The Sustainable Development Goals in Serbia
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Serbia:
14 September 2022
National Campaign: Be the Hand That Loves and the Word That Guides
In the last 15 years, there are fewer and fewer children in Serbia who are exposed to violent discipline in their homes. However, almost half (45 percent) of children aged one to 14 still experience physical and psychological disciplining. Such methods are most often applied to small children who have experienced their first physical punishment between 2 and 3 years of age. It is encouraging that over 90 percent of parents agree that violent discipline is not good for their child. It hurts and humiliates a child, leads to feelings of mistrust and insecurity, while undesirable behaviours are often repeated. Authority that is built on fear and violence produces fear and violence that a child transfers to relationships with others, often throughout his or her life. The disparity between widespread awareness that violent disciplining is not good and the fact that it is still practiced suggests that today’s parents, more than ever, need support in overcoming the challenges of parenting, as well as help with adopting alternative, positive disciplining practices. “Many parents in Serbia use positive disciplining methods when raising their children. However, there are also those for whom hitting, anger and yelling are the first and only reaction to a child's challenging behaviour. Those parents love their children, but need support to change their behaviour, which is often caused by the complexity of modern living. We want to help them, to encourage them to stop, to think and try to approach that challenge in a way that is better and more effective for both the child and their mutual relationship. That's why we advise them to count to 5, to calm down and give their best to the child. We know that this is exactly what every parent is striving for. By setting a positive example, parents help their children to establish boundaries that are based on understanding and respect,” said Deyana Kostadinova, UNICEF Representative in Serbia. She emphasized that “A child has the right to care, safety and upbringing that respects his or her individuality, and parents have the right to support in fulfilling their role”. Over the next month, UNICEF will carry out a series of activities in Belgrade, Niš, Novi Sad, Novi Pazar, Čačak, Kragujevac and Subotica as part of the Be the Hand That Loves and the Word That Guides campaign. An intensive programme of long-term support for parents to improve their parental disciplining practices will be launched through the training of experts in centres for social work, as well as in the health and education systems, who through their daily practice meet with parents in nearly 50 locations across Serbia.
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05 September 2022
Air Pollution and the Energy crisis are 2 sides of one problem: Clean Air Day calls for urgent action from all
Belgrade, 7 September 2022 - On the International Day of Clean Air (for Blue Skies), the United Nations in Serbia calls for accelerating the actions to fight all forms of air pollution and to galvanize the joint efforts of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, citizens, civil society and activists, in building a safer and healthier world for all. Air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health threat. Globally, 7 million people die prematurely every year. In 2021, air pollution was responsible for $8.1 trillion in healthcare costs, or 6.1% of global GDP (World Bank). Air pollution disproportionately affects the most vulnerable & marginalized communities, those with the least resources to protect themselves. It also affects children and older persons more, while indoor household air pollution affects women and children the most. Air pollution is not a stand-alone issue, it is directly linked to climate change, biodiversity loss and other forms of pollution. Some air pollutants are also climate forcers; and climate change drives further air pollution, for example in the case of wildfires or higher ozone levels during heatwaves. In Serbia, air pollution has multiple causes: fossil fuel energy production, inefficient heating devices and networks, transport, agricultural practices, combustion in uncontrolled landfills. We need to address these root causes and their impacts within the wider fight against climate change, to fully realise the green transformation. Pollution travels with no borders. An air pollutant can travel across most of a continent within 3-4 days. This is why we need to address it as a regional and transboundary issues, through coalitions and cooperation between countries, regions and cities. While the winter air pollution in Belgrade sometimes quickly disappears with the winter wind, the pollutants simply travel to other areas and affect other communities, crops and biodiversity. An additional complexity is that some air pollutants are formed through chemical reactions in the atmosphere. This means once again that to manage air quality effectively, we need a multi-sector and multi-pollutant approach working with all interested parties. In Serbia over the last 2 years, public awareness has risen sharply, with citizens demanding faster and more decisive action from local and national institutions. In that period, the draft Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan until 2030 has been drafted and shared for public consultations, the Nationally Determined Contribution to the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions was adopted and submitted to the UNFCCC in august 2022, the National Coalition for the Reduction of Energy Poverty started its work and most importantly, the draft 2020-2030 Air Protection program and action plan was also presented for consultation. This comprehensive strategic framework is a good start for further reforms and progress., We call for legislative and regulatory bodies to prioritise the adoption and implementation of all necessary laws and plans, and for cities to prioritise the adoption of bylaws, local plans and subsidies schemes to address pollution as a critical priority, and for businesses to invest in energy efficiency, clean production tools infrastructure and transport systems. Such commitment from the leadership and institutions will enable multiple opportunities for citizens to become actors of change, and for the private sector to develop innovative solutions and create a range of new jobs. "Air pollution is a complex issue that will be solved at multiple levels (national, local, individual), through action in all socioeconomic sectors. It is a great opportunity for the introduction of social, administrative, and technological innovations that will encourage investments for the benefit of all, for a better quality of life. says Françoise Jacob, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia. We need to quickly expand the good practices that have been