USAID and the Belgrade Open School together for improving environmental and biodiversity protection in Serbia

24. Mar 2023.

The Belgrade Open School and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched five-year Together for the Environment project to improve environmental protection and biodiversity in Serbia. The project was opened with a symbolic tour of the protected area in Belgrade - the Great War Island, on Wednesday, March 22, in order to inform the public and different target groups with all planned project activities and opportunities for participation.

The conference gathered more than 110 representative from different social sectors - public, civic and business with the aim of developing cooperation. The participants had the opportunity for mutual discussion about the importance of such a project, potential benefits and opportunities for cooperation. The conference served as a space for mapping the challenges faced by various actors during their work in the field of environmental protection and biodiversity in Serbia, as well as the ways in which they can contribute to the preservation of the environment through joint collaboration. 

„The Belgrade Open School is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and this project is the crown of our work so far. Thirty years ago, a group of interested citizens decided to do something for this society, primarily in the field of education, investing in human resources, but also influencing public policies. However, the functional development of a society based on democratic values is not possible without equal development of the environment. We are particularly proud of this project, which we are implementing together with USAID and our partners, who will contribute to the realization of this project through their local and international expertise. It depends on all of us how we will live in the next five years, that's why we look forward to working together in the coming period”stated Executive Director of the Belgrade Open School Milorad Bjeletić.

NATURE IS ALWAYS RIGHT

The project will work to promote private sector support natural resource management and biodiversity protection by mobilizing local communities, the business sector and government agencies to build effective partnerships. The project’s will draw on global best practices, provide mentoring, expert and financial support, and knowledge exchange to build the capacity of diverse stakeholders active in the protection of natural treasures. 

„We are so glad that we have the opportunity to cooperate together with all of you in order to improve environmental protection in Serbia. Serbia is a country rich in natural resources, and it is necessary to take steps to prevent their endangerment. Therefore, through this project, we will raise public awareness, develop intersectoral cooperation, improve the protection of different areas, provide support to civil society organizations, citizens, and media, and transfer best practices from the United States and the world in this field. Also, it is of great importance to improve nature protection in Serbia for its economic and social well-being as well as its progress towards the European Union accession”said Acting Mission Director of the USAID in Serbia Todd Andrews. 

The project will also work with citizens to strengthen their active participation in the creation of policies and decision-making related to nature protection, water management and air quality.

„I would like to thank the Belgrade Open School, USAID, and other partners for recognizing such an important and current issue. Through this project, the capacities in nature protection will be improved through joint work. Protected areas are the focus of the work of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Last year, we reached a milestone where protected areas represent 8 percent of the total territory of Serbia, and this year, we will strive to increase this number by 1 percent. I believe that this project will contribute to achieving many protection goals in Serbia, because nature is always right”expressed state secretary of the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Serbia Sara Pavkov. 

Together for the Environment project is funded by USAID and implemented by the Belgrade Open School. Other project partners are the Young Researchers of Serbia (YRS)the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),  the EcoNomic Expert Community Association (ENECA)the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Serbia (AmCham).