Kosovo is the most polluted place in Europe, citizens are not sufficiently aware of the importance of preserving the environment, and this issue is not a priority for the institutions, it was concluded at the debate on the topic “Environment in Kosovo”, organized by Media Center Caglavica with the support of UNMIK, within the framework of the “Kosovo Today” project.
At the debate, it was also pointed out that about a thousand people per year die from environmental pollution in Kosovo.
Luan Hasanaj from an environmental NGO “Let’s Do it Kosovo”, claims that Kosovo is the most polluted in Europe. According to him, this issue is not a priority for the Government of Kosovo, as the budget of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Spatial Planning has only one per cent of the total budget of Kosovo, and that most of it was intended for spatial planning.
Hasanaj believes that the regulations, especially those regarding the penal policy, are not good enough.
Deputy Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Milena Zdravkovic announces that two new laws are in preparation that would prohibit the use of coal in households and import of vehicles older than ten years in Kosovo. According to her, pollution of air, water, and illegal landfills are some of the biggest problems in Kosovo when the environment is at stake.
“Unfortunately, Kosovo still does not have a developed strategy on water protection, we also have only one wastewater treatment plant and it is in Prizren, there are plans to build four more, but they would not be enough to purify all wastewater that we produce. The big problem is the illegal landfills, Pec has the largest and the biggest number, as many as 305 illegal landfills in a town such as Pec,” says Milena Zdravkovic.
Stefan Veljkovic, director of the non-governmental organization Sinergija from North Mitrovica, says that the situation in this part of Kosovo is alarming when the environment is at stake. He points out that personal responsibility and work of institutions are key elements of this problem.
Environmental Program Officer in UNDP Hyeon-Soo Jeon says that in Kosovo about 853 people die annually due to environmental pollution.
“This is most critical for children. We all know what kind of pollution of water and land is in Kosovo and its negative effects. Last year, we had a campaign where we worked with the ministry of environment where we tried to inform people, especially the youth, to be more aware of the problems of the environment, as it directly affects health,” says Hyeon-Soo Jeon.