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Adaptation to climate change and waste management are most pressing environmental challenges for Serbia

Adaptation to climate change and waste management are most pressing environmental challenges for Serbia

Adaptation to climate change and waste management are some of the most pressing environmental challenges for Serbia. These are the main findings of the third Environmental Performance Review (EPR) of Serbia by UNECE, which were presented to the Serbian environmental authorities on 2 December 2015 in Belgrade.

The Review recommends that Serbia develop and adopt a national climate change adaptation strategy and related action plan. It also recommends conducting a comprehensive study on the potential of renewable energy sources and the necessary investments for their development. On waste management, the Review recommends improving cooperation with municipalities in the collection and verification of data on municipal waste as well as reporting procedures on all types of waste.

Climate change

A major challenge for Serbia is coping with the impacts of climate change on the environment yet there is no national strategy on climate change. The Balkan region has a Mediterranean climate, with often very hot and dry periods followed by intense rain. From 1950 to 2004, mean annual temperatures rose in most parts of Serbia. Comparing the period 1961–1990 with 1971–2000 also shows an increase in the number of days with intense precipitation. The main impacts from climate change are therefore increasing risk of droughts, reduced water resources, extreme temperatures and floods, as well as an increasing risk of fire as a consequence of hot and dry summers. These impacts are already well documented: from 2006 to 2013 Serbia suffered from six major floods affecting 23,150 people and in 2014 a flash flood killed 34 people and 30,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes.  Major floods or droughts that could only be expected “once every 100 years” are now calculated to be five times more likely to occur and the Review recommends that adequate protection should be ensured by the Government.

Municipal waste

Serbia began to modernize municipal waste management over the past decade, starting with the development of a legislative framework based on European Union waste management policy. Other progress in this area can be seen in the move towards the regionalization of waste management services, which provides opportunities for private sector involvement. However, the establishment of the necessary infrastructure is lagging behind expectations, mainly due to insufficient local financing and dependence on funding by foreign donors

Today some 70 per cent of all active waste dump sites in Serbia still do not meet basic operational standards and have not been taken into account in spatial planning documents. Environmental impact assessments have not been carried out for these sites, nor do they have the necessary permits. It is estimated that 25 per cent of municipal solid waste is disposed of in sanitary landfills, 45 per cent in registered municipal dump sites and 30 per cent in uncontrolled dump sites. While there are 164 registered landfills and dump sites, it is estimated that 3,300 to 4,481 illegal dump sites exist throughout the country.

The third review of Serbia is based on an information-gathering mission to the country carried out in March 2014. The review includes a set of 33 recommendations to assist Serbia in improving its environmental management, integrating environmental considerations into sectoral policies and strengthening cooperation with the international community.  

The Review is available at:
For more information on the EPR Programme, please visit:
or contact [email protected].
Note to editors:

In 1993, countries represented at the second Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference (Lucerne, Switzerland) mandated UNECE to carry out EPRs. Subsequently, the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy integrated EPRs in its regular programme. Since then, UNECE environment ministers reaffirmed their support for the EPR Programme, deciding in 2003 that the Programme should continue with a second cycle of reviews. A third cycle of reviews was formally endorsed in 2011. Third-cycle EPRs have been carried out in Belarus, Georgia, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Serbia and Tajikistan.

The efficiency and effectiveness of the EPR methodology have attracted the attention of countries outside the UNECE region, leading to requests for a transfer of know-how from UNECE to other United Nations regional commissions. Morocco was the first country outside the UNECE region for which a review was made by UNECE, in cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 12 34

Email: [email protected]

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