European Union Ambassador in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johann Sattler, hosted today’s conference on the environment ‘Živi ZDRAVO, diši ČISTO’ (Live healthy, live clean), organised by the EU Office in BiH, in cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Swedish Embassy in BiH.
The conference was held at Dom mladih in Sarajevo, in a space adjusted to following health recommendations due to COVID-19 pandemic, in accordance with strictly established protocols and in full compliance with the measures. Most of the speakers and about 130 guests – representatives of civil society organisations, authorities, institutes, experts and the media – took part in the conference online.
In his video message in the introductory part, the Chair of the Presidency of BiH, Šefik Džaferović, underlined that the entire community in BiH, led by government representatives, must demonstrate its highest commitment to the fight against climate change, especially by improving legal frameworks and respecting BiH’s international obligations. Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Torgny Svenungsson, Chargé d’Affaires of the Swedish Embassy in BiH, and Majlinda Bregu, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, all delivered their addresses via video link.
EU Ambassador Johann Sattler stressed that BiH citizens must insist on resolving environmental issues: “Bosnia and Herzegovina so far did not take significant steps to protect its environment. But this also means that it is possible to achieve some quick fixes if decisive action is taken soon.” The Ambassador also drew attention to the problem of air pollution, noting that this problem results in 3,300 premature deaths annually in BiH.
The conference was divided into two panels, which discussed in more detail the EU Green Plan and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, as well as their importance for BiH, aside issues and problems related to air quality and possible solutions. BiH Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Staša Košarac, FBiH Minister of Environment and Tourism Edita Đapo, RS Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and Ecology Srebrenka Golić and the Sarajevo Canton Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and Environmental Protection Faruk Kapidžić also took part in the work of the conference. Experts from the European Union, the Regional Cooperation Council, Sweden and Bosnia and Herzegovina also took the floor to discuss these topics.
Speaking about the EU Green Plan, experts pointed out that it brings benefits to the entire continent, and explained the goals of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, with its adoption expected at the summit in November.
Representatives of BiH government institutions spoke about harmonising legislation in the country with EU legislation on environmental protection, but also about concrete measures taken to ensure sustainable development, energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse emissions. It was also noted that appropriate strategies for environmental protection are being drafted for the state level, as well as the Entities and the Brčko District, and that their adoption is expected in the course of 2021.
At the end of the conference, Garret Kelly from the SEE Change Net Foundation pointed out that the transition from a linear to a circular economy implied by the Green Plan requires a change in awareness, and expressed hope that Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans will tap on the funds that the EU has provided for this purpose.