A Successful Fight for a Healthy Environment Needs Courage

Photo: National Ecological Association

The experts and professors in the fields of environmental protection and preservation founded the National Ecological Association (NEA) this April. It might not be breaking news except that, despite the activities of many different institutions and associations that insist on fighting for a healthier environment, there is still a real need for an independent problem assessment in this field.

The founders of the association say that they will represent the necessary professional institution that will realistically present everything that should be done to overcome mistakes and failings in environmental protection.

Our citizens have shown great interest in sorting out air, water, and soil pollution problems. They have demonstrated readiness for changes and wish to participate and contribute to making these changes implemented. NEA is here to direct, advise and help them solve the problems, says meteorologist Milenko Jovanović, one of the cofounders of the association. However, what is the real help NEA offers?

“Accomplished people, experts in this field and of personal integrity, who don’t chase positions and affection of superiors, have decided to take place in the expert sky of ecology and give selfless, at least modest, contributionin the situation of inaction and status quo. We refuse to politicize our future actions in the field, which, because of the decades-long wrong politics, seriously came to a dead end when speaking of the exercise of legal and constitutional rights of the citizens to have an acceptable level of the quality of the environment. In other words, we have put professional reasons first”, Milenko Jovanović explains.

Since the reactions of decision-makers about the continuous deterioration of the quality of the environment are missing or late, Milenko thinks that in the National Ecological Association, they didn’t have much choice. “Serbia must be a healthier and cleaner place for citizens to live,” he says.

He also points out that the mission of the National Ecological Association is constant, persistent, and common fight through institutions, activism, and, most of all, with professional support, for less pollution of our only and most beautiful country.  There are no examples in nature, among animals, of cases when a single animal or a group endangers a living space, like human species do.

Therefore, if we see the environmental contamination only as an endangerment of the natural habitat of human species and not as a collective impact on people’s health, it can be an alibi for incompetent decision-makers to continue not dealing with these problems properly, Milenko says.

NEA gathers a large number of responsible experts from different segments of environmental protection. However, the key trait of those people is courage, the increasingly rare feature, Milenko points out. “There are many physicians among the members, professors who can help analyze and explain the impact of excessive pollution on people’s health, especially one of sensitive categories like children. Each year 7.500 people die in Serbia because of excessive air pollution (according to WHO methodology). Therefore, there is no greater priority than to cut that number down using known, achievable, and expertly justified measures.

The founders of the association have great plans. They will sign a Memorandum of Cooperation with dozen organizations dealing with environmental protection. They want to strengthen the information exchange network and help the associations with expert interpretation of the problems and solutions.

Foto-ilustracija: Pixabay

“For each case of endangering the environment and people’s health, there is a solution, often complex, expensive and unplanned. Nevertheless, the common thing for each situation is the non-recognition of the problem and lack of determination to take action. It is exclusively in the domain of institutions that act like they are not ready to recognize past omissions. And as a matter of fact, they should enter into a battle that they must win for the sake of the citizens”, Milenko says. He suggests we look up to Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, or Hungary, where dealing with the environment is the democratic rights of citizens.

As a rule, the reaction of our competent institutions comes only after the pressure of citizens and associations, though reluctantly. “It remains unclear who are the advisors who suggested certain measures,” Milenko says. “I want to underline that it is unreal to expect politicians to be experts as it is inadmissible that they make decisions in the name of experts.”

Prepared by: Milica Radičević

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine WATER RESOURCES.