A thematic societal dialogue “Improvement of the legislative framework for nature protection” was organized by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue on  October 1, on the initiative and in cooperation with the Belgrade Open School, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Adria, Center for Biodiversity Research and Young Researchers of Serbia. The dialogue was supported by the Balkan Endowment for Democracy, the BFPE Foundation for Responsible Society and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway.

The analysis of amendments to the Law on Nature Protection, organization and preparation of dialogue, as well as drafting requests from the civil sector to the representatives of state institutions, resulted from the work of the thematic group “Participation of civil society organizations in the process of drafting and monitoring public policy documents” facilitated by the Belgrade Open School within the “SDGs for ALL” Platform

The event was opened with introductory speeches by the Minister of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, Gordana Comic, the Minister of Environmental Protection, Irena Vujovic, Francois Jacob, the UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Senad Mahmutovic and the Assistant Minister for Mining and Energy, Natalija Luković. On behalf of civil society organizations, Sonja Licht, President of the BFPE Foundation for Responsible Society, and Tanja Petrovic, Director of Young Researchers of Serbia, addressed the audience. The keynote speakers spoke about legislative and planning changes in the field of nature protection and environmental protection in general. They agreed that greater public participation and civil society organizations is desirable and necessary, and that the dialogue is a step towards more transparent and participatory adoption of laws and planning documents.

In the second part of the dialogue entitled “Nature Protection in Serbia: Do We Need a New Law?”, Representatives of relevant institutions, civil society and the professional public presented an analysis of the legislative framework for nature protection from different perspectives. The analysis of the recently adopted Amendments to the Law on Nature Protection was presented by the Assistant Minister of Environmental Protection, Jasmina Jović, as well as the Head of the Department for Biodiversity and Ecological Network at the Institute for Nature Protection, Dr. Nenad Sekulić. As a representative of the professional public, the legal advisor Zoran Sretić addressed the participants, while the views of civil society organizations were presented by Goran Sekulić from WWF Adria. Biodiversity conservation was also discussed in the context of fulfilling the 2030 Agenda and the SDG 15 – Life on Earth.

Finally, there was a discussion on improving the legislative framework. The thematic dialogue ended with the establishment of the text of binding actions, which was agreed upon by the representatives of the line ministries and the civil sector. It was agreed that a constant review of the nature protection system in the Republic of Serbia is needed. The Ministry of Environmental Protection is committed to continuing the implementation of the Law on Planning System, which prescribes the participation of all stakeholders and target groups in the process of monitoring the effects of public policies, as well as ex post analysis of the effects of laws and other bylaws and regulations. On the other hand, civil society organizations committed themselves to producing analyses of the effects of the implementation of the Law in the next year and submitting them to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. They also undertook to participate in all processes of drafting public documents at the invitation of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

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