an integral part of some strategic goals. Relevant institutions work according to their capacities and there has been some noticeable progress made, but the decision-makers in B&H should recognize the importance of a strategic approach to the protection of the environment.“

“Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the top five countries in Europe in terms of biodiversity, with a high number of endemic and relict species.” B&H is the habitat to 30%, or 1,800 endemic species of flora of the Balkans, including numerous endangered species. Nevertheless, only 2.5% of the B&H territory is protected, compared to 10-15% elsewhere in Europe, which is far below the EU average. Forests cover 53% of the territory, and B&H’s abundant water resources represent a real treasure in today’s world. All these comparative advantages mark B&H as a potential for the creation of a significant number of “green jobs“, believes Avdic.

According to Avdic, UNDP is very satisfied with the cooperation established with the RS Ministry of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology, which is also the B&H focal point to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes (UNFCCC).

B&H joined UNFCCC in 2000, thus officially becoming a part of the international cooperation in the area of climate change. The RS Ministry of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology has played a key role in establishing Designated National Authority for Clean Development Mechanism (DNA CDM), which enabled B&H to access CDM projects.

Up to now, 3 projects with a total value of 350 mn Euro and 3 mn tones of CO2 reduction have been granted DNA approval. The Ministry also initiated the development of Climate Change Adaptation and Low Emission Development Strategy, which has been adopted by both entity governments and the Council of Ministers. The Strategy represents an innovative economic development plan which outlines actions needed to decouple environmental degradation from economic growth in the following sectors: agriculture, biodiversity and sensitive ecosystems, energy, forestry, human health, tourism and water resources. The Strategy creates a base for the access of B&H to another UNFCCC financial mechanism, National Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) funds.

The Ministry’s active participation at the global Climate Change Conferences made it possible for B&H to communicate its needs and obtain valuable information on available financial mechanisms and global activities in this field.

NAMAs are mitigation programmes or policies voluntarily undertaken by developing countries in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled wholly or partially by technology, financing and capacity building from developed countries. Through the cooperation between UNDP and local authorities, 4 NAMAs have been developed so far, with the estimated total value of 500, 000 EUR: urban NAMA (inter-sectoral NAMA which covers the area of one municipality), methane reduction from coal in mines, NAMA in building sector and biomass co-generation NAMA. However, in order to be able to access NAMA funds, B&H needs to establish Designated National Authority for NAMAs (DNA NAMA), following the same principles and working methods as DNA CDM.

A prerequisite for accessing significant fund resources includes the collection and reading of data and accepting an obligation to show and prove, through actual activities, the effort to reduce pollution, emission of harmful gases, together with the action plan for the adaptation to climate change, all of which implies the development and the coordination of the activities of various organizations and institutions. The Republic Hydrometeorological Institute of Republika Srpska is responsible for monitoring the values and readings in the fields of meteorology, hydrology, seismology and ecology. The Institute is in charge of making a report on GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. Climate change and its constant influence on the environment are monitored through numerous readings, analyses and studies.

“We are involved in all international and regional organizations and projects concerning the mitigation of risk of elemental disasters, which is a very topical issue nowadays. It may sound as a stereotype, but without the progress and the development of the Institute there is no progress in the field of agriculture either, which is seen as a serious potential for the development of Republika Srpska, nor is there any progress in the environment protection projects. “The sooner we accomplish the goal of having accurate and reliable readings and forecasts, the sooner we will be able to define the activities for reducing adverse natural impacts“, says Zoran Bozovic, the director of the Republic Hydrometeorological Institute of Republika Srpska.

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Immeasurable toll of irresponsibility towards nature

In a World Bank report which brings out the data on huge cost of rehabilitation of the areas after elemental disasters, it is stated, inter alia, that the material damage of increasingly frequent disasters caused by climate changes has quadrupled in the past 30 years. In the eighties of the last century, it was equivalent to 50 billion dollars a year. It has risen to about 200 billion dollars a year only in this decade. More than 70% of the costs are a consequence of the damage caused by some extreme climate phenomenon. The World Bank report was published only a few days after the strongest typhoon in the history of the Philippines, which left death toll of 3,600 human lives, hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and complete devastation of some of the islands most affected by it. If, by some chance, some money had been invested in strengthening the infrastructure, building shelters and more solid foundations of some strategic urban facilities, as a pre-emptive measure in the areas threatened by elemental disasters, the death toll would not have been so high and the material damage would have been considerably lower. In that regard, no country, let alone any of the signatory countries of the Kyoto Agreement, argues anymore the significance and responsibility that the developed countries feel towards those less developed, and the whole humankind towards the planet and the people inhabiting it respectively. The representatives of the authorities in B&H are not and cannot be abolished from the responsibility to do everything within their powers, and even more, to provide its citizens with equal opportunities for life in this area equal to those of citizens of some developed countries. B&H may be lagging behind the world today, but it is still a part of that world nonetheless.