In the last couple of months intense work has been taking place in the BiH ESAP project because we are nearing the end of the development of the Environmental strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

The first draft of the documents is prepared, and shared with relevant actors, while in parallel the strategic environmental assessments for all four jurisdictions, are performed.  

“The implementation of the document itself will be challenging given the scope of the Strategy and it will require effective vertical and horizontal cooperation and coordination at all levels.”Mrs. Andrea Bevanda, Head of the Integrated Environmental Protection Department of the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism (during the 5th Policy Group meeting for Federation BiH level, March 3rd, 2022, Sarajevo).

Policy Group meetings 

Fifth round of Policy Group meetings. Photo: Enova

The 5th round of Working Group meetings was followed by two rounds of Policy Group meetings out of which the last round (6th round for RS, 5th round for FBiH, BiH and BD) took place during the first quarter 2022. These meetings, where assistant ministers in each jurisdiction take part, and where key decision-making takes place, were held in Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Brčko.

The main aim of this round was to present the first drafts of the Environmental strategy for all four jurisdiction levels in BiH to the Policy Groups members, but also to go through the final comments from Working Group members. It was also an opportunity to inform the members on the status of the project, the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as well as financial allocations and GESEP. EKO BiH network (network of environmental CSOs in BiH) was also present at the meetings, and the Aarhus centre of BiH presented activities related to the water sector and small hydropower plant construction, emphasizing the importance of public participation, cooperation with civil sectors as well as the Aarhus Convention principles. 

Next Policy Group Meetings will be organized during April and May, it is expected that these meetings will be followed by the formal adoption process, which will be coordinated by the project owners, i.e., the involved authorities on all 4 levels.  

”The essence of the work is the Action Plan and the corresponding prescribed measures, and hence the focus of the whole project should remain on that.Mr. Siniša Jovanović, Head of the Subdivision for Issuance of Location Conditions and Environmental Protection, Government of Brčko District of BiH Department of Spatial Planning and Property Legal Affairs (during 5th PG meeting for Brčko Districtlevel, March 10th, 2022, Brčko District)

Steering board members met at the end of March 

At the end of the month, 28th of March, the Steering Board came together in Brčko for the 4th round of meetings. In this group we can find ministers and their representatives from all jurisdictions as well as representatives of Swedish Embassy and EU Delegation in BiH. 

The following topics were discussed during the meeting:  

– The overall progress of the BiH ESAP project, including the details on the participatory process and activities.  

Fifth round of Policy Group meetings. Photo: Enova

– How the compliance and harmonization with the by-law regulations preparation of the strategic documents have affected the length and the structure of the documents. 

– How SEA has been initiated for all levels of government and the final report is expected next month. 

– The financial evaluation of measures is in the final phase, and the current cost estimate is 21.6 billion BAM.  

– There were discussions related to the adoption process – all representatives agreed that there were no identified obstacles and that they will support the process; they believe that the adoption will be successful.  

We wish to thank Swedish Embassy, SIDA and the Project Team for our close cooperation in delivering assistance to the environment sector in BiH, acknowledging the importance of our coordinated approach in pursuing EU principles. We look forward to delivery of an integrated Environmental Protection Strategy and Action Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina, considering it important to enable strategically planned and countrywide harmonised progress in the environment sector. We regret to see the Environmental Approximation Strategy of BiH, adopted in May 2017, not yet been implemented in a coordinated harmonized manner to provide for even countrywide progress. We would like to see the two strategies providing a sound basis for strategic prioritisation of actions leading to the country’s tangible progress in this important sector for the benefits of BiH citizens  and society in its entirety. – Mr. Gilles Rabattet, Head of the Department for Economic Development, Infrastructure and Natural Resources at the EU Delegation to BiH. 

Wrapping up the Strategy

Following this period of intense work and discussions, we are now in the midst of wrapping up the Strategy document. It is being edited by many members of the project, both local and international experts. During April, a sixth round of Working Group took place, and that will be followed by further Policy Group meetings. 

By mid-May we will hand over the Strategy to the project owners. Step by step the adoption process, including a round of public consultations of the Strategy and the SEA report, will begin.  

We are thanking the Swedish Embassy and Sida for the successful implementation of the project so far. We believe that the adoption of the Strategy will demonstrate the commitment of all jurisdictions towards EU and EU integrations, which will pave the way for IPA funds. I wish to remind ourselves that by joining the Paris Agreement and Sofia Declaration, BiH has committed itself to climate neutrality by 2050.” – Mr. Borislav Bojić, the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations (MoFTER BiH), addressed the members on behalf of the minister, Mr. Staša Košarac.

Facts about the project:  

BiH ESAP 2030+ uses a participatory approach, including representatives of relevant institutions, private and public sector, NGOs and members of academia. Many individuals are engaged and participating in meetings and webinars. Check out the three figures below to get a better picture how many organisations and people are involved and what activities we have organised.  

Additionally, BiH ESAP 2030+ integrates gender equality, social equity, and poverty aspects (GESEP) within the documents. SEA for all four strategies is also being done in parallel with developing these strategic documents and when ready, it will be available to the general public.