Welcome! You are listening to the SETimes Podcast, this week with Zeljana Grubisic.
Wild landfill sites are plentiful in Serbia -- even existing in populated places. The ministry of environment found a unique way of tackling this environmental problem. Bojana Milovanovic reports for Southeast European Times in Belgrade.
For the second consecutive year, Serbia marked World Environment Day on on June 5th by organizing an action dubbed "Big Cleaning of Serbia". This year, 270,000 volunteers removed waste and cleaned landfills from 3,000 locations in 169 municipalities.
Citizens reported the problem locations. Serbia's tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, took to promoting the action, encouraging many to get up early, roll up their sleeves and spend the weekend cleaning Serbia.
Ivana Stevic, 18, from Belgrade explained her involvement.
"I’m taking part because I want to help my city and I was interested because Novak Djokovic promoted this action. In a way, he has helped Serbia improve and this is how we can return the favor. This is the first time I'm involved and I didn't find it difficult either to get up early or help as much as I can. Several of my friends are also participating in the action -- we're a team and maybe that's why it's easier for me, I'm not alone."
Some, like Arsa Vucicevic, 34, think that raising awareness about the environment is important.
"I'm participating in this action, because I want to change the way our nation thinks about pollution and waste removal. The accumulation of waste in inappropriate places also leads to severe diseases. My personal motivation is to make the part of town I live in look better and waste-free. This is not the first time I take part; I did this last year as well. I think one of the most important novelties introduced by the environment ministry is this day we devote to cleaning Serbia, trying to bring focus to the fact that Serbia must and can look better."
State officials, like Environment Minister Oliver Dulic and Education Minister Zarko Obradovic, did not conceal their satisfaction with the success of the action and volunteer response.
"The cleaning action has begun on several thousand locations in the country, in all municipalities. The response is great; there are volunteers here today who applied for the action on their own and who love their country. I hope that after this action Serbia will be the cleanest it has been in decades and that this action will become a tradition. Numerous public figures, NGOs and socially responsible companies that mean a lot to this country are taking part in the action."
Education Minister Zarko Obradovic believes the youngest participants are the most important part of the action.
"We in the education sector must teach the children about the importance of clean nature and of living in that clean nature. This will not be a one-time action; this should be part of the education system and a part of life. At the beginning of the next school year we plan to give first to fourth graders an environmental text book, to help them understand the importance of healthy living and healthy nature, as well as their role in it."
This has been the Southeast European Times podcast for the week ending June 23rd, 2011.
To learn more about these issues, and for up-to-date daily coverage of news, sports and culture impacting Southeast Europe … vi sit SETimes – dot – com.