The members of the informal Green Parliamentary Group Nada Lazic, Jasmina Karanac, Gordana Comic, Dijana Vukomanovic, Dubravka Filipovski and Branimir Jovanovic had a working meeting with the Committee on the Environment and Emergency Situations of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities with the topic: Obstacles to the implementation of the Law on Environmental Protection at the local level.
Opening the meeting, the coordinator of the informal Green Parliamentary Group Nada Lazic emphasized the importance of the feedback the MPs receive from the local self-governments concerning the implementation of environmental rules and regulations.
Sasa Djordjevic, President of the Municipality of Gadzin Han and the Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Emergency Situations of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, informed the MPs that the Committee is very active and has already defined certain environmental guidelines and proposals. He also spoke of the problems the local self-governments come up against when attempting to implement the Law on Communal Activities.
Djordje Stanicic, Secretary General of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM), said that the SCTM contributes to the creation of an adequate legal framework for the local self-governments’ work on the protection and improvement of the environment, emergency prevention and management, making sure that the interest of the local self-government units are represented in the dialogue with the national institutions. SCTM strives to influence the development of the local capacities to pursue a responsible local policy across the board. He also spoke about last June’s amendments and modifications to the Law on Local Self-Government mentioning the SCTM’s active role in the process (SCTM cooperated with the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government to organize a public debate on the draft law attended by representatives of an impressive number of towns and municipalities in Serbia). He said that inter-municipal cooperation was one important change. Model local acts were drafted which need to be harmonized due to the amendment of the Law by the end of the year, most importantly the Statute of local self-government units. SCTM is cooperating with the Ministry to draft model inter-municipal cooperation agreements to help intensify the cooperation in practice and organize regional trainings for all the local self-governments on the practical application of the new regulations.
In the ensuing discussion, the representatives of the local self-governments spoke about the problems they are faced with (lack of funding and human resources). They listed examples of inter-municipal cooperation on the reduction of environmental disaster risks. They also said that agreements between local self-governments are very hard to achieve in practice, for example concerning the establishment of a regional landfill which is why a regional approach to addressing issues such as this needs to be made legal obligation. They said that there are a lot of problems concerning waste water management and drinking water supply due to the irresponsibility of the local self-governments. If waste water gets into the rivers it can seriously pollute drinking water supplies, they said also speaking of the problem in AP Vojvodina as regards the quality of well water because the capacities had never been investigated.
Ivan Karic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, then went on to brief the attending on the preparations of the negotiating position for Chapter 27.
The meeting was organized with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office in Serbia under the auspices of project “Strengthening capacities for the improved implementation of international environmental agreements” financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).