Circular economy is the future of environmental protection. Serbia is still in the initial stages when it comes to its implementation, and as Minister of Environmental Protection Goran Trivan recently pointed out, Serbia is more than 20 years behind developed countries. Still, this delay can be turned into an advantage, according to the minister, as it enables Serbia to learn from the experiences and mistakes of others.
One of the countries Serbia can certainly learn from is Italy. The Association of Italian Industrialists Confindustria recently organized the first Italian-Serbian Forum of Sustainable, Green and Circular Economy. We talked about the goals of this event in Serbia and the importance of the implementation of circular economy with Erich Cossutta, President of Confindustria.
– Our idea of the promotion of the concept of circular economy in Serbia is not new. It dates back to 2015, when the Protocol of Cooperation was signed between the National Research Council of Italy and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Serbia. The main goal of the protocol was to provide an institutional support to the implementation of innovative projects that would contribute to a quicker development and modernization of the agri-industry and the sector of the environment and energy in Serbia.
In Italy, it is the Confindustria member companies that are the main carriers of the realization of such projects. Since the conditions have met in Serbia in terms of law, enabling the implementation of circular economy, we believe that the moment is right for us to present our Italian model of sustainable economy in Serbia. We do not aim, of course, to impose the Italian concept, but to find a common model that would strengthen the local industry, while preserving its ecosystem – Erich Cossutta told eKapija.
eKapija: What is it that Serbia can learn from Italy when it comes to the implementation of the circular economy model and the process of industrialization?
– Natural resources are not unlimited and the efficient use of resources and RES is the priority of each state, as well as a global priority.
Italy promotes a model of circular economy and bioeconomy focused on the efficient use of resources and the regeneration of local areas and is the most efficient model for sustainable production, by which I mean an industry with a low environmental impact, which guarantees an efficient use of resources throughout their life cycle, entailing social, economic and ecological benefits. In that sense, Italy is one of the best examples for the usage of raw materials, with 18% of circular materials reused as a new resource.
eKapija: What is the advantage of circular economy and how does it impact a state's economy?
– Circular economy creates new jobs, increases the competitiveness of companies and protects the environment. In Italy, the sector of circular economy employs 500,000 people, and its turnover is estimated at over EUR 80 billion, which is not negligible.
eKapija: How can Italy and Confindustria help the investors who want to invest in sustainable projects in Serbia?
– Each Italian company that finds this part of the Balkans interesting for the development of its business can count on Confindustria. Through our business network and representation, we can represent their interests before local institutions and the business community, while emphasizing the business opportunities and potential partnership in the realization of projects and the achievement of business goals.
All this, of course, also pertains to companies that want to invest in sustainable projects. We are here to highlight good projects, good local partners, municipalities that offer a stable business environment, but also the financial instruments of support to innovative projects.
eKapija: What are Confindustria's plans for the upcoming period?
– Innovations, digitalization and technological development have been in the focus of our activities in 2018 and we will stay on that course in the year ahead. The reason lies in the reinvestments of a considerable number of member companies, which can now continue making new investments after years of operating in Serbia, having acquired a consolidated experience.
We will also focus on the young, who are this country's most valuable resource, but also on education – we will continue influencing the creation of new courses in vocational schools. Through the traditional initiative PMI Day – the national day of small and medium enterprises, we will work on promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and improving the business environment.
This spring, we are also looking at a joint business mission of a group of young industrialists and small and medium enterprises of the national Confindustria. In short, we continue creating the conditions for a better and cleaner future.