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It Pays To Be Green

Serbian citizens are painfully aware of climate change, biodiversity loss and resource scarcity, and – regardless of their political aspirations – they strive to have a country where each and every business, public body or fellow citizen will feel a responsibility to preserve the environment. This makes us at least a little bit Nordic.

The Danish Embassy in Belgrade recently became a buyer of the green energy provided by state Power Company Elektroprivreda Srbije. Symbolically, this represents one more step in confirming that Nordic countries are eager to support the Serbian economy’s transition to the circular model.

Many more examples that lead in the same direction have been evident throughout Serbia. Those interested in Nordic solutions for waste and biowaste management had the opportunity to talk to Danish and Norwegian experts in Novi Sad. Sweden and Finland facilitated similar conferences in Kragujevac and Niš, while the final conference will be held in Belgrade on 12th October. This last event is related to policies and legislation related to the circular economy.

This series of events has been co-organised by the four Nordic Embassies in Belgrade, under the patronage of the Nordic Council of Ministers, and covers all aspects of support that Nordic countries may provide to Serbia to help it transition from a country that sets a record in Europe for pollution-related deaths measured per capita, according to the 2019 report of the Global Alliance for Health and Pollution, to an environmentally friendly place.

It would be superfluous to state that a lot can be learnt from the global champions of green transition, in terms of adequate polices and commercial solutions that foster innovation, smart growth and the creation of new jobs.

Serbian citizens, as demonstrated all over the country, are in need of more trees, better air, much better water and sustainable and responsible waste management solutions

Indeed, Nordic companies from both the public and private sectors have expertise and technology to resolve different environmental issues. For example, Denmark is a global leader in district heating, where connecting as many households as possible to district heating networks may significantly reduce air pollution. In Serbia, where the individual heating of households represents an important source of pollution, this experience is worth considering. The same applies to the example of food waste solutions, where lots of initiatives are mushrooming in cooperation between NGOs, the start-up community and large supermarkets.

This publication is dotted with first-hand examples of good practices from municipalities, public company experts and the like, and offers a glimpse into ideas that may lead the state, municipalities, businesses and citizens toward sustainable, environmentally-friendly solutions.

Serbia recently took some steps towards embracing a circular economy: the Ministry of Environmental Protection laid the groundwork for the strategy and developed a three-year action plan that must, step by step, lead Serbia along the often-challenging path towards a circular economy.

Serbian citizens, as demonstrated all over the country, are in need of more trees, better air, much better water and sustainable and responsible waste management solutions. In contrast to many other issues where citizens have often opposed visions, motivations and expectations, the preservation of the environment is a topic that reconciles voices from each and every side of the spectrum. This would certainly provide strong motivation for any government to sincerely embrace the green future. And, as the Nordic examples show, such a future creates stronger GDP growth, new jobs and a better society for all.

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