National Conference on Air Quality Planning in 29 Cities and Municipalities in Serbia – Exchange of Experience and Examples of Good Practice

December 7, 2022

The United Nations Development Progamme (UNDP), with the support of the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia, supports 29 local self-governments in improving air quality. The national conference on air quality planning for representatives of cities and municipalities was held on December 5th in Sabac as a part of the „EU for Green Agenda in Serbia“ project. The conference brought together more than 60 representatives of local self-governments throughout Serbia in order to exchange experiences in the fight against air pollution.

During the panel discussion dedicated to air quality protection planning, representatives of municipalities presented their experiences, problems and solutions they found when monitoring air quality, as well as during the planning of protection measures. Representatives of the municipalities of Subotica and Kraljevo agreed that the biggest challenge is solving pollution originating from individual fireboxes, while the representative of Pacevo, a city that has many years of experience in the fight against air pollution, said that sustainability and the cost of automatic air quality monitoring are additional problems. 

The state network of measuring points for automatic monitoring of air quality has more than 30 measuring stations in Serbia and the introduction of 17 more stations is planned. Automatic monitoring has significantly improved the measurement of air quality and the application of measures to reduce pollution in municipalities and cities.

The second panel discussion was dedicated to the implementation of air protection measures and the representatives from the cities of Uzice and Novi Pazar presented their experiences. Eight years ago, the city of Uzice started co-financing the replacement of fireboxes. Since then, 2.600 buildings in Uzice have replaced fireboxes, and the effects are visible and air pollution has been reduced. The process is slow but important,  the municipality representatives pointed out.

Although Novi Pazar has been measuring air quality for a long time, an automatic measuring station that measures PM particle values has been instaled in 2020. The representatives of Novi Pazar believe that individual heating is the main source of particle pollution because there are no exceeding values in the period outside the heating season. They also implement energy efficiency measures by replacing woodwork and improving insulation, while one of the city measures was a ban on the use of cars in the city centre during the period when the concentration of pollution was at its highest, which eventually showed good results.

The representative of the RES Foundation, Alexandar Macura, spoke about the issue of energy poverty in the implementation of air quality measures, the steps in applying for incentive funds and the efficiency of using those funds. He stated that it was extremely important to decide on supported and applied measures and that improving the efficiency of heating and reducing the pollution that comes with heating significantly contributes to reducing the concentration of pollutants.

Dusica Radojicic from the Ministry of Environmental Protection spoke about the draft of the National Air Protection Program and its implication for local air quality planning and pointed out that the main goal was to involve the public from the very beginning of the preparation of the Proposal for the National Air Protection Program. The approach in the program proposal is related to the Directive on the Reduction of National Emissions of Certain Pollution Substances and the Directive on Air Quality.

The second workshop as part of providing technical support in the development and/or improvement of Air Quality Plans and/or Short-Term Action Plans was held on December 6th. Participants had the opportunity to learn, together with mentors, on concrete examples of how to determine the location of measuring points, define goals, indicators and measures of action plans, as well as how to prepare a part of program budget for financing specific air protection measures.

Antoine Avignon, Project Manager at the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia emphasized the importance of engaging local self-governments in solving the problem of air pollution.

Project expert Dejan Lekic spoke about the Guide with guidelines and examples of good practice, which will be prepared for local governments to help them better implement the air quality planning process, reduce pollution and improve health. He said that public participation is very important and that everything that happens in the entire process, from the decision to the formation of the air quality plan, should involve constant interaction with the public.

Direct support in the development and improvement of local action plans for air quality management will are given to twelve local self-governments: Subotica, Uzice, Kraljevo, Novi Pazar, Bor, Zajecar, Nis, Pancevo, Belgrade, Pirot, Paracin and Beocin.

The representatives of additional 17 local self-governments have the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills through training so that they can better plan and implement air protection measures. These are the representatives of Cuprija, Bujanovac, Sokobanja, Sombor, Veliko Gradiste, Arandjelovac, Vlasotince, Mionica, Prijepolje, Backa Palanka, Pozega, Negotin, Dimitrovgrad, Medvedja, Bosilegrad, Opovo, and Loznica. 

The project „EU for the Green Agenda in Serbia“, with the financial support of the European Union and in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection is implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden, the European Investment Bank and the Government of Switzerland.