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Željko Pantelić, Assistant Minister for Oversight and Prevention, Ministry of Environmental Protection

Inspection Oversight & Education

In addition to the national inspectorate for environmental protection, numerous laws have also entrusted tasks of inspection overishgt to numerous local governments, the City of Belgrade and the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. Considering the extremely large number of laws and by-laws in the field of environmental protection, as well as their complexity, the national inspectorate has specialised and functions via specialised departments. All inspectors have undergone training through various EU capacity building projects

The insufficient expert capacities of environmental inspectors of local government units to perform inspection controls entrusted to them from various areas of environmental protection were recognised in a timely manner, after which activities were undertaken to ensure their improvement, as well as activities on the establishment of coordination for inspection oversight activities in accordance with the Law on Inspection Oversight.

The Sector for Environmental Oversight and Prevention at the Ministry of Environmental Protection started training activities for inspectors in mid-2017 through five training courses for 100 local inspectors from 100 cities and municipalities. After conducting the training, it was concluded that advancing the uniformity, efficiency and quality of the implementation of regulations cannot only be carried out through inspection oversight, but rather it is also important to establish permanent education.

In order to institutionally establish permanent education in the Oversight and Prevention Sector, the Group for Education and Communication was sytematised and is in the process of being formed. The task of the Group for Education and Communication is, among other things, to prepare and organise the implementation of professional training and the training of inspectors within the framework of general and special programmes in accordance with needs, as well as the preparation of drafting procedures and instructions for conducting inspections aimed at harmonise the work of inspectors.

Permanent education in 2018 included, besides environmental inspectors at all levels, relevant inspectorates of other ministries, judges, prosecutors, licensing authorities, expert organisations, representatives of business, scientific institutions and non-governmental organisations, which are interlinked in multiple ways on the implementation of regulations in the field of environmental protection, within the scope of their competencies.

Permanent education activities were conducted in the Environmental Oversight and Prevention Sector via three thematic seminars in 2018, which were attended by more than 200 participants. These seminars included: Protection of Nature – Oversight and Prevention (Tara, 27th to 30th June 2018); Waste – oversight and prevention (Bor, 25th to 27th September 2018) and Industrial Emissions – oversight and prevention (Stara Pazova, 30th October to 1st November 2018).

A special novelty of the seminars organised during 2018 was presented by panel discussions that opened the door to the jointly coordinated resolving of many years of accumulated environmental issues. During the seminars held, and particularly through organised panel discussions, participants openly and transparently discussed methods and models of jointly resolving some of the most important issues in the field of environmental protection. The issues imposing themselves as a priority of all participants included: the protection and preservation of natural riches, the construction of mini-hydroelectric power plants in protected areas, the handling of hazardous waste, municipal waste and wastewater, the improvement of the quality of ambient air and strengthening the capacities of inspection services and cooperation between competent authorities.

Only through coordinated and permanent activities of all stakeholders that can improve the level of protection of the environment in any way can we expect visible results in terms of establishing EU standards

Resolving the listed issues is neither an easy nor a quick process, but rather a process that will require both financial resources and the maximum engagement of all competent state bodies, scientific institutions, NGOs and the media, in order to legislatively raise the awareness of all of us regarding the preserving and protectng of the environment for future generations. Participants assessed this form of education positively, which represents a good path to utilise joint efforts and exchanges of experiences in order for us to improve environmental protection, as one of the strategic goals on the road to reaching EU standards.

The seminars held in 2018 resulted in the following conclusions for the coming period:

» Continue permanent education during 2019;

» Include the media in permanent education, as an important link in raising awareness regarding environmental protection;

» Include IMPEL experts in future permanent education activities, with the aim of transferring the best European practises;

» Approach the creation of an information system for connecting local and provincial inspectors for environmental protection with the national inspectorate;

» Utilise e-Inspector – networking all inspectorates at the national level;

» Strengthen the capacities of inspection services at all levels.

Reports and materials from the training conducted in 2017 and the seminars held in 2018 are available via the link: za-zastitu-zivotne-sredine/

For the year 2019, Budget funds are also planned for continuing permanent education activities in 2019 through the organising of two seminars. The first seminar is planned for June this year and will include the participation of judges and prosecutors, alongside environmental protection inspectors at all levels. At the second seminar, which is planned for September this year, environmental inspectors at all levels will be joined by representatives of the media and NGOs.

Permanent education via seminars is just one way to advance environmental protection. The most important aim we are striving to realise is the establishment of a training centre, within the national inspectorate for environmental protection, for the permanent training of environmental protection inspectors at all levels, as well as other stakeholders (judges, prosecutors, businesses, media, NGOs etc.), which has imposed itself as a requirement.

Is it only through coordinated and permanent activities of all stakeholders that can improve the level of protection of the environment in any way that can we expect visible results in terms of establishing EU standards.