September 28-29, 2017 – Consultative meetings within CSOnnect institutional grant, regarding financing environmental protection at the local level, were held in Belgrade and Novi Sad. These meetings were attended by the civil society representatives, as well as representatives of city and municipality authorities in charge of environmental protection.
CEP Researcher, Stefan Šipka, opened these meetings with a presentation on CSOnnect institutional grant. Afterwards, he briefly presented research on financing environmental protection in 145 local self-governments in Serbia, which were coducted by CEP and the Environmental Center Habitat from Vršac.
Dejan Maksimović, Researcher from the EC Habitat presented the results of the study in greater detail, highlighting the key issues in this area, as well as the conclusions and recommendations for promotion of the system for financing environmental protection by local self-governments. Data collection took 6 to 8 months in order to draw these conclusions. CEP and EC Habitat presented these results in 2 policy briefs: Financing Environmental Protection at the Local Level – Relationship between Revenues and Expenditures and Financing Environmental Protection at the Local Level – Planning of Budget Funds.
The participants of these consultative meetings noticed a continuous trend where money from the budget earmarked for environmental protection in majority of municipalities is not entirely spent in a fiscal year. Rather, it is carried forward to the following fiscal year, while many municipalities spent the funds on other unrelated areas.
In a meeting held in Novi Sad, the city authority representatives for environmental protection pointed out that there is significant variation between municipalities when it comes to environmental protection practice. Also, they pointed to the fact that recommendations for improving and sanctioning measures for bad practices should be clearly defined in order to avoid imposing potential sanctions on cities performing their duties. During the consultative meeting held in Belgrade, insufficient implementation of civil societies recommendations by the government was recognized as one of the major problems. Also, the participants agreed that ignoring environmental protection as one of the priorities will create problems for governmental institutions in the future.
Municipal and civil sector representatives presented their personal experiences and gave their own ideas for improvement of the current predicament, which will be further developed by the researchers as they conclude their research. The completed research will be presented at the final conference on October 23, in Belgrade.
The European Policy Centre (CEP) and our partners (Environmental Centre Habitat, Environmental Movement Odžaci, Local Environmental Movement Smederevo, and Business and Economy Center) have used the institutional grant within the CSOnnect programme, which is implemented by the Regional Environmental Center (REC), and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).