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Post-quake recovery in Croatia must be sustainable in the long run, green and people centered

27. January 2021.

More than ninety civil society organisations, companies, scientific institutions and initiatives from around Croatia are urging the Croatian Government, the National Civil Protection Headquarters and all responsible bodies for a green recovery and restoration in the earthquake-stricken Sisak-Moslavina County.

At a press conference held in Petrinja on January 27th, Croatian organisations, including Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia, called for cooperation and restoration, which will not be a bare reconstruction of the situation before the earthquake, but better, sustainable, resistant to crises and disasters, and primarily tailored to people who want to continue living or return to live and work in the earthquake affected areas. “With this appeal, we are asking for everything that the post-war reconstruction unfortunately did not achieve. The present moment represents a unique opportunity for reconstruction towards a better life in this area. The only way to survive is a systematic revitalisation that will provide jobs and a reason for young people to stay. Otherwise, this area will become a spooky area of ​​ghosts”, said Tamara Jovičić, the leader of the IKS association from Petrinja.

The organisations are urging that the guiding principles in the renewal and infrastructure investment be the promotion of energy efficiency, the use of locally available renewable energy sources and the contribution to the fight against energy poverty. “When renovating, it is necessary not to invest in infrastructure that depends exclusively on fossil fuels and thus increases greenhouse gas emissions. We need to use and invest in the further development of local resources, knowledge and capacities – people, techniques and technologies – but so that they are developed and used sustainably, in accordance with the European Green Deal”, said Daniel Rodik from the Society for Sustainable Development (DOOR).

The organisation believe that it is also necessary to invest as much as possible in green infrastructure (transport, utilities and energy), ecosystem restoration and local solutions based on nature that can simultaneously ensure resilience to disasters and contribute to the fight against climate change. “Green renewal will not be possible if citizens are not included in it. The competent institutions need to recognise the value of the civic contribution. It also means empowering people so that they are ready to help themselves and their community. We need strengthening of human capacities, retraining and development of local jobs”, said Ivana Kordić from the association Tatavaka and the volunteer collective SLOGA.

All this can be achieved if long-term, systematic and smart investment of available funds is ensured, not only from the Reconstruction and Donations Fund, but also from all funds that follow – the Fund for Just Transition, Economic Recovery and the EU Multiannual Financial Framework. All this is giving us a unique opportunity for sustainable reconstruction of the earthquake-affected areas of Sisak-Moslavina, Karlovac and Zagreb counties. There are EU funds for this, and the criteria for their allocation in the reconstruction process must be clear, fair, transparent and socially inclusive. It is necessary to simplify the administrative procedure and facilitate access to documents.

The initiators of the appeal also call on the responsible institutions for cooperation and are making their expertise available to work together on reconstruction that is just, sustainable, inclusive and at the same time good for people, nature and the climate. “Together with all actors, we want to look at the long-term perspective of the development of urban and rural areas of the quake-affected counties. We want to create a vision of a good and better life based on locally available resources, knowledge, historical, cultural and technical heritage of local communities and people today and in future”, concluded Paula Raužan from Sisak Local Democracy Agency.

Details of the appeal and signatories can be found HERE, and all organisations, companies and institutions, especially local municipalities, are invited to support it.

The appeal was formed jointly by Zelena akcija, the Society for Sustainable Development, the Institute for Political Ecology, Greenpeace in Croatia, Terra Hub, Tatavaka, WWF Adria, Brodsko ekološko društvo BED, The Green Energy Cooperative and Solidarna Foundation, and local organisations from Sisak-Moslavina County: ALD Sisak, IKS Petrinja and EKS – Ecological and cultural scene.

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The Appeal for a green post-earthquake recovery

We call on the Croatian Government, the National Civil Protection Headquarters and other responsible public institutions to include criteria in the process of reconstruction of homes and infrastructure damaged in the earthquake that will contribute to long-term sustainability and climate neutrality in the quake-affected areas.

In particular, we make our professional and technical capacities, knowledge and experience available to both local organisations and organisations working on the reconstruction process from the national level. The reconstruction should include the following:

  • Ensure that the reconstruction of earthquake-affected facilities is comprehensive and low-carbon, taking care that energy is obtained from locally available renewable sources. The guiding principle in the renovation must be zero or very low energy consumption with the highest possible technical standard and the adoption of a plan for the gradual renovation of the entire public (especially educational and health) and housing stock under the same principles and conditions, which is in line with the Long-Term Strategy to encourage investment in the renovation of the national fund of buildings of the Republic of Croatia until 2050 and the National Energy and Climate Plan.
  • The guiding principles for reconstruction and investment in infrastructure must be to promote energy efficiency, use locally available renewable energy sources and contribute to the fight against energy poverty. It is necessary to stop investing in infrastructure that depends solely on fossil fuels and increases greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Funds provided from the Fair Transition Fund and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan should be invested in capacity building, retraining and local job development. It is crucial to recognise the values ​​of existing solutions derived from local communities, using the existing capacities of local organisations. It is important to place emphasis on green renewal and long-term sustainable solutions for community development, infrastructure and services based on green solutions and low-carbon development.
  • When allocating funds, it is necessary to develop and be guided by clear, fair, transparent and socially inclusive criteria. In doing so, special attention should be paid to citizens affected by energy poverty, in accordance with the measures envisaged in the Long-Term Strategy for the Renovation of the National Building Fund until 2050, adopted on 14 December 2020.
  • Given that the quake-stricken area is an area of ​​present social exclusion and lack of basic infrastructure, when planning assistance programmes and various financial mechanisms, it is necessary to simplify the administrative procedure and facilitate access to documents required to apply for financial support for reconstruction. Care should be taken to provide concrete support in the field through mobile teams of employees of the competent services, which will help citizens to apply for the programmes provided for them.
  • Enable regional and local municipalities to implement and invest in measures that will ensure adequate adaptation to climate change that is now inevitable – protection from floods, weather extremes and longer droughts.
  • Provide citizens with basic transport, utility and energy infrastructure (including the possibility of self-sufficiency, energy production and association in energy producer communities or association in energy cooperatives).
  • The focus must be on local resources: materials, companies and organizations, which encourages local development and contributes to long-term sustainability. Priority should be given to materials, products and equipment that contribute to the circular management of resources.
  • Ensure sustainable (circular) management of waste (reuse, recycling) generated during and after the earthquake (construction waste, textile waste, packaging waste, etc.). Rapid distribution of this waste to the nearest existing recycling and reuse facilities or urgent construction of mobile local facilities for adequate disposal and further reuse is needed. Given the increased amount of waste generated (especially construction waste), depending on the capacity of local utility companies, assistance should be provided to other utility companies (human resources and equipment – containers, vehicles, etc.), as well as financial resources needed to finance new costs (increased number of removals, increased disposal costs).
  • In the renewal of agricultural potential, be guided by the principles of the EU farm to Fork Strategy as the basis of the new Common Agricultural Policy. They point to a new and better balance between nature, food systems and biodiversity to protect the health and well-being of citizens, while increasing the EU’s competitiveness and resilience. Therefore, local and organic food production should be continued and further encouraged in response to the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, in line with measures envisaged in the Croatian Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the period up to 2040 (with a view to 2070).

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