Building a better tomorrow: Banovići's vision for a sustainable community

Building a better tomorrow: Banovići's vision for a sustainable community Interested citizens are shaping the future of Banovići together. Photo: BiH Sutra.

On 1 November, the "Vision 2050" forum unfolded in the Municipality of Banovići, marking the culmination of a series of forums in four pilot local communities – Banovići, Breza, Ugljevik, and Živinice.

The event was organized under the "Sustainable Transition of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH SuTra)" programme.

The forum garnered significant interest and attendance, uniting citizens and stakeholders in Banovići to collectively chart the course for their future. Themed "Vision 2050," the forum sought to answer pivotal questions about the municipality's future: "Where do we want to be, and how do we want to live in the future?"

Bego Gutić, the Mayor of the Municipality of Banovići. Photo: BiH SuTra.

The event was inaugurated by Bego Gutić, the Mayor of the Municipality of Banovići, who underscored the collaborative efforts between the Municipality of Banovići, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and the Embassy of Sweden in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the "BiH SuTra" programme. “The first phase focuses on education, while the second phase involves collaborative efforts with SEI to develop project documentation for two proposed initiatives. The primary project aims at improving water supply through the construction of a primary water supply network in Banovići municipality. The second project involves transforming the heating system in Banovići, a joint effort with SEI," said Mr. Gutić.

Gutić emphasized that the "Vision 2050" forum served as an educational platform, enlightening participants about energy policy trends set by the European Union, such as decarbonization and the Green Agenda. The forum facilitated meaningful dialogues, allowing participants from governmental and non-governmental sectors to pinpoint priority issues faced by Banovići municipality. Through active engagement and participatory exercises, the community's aspirations for a better future were tangible.

Navigating the energy transition: A just approach

Banovići stands as a local community historically dependent on coal mining. Acknowledging the challenges of the energy transition, the municipality proactively sought support from international institutions to safeguard citizens' well-being. The central message emphasized the significance of a just transition, ensuring the livelihoods of those directly and indirectly dependent on coal mining. This transition involves offering employment in non-coal-related activities, creating higher-quality jobs with improved workplace safety, thereby reducing health and social protection costs.

Tourism potential and community transformation

During the "Vision 2050" forum, representatives from governmental and non-governmental sectors articulated their ambitions to transform Banovići into a recognizable and innovative local community. Their vision encompassed providing citizens with a prosperous environment, sustainable development, a protected environment, equality, and progress. The forum attendees specifically highlighted Banovići's tourism potential, envisioning the municipality's shift from a mining area to a thriving green tourist destination.

"When it comes to the vision of development, it is natural for all of us to view it positively in terms of finding good solutions," said Adnan Golać, the director of the public institution "Center for the protection, development, and promotion of tourism" in Banovići.

The participants of the forum placed special emphasis on the tourist potential of Banovići municipality.

"Everyone would like Bosnia and Herzegovina to be the best, where we all live beautifully and enjoy its benefits, including people with disabilities. Personally, I see the future of Banovići in tourism. I believe the Banovići municipality is ready to transition from a mining area to a completely green tourist destination," said Hajro Bečić, president of the Banovići Disabled Shooting Club."

Public engagement and finalizing the vision

In addition to the forum, an online survey is underway in Banovići, enabling all interested citizens to share their visions for the future. The draft vision will be posted on the Municipality of Banovići's website for public scrutiny and comments before the final wording is determined.

The ultimate goal of this programme is to contribute to a sustainable transition in BiH. This objective will be realized through the development and implementation of effective measures and regulations at the local level, enhancing living conditions for citizens in the partner local communities. Defining the vision stands as the initial step toward this goal, laying the foundation for these communities to formulate measures and activities outlined in the Transition plan, set to be completed by late summer 2024.

BiH SuTra is implemented by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) with the support of the Embassy of Sweden in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency - Sida).

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