Third Regional Conference on Environmental Impact Assessment was held in Vodice, from September 13th to 16th, 2017 under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the Ministry of Environment and Energy of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, the Croatian Agency for Environment and Nature and the Croatian Business Chamber. Conference Partner is UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe).
Other partner organisations that helped in promoting the conference: Croatian enineering association, Croatian business council for sustainable development, Croatia green building council, Croatia town association and Croatian County Association.
At the opening ceremony a short film on the idea of the conference has been shown and you can see it here.
Third regional conference was also organised by HUSZPO; a non-governmental and non-profit organization, established in 2004 by respected legal entities and individuals, all practitioners in the fields of environmental and nature protection. Nowadays, the Association membership consists of about 49 companies and individual expert members. The purpose of the Association is to advance professional knowledge and services in environmental and nature protection, harmonize and promote professional interests, promote professional ethics and strengthen cooperation with similar national and international organizations and associations.
The guiding idea behind the Conference has not changed over the years; we still wish to gather stakeholders from different environmental and nature protection procedures and enable them to share their knowledge, experiences and views through constructive and democratic dialogue.
Unfortunately, in practice procedures are still often delayed and extended due to discord between the stakeholders creating uncertainties regarding investment realization, which is a precondition of economic growth. These uncertainties can be significant obstacles in accessing EU funds, for which environmental and nature protection procedures are prerequisites, whether in form of SEAs for Operational Programmes or EIAs for individual projects. That is why main goals of the Conference are removing communication barriers and increasing mutual understanding and trust between the stakeholders, all the while respecting expert knowledge and best practice.
Given the interdisciplinary nature, and the breadth of the topic, the Conference on Environmental Impact Assessment is divided into five sections:
– Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment (SEA)
– Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
– Nature protection and sustainable use of natural resources
– Public participation
– Environmental protection and project financing.
At this year’s conference, two round-tables were held on the strategic assessment and acceptance review of the ecological network NATURA 2000 areas, as we see the greatest need for positive change in these processes. Besides the round-tables, there was also Session on the implementation of the UNECE Espoo Convention, its protocol on SEA and the Bucharest Agreement in the South-Eastern Europe – good practices and challenges in transboundary EIA and SEA.
111 presentations were held in front of more than 300 participants from 22 countries with different environmental protection systems, which greatly contributed to the quality of discussions.
Through all the editions, the Conference has transformed into an important event not only for Croatia, but also for the region. Namely, it has proven to be an excellent opportunity to form acquaintances and arrange collaboration between companies from different countries, as well as a platform for exchanging experiences between experts and other stakeholders from the European Union and their counterparts from the countries in the region which are currently on their path towards the EU membership.
We hereby thank the sponsors, partner organisations, board members,authors, key note speakers, panelists, moderators, participants and all involved for their contribution to making this Conference possible.
We would also like to give special acknowledgement to sponsors without the financial support of which this Conference could not have been organised.