The environmental protection is the area in which Serbia most drops behind the world, and, according to experts, will need 8.5 billion Euros in the next ten to 15 years to catch up, the Beta news agency reported on Thursday.
A group of independent media (Nova Ekonomija, Vreme, Danas, Beta, FoNet and Juzne Vesti) organised the debate within the social dialogue 'Serbia 2030 – What is our way?' on topics strategically vital for further development of Serbia's society. The embassy of Sweden supported the debate through its 'Drive for Democracy' programme.
Vladimir Vuckovic, a member of the Fiscal Council, told the 'Environmental Protection – Land, Water, Air' debate that Belgrade earmarked an 'unacceptably low amount' for that area. He said that Serbia could afford those 8.5 billion Euros.
Vuckovic said that "Serbia now allocates between 150 and 200 million Euros annually from the Republic's and locals' budgets, and it is necessary to increase the amount to some 500 million annually in the next five years, and later even more."
He added that over two billion Euros would be needed to implement the ecological water standards, primarily for building some 10,000 kilometres of sewage network, and for around 350 water filtration plants since there was only four right now in the country.
Some 1.5 billion Euros is needed for proper landfills and waste management, "since the eight existing regional landfills are not operating properly in separation and treating the waste." Vuckovic warned, adding there were several thousand wild dumps in Serbia.
For solving air pollution, the country would need an additional 1.5 billion Euros, according to Vuckovic.
He thinks that the environment still isn't a priority, though it should be both in society and the budget allocations, "wherefrom the most money goes to the security area."
Vladimir Stevanovic, a professor and a member of the Serbian Academy of Science and Art (SANU) Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences, said that the treatment of the environment was a good indicator of the situation in which society was.
He added that issue was not only ecological but also economic and social in general.
An expert for climate changes Danijela Bozanic said that the pollution problems in Serbia in the last years were justified by low water level, temperature inversions and some geographical position of certain places, without pointing at real reasons like the lack of air filters and water purifiers.
"The European Union reduced the gas emission with the greenhouse effect for 23 percent between 1990 and 2016, mostly by investing in the energy sector and having the GDP growth by 53 percent at the same time," she said.
Elizabet Paunovic, an advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO), said that its reports showed that 6,400 early deaths in Serbia were linked to polluted air, which, as she added, was a lot compared to the size of the population.