The World Environment Day marked by the presentation of green ideas, projects and innovations

June 5, 2023

Belgrade, 5 June 2023 – Withing the European Green Week 2023, the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with partners, marked the World Environment Day 2023. On this occasion, the “Fair of Green Ideas, Projects and Innovations” was held at the "Cvijeta Zuzorić" Art Pavilion in Kalemegdan. The Fair showcased the best so far supported and implemented projects and investments for the green transformation of the Serbian economy and society. The event also gathered representatives of the business and banking sector, relevant national institutions, civil society and academic community, embassies and international institutions.

„The purpose of the EU Green Agenda for the Western Balkans is to reduce fossil fuels dependency and move to renewable energy sources, preserve and better use natural resources, reduce environmental pollution, preserve nature and biodiversity, ensure rural development and sustainable food supply systems. I believe that by working together we can bring benefits to society. There is no planet B and certainly there is no time to stand still, particularly at these turbulent times. A lot of hard work is ahead of us: regulations, their implementation, investments, and dialogue as the key actions of the future. Greening the economy also means greening the mindset, and I am inviting citizens to get engaged and informed about the different events during the European Green Week, but also afterwards, because the world needs all of us to be actively engaged“, stated Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, H.E. Emanuele Giaufret.

The Minister of Environmental protection Irena Vujović used this opportunity to invite units of local self-government which have developed their air quality plans or have achieved significant progress in planning air quality, to apply to the public call which will co-finance air protection measures by up to 50% of the total project value, in order to improve air quality in their units of local self-government.

„By organizing this Fair we wanted to gather all innovators who, with the support of the UNDP and our partners, are making an active contribution to the green transformation of Serbia, in order to inspire others to take the same track. Since they have been implemented in practice, these green solutions are already having positive impact on the environment and public health. At the same time, these companies and their products are becoming more competitive in the export markets, and thereby they contribute to sustainable economic growth and creating new green jobs“, stated Yakup Beris, UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia.

More than 40 authors of green solutions participated at the Fair, coming from the public and private sectors, civil society, research institutions and local self-governments. They answered questions asked by the visitors about the development of their green innovations, from concepts to successful projects which contribute to reducing GHG emissions, moving on to renewable energy sources, reuse of waste to produce new products, improving air quality and preserving biodiversity.

The Fair also featured three panel discussions, on topics which are key for implementing the EU Green Agenda for the Western Balkans in Serbia

The first panel, which was opened by H.E. Anika Ben David, the Ambassador of Sweden to Serbia, underlined the importance of harmonizing the environmental legal and policy framework in Serbia with the EU acquis, particularly in the context of Serbia’s accession to the EU.

The second panel, opened by the Swiss Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Urs Schmid, underlined the relevance of encouraging the culture of innovations and applying modern technologies and sustainable practices to accelerate the green transition.

In view of the relevance of access to funding for the success of the green transformation, the third panel, for which the keynote speaker was Alessandro Bragonzi, Head of Regional Representation for Western Balkans at European Investment Bank (EIB), who presented different options for investments and financial mechanisms and models that can contribute to implementing green solutions in practice.

Bragonzi emphasized that EIB Global, a dedicated arm of EIB, is assisting Serbia to  make progress on its way to EU accession, including with respect to Chapter 15 on energy and Chapter 27 on environmental protection and climate change: „We are one of the key global financiers of climate and sustainability projects. In 2022, the share of EIR investments into these sectors grew to EUR 36.5 billion, which is 58% of our annual lending. It is out ambition with our Climate Action Plan to mobilise up to EUR 1 trillion in green investments by the end of this decade.“

He added that the involvement of the private sector is key to increasing green investments: „However, a survey conducted by the EIB, the EBRD and the World Bank shows that companies in the Western Balkans still lag behind in this respect compared to similar countries. Although 10% of companies are reporting losses suffered from extreme weather conditions, only 21% of companies invest in energy efficiency, while 59% do not see such investments as a priority. The survey showed that they need to enhance their environmental strategic priorities, enhance management involvement and access to funding. The project ’EU for Green Agenda in Serbia’ which we support together with the UNDP and other partners in Serbia is certainly the right way forward with respect to supporting green investments and the energy transition of the economies in the region“, said Bragonzi.

After the panels, commercial banks presented their offer of green financing, and in cooperation with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, they organized B2B business meetings in order to forge new partnerships.

Along with the official program, an exhibition was staged in front of the „Cvijeta Zuzorić́“ Art Pavilion, in form of a fashion installation featuring dresses made of recycled jeans, by designer Ana Trošić Trajković, demonstrating how textile industry waste can be reused to produce new garments, instead of ending up on landfills. Visitors could exercise in the outdoor eco-gym, where exercise equipment is made of waste trees captured from the Sava river, and they could play a quiz and win prizes for correct answers about environmental protection. In addition, by entering the climate capsule of the Centre for the Promotion of Science the visitors could see scientific facts, art interventions and multimedia content and learn what is the future ahead of us if we do not respond adequately to climate change.

Within the marking of the World Environment Day, a photo exhibition was opened with photographs and descriptions of green ideas, projects and innovations along the Sava Promenade in Kalemegdan, which will last until 11 June.

This exhibition and the „Fair of Green ideas, Projects and Innovations“ were organized within the project “EU for the Green Agenda in Serbia”, implemented by the UNDP with the technical and financial support by the European Union and in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden and the European Investment Bank (EIB), with additional funds provided by the governments of Sweden, Switzerland and Serbia.

This event was part of the European Green Week 2023, which is held between 3 to 11 June, with the focus on developing skills that we need to create sustainable, resilient and socially equitable communities. This week will demonstrate the overall support of the EU to the field of environmental protection in Serbia, as well as its cooperation with national and local partners.