successfully tested in Serbia, while working on long term structural changes. The United Nations provides support in areas where health, social, gender, climate, energy, and environmental policies intersect. In response to air pollution, the UN in Serbia continues to work on air quality improvement initiatives, energy efficiency, decarbonisation, green financing, public awareness, data management, ensuring that solutions are inclusive and reaching out to the more vulnerable groups and neighborhood. We work with the ultimate goal of achieving positive changes for the people and the planet -one of the most important ambitions of the 2030 Agenda," The current energy crisis, a challenge to address on the short term, is also an incentive to accelerate the transformation and upgrading of the heating, energy and transport infrastructure, fast-track the energy renovation of both public and private buildings across the country, turn to sustainable transport, promote soft mobility in urban settings, and modify agricultural practices such as crop burning. This, in turn, will dramatically reduce the air pollution. This is a formidable opportunity for the country to develop new business opportunities and for citizens to promote and adopt healthier lifestyles and responsible behaviours vis a vis energy consumption. We need to take action now and work together for #TheAirWeShare. NOTES TO EDITORS About air pollution and the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies Air pollution causes approximately 7 million premature deaths annually, making it the single greatest environmental risk to human health and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally. A UNEP report found that one in five premature deaths in the Western Balkans was due to pollution, but air pollution knows no national borders. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, also recognizes that air pollution abatement is important to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The International Day of Clean Air for blue skies was designated on 7 September by the United Nations General Assembly in 2019. This follows the international community’s increasing interest in clean air and emphasizes the need to make further efforts to improve air quality to protect human health. Nine out of ten people across the world are currently breathing polluted air, so the importance of the day has never been greater. The Day aims to build a global community of action that encourages countries to work together to tackle air pollution to ensure clean air for all. To this end, it gives people a platform that can enable cooperation to mitigate air pollution at the individual, national, regional, as well as international levels.
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08 September 2022
Bringing domestic violence against elderly women in Serbia to light
From May 2021 to May 2022, 177 elderly women and 41 elderly men from almost 50 rural areas of southern Serbia, were informed, motivated and encouraged to recognize gender-based violence and discrimination and to report it. Through information sessions and training on gender-based violence, participants were introduced to the specifics and types of violence, as well as available protection measures. The training sessions were organized through a UN Women project implemented by the civil society organization Amity and funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade. According to research by the Serbian Red Cross, 16 percent of elderly women between the ages of 65 and 74 experienced some form of violence after reaching the age of 65. For many of them, this is a continuation of the violence they have suffered throughout their lives. According to the same research, 40 percent of senior aged women have experienced some form of violence perpetrated by a current or former partner, since the age of 15. To help prevent and reduce violence against elderly women, Amity, in partnership with the Women's Initiative from Trstenik and the association, Zlatibor Circle, from Čajetina, trained elderly women and men from 49 rural areas across Trstenik, Čajetina and Aleksandrovac municipalities. Through a total of ten sessions, participants learned about the types of violence and discrimination against elderly women. “Violence against elderly women is widespread and largely hidden. Gender aspects of aging indicate that older women are more at risk of violence than older men. Many older women have suffered domestic violence from their spouses, partners or other family members for years, but they have kept silent about it, because they consider it an acceptable model of behaviour,” says Nadežda Satarić, president of Amity. “Some elderly women do not report violence because of fear, shame, not knowing to whom and how to turn, or out of the belief that no one will believe them. That is why domestic violence against elderly women is the best kept family secret”. Leposava Ognjanović, 73, from Gornji Dubič village in Trstenik municipality was one of the training participants. She explains that this kind of training was very rarely organized in her village. For her this was not only opportunity to learn more about gender-based violence but also to get together with other women, to socialize. “In my village, we are all old people, hardly anyone visits us, so initially I came because I was lonely. Once, when I was younger, I was slapped, but back then I did not consider it violence. There was a lot of work in the household, and it was all on my shoulders. And who should I complain to? So, I remained silent and suffered,” Ognjanović says. “Now, I’ve learned a lot, so I can teach younger people and tell them to speak up, that they should not put up with that, that every mean look is also a form of violence.” Besides the training sessions, volunteers from Trstenik and Čajetina, who provide home care services to the elderly, also participated in workshops. They gained skills in recognizing violence and discrimination against older women and were empowered to report it. Through two more training sessions, in the cities of Užice and Kruševac. Here, 47 professionals from women’s civil society organizations and public institutions from Zlatibor and Rasina districts, who work with the elderly, also gained skills in recognizing specific forms of violence, as well as discrimination against elderly women and how to respond. Nadežda Satarić says that gender-based violence against elderly people is still a topic no one deals with systematically, while support services generally discriminate against the elderly. “We are very proud because we managed to get into direct contact with elderly women from rural areas, some of them being very remote, but for the first time we have also spoken with elderly men. All of them are trained to recognize the problem and have spoken about it,” says Satarić. Radunka Milosavljević, 65, from village of Velika Drenova, in Trstenik municipality participated in the training. She says that violence against women in the village is seen more as a usual pattern of behaviour rather than something that is unacceptable. “Women remain silent, and put up with their husbands, fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law, and finally their children. In my village, it is considered violence when a woman is severely physically abused or beaten. On the other hand, slaps, insults and cursing is somehow tolerated. These workshops helped me learn what my rights are, what is considered violence, to whom to report and from whom I can ask for help,” she adds. Nadežda Satarić says that the added value of this project is the rich information collected from the field. This provides insights into the position and problems of elderly women as well as those who live in rural areas more generally. It also gave an opportunity for elderly people to gather and to discuss their concerns. Written by Jovana Zdjelarević
