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A thematic group Energy Transition as an Opportunity for Sustainable Rural Development established within the environmental pillar of the “SDGs for ALL” Platform, organized a meeting on December 6, at the Aeroclub in Belgrade. The topic of the meeting was the transition of rural areas to renewable energy sources, with a special focus on energy production from biomass.

Lidija Radulović from the Foundation BFPE, a coordinator of the thematic group, delivered opening remarks and provided background information on the working group’s activities and on the meeting’s main topic. Siniša Perić, Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Rural Welfare presented the activities of the Ministry in this area pointing to one the most critical issues for efficient use of biomass in rural areas, which is the structure of land holdings in Serbia, where holdings of less than 2 hectares dominate. This presents a significant logistical challenge both in terms of biomass collection and its transportation.

Goran Vasić from the Guarantee Fund of AP Vojvodina presented his findings on energy transition as an opportunity for sustainable rural development, as well as his recommendations for further state action in this area. During a discussion which followed, energy cooperatives, agro-photovoltaic systems and co-combusting biomass with coal in thermal power plants came out as the most significant topics. The participants also discussed the question whether the benefits of biomass use for energy purposes overcome its negative aspects, such as air pollution. As the most efficient alternative to biomass use, the participants singled out the use of solar energy, one of the cleanest and most abundant sources of energy, easier to install and maintain compared to biomass.

Findings of the thematic group Energy Transition as an Opportunity for Sustainable Rural Development will be submitted to all relevant institutions in the form of policy recommendations with a view of improving a strategic and legislative framework  in the areas of  renewable energy sources, agriculture and rural development.

The organization of the thematic group meeting was funded by the governments of Switzerland and Germany within the platform “Sustainable Development Goals for All” implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, as part of the Public Finance Reform – Agenda 2030 project. Partners on the project are Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, Belgrade Open School, Center for Advanced Economic Studies, Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation, Foundation Center for Democracy and Timok Youth Center.

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