Serbian State Secretary for Environment, February 2016.
Industrial production boosted the Serbian economy over the past decades. Yet many of these activities have left legacies of historical soil pollution needing to be addressed. UNEP is now supporting investigations on the ground to identify contaminated sites linked to energy production and the chemical or metal industries so that they can be remediated using suitable and site-specific technologies.
Executed in close cooperation with Serbia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, the project will develop instruments and mechanisms for integrated soil use and management, build institutional capacities for monitoring and reporting and raise awareness on the integrated and sustainable soil management.
As a result, the Serbian government will be able to establish a baseline for clean-up efforts, which are a national priority.
A first training for Serbian officials to be able to monitor soil quality and identify pollution at industrial sites was held in Rome in April 2016. The Serbian delegation was led by Ms Bozovic and included high officials and scientists from the country’s Environment Ministry and the Serbian Environment Protection Agency. The Italian institutions providing training included the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development and the Italian Health Institute.
The event will be followed by a ‘learning by doing’ implementation phase in summer 2016 where Italian experts will be invited to Serbia to join officials there in applying the training to sites identified as being contaminated.
Following years of UNEP work on remediating sites polluted by conflict, the project is the first to focus on industrial soil contamination at national level in Serbia. It is expected to help the country as it opens the environment chapter of negotiations towards EU membership later this year, as well as support its fulfilment of multilateral environmental agreements such as the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
The project is in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 15 ‘Life on land,’ which aims to halt and reverse land degradation. It is financed by the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, which granted a contribution to the GEF funded project titled ‘Enhanced Cross-sectoral Land Management through Land Use Pressure Reduction and Planning,’ carried out by UNEP’s Vienna Office.