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28 August 2022
UN in Serbia: Ban of Europride2022 in Belgrade would be a step back from social cohesion and the full realisation of the human rights agenda
The Europride, including its multiple events, is an opportunity to advance the human rights of the LGBT community, and fully implement the anti-discrimination agenda as defined in the amended Law of the prohibition of discrimination adopted in Serbia in 2021, says Francoise Jacob, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia. The Europride is also an opportunity to celebrate the foundations of a strong and progressive society based on social equity, equality of all rights, solidarity, friendship, and love. Such ban would also represent a violation of the right to freedom of assembly as guaranteed by the Serbian Constitution - as ruled by the Serbian Constitutional court in previous years. It would go against Serbia’s international human rights commitments, including the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. It is important to protect human dignity and guarantee equality for all citizens in the laws and in practice. The United nations is concerned by the multiple incitements to hate and violence from a small minority of vocal individuals and groups, which has taken place in the past few weeks. Let’s bring people together, not take them apart. The United Nations in Serbia will continue to work with the LGBTI community and our partners to help build a better future for all, and shape a world where everyone is Free & Equal.
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28 July 2022
At Economics and Trade Secondary School, they know that a child’s right to inclusive education does not stop with health difficulties and developmental disabilities. That’s why Rade and Mihajlo are part of the class. Their friends help them with wheelchairs. “It's going well at school. I’ve been accepted [by my peers]. I’m grateful for that. I thought they wouldn't accept me, but I was wrong.... I have the best friends.” For Rade, the most important thing is that they are all together. “They’ve learned how to behave towards me. We should always help and never reject each other. We should always help each other out.” Their school friends took some time to learn how to establish a relationship with them. Rade’s best friend, Alisa, says that he is proof that anything is possible – when you have support. “There is no need for them to get the impression that they’re any different from us. We’re all the same. And regardless of their problems, they’re children just like us.” Parents and caregivers say that the progress is more than evident. “His memory is better. His vocabulary is better compared to when he was staying at home. We’re involved as partners, with both teachers and children. We’re doing everything we can to ensure good results for children,” says foster mother Ruska. Dusan is a student at the Economics and Trade Secondary School in Zajecar, in eastern Serbia. He never missed a single class. He is in the running to be class valedictorian. He has a talent for cooking and is developing his culinary skills during practical lessons. Most of all he likes baking bread rolls. “I spread the oil, make the dough balls, put the cheese, cut it on top, roll it, put it on a baking tray, put the sesame seeds. Then I wait for it to rise and then put it in the oven. My best friend, Nemanja Jovanovic, taught me how to do that,” Dusan explains the process. Nemanja is glad that he was able to teach him something, but says that Dusan taught the entire class about tolerance and responsibility. “My heart is full when I see that he implemented what I told him and he always thanks me. But we also learned a lot from him – most of all to study hard, improve our grades and go to classes regularly.” Although she was worried about how he would be accepted, Dusan’s mother is happy, because she knows that she can count on everyone’s support at school. “Dusan had an individualized education plan. He had lesson plans for each subject and his friends helped him.” Marina Ilic, the school pedagogue, explains that they make plans in cooperation with parents. “All of our students are different. No one’s difficulties and needs are completely the same. We must be ready to support each of them individually to help them, to support them, and to make sure the plans are in line with their capabilities.” There are more than twenty children who need additional support in this school. And each one of them is included in group and team work. If possible, they are also included in project teaching, extracurricular and sports activities. Biljana Milkic, a teacher, believes they are on the right track to additionally improve inclusive education. “Inclusive education is not only for children who have a problem. It’s intended for all children – because they’re fulfilling their goals when interacting with other children.” At the Economics and Trade Secondary School in Zajecar, they have ten years of experience with inclusive education. This is one of the 200 schools that will be included in the Learning Together Project, implemented by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, and UNICEF. The aim is to provide support to institutions, schools, teachers, communities in order to ensure quality education for every child. Danijela Arunovic, a homeroom teacher in the school, says that individual education is everyone’s business in the school. “Yes, all employees, all teachers, not only homeroom teachers or subject teachers. We’re trying to include students in all activities, both in classes and extracurricular activities. We are developing their peer learning and group work skills, so that they can help each other, socialize more, be in touch with each other.” Dusan hopes he’ll stay in touch with his friends, even after they finish school. He is also hoping to get a job in a hotel, so he can show off his skills and bake a cake for his friends. Written by Jelena Obućina
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24 June 2022
08 July 2022
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