- Reducing the environmental impacts of solid waste generation is a priority for the European Union’s (EU) environmental policy, but many South-East European countries are well behind the ambitious targets set by the EU.
- The World Bank Institute (WBI) assisted six reform teams from South-East Europe in designing and implementing concrete action plans to address key solid waste management challenges they face.
- This was done through WBI’s Greater than Leadership program.
July 11, 2012―As societies grow wealthier they create more and more waste. Currently cities generate about 1.3 billion tons of waste per year. This is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tons by 2025. Disposing of it - without harming the environment - becomes a major challenge. Most of it is either burnt or dumped into landfill sites. It causes air, water and soil pollution and takes up valuable land space. This, in turn, is harmful to human, animal and plant life.
Reducing the environmental impacts of solid waste generation is a priority for the European Union’s (EU) environmental policy. The targeted funding that the EU provides has pushed many member states and candidate countries to bring waste management issues to the forefront.
South-East Europe Reforming Solid Waste Management
Many South-East European countries are currently in the EU accession process. In the past, solid waste management was not considered to be an issue for them and trash was crudely disposed in open dumps. Now better services have become a priority for national and local governments. Yet, many countries are well behind the ambitious targets set by the EU.
In order to confront solid waste management reform challenges in the most efficient manner, sector specialists and practitioners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia approached the World Bank to help them learn from each other and figure out what could work best for their situation.
The workshop allowed us to narrow our reform focus to a concrete and achievable, yet challenging, goal: to establish an association for solid waste collectors in Cacak and Nis which provides informal workers access to the same employment rights as the formal sector workers.Jelena Nesic
President of the Board of the NGO Democratic Transition Initiative, Serbia.
A focus on the How
As a result, the “Overcoming sector challenges towards EU harmonization” conference on municipal solid waste management was organized in Vienna in May 2011, with a follow-up workshop in January 2012 to specifically address the How of reforms.
The World Bank Institute (WBI) assisted six reform teams from South-East Europe in designing and implementing concrete action plans to address key solid waste management challenges they face. This was done through WBI’s Greater than Leadership program.
As a result of this workshop, the Bosnia and Herzegovina team launched a Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) in Bijeljina. RRIs are 90-120 day initiatives that are strategically leveraged to create breakthrough changes in larger programs. They start with results--; unearthing hidden capabilities through coaching; and create a process for ownership and experimentation through high performance teams. In Bijeljina, the RRI team set out to increase the coverage of waste collection and fee collection to all households in Brijesnica village and to establish a functional and precise database system of households in Stefana Decanskog Street and its associated side streets by June 20, 2012.
"This will be the first time that a certain sub-district in the Municipality of Bijeljina is completely covered by a solid waste management system. This can give confidence that in other, larger villages in the municipality the same or similar results could be achieved," said Dragan Lazic, Public Enterprise Regional Landfill "Eko-Dep" half-way through the RRI.
"The institutional strengthening and capacity building of “Komunalac” (Bijeljina collection public utility) might be the biggest benefit of the RRI Pilot project." The RRI team accomplished its goal in 72 days and the RRI team leader, Bojan Miric, of Komunalac, said, "This project and RRI have a big impact on our current work and our ways of thinking. The main thing is that we changed something in our company, did something good, and we are satisfied. We also gained additional skills and experience."
Non-traditional Ways of Working
The Serbian reform team worked on a different challenge. It looked into promoting socially responsible waste management and addressing the historical exclusion of the Roma population from Serbian socio-economic activity. Less than 30% of Roma are economically active and their unemployment rate (40%) is four times greater than the national average (9%).
“The workshop allowed us to narrow our reform focus to a concrete and achievable, yet challenging, goal: to establish an association for solid waste collectors in Cacak and Nis which provides informal workers access to the same employment rights as the formal sector workers” said Jelena Nesic, President of the Board of the NGO Democratic Transition Initiative, Serbia. “The workshop also brought to bear the need to strengthen our authorizing environment and to engage more stakeholders, which we did successfully. We were also able to engage with the most important stakeholders: the Roma population.”
Looking forward, teams are requesting knowledge sharing opportunities, where they could educate the collectors about successful models of organizing and working within the waste management/recycling systems elsewhere. WBI is helping the Serbian team to structure and organize these South-South Knowledge Exchange processes.
WBI and the Europe and Central Asia Region’s Sustainable Development Department of the World Bank have collaborated on this project. The project is part of the World Bank-Austria Urban Partnership Program. Based on this first successful experience, a second workshop on solid waste management will be offered in October 2012 in Budapest.