The conference “Dialogue on Climate Change in Serbia: Climate-smart Partnerships ahead of Paris COP21” was held in Belgrade on the 5th and 6th of October. The event was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the co-operation of the Embassy of the Republic of France in Serbia and support from the Global Environmental Fund.
Over 200 participants attended the conference, ahead of the historical 21st summit of the members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will be held in Paris from the 30th November to the 11th December this year. The main slogan of the Belgrade conference “Time for Action” points to the chief purpose of the dialogue, which is to encourage all interested parties to urgently undertake concrete measures and activities to combat climate change.
In the opening session the attendees were addressed by Snežana Bogosavljević Bošković, Minister for agriculture and environmental protection, as well as high ranking UN and EU officials:
Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia
H.E. Michael Davenport, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia
H. E. Axel Dittmann, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Serbia
H.E. Christine Moro, Ambassador of the Republic of France in Serbia
The speakers confirmed the importance of the issue of climate change from a political standpoint, for the proces of integration of the Republic of Serbia with the European Union, but also for the success of the Conference in Paris.
During the presentations, the participants had to opportunity to hear about the latest global developments in climate change policy and the preparations for the forthcoming UNFCCC Conference in Paris. Regarding COP21, the experts from UNDP and the European Commission’s (EC) Climate Change Directorate were able to clarify the main content which will be under negotiation, and the expectations from the new global climate agreement. This agreement should secure further mandatory reduction in GHG emissions, as well as adaption measures to new climate conditions beyond 2020. Representatives of the EC emphasized da according to the new proposed agreement every country should take on the obligation to reduce GHG emissions according to its own capabilities and national circumstances.
State Secretary Stana Božović presented the efforts of the Republic of Serbia in combating climate change, both regarding the implementation of international obligations, but also regarding the question of harmonization with EU legislation.
In addition, particular attention was given to local self-governing authorities and possible measures for initiating innovative development which contributes to the reduction of GHG emissions (so called ‘low carbon development’). It was emphasized that this new concept, which is also promoted by UNDP, assumes the inclusion of local communities and other stakeholders who can offer innovative and applicable solutions for some of the usual problems related to GHG emissions and possibilities for their reduction. Also presented were the views and activities of civil society organizations in this area.
During the second day, the focus of the conference was directed towards examining the scientific facts, data and projections in the field of climate change, as the basis for decision making and planning measures of mitigation and adaptation to changed climate conditions. The participants had the opportunity to get better acquainted with the Global Framework for Climate Services, managed by the World Meteorological Organization, as well as take part in the discussions on the connection between climate change and various sectors such as agriculture, water resources, forestry, waste management, and agriculture and land reclamation. The entire discussion on these questions was based on the information presented as an integral part of the Second National Communication (in preparation – completion planned by the end of 2015) and the First Biennial Update Report of the Republic of Serbia according to the UNFCCC (available in draft proposal form on this website).
The conference succeeded in establishing an open dialogue between various interested parties in the Republic of Serbia on the important questions for the creation and implementation of climate change policy. Particularly significant is the process of inclusion of civil society organizations in this dialogue, which is expected to be continued as good practice beyond the adoption of the new climate agreement at the forthcoming conference in Paris. In addition, the significance of a national dialogue is also in the advancement of a system of information gathering and sharing in the domain of climate change, as well as in the advancement of cross-sectoral collaboration and decision making, which has to be based on scientific facts and data. Therefore, the dialogue also represents an opportunity to consider in the future those measures and activities around the implementation and further planning of the intended nationally determined contributions to the reduction of GHG emissions.
As a good example of scientifically based recommendations for action, the publication “The Heating up of Crops – How to Answer” can be pointed out. It was prepared as part of the ongoing joint projects between the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and UNDP.