Educate. Connect. Inspire

Educate. Connect. Inspire

May 29, 2012

Green Economy in Europe (part 6)

The first Serbia-European Union Forum was held on September 9, 2011 in Belgrade, where the Minister of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning, Oliver Dulic, stated that both Green Economy and Sustainable Development imply huge investments in this sector, which should contribute to new job openings and better living standards in the country, but also rationalize the use of natural resources.
In the past several years there were 8.000 new jobs opened in domestic recycling industry and renewable energy. By the end of this year there will be 10.000 employees. Green economy is the country's biggest potential and Serbia could solve an economy problem that faces some great investments in this sector, said Minister Dulic in his speech at the green economy panel relating to European integration.
Experts say that by producing biofuel, Serbia could cover expenses for about 2.5 million tons of oil. Serbia also possesses great potential in wind energy, hydropower, and other renewable energy sources. The green economy implies investing in energetic efficiency, reducing production expenses, along with greater competitiveness and sustainable economical growth.
The partnership with private and public sector is necessary in order to successfully conduct the concept of green economy. Serbia has made an important progress in European integrations, and achieving the standard in environmental protection and sustainable development area. In the final run of this Government another two laws should be adopted: Utility Activities Law and Public-Private Partnership Law, said Minister Dulic.
The Minister indicated that green economy and sustainable development are priority topics in all of the International meetings, and that "there is no global forum in which climate changes, energetic crises and natural resource reduction are not mentioned".
The green economy and sustainable development panel was attended by 56 state institution representatives from Serbia and the region, as well as people representing: European Union, different international organizations, economy and industry, civil society organization, academics and other public experts. During the panel, all the participants have recognized the key regulations which will contribute to development of green economy and sustainability in the context of European integrations:
  • The panel has strongly contributed to exchange of views, ideas and visions, in political, professional and business plan, for more successful following of European and international flows related to implementation of green economy concept and sustainable growth.
  • A significant shift has been noted in the field of national politics development which has been accordant to sustainable development concept, sustainable production and consumption, as well as green economy, which furthermore reflects on legislature changes, strategic guidance, and economical instruments. However, there is a need for improvement of not only "greening" of existing economical practice, but also development of significant guidelines, instruments and practical politics in the partnership of public and private sector.
  • It has been concluded that green economy needs to be based on adequate evaluation of natural capital, and followed by financial policy changes along with innovative professionally-political and technological measurement introduction.
  • In context of regional European integration, it is important to provide sufficient terms of financing the program, projects, and activities which contribute to socio-responsible, sustainable and green growth, starting with infrastructural investments and ending with capacity development, both on local and national stage. European Union funds have vital importance for the region. It is important to provide access to international financial institutions, and to advance existing bilateral and multilateral financial mechanisms, according to the needs and priorities of regional countries and European integrations office.
  • The green growth and sustainability in key economical sectors, from energetics to waste management and agriculture, gets realized by public and private sector partnership, local government, civil society organizations, scientific institutions, international and regional organizations, etc. According to this, an additional effort is needed for creating new "green" jobs and skills.
  • Economical principles based on knowledge require adjustment and development of educational systems, as well as higher awareness of sustainability, adjustment to green economy requests, and market needs.
  • Panel participants have supported the sustainable development and green economy concept, in context of upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, 2012. The participants have also expressed commitment to European integrations and to the context of activities in organization of European Union, which relates to the use of green economical development process.
State investments into green economy are crucial, and easier to take place using European Union funds and European banks credit lines (European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and others). Investing into the usage of renewable energy deserves special importance. For example, the local government spends about €40 million on standard public lighting, according to experiences from Paracin community, while using renewable energy could save the country up to €10 million.
The new legal framework in Serbia, which has been harmonized with European Union legislature, has enabled investing into environmental infrastructure, therefore, strengthening of European Union fund capacities are necessary.
A great example of successful business in Serbia and the region represents "Victoria Group," a company that has been investing, since 2005, into technology development and facility construction of biofuel production made of agricultural waste, which is an annual company investment of about €3 million for environmental protection. Another 10,000 workers are expected to get hired in the harvest residues collection field, which represents a significant contribution toward creation of new "green" jobs.
