Montenegro got its first Indicator-based State of the Environment Report

18 Mar 2014

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Instead of descriptive information, future reports on the state of the environment in Montenegro will offer specific information, based on the national list of indicators. The first such report, covering the period from 2009 to 2012, was presented by the Agency for Environmental Protection at a conference devoted to the creation of the National list of environmental indicators and the first Indicator-based State of the Environment Report in Montenegro.

Production of a list of environmental indicators and the first Indicator-based report brought significant progress in reporting on the state of the environment in the country because it is based on a standard typology of indicators developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA), and those practices and standards are being used by other international institutions in designing environmental reports.

Preparation of this report and the list has been supported by the Centre for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Montenegro, with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

At the conference, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro Mr. Rastislav Vrbensky estimated the list and the report as very important for decision makers. “We believe never before was there such a big citizens' interest in the state of the environment as it is the case now. Also, the citizens of Montenegro could not influence decision-making environmental processes to this extent in the past. For the first time responsible people in Montenegro can make decisions based on quantitative data and expert analysis. They can determine whether economic development in priority sectors adversely affects the environment and whether measures for reduction of pollution produce results,“ said Mr. Vrbensky.

Mr. Ervin Spahić, Director of the Agency for Environmental Protection, said that that institution fulfilled a legal obligation by publishing the indicator report and made a major breakthrough in reporting. “This report shows current status and changing environmental trends. Also, based on indicators, the report provides information on social development and pressures on the environment which, as a result of accelerated development, come from different sectors. Our goal is to protect the environment and resist the pressures through the national legislation and strategy,“ explained Mr. Spahić.

Secretary of State in the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism Ms. Daliborka Pejović's opinion is that producing the first indicator report means the start of an entirely new system of work in the field of environment. “We have aspired to this since long time ago. Instead of describing the state of the environment we now have statistics, which is a good basis for making real and concrete decisions,“ she said.

According to Ms. Pejović, the first indicator report resulted with at least two benefits. „First, the obligation of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism is to inform the public and government every six months about the state of the environment and the pressures on it, as well as to offer concrete proposals and measures to reduce these pressures. The obligation of the Government and other institutions will be to participate and to do everything to maximally reduce pressures. Another benefit is a legal obligation to inform citizens and all specialized international and European agencies and institutions on the state of the environment in our country in a timely, high quality and accurate manner,“ Ms. Pejović concluded.

The Managing Director of the Directorate for Environment and Climate Change Ms. Ivana Vojinović judged that the report shows that there is no unbreakable link between economic growth and pressure on the environment.

Ms. Bosiljka Milošević from the Agency for Environmental Protection explained that Montenegro has 55 indicators in 12 areas. The list was adopted by the Government in March last year. „Biodiversity has seven indicators; energy, tourism and sea six each; inland waters, climate change and transport five, while there is four for air. Agriculture, fisheries and waste management were presented with three indicators, and land with two of them,“ explained Ms. Milošević. She stated that in some cases there have been certain economic developments in Montenegro that did not involve further environmental degradation, which means that the country's economic system has assumed a more qualitative dimension.

The Indicator report contains information on what most affects the quality of air, in which condition the inland waters are, how tourism and traffic impact the nature. This document shows that in the field of statistics more work should still to be done. It concludes that, for example, there is no valid evidence on the amount of hazardous waste, or infrastructure for its disposal.

The document points out that the air quality is mostly affected by industrial activities and emissions as a result of fuel combustion in large and small furnaces and internal combustion engines. High concentration and frequency of cases of breaching the permitted average daily concentration of dusty, toxic particles in the air get increased during the heating season, mainly due to the use of solid fuels.

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What do the National List of environmental indicators and the Indicator-based State of the Environment Report mean to Montenegro?

Support to smart growth

The economy of Montenegro, which belongs to the group of upper middle income countries, is small - but it has recorded significant growth from 2000 to 2008. Gross domestic product was then very high. For example, in 2007 GDP growth of 10.7 % was recorded, while two years later, due to the economic crisis, there has been significant decline of 5.7 % in economic activity. Today, the Montenegrin economy is still recovering from the recession and planned real GDP growth rate this year is 3.6 %.

It is evident that Montenegro seeks to transform its economy into a green one. Starting from the postulates of the green economy three sectors have been identified - agriculture, energy and tourism - as priorities for the „greening“ of the economy by 2020. With this in mind, the UNDP and the recently opened Centre for Sustainable Development teams believe that strengthening synergies between relevant sectors, exchange of information and data, as well as informed decision-making are essential for smart growth of Montenegrin economy.

Support to sustainable growth

Economic development of a state often relies heavily on its natural resources, and their exploitation contributes to increasing pressure on the environment. The data collected, analyzed and summarized in the Indicator report on the state of the environment showcase the types of pressure on the environment in Montenegro. For the first time, responsible people in the field of environment in Montenegro can make decisions based on quantitative data and expert analysis.

The democratization process and opening data to the public

Timely, accurate and relevant data and information are very important in the decision-making process. The national list of environmental indicators and the Indicator report on the state of the environment provide a basis for a high-quality dialogue between relevant institutions and the public based on actual data and analyses. This becomes even more important in light of the fact that the Montenegrin government is committed to transforming its economy into green economy and to linking its economic development to the development of agriculture, energy and tourism.