In the last few years, contemporary society has faced the biggest environmental challenges in a long while.
The Future Is Asking You - MITECO Forum
Water and air pollution are becoming bigger problems, wild landfills are appearing, and at the same time climate change is altering the natural ecosystem flow in our environment. All these changes pose new challenges before the industry, expected to provide a definite answer.
An indicator of our country's serious approach to influencing ecological awareness of its citizens, and to the solving of key issues in the area of ecology and environmental protection, is the fact that Miteco Forum has grown into an event with a tradition, which the professional community eagerly looks forward to.
The 4th International Miteco Forum began with organizers and honorable guests addressing the auditorium. As is the tradition, the Forum was opened by the President of the company Miteco Kneževac, Miodrag Mitrović, who pointed out his satisfaction with the fact that the Forum has become a good tradition and platform of educational activities. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia, thanked the organizers for inviting her, pointing out this year's slogan of the forum „The Future Is Asking You?" which shows well that this is something that concerns all of us, as well as the future generations. She particularly emphasized the cooperation between the public and private sector as something that needs to be particularly developed in order to create sustainable solutions. Sandra Nedeljković from the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government looked back on the recent floods which affected Serbia and she pointed out that the number of emergency situations is constantly rising, and that in the last couple of years there have been more than 3,000. She emphasized the importance of improving the prevention and recovery process, as well as that the Ministry has started a joint project for early recovery with PBILD with an aim to construct capacities for flood prevention, and for repairing existing damage.
Following the official opening of the Forum, two discussion panels were held: Climate Changes and Waste Management and Industrialization. In the course of the first panel, there was discussion on the extreme effects of climate change which are manifested on the waste management system as well. Serbia's experience with the May floods showed inadequate preparation for potential risk management, and that public utility services lack the technical and organizational preparedness to be able to react in emergency situations. With this in view, there is need for greater investments in the system of prevention.
Historical pollution in companies in the restructuring process or undergoing bankruptcy proceedings was also mentioned. The conclusion was that these companies are not in a position to resolve the issue of historical waste and historical pollution, which is why they need help.
The panelists also pointed out the need for promptly reforming the system of financing within the waste management system by setting up an appropriate Fund, as well as the need for further reform of regulations, particularly in reference to waste treatment and the stage when waste ceases to be waste and becomes a product. There is need for a system based solution to the problems of industrial/hazardous waste by the construction of appropriate facilities for waste treatment, with a significantly higher degree of public participation in the selection of location, technical solutions and other questions of interest.
Some of the discussions reflected the situation world-wide and in the EU. Pointed out were estimates that a rise in warming of 2 degrees, compared to the period prior to industrialization, can bring about a loss of up to 2% of global annual income. Also pointed out was that the EU Energy Policy 20/20/20 is amended with a new plan: "Energy and Climate Goals for 2030" – reduction of CO2 emission by 40% and increasing the share of renewable energy to 27%. The economic implications of implementation of this policy will be a reduction of the European GNP up to 0.45%.
Dušan Stokić M.Sc. from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce presented some of the conclusions from the 2014 IPCC meeting held in Yokahama, and he pointed out that negative effect on the GNP could be limited if emission tax applied to all the industry, with simultaneously reducing labor related taxes. It is estimated that slowing down and adaption to climate change requires at least 20% of the EU budget for the 2014-2020 period. At the same time, a great potential for development of "green" work places in the production of energy, energy efficiency, waste management, etc., with the application of stated measures can result in a GNP increase of 1% and can generate approximately 2 million "green" jobs by 2030.
In the second panel which concentrated on the subject of industrialization and circular economy, it was pointed out that European industry today strives to achieve sustainable growth in a way which is efficient for the resources and healthy for the environment. The basis for such growth is in enabling a more circular economy, meaning that waste should be reduced, reused or recycled into new products, or used in the production of energy.
Peter Hodecek, in front of FEAD (European Federation of Environmental Services and Waste Management), pointed out that in July 2014 the European Commission proposed a revision of the EU legislation regulating waste. That was when ambitious long-term goals were set, but not relating only to the period up to 2020, but also referring to the period up to 2025 and 2030. Pointed out was the importance of further developing recycling, reducing the number of landfills, and it was concluded that the waste and resources industry are critical areas for ensuring secondary raw materials for the European industry, stimulating private sector investments in raw materials management infrastructure, and the importance of this field in creating sustainable economic growth and new jobs, all with a view to creating a circular economy.
The 4th International Miteco Forum acknowledged the need for regional cooperation in resolving ecological problems, and it focused on numerous global challenges of society. From stories of ecological challenges, to economic implications of a policy placing at its core environmental protection, several spheres were intertwined in the course of the Forum contributing to the Forum surpassing expectations. Through education, debates and exchange of new information, the participants jointly managed to contrive new ideas and solutions that could contribute to a better, more pleasant and healthier future.