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Sustainable Development in Southeast Europe

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Nikola Jovanović
CIRSD Program Director

Nikola Jovanović


The Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD)  will launch on 16 June  a “VIP BLOG on Sustainable Development of South East Europe“ on its web page , a section about the new development opportunities for Serbia and the region within the framework of the sustainable development concept.


This new section on our web page will periodically present columns written by renowned experts, prominent intellectuals and academics who have the opportunity to showcase their ideas, present different views and contribute to the creation of a new development discourse in this part of the world.


What is sustainable development?


The term sustainable development denotes a new, more holistic development paradigm, which incorporates the stimulation of economic progress whit a consideration of environmental protection, as well as natural resources preservation and social equality promotion. Hence this complex concept, which allows for a fuller understanding and insight into the wellbeing of individuals and society, requires the convergence of three components: economic, environmental and social. The definition of the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development’s report called “Our Common Future“  best describes the essence of the term sustainable development: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.“


The first foundation for this concept was laid in Rio de Janeiro at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Twenty years later, at the summit symbolically named Rio+20 that was held in the same city, sustainable development was made the focus of the new development strategy of the United Nations. This strategy should take effect in 2015 and replace the Millennium Development Goals. The drafting of this strategy with concrete and measurable outputs was initiated during the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly, presided over by Serbia.


It is wrong to regard sustainable development exclusively as a matter of protecting the environment and combating the negative impacts of climate change because it is a much broader concept and cannot be separated from the matter of development. Likewise, sustainable development cannot be reduced to simply a matter of economic growth, since the gross domestic product category tells us nothing about its distribution or the actual quality of life. There is a misconception in most developing or transition countries, that accelerated economic growth will achieve key development goals such as ending poverty, improving infrastructure and public administration, eliminating environmental pollution or reducing social inequality, by itself, so to say “automatically.”


Some of the imperatives of sustainable development include the gradual abandonment of fossil fuels and the transition to sustainable energy sources; enhancing energy efficiency; improving the quality of public administration and the creation of public resources; stimulating social entrepreneurship and technological innovation; investment in science R&D and new education paradigms; adopting measures to strengthen social cohesion and social equality, etc.


Why is sustainable development important to Serbia and the Balkans?


Popularizing the concept of sustainable development and its acceptance among international organizations, financial institutions and private corporations presents technological, economic and capacity-building opportunities for all Balkan countries. These countries are characterized by an overall lack of fossil energy sources, as well as energy inefficiency, weak public administration, uneven economic growth and increasing social disparities. The abandonment of a development model characterized by the intensive exploitation of resources, a weak and outdated technological foundation, and an insufficient valorization of human capital therefore does not represent just an opportunity, but a necessity. The new development paradigm, which is being adopted at the United Nations and which will be supported by international organizations and financial institutions, will enable our country and the region to more easily take a long-awaited development leap.


Nikola Jovanović, CIRSD Program Director

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