How the preconditions for sustainable growth in Serbia could be additionally improved, how digitalisation can contribute to transition from linear to circular economy, what the current strategic, policy and business aspects of these issues are in the European Union, and how important the continual support of the state and the private sector is – those were the main topics of the conference entitled A Peek into the Future – Going Circular through Digital, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Belgrade, Serbia, on 9 December 2019.
The introductory address was delivered by Francine Pickup, the UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia, who pointed out that the current linear approach to production and consumption was unsustainable and that it had a negative impact on the planet.
“In 2018, the UNDP initiated the project Circular Economy Platform for Sustainable Development in Serbia with a view to creating room for a dialogue and partnership between institutions, the private sector, research and educational institutions, the creative industries and the civil sector in developing circular economy leading towards sustainable growth”, thus recognising the importance of circular economy for the environment, innovation, economic growth and creation of new jobs.
This initiative, which is being realised in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the private sector, academic institutions, creative industries and civil society organisations, deals with 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 the joint creation of circular economy roadmaps for Serbia.
The participants of the panel discussion Digital and Circular – enablers of the thriving economy agreed that the circular economy was not sufficiently explored in Serbia. Their conclusion was that Serbia could benefit from the chance for a smart growth provided by transition towards circular economy, and that digitalisation could significantly contribute to enhancing Serbia’s competitiveness on the international market, especially bearing in mind the potential of the ICT sector in the country.
Views on the various challenges of doing business and the need for adapting the economy to the rapid changes on the market were offered by the experts Slobodan Perović, Assistant Minister in charge of strategic planning and projects at the Ministry for the Environmental Protection, Stefan Šipka from the European Policy Centre, Ladeja Godina Košir from the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform and Tadej Slapnik from Tolar HashNET, Slovenia.