Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe - REC, Office in Serbia, in cooperation with the Center for Ecology and Sustainable Development (CEKOR), has held a round table on the topic of "Climate Change and Civil Society in Serbia in the context of the Talanoa Dialogue". More than 50 representatives of civil society, media, academia and the international community have gathered on this occasion in the Science Technology Park in Belgrade.
The round table was organized with the aim to open three central issues on which the Talanoa Dialogue on Climate Change is based: “Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?“ During the first panel prof. Vladimir Djurdjevic, PhD, of the Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade, Aleksandar Popovic from the Department of Climate Change of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and Ognjan Pantic from the Belgrade Open School, offered possible answers to the question "Where are we?"
As Professor Djurdjevic mentioned, climate change is visible to the naked eye nowadays. We need to be prepared to adjust to these changes, but also to do everything we can to slow them down, he stressed. Aleksandar Popovic from the Ministry of Environmental Protection presented the Climate Change Strategy draft outline and the new Law on Climate Change that is to be adopted. He emphasized the importance of established cooperation with civil society, but with local self-governments, too. Mr Ognjan Pantic added that civil society organizations had recognized the importance of the existing world-wide momentum, created by the signing of the Paris Agreement, but also the acceleration of Serbia's path to the European Union. He pointed out that the contribution civil society in Serbia has given so far to the process of combating climate change is of a great significance.
"Where do we want to go?" is the question that experts from the "Climate Strategy and Action Plan" Project, Mr. Goncalo Cavalheiro and Mr. Matej Gasperic, as well as the representative of the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia, Dusan Stokic, answered during the second panel. Working on the Climate Change Strategy, Serbia needs to plan how to fulfill the commitments undertaken by signing the Paris Agreement, but also to asses its own capacities and objectives that need to be feasible, and accordingly prepare a scenario for Serbia, it was stated during the second panel.
As Mr. Gasperic emphasized, one of the major challenges in the process of accession negotiations with the EU will be emissions trading system, because it is an area in which none of the previous candidate countries has got approved transitional periods during the negotiation process. Mr. Stokic spoke about the state of the economy in Serbia in the context of climate change and adaptation to changes. As he pointed out, it is in the interest of the economy to operate in a sustainable manner, since this is necessary for the long-term survival of companies. He stressed that domestic companies are increasingly aware of these facts.
The conclusions of the last panel contained the answer to the question "How do we get there?" Ms. Duska Dimovic, WWF director, Mr. Ilija Batas Bjelic, PhD, from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade, and Vladimir Jankovic, a representative of an organization UNECOOP, have attempted to give an answer to this question. As Dr. Batas Bjelic claims, each state and local self-government has the energy policy it decides on, but there are no more unattainable goals in technical terms. It is also possible to programme and plan the way of achievement of the EU goals in Serbia, as technological development has far advanced in this area.
Duska Dimovic built her presentation upon the previous session and emphasized the importance of cooperation between civil society organizations, companies and enterprises, that would lead to innovative approaches and solutions in the area of climate change. As she stated, this is even more imortant, especially having in mind that climate change is usually narrowed down to the field of environmental protection and energy, while it is evident that there is no segment of living that will not be affected by climate change. Finally, Vladimir Jankovic wrapped up the discussion by presenting best practice examples of activities aimed at the fight against climate change at the local level, mentioning the installation of the first flood warning system in Paracin back in 2015, as one of them. He concluded that Serbia stands a good chance for a successful fight against climate change, in spite of all of the concerns and shortcomings.