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GP: The Environmental Protection Strategy - Croatia PDF Print E-mail

The Environmental Protection Strategy is a unique document which for the first time creates and provides a structure for a comprehensive process of environmental policy-making, thus creating a new practice in the entire development of Croatia.

This document follows good practice of reflection, research and expertise in the environmental protection in Croatia. Since early 1970s Croatia has, by some results and activities, shown a considerable progress in that field (for instance, the right to environmental protection was institutionalised by the 1974 Constitution; a systematic education was introduced through the post-graduate studies, certain research programmes and international projects for physical development, such as the Adriatic Sea Project I, II and III were implemented, including the projects in the maritime protection field, such as the Blue Plan; corresponding laws were adopted and for the first time public awareness on environmental concerns was raised.

Such results were achieved due to the excellency of the scientific and expert potential, as well as the top-level specialised knowledge in Croatia. However, this was neither followed by the former practice nor by the systematic and detailed elaboration and implementation of the environmental protection policy. The gap between the ‘good’ policy-thinkers and the ‘bad’ policy-makers was large and it was not getting narrower.

At the beginning of 1990s when Croatia became an independent state, the making of the institutional framework for the environmental protection policy, as well as the detailed elaboration and implementation of that policy was continued. In such a manner, the 1990 Constitution guarantees citizens the right to a healthy environment. The 1992 Declaration on Environmental Protection calls for the establishment of the legislative system that will be in accordance with the international agreements and standards.

The Law on Environmental Protection, which was adopted in 1994, has set up a basis for the implementation of the policy in line with the concept of sustainable development. That has initiated a process of drafting the Environmental Protection Strategy. However, due to the war and other difficulties the drafting was interrupted until 1999 when it was continued with the assistance of the World Bank.

Numerous new initiatives, activities of the science and expert circles, and an increase of public awareness in the Croatian society that the preserved environment is the most important resource in the economic development of the country as well as the increased obligations of Croatia in the implementation of the international norms and standards, were sufficient to shape a strategy and policy for the environment. In fact, the protection and improvement of the environment, despite some declarative statements, have not so far gained an adequate place in the implementation of the country’s development plans and was without a needed support in that regard.

All this points out to the reasons for continuation and completion of the work on this project.

Namely, the Environmental Protection Strategy is structured as a process that should enable an integrated designation of objectives and an efficient and effective implementation of the environmental protection in Croatia. It provides directives and directions for a long-term environmental management in the entire economic, social and cultural development and also the basis for economic, technical, scientific, educational, organisational and other measures, i.e. measures for the implementation of the international obligations in the field of environmental protection.

The Environmental Protection Strategy attempted to reconcile two basic strategic directions of action. The first one is based on the simulative-affirmative approach, while the actions of the other one are based on restrictions. This document has mainly based its approach on the
simulative-affirmative approach.

The Environmental Protection Strategy is entirely based on the principles of sustainable development. Furthermore, this document is based on the following principles: integration of the environmental protection policy into other sectoral policies; the principle of partnership and shared responsibility; the principle of subsidiarity, change of behaviour in production; the use of a larger number of instruments, mainly economic ones.

The Strategy was outlined and structured in a manner to comprise as much as possible the complexity of the environmental protection which takes into consideration all the distinctive characteristics of Croatia. This is an essential condition of the future development since these distinctive characteristics encompass: two completely different climatic areas (continental and Mediterranean climate) and biologic resources connected with it, numerous very sensitive areas (the carst region, the coastal region and the islands), trans-boundary waterflows and the economy in the process of transition.

The Strategy is structured to firstly take into consideration all the institutional, personal, technical and financial requirements that are described in detail in each area of the document.
Each chapter is than followed by a list of priority activities in that area. A special annex,
which is drafted as an open list that will be continuously amended, highlights the priority investment activities that are expected on national, the county and the local level.

The priorities were determined in accordance with the environmental impact assessment on health, ecosystems and socio-economic activities. In the later phase some other criteria, such as: the requirements stemming from the process of approaching the EU, the level of readiness of projects, fulfilment of the international obligations that Croatia has to comply with, limited technical and personnel potentials, and similar, were also taken into consideration.

The work on the Environmental Protection Strategy was carried out during the Croatian preparations in the process of becoming an associated member of the EU. In accordance with the obligations from the Law on Environmental Protection this has additionally incited the formulation of strategic objectives, which should be used as a policy basis in the process of approaching the EU. With the purpose of fulfilling the obligations that will stem from the associated membership, this document was drafted to the highest extent possible and entirely with a view of the basic characteristics of Croatia, in accordance with the 5th Environmental Action Programme of the EU.

All the stakeholders (ministries, institutions, scientists, experts, non-governmental organisations, individuals) were included in the process of drafting the Environmental Protection Strategy, already in the phase of defining projects (during the first workshop). This was also done after determining the priorities (the second workshop) and in the final phase, during the third workshop, when the short-term priorities were agreed upon. As this Strategy was conceived as a static but an open document, a process, all stakeholders can participate in monitoring, revising and amending of all the proposed objectives and measures.

Aside from the above-mentioned manner of incorporation of all the interest groups in the drafting, this document was accessible, in a various level of readiness, on the web pages of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Physical Planning and was directly presented to all the counties and many interest groups (economy and non-governmental sector, journalists). In such a manner the principles of partnership and shared responsibility on which this document is based, were promoted during its drafting.

The implementation of the Environmental Protection Strategy requires great financial resources (for instance, the remediation in the solid waste and waste waters sectors requires investments of some ten billion Kuna). It is obvious that Croatia, due to its present very difficult economic and social situation, and also because of the anticipated slow and longterm recovery, will not be in a position to finance by itself the projects comprised in the Environmental Protection Strategy.

Consequently, the international assistance from multilateral, bilateral and other sources, including technical and financial assistance will be essential in this process. This document relies upon such foreign assistance and for that purpose a list of the priorities was prepared.

The list refers to the projects which have the importance, level of priority and readiness that demands special attention. In relation with such approach and an efficient use of international assistance this document emphasises the need to develop a domestic absorbance capacity with a view of using the assistance solely for development priorities and a further development of its own potentials.

Remark: In order that the Environmental Protection Strategy would assist actors in extending their knowledge to implement the planned tasks, often more information was referred to than such document should necessarily contain. Texts, particularly from the 5th Environmental Action Programme of the EU and from a series of other documents, such as the AGENDA 21, NEAPs of other countries, etc. were cited to a large extent. The used texts were singularly marked, because they often presented a combination of various sources. The extended and un-revised version of all documents, including thematic papers, can be found in the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Physical Planning.



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