In 2018, recognizing the benefits of circular economy for the environment, innovation, economic growth and creation of new jobs, UNDP initiated the project “Circular Economy Platform for Sustainable Development in Serbia”.
In partnership with the Government of Serbia, private sector, academia, creative industries and civil society organizations, UNDP works to change a linear (take-make-waste) approach to production and consumption - to a more circular one, in the following sectors: single-use plastics, textiles and furniture, as well as food waste. The initiative encompasses identifying and removing regulatory barriers that companies face in improving the circularity of their operations, promoting good practices and Circular Business models, as well as joint creation of circular economy roadmaps for Serbia. These strategic plans would define desired outcomes, and identify the major steps or milestones needed to reach it.
UNDP will also test innovative finance mechanisms, such as impact investment, to enable financing for transition towards circular economy.
In parallel, to promote eco-design and use it for education of new generation of designers, a Young Balkan Designers Open Call for Circular Design was launched, inviting designers to propose circular design solutions in furniture industry that promote the sustainability and circulation of products and materials. The authors of best circular design solutions will have an opportunity to cooperate with local furniture producers and to present their prototypes at international furniture fair in 2020.
To start building the Circular Culture and bring the concept closer to the younger generation, a series of learning sessions and creative workshops with schoolchildren is being organized. Pupils are encouraged to consider reducing waste in their daily life and to think of creative ways to use the waste that is still produced for making new products or artworks.
To initiate reduction of food waste, a series of workshops were organized in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Chamber of Commerce, private Companies, Food Bank, Restaurant Associations and Social Enterprises, showcasing innovative solutions for reduction of food waste and options for its use as a resource.
UNDP is also supporting an international sustainability festival titled “Circulate” in Belgrade in May 2019, in cooperation with the civil society organization “Mikser Association”, dedicated to raising awareness on circular economy and the need for a change of mindset when it comes to how limited resources are being used and what is being considered waste. Through different formats such as the International circular economy conference “Shift”, thematic panels, circulathon, innovation expo, design hub, art installations, kids zone, urban food section, the festival will address the different aspects of circular economy and will seek to create new and innovative solutions for a more sustainable society.
The overarching goal of all these activities is to support sustainable growth in Serbia, one that stimulates innovation and competitiveness, protects our environment and our health, while ensuring that no one is either left behind or excluded from the progress.