Story | 14 Dec, 2021

Nature-based Solutions as a response to climate change in Western Balkans

In cooperation with the Public Investment Management Office of the Government of the Republic of Serbia a working lunch for key partners in Serbia was organised to discuss the application of Nature-based Solutions aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of climate change and reduce disaster risks.

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Nature-based Solutions in the Western Balkans, working lunch 

Ida Reuterswärd, First Secretary Programme Officer, Development Cooperation Section, Team Serbia, Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Belgrade / Sandra Nedeljkovic, Deputy Director, Public Investment Management Office / Boris Erg, Director IUCN ECARO

Photo: @IUCN

“In recent years, we have seen more intensive and more frequent hazards causing massive damages to humans and nature. Disasters are just one of the faces of climate change that directly affect our daily life. We need to respond quickly at all levels if we are to reduce the risks to life, property and the further degradation of our environment, and to adequately adapt to the changing climate conditions. Nature-based Solutions play a key role in mitigating climate change and reducing disaster risk. However, for these solutions to be effective, they need to be recognised and included in all important strategies, laws, actions and financial plans,” stressed Boris Erg, director of IUCN ECARO seated in Belgrade. “We are exceptionally pleased that the Public Investment Office, the City of Kraljevo and other partners have expressed their willingness to accept this concept and apply it to real examples on the ground in the Kraljevo area,” he added.

“In the last seven years since the Public Investment Management Office was opened, we have been witnesses to more and more frequent precipitation and flooding in certain parts of our country, particularly in the Western Morava catchment. The Government of the Republic of Serbia has invested significant funds to strengthen our nation’s resilience to disasters. We need to constantly implement prevention measures to ensure our security, not only while rebuilding after floods, but also during calm times. Nature-based Solutions can assist us in becoming more resilient to these hazards, while also enabling us to conserve our flora and fauna and to live in harmony with nature. The Office will always support and participate in such projects, and we kindly thank Sweden for its donation aimed at finding the right solutions for prevention, not only in our country, but throughout the region,” stated Sandra Nedeljkovic, acting assistant director of the Public Investment Management Office.


Nature-based Solutions working brunch in SerbiaPhoto: @IUCN

The Western Balkan region is considered one of the most affected due to climate change, which will have a negative impact on numerous sectors and domains of life. In Serbia, the risk of flooding has been recognised as a growing threat for people and their property. A flood risk affects about 22% of the population in 38 municipalities in Serbia. Given the recent history of flooding and other disasters, and the progress achieved in municipal planning and managing disaster risk mitigation, Serbia was selected as one of two countries for the implementation of the Nature-based Solutions pilot project within the ADAPT initiative.


Nature-based Solutions_infographic Nature-based Solutions Photo: @IUCN




As part of the ADAPT initiative, financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a series of activities have been carried out since March 2020 aimed at increasing the resilience of ecosystems and human communities to changes in climate conditions, and to reduce the risk of further catastrophes in the Western Balkans, through the implementation of Nature-based Solutions (NbS). The NbS concept represents activities that are focused on protection, sustainable management and ecosystem restoration. These activities are being implemented worldwide, and benefit both nature and humanity. Some of these solutions include reforestation, building green infrastructure in cities, sustainable agriculture, or the protection of coastal areas. As Part of the Paris Agreement, more than 130 countries have committed to including Nature-based Solutions into their national climate change adaptation programmes. As one of the activities within this initiative, the publication IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions™ was translated into Serbian as the first, specific set of measures for applying NbS that are intended for the public, private and NGO sectors. The use of this Standard would ensure more effective implementation of NbS and ensure the maximum use of the potential of these solutions in response to climate change and other global social challenges, including the availability of food and water, human health, economic and social development, etc.


Nature-based Solutions in WB %3Cp%3ENature-based%20Solutions%20working%20brunch%20in%20Serbia%3C%2Fp%3E%0A Photo: @IUCN

One of two selected sites for the pilot project for the application of NbS in the Western Balkans on the ground is in Serbia – the City of Kraljevo, which is considered one of the areas most threatened by disasters. The first phase of the pilot project in Kraljevo has successfully been completed, with a team of experts assessing the state of the forest ecosystems and biodiversity in the selected location, and the socioeconomic parameters in place, examining the opportunities for applying NbS and finally giving their recommendations for implementation. The entire process unfolded with the active participation and support of the Public Investment Management Office and the Civil Protection Department of the City of Kraljevo. The start of works is expected in early 2022, and the Gledićke Mountains have been selected as the location for the implementation of Nature-based Solutions with the aim of reducing flooding risk and increasing the resilience of the local population to disasters.

A video from the field visit in Serbia:

 Available materials on Nature-based Solutions: