Today, Serbia became the first country in the pan-European region to launch a National Policy Dialogue (NPD) on Industrial Safety, supported by UNECE in the framework of the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents (Industrial Accidents Convention). Since its accession to the Convention back in 2009, Serbia has progressively made progress in implementing the Convention’s key provisions – the NPD process will help the country advance towards full implementation.
The NPD will advance policy reforms and improve governance on industrial safety and related policy areas, ranging from disaster risk management to mining/mineral resource governance, urban development/land-use planning, and addressing natural hazards which could trigger technological accidents (so-called Natech events), which are on the rise due to climate change.
During the launch meeting in Belgrade, representatives from different Serbian authorities agreed to set up a Steering Committee of the NPD, with membership at this stage from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management - the Republic Water Directorate, the Ministry of Construction, Traffic and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Mining and Energy.
The Steering Committee provides an umbrella framework to take forward a series of consultations on industrial safety related matters, involving all relevant institutions, and associating industry and other stakeholders through the process.
At the occasion of the launch, Ms. Aleksandra Imširagić Đurić, Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, leading the NPD launch and implementation, highlights: “The National Policy Dialogue will be a means to identify and fill the gaps in the existing legislation, as well as the basis for reaching an agreement on the implementation of measures to address challenges, ensuring coordinated involvement of all competent authorities. The NPD will also help the Republic of Serbia to effectively implement policy reforms to improve environmental management, industrial safety, accident prevention, disaster risk reduction and emergency response. This process would ensure synergy with other multilateral international agreements in the field of environment, as well as with EU regulations, especially the Seveso III Directive. The NPD will further contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.”
The Convention’s Chair, Ms. Torill Tandberg, added: “I am pleased to see Serbia pioneer the launch of National Policy Dialogues on Industrial Safety – a strategic objective of the Convention’s Assistance and Cooperation Programme, in order to enhance governance and policy-making in its beneficiary countries. I encourage Serbia to make best use of this process to further progress towards the full implementation of the Convention nationally, and in a transboundary context, building on the continuous progress made ever since Serbia became a Party back in 2009.”
The NPD process in Serbia will enter its implementation phase in 2022, when the first meeting of the NPD Steering Committee will be held, with the support of UNECE, thanks to funding provided by France, and in cooperation with the OECD. Ms. Marie-Claire Lhenry, heading the European and International Affairs of the Risk Prevention Union of the French Ministry of the Ecological Transition, highlights that “France is pleased to support Serbia in the launch and the continued implementation of the NPD on Industrial Safety, under the auspices of the UNECE Industrial Accidents Convention. With a history of strong state institutions, France is fully aware of the importance of stable cooperation mechanisms, to shape sound policies and ensure coherence between national legislation to implement the UNECE Industrial Accidents Convention, EU Seveso Directive, Union Civil Protection Mechanism, and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – among others. We are confident that Serbia will make best use of the support provided to fully identify and manage its technological disaster risks across its chemicals industry, the mining, automotive, textile and other sectors so essential for its export-based economy.”
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, will soon launch NPDs on Industrial Safety in Central Asia through outreach missions in 2022, following an ongoing review of their national legislation on industrial safety and related policy areas, with the support of UNECE and the Russian Federation, which provides expertise and financing for a related project.