Offering solutions for sustainable development in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zenica - Tuesday 12/12/2017 – In order to join the European Union Bosnia and Herzegovina must align its legislation and its practices with those of the EU. This will include significant changes to the country's 'business as usual' of insufficent environmental protection and unsustainable development. But change is possible, and to support this transformation the EU-funded „Civil society acts for environmentally sound socio-economic development“ (CO-SEED) project is delivering concrete and actionable recommendations for improvements to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) processes in the country.
On December 12, the CO-SEED team organized a roundtable to discuss the current situation related to EIAs and SEA processes. The roundtable was attended by more than 20 representatives of civil society organizations, the media, entity ministries and public utility companies. The aim of the roundtable was to present recommendations for the improvement and harmonization of the country's laws and regulations with the relevant EU Directives.
"We conducted a detailed analysis of legislative frameworks for assessing the impact of potential infrastructure development and analyzing the level of public engagement in decision-making. Based on this analysis, we prepared set of policy recommendations and presented them on this round table. The goal was to discuss how to strengthen environmental assessment procedures, as these procesess to date have proved to be extremely problematic and imprecise. "- said Đorđe Stefanović, CO-SEED chief project officer.
"It is not uncommon that data cited in these studies are older than 30 years. Such studies are not taking into consideration today's weather patterns and climate change. In other cases 'recent' data is often inaccurate, misunderstood, and inappropriately placed in a broader context, "added Viktor Bjelić from the Center for Environment - Banja Luka.
One of the points emphasized during the discussion is the need for a more effective and structured role for civil society organizations to engage with decision-makers over the long-term. This type of public participation in environmental decision-making is a key principal of sustainable development, and Bosnia and Herzegovina has already committed to it as a signatory of the Aarhus Convention. Also several participants mentioned that setting up a reference laboratory which could provide answers as to the real state of the environment is extremely urgent.
"In Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is necessary to provide a mechanism for involving civil society organizations in the development decision-making reporting process. Also, to provide a mechanism for civil society organizations to prepare alternative reports on the status of implementation of the Aarhus Convention. It should be noted that this is a complex country with a high level of decentralization as the entities are fully responsible for the adoption and implementation of environmental protection regulations. In most situations, all parties work together, and the laws are mostly harmonized. However, there are exceptions with obvious differences. That is why we have made recommendations for all sides in situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, we used this opportunity to present a manual with examples of successful EIA and SEA implementation from around the world." - concluded Stefanovic.
In the coming months the CO-SEED team will continue to engage with policy makers, the private sector, and civil society organizations to support Bosnia and Herzegovina's road to EU accession and more sustainable economic growth. CO-SEED is implemented by WWF and partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey.
More about the recommendations: