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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Government’s Obligation to Use EU Funds for Sustainable, Just and Green Crisis Recovery

The Government must use the EU funds available to it for a truly sustainable and just recovery from the current, climate, economic and health crisis and to that end establish a dialogue with non-governmental organizations, the academic community and interested citizens. That was the message presented by the Society for Shaping Sustainable Development (DOOR), Greenpeace Croatia, Green Action and the Green Energy Cooperative (ZEZ) at the round table ‘Together for a Green Recovery and Development’ held on 29 October at the Journalist Association Centre.

At the very outset of the gathering, the requests set fort for a green Croatian recovery and development were submitted to the newly elected members of the Croatian Parliament in July requesting their active support to a transition toward low-carbon development and creation of green jobs.

On behalf of the organizers the participants were addressed by Luka Tomac, the chairman of Green Action, who pointed out that their requests were signed by eighty civic society organizations, energy agencies, institutions and companies. The world has radically changed in the course of last year while the climate crisis is still prevalent meaning we have one year less for its resolution. We don’t have time to embark on the salvation of the fossil industry along with the tackling of the climate crisis. We must urgently change the way we produce energy and food including the manner of our mobility”, Tomac emphasized.

 An introduction to the Round Table was given by Julije Domac, special adviser to the President of the Republic of Croatia and head of REGEA: “At the level of basic policy we have made progress. The leading politicians in the country speak very frequently of renewable energy sources, green and energy transition but as yet no concrete measures have been taken regardless of the proclaimed pleasantries ”, criticizing the state in Croatia but  also pointing out with more optimism that it was a good moment for action.

The participants in the discussion, moderated by Dunja Mazzocco Drvar, included Ana Odak, Assistant Minister of Regional Development, Ariana Vela, consultant for EU funds, strategic planning and the preparation and implementation of projects and director of the company Aveland, Gordana Mikulčić Krnjaja, head of the administrative department for urban development and environmental protection of the city of Velika Gorica, Marko Delimar, professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing and leader of the dislocated studio for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in Šibenik, and on behalf of the organizers, the executive director of DOOR  Slavica Robić.

The main topics of discussion included the green recovery from multiple crises we are living in, programming the EU funds for transition to a low-carbon economy, the strategic documents of the Republic of Croatia and procedures for investing in energy transition with examples from practice.

Odak pointed out that the programming of funds for the new financial period 2021-2047 is underway and that approximately the 22 billion EUR  Croatia has at its disposal are a great challenge and responsibility requiring the setting of priorities. “Working groups will be established in accordance with partnership principles and we expect the participation of citizens and the broader public”, she added.

Vela emphasized that procedures should be simplified and an environment created in which entrepreneurs can shoulder sustainable projects on their own: “We are constantly extinguishing fires. Today we are talking of how to regulate the procedure and not talking about what we should be doing now in order to attain the goals by 2050.”

Robić said that the Round table assembled otherwise frequently opposed sides – activists, units of local self-government, private subjects, ministries, politicians, energy and climate experts, the academic community and the Office of the President. “During all the presentations we heard the same thing: we want and need green recovery and development. We all agree on this. It’s all right to be afraid, but it’s not all right for the fear to paralyse us. We have the expert staff that can lead us in the direction of green recovery without being detrimental to society and the economy. We must take advantage of this crisis and transform it into a unique opportunity and wisely use the considerable funds at our disposal and channel them in the direction of solutions – the green, sustainable ones that are good for the climate and for society, those that we all agree on to be the only possible direction of recovery and development”, Robić concluded.

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