In March 2007 the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation awarded ITDP Europe a grant for the program entitled “Recycling Urban Land in Serbia” (RULS). The purpose of RULS is to increase sustainable urban development through the promotion of brownfield reuse in Serbia. The project builds the technical and political capacity of planners, policymakers and NGOs by disseminating important policy and spatial planning tools that encourage the reuse of brownfields. ITDP Europe has partnered with the IURS, the PALGO Center and the Standing Conferences of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM), both based in Belgrade.
In October 2007, as part of the RULS project ITDP Europe and its partners organised a day-long conference entitlted “Overcoming Barriers to the Recycling of Urban Land: Revitilising Brownfield Sites in Serbia”. The conference was a huge success, with more than 100 participants from all sectors attending. There were representatives from Serbian municipalities, regional Chambers of Commerce, Belgrade University, several national Ministries, Belgrade City government, the Serbian Standing Conferences of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM), USAID, UN Habitat, the private sector, the media, and several foreign consultants. To support conference organising, we received cash and in-kind donations from the British Embassy, US Steel Serbia, MPC Properties, SCTM, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Cabernet EU-wide network.
The Keynote speaker was Dr. Paul Nathanail, head of the EU-wide network on brownfields, CABERNET, and professor at the University of Nottingham.
There were a total of 6 foreign experts who spoke at the Conference. Four different Vice Ministers spoke at length during a special session. One comment by a UN Habitat representative was that it in Serbian politics today, it is rare to see such an array of ministries talking about one subject and agreeing on the course of action. The event was widely reported in the media. Feedback has been extremely positive on the both the quality of conference organising and conference content. It appears there is currently strong political will in Serbia to address land use problems and adopt policies that lead to sustainable development.