Belgrade, March 31st 2021 - Today, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) organized a dialogue about the possible social and economic consequences of climate change in Serbia, the adaptation preparedness of our country, the price of climate resilience, and how to mobilize the funds to meet this price. This dialogue is part of the process of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which UNDP is developing in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, with the support of the Green Climate Fund (GFC).
The dialogue participants underlined that climate change had a negative impact on food and energy production, biodiversity, availability of drinking water, and infrastructure, at the same time imposing more burden on the healthcare and social welfare service systems.
Serbia is in a region that is very vulnerable to climate change, with the average temperature growth higher than the global average. Combined with the rainfall regime change, the further temperature growth may double the number and intensity of heat waves, which would additionally raise the risk of floods, draughts and forest fires.
The findings of UNDP’s report indicate that climate change may slow down the economic development of Serbia, especially in the sectors of agriculture, water management, forestry, energy, transport and infrastructure. Extreme weather events, such as the 2014 floods, have caused more than 6 billion USD of damage since 2000, and if Serbia doesn’t promptly implement the adequate measures, by the end of the decade, it may lose the same amount of money.
The experts participating in the dialogue emphasized that climate change adaptation should become a part of every long-term development strategy. One of the key steps that Serbia has implemented so far was to adopt the Law on Climate Change, which turned the adequate response to climate change into a legally binding obligation.
In Serbia, extreme weather events have a growing impact on the availability of water for hydro power plant energy production, and they’re also causing a surge in energy needs during the summer, due to intensified use of air-conditioning for cooling. Furthermore, irrigation planning, which is necessary to keep the agricultural crop yields unchanged, also largely depends on the availability of water.
“One of the priorities of the Ministry, as a necessary adaptation measure, is to establish an irrigation system on as much arable land as possible. At the same time, our efforts are focused on building an efficient and effective system that will reduce the pressure of agriculture on our water resources. Adaptation measures—such as introducing climate adaptive cattle breeds and crops, adjusting the schedule of agricultural works to the changed crop calendar, crop rotation—are some of the measures that do not require additional investments, but they can greatly contribute both to reducing the negative environmental impacts and to producing healthier, higher quality food,” said Igor Grabež, representative of the national team for cooperation with GCF, on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management.