On December 16 and 17, 2021 over 100 participants from the cross-border area between Serbia – Bosnia and Herzegovina, gathered at the virtual conference „Counting down to zero – Zero Waste Municipalities”. The event was organized and hosted by Center for Energy, Environment and Resources – CENER 21 and Environmental Engineering Group – EEG.

18 eminent lecturers from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina shared their knowledge and experiences with participants from waste management utilities, local governments, ministries responsible for waste management, sustainable development and environmental protection, green entrepreneurs, students and teaching staff from the educational institutions, and representatives of other relevant institutions and organizations.

The welcome speeches were addressed by Mr. Igor Jezdimirović, President of the association Environmental Engineering Group and Mr. Živko Kolašinac, Head of the Joint Technical Secretariat of the IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Program SRB-BiH 2014-2020, emphasizing the importance and benefits of specific actions of cross-border cooperation.

Ms. Šejla Mahmutović, Project manager (CENER 21), introduced the interactive part of the conference, by highlighting project activities, expected results and progress update. “Over 400 European cities have recognized the zero-waste concept as a driver of socio-economic development of local communities and have strategically opted for it. Guided by the EU practices, the IPA cross-border cooperation project Zero Waste Municipalities seeks to contribute to strengthening of the economic development in six pilot municipalities: Bajina Bašta, Vladimirci, Krupanj, Visoko, Ilijaš and Sarajevo Centar,” highlighted Ms. Mahmutović.

The first day of the conference was dedicated to the promotion of good management of resource-efficient sector by institutions from BiH and Serbia and local initiatives to achieve zero waste. During the second day, all eyes were on zero waste and circular economy as drivers of economic development and efforts of local communities in the context of raising public awareness on sustainable consumption and production practices.

“The circular economy is a development opportunity for the countries of the Balkan region. BiH and Serbia are at the very beginning of this essential transition. It is crucial that the society adopts the narrative of the European Green Deal through the Sofia Declaration and understands the value of preserving natural resources and recognizing the economic benefits of switching to a circular/green economy. The transition will be successful only if it has a minimal negative impact on society’s economy. All key actors in the transition (decision-makers, businesses, and consumers) will contribute to this success if the activities are carried out in synchrony and partnership. It is necessary to use the opportunity for new investments in clean technologies and enable regional cooperation in the context of the circular/green economy”, pointed out Ms. Sandra Kamberović – regional legal expert on circular economy and environmental protection.

The event was organized within IPA cross-border cooperation SRB – BiH project: Zero Waste Municipalities. With the slogan “Counting down to zero” the European Union has financially supported the implementation of this project which seeks to strengthen sustainable development in 6 local governments. By applying targeted and concrete actions, the project is jointly implemented by the Center for Energy, Environment and Resources – CENER 21 from Sarajevo (BiH) and Environmental Engineering Group – EEG from Novi Sad (Serbia). The project started in March 2021 and will last for two years, and the total value of the project is 413,608.44 EUR. The contracting authority for this project is the Ministry of Finance, the Department for Contracting and Financing of European Union Funded programs (CFCU), of the Republic of Serbia.