04 Jul 2019 Story Chemicals & waste

Meeting European Union standards by building institutional capacity in the Republic of Serbia

Since 2014, the Republic of Serbia has been looking to join the European Union. Serbia is, therefore, working to adhere to European Union regulations concerning the sound management of chemicals and waste, and to implement the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions and the Minamata Convention.

As a candidate for European Union membership, the Republic of Serbia has harmonized its national legislation on chemicals and waste management to comply with European Union legislation. This included the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemicals, prior informed consent and persistent organic pollutants regulations, waste frame directive, as well as a set of European Union legal acts related to mercury, including the integrated pollution prevention and control directive and the restriction of hazardous substances directive.

In addition, during the last decade, the country adopted various laws relevant to environmental protection; for example, the law on waste management—laws 36/2009, 88/2010, 14/2016 and 95/2018—the law on waters—30/10 and 93/12—and the law on plant protection products—41/09.

Furthermore, recently listed chemicals under the Stockholm Convention have brought attention to the use of persistent organic pollutants in various products. Once discarded, the management of these has introduced new challenges in defining strategies for their environmentally sound management and efforts to prevent, reduce or eliminate their releases. For example, recycled plastics containing persistent organic pollutants are unintentionally contributing to the contamination of new plastic products if they are not removed from the recycling stream.

To further improve its management of chemicals and waste, Serbia will be implementing a project, entitled “Strengthening the synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions at the national level in the Republic of Serbia”. The project is funded by UN Environment’s Chemicals and Waste Programme, also known as the Special Programme. The resources provided aim to build the institutional capacity of the Serbian government to strengthen the synergies between the four chemicals and waste-related Conventions. The project also seeks to improve coordination between government agencies, civil society organizations in the field of waste management and industry, with a special focus on raising awareness on the identification and separation hazardous persistent organic pollutant substances in the recycling sector, in order to build capacity within the sector to facilitate the full implementation of the Stockholm Convention using a sustainable recycling approach.

Of primary importance is the creation of a national coordination mechanism. It will ensure that all relevant stakeholders work together to monitor the implementation

of the Conventions and oversee a national system for reporting and collecting relevant data.

The project also includes measures for an awareness-raising campaign that builds on the results of previous projects. Special events and training sessions will be organized for policymakers, the business community, civil society organizations and the scientific community. There will be a special focus on vulnerable and marginalized groups who are most affected by inefficient chemical and waste management. They will be systematically included in the training sessions and awareness-raising activities.

The Government of the Republic of Serbia recognizes the importance of the sound management of chemicals and waste throughout their lifecycle. Their improper management can lead to their release into the environment where they can last for many decades. Through this project, the Ministry of Environmental Protection will make sure activities that are being conducted under the respective multilateral environmental agreements will serve to build synergies between the chemicals and waste-related Conventions.