Infrastructural projects represent a key step of green economy concept realization, since realization of these projects is a prerequisite for executing a heavy European Union investment directive in the industrial pollution area, waste management, and wastewater. It is estimated that the largest amount of money from the funds will go into environmental projects, both before and after becoming a European Union member.
The accession to the European Union plan has made the largest shift in environmental sector and sustainable development politics implementation, which represents an important condition for the use of green growth concept in context of upcoming 2012 World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio +20).
The concept of green economy is generally understood as a way of achieving sustainable development and it includes social aspects such as poverty reduction, equitable regional development and building up of human capital.
Pollution charges are in place (although with limited effects) as a way of implementing polluter pays principle. Nevertheless there is still a need for more comprehensive and effective application of market based instruments for greening the economy. Legislation, strategies and action plans to improve resource efficiency are being developed, and specific projects are implemented in the areas such as energy and waste management. Incentives for energy efficiency improvements in small and medium sized enterprises, public buildings and housing sector are increasing both in number and scope.
Even though there is no integral strategy on the development of green economy, some fundamental concepts and principles have been established in the National Sustainable Development Strategy. Regional Development Strategy (2010) links reduction of development disparities (within the country) and increase in employment to the concept of low-carbon development in the main economic sectors and envisages introduction of measures for encouraging private investments into green businesses. Preparation of the new strategy for construction sector based on green standards is planned, and measures to promote sustainable growth have been recorded in various sectors (examples include organic agriculture, eco‐tourism, renewable energy sources etc.).
A diversified policy mix is needed to achieve green, inclusive and competitive economy. Market ‐based instruments include environmental taxes, charges and fees, tradable permits and subsidies. Carbon pricing, which comprises carbon taxes and emission‐trading schemes, has a central place in global attempts to achieve green economy. Non‐market instruments include regulatory and voluntary approaches. Legislative or regulatory instruments are based on performance standards, licensing and banning of certain products or practices, while voluntary approaches include ratings, labelling and certification. Within the EU accession process, Montenegro needs to develop adequate policy mix that will deliver results in its transition to a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Priority sectors for green economy development in Montenegro include energy, tourism, construction, agriculture and forestry. More specifically, opportunities exist for increased use of renewable energy sources (particularly sun and wind), improved energy efficiency, introduction of the environmental standards (low carbon buildings) into construction, development of rural, mountain and eco‐tourism, organic agriculture, rural development, sustainable forestry etc. Besides these, greening opportunities exist for transport (introduction of combined transport, improvements in public transportation systems) and waste management (waste minimisation reuse and recycling).
There are also untapped opportunities with sustainable public procurement (the new Law on Public Procurement has recently been adopted by the Government and it includes general provisions for introduction of both environmental and social criteria for the public procurement rules) and introduction of voluntary instruments such as labelling and eco‐certification schemes. Partnerships with scientific institutions and business sector need to be developed in order to support development of low‐carbon technologies and green jobs creation. Development of adequate human and technical capacity is a prerequisite for transition to a green economy. Availability of international assistance is also very important.
Discussions held during the national multi‐stakeholder conference on sustainable development (October 2011) confirmed Montenegrins aspirations to become a pilot country for thorough restructuring and greening of the national economy based on the principles of social equity, resource efficiency and preservation of the environment. The idea and possibility to secure support for such an endeavour has been tested during the 19th Session of UN Commission on Sustainable Development in May 2011, when it was generally evaluated in a positive manner. Rio+20 Conference is seen as an opportunity to pursue this idea further, marking the twentieth anniversary of the initial presentation of Montenegro as an ecological state at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.
As for the expectations from UNCSD, Montenegro holds a position that the existing momentum for green economy development should be utilised to re‐emphasise complementarity between economic growth, preservation of the natural environments and resources, and stimulating employment and social equity. The Conference should also provide guidelines for development of green economy and ensure commitment and support of developed countries to the developing ones through technology transfers, information sharing and continued financial assistance.
Sustainable development and green economy should not be understood as concepts that exclude or replace each other. The recommendations/guidelines for implementation of the green economy concept should be adjustable to individual countries’ contexts and include examples of best practices and successful instruments. Measurable indicators for monitoring results should be defined. Linked to this, definition of targets would be desirable.