Kick-Off Meeting for the Project “Enhanced Cross-Sectoral Land Management Through Land Use Pressure Reduction and Planning”
A three-year project “Enhanced Cross-Sectoral Land Management through Land Use Pressure Reduction and Planning”, the first one to deal with soil degradation and its consequences on the national level was kicked-off during the scientific-expert gathering “Sustainable Soil Use” held on September 10th in the Congress Hall of the Institute for Field and Vegetable Crops (IFVC), Novi Sad, Republic of Serbia. The event was organized by the IFVC and Serbian Soil Society, in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the support from the various partner companies and institutions.
This unique event gathered 165 representatives of all soil research and management institutions and private sector in Serbia, including international organisations implementing related projects at the national and regional level. The purpose of the gathering was to raise awareness of the importance of soils for the Earth, their multiple roles and the existing challenges for their sustainable use. It was also the occasion to celebrate the International Year of Soils (IYS 2015) as declared by the 68th UN General Assembly.
The opening speach was delivered by Mr Danilo Golubovic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection. He emhasized that Serbia has a good division of land – about one hectare per inhabitant and about 0.6 hectares of agricultural land per capita, but also has difficulties because it has been losing 6 to 8 thousand hectares of agricultural land, which is a problem, especially taking into account that only one half of the agricultural land is arable. At a global level, the situation is similar, because every second in the world 900 hectares of agricultural land are lost due to climate change, intensive agricultural production and human neglect.
Mr Pier Carlo Sandei, Programme Officer, UNEP Programme Office in Vienna, presented UNEP activities on soil conservation in the region and UNEP’s support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro in developing their national action programs aligned to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
Mr Pier Carlo Sandei, Programme Officer, UNEP Programme Office in Vienna, presented UNEP activities on soil conservation in the region Serbia with a special emphasis on the new GEF project. He introduced regional activities and linkage between Carpathian Convention and Land Degradation, as well as provided examples of Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) involvement and intervention in the West Balkan region. Mr Sandei also mentioned the guidance and support provided to the four countries of the region (Bosnia and Herzegovina, the FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro and most recently the Republic of Serbia) in developing their National Action Programs to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
The launch of the project “Enhanced Cross-Sectoral Land Management through Land Use Pressure Reduction and Planning”, financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is particularly important for the Republic of Serbia. The project is implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – Vienna Office, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency. Support to project implementation is provided by regional non-governmental network FEA – Forestry and Environmental Action.