Could you tell us a little bit about Arup?
Aleksandar: In short, we are a collective of 18,000 designers, advisors and experts working across 140 countries using imagination and technology to shape a better world.
Our primary goal is to develop a truly sustainable built environment. This means that in all our work, we aim to identify a balance between the needs of a growing world population and the finite capacity and health of our planet.
As we are a trust – our firm is owned by our members, we can be truly independent and choose work where we can make a positive difference in the world.
We recognise that sustainable development encompasses many different factors. So, our work also prioritises environmental regeneration, biodiversity, conservation of resources, stable economic growth and social value.
Belgrade office is responsible for delivering this mission in Serbia and the Western Balkans, but as we are One Arup globally, our experts often work on projects across the globe while we bring experts from around the world to work on our local projects.
You stressed sustainability – could you tells us more about Arup’s involvement in sustainable development?
Aleksandar: The impacts of climate change are being felt around the world. It has gone from global threat to boardroom priority for our clients. We are helping them explore their options, retool operations and prepare for truly sustainable development.
We help clients to respond to climate change risks, make more sustainable use of resources, and amplify the social value of their organisations’ activities and practices. We help them prioritise and adopt approaches aligned to internationally recognised environmental, social and corporate governance ESG standards.
We also help clients to invest sustainably, in nature, buildings and assets that will retain value long into the future. And we increasingly help clients to adopt circular economy principles within their operating or productive models.
Understanding that if the world is to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, cities, which are the source of at least three quarters of emissions, must take urgent action, we work with cities to make it happen.
For instance, we help develop Green City Action Plans (GCAP), a part of the Green Cities programme established by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), designed to identify and shape investable projects, programmes, and policy actions tailored to address the most significant environmental issues facing European cities.
To date, we delivered GCAPs for: Tirana (Albania), Sofia (Bulgaria), Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Warsaw and Wałbrzych (Poland), and Split (Croatia), helping ensure a more sustainable and resilient future for the cities and their residents.
We are also involved in several projects in Serbia and in the Balkans with the focus on resilient and sustainable road infrastructure. Currently, we are working on Improving climate resilience and adaptation measures in the indicative extension of TEN-T road and rail networks in Western Balkans, and Improving Resilience and Safety of the Local Road Transport Network in the Republic of Serbia.
How do you create a plan for a city to become more sustainable?
Aleksandar: Starting with evaluation of each city’s strengths and weaknesses, we develop a roadmap, which includes innovative actions, guidance on investment and delivery models that align with cities’ different needs and existing plans.
The plans we create respond to each city’s most pressing environmental stresses, which then grow into investable projects, programmes, and policies.
We work closely with municipal authorities, infrastructure owners, the international donor community and civil society stakeholders, including commercial enterprises such as energy companies, research institutes and NGOs to develop actions and facilitate cross-sectoral engagement while building capacity and consensus so the plans can be successfully embedded.
Examples of sector-specific policies include congestion pricing, building energy efficiency certification and labelling, fiscal incentives for machinery and material efficiency in industries, regulation of metering and billing for water use, and performance-based waste management contracting.
Our research outputs are then fed into EBRD’s Green Policy Tool, a resource that supports policymakers in cities around the world to develop and implement effective, evidence-based green policies.
Could you give us more examples of sustainable projects?
Aleksandar: An example close to home is the Vinca Landfill Redevelopment.
With more than forty years of unmanaged waste piling up next to the Danube, Belgrade’s
only landfill Vinca was listed among the world’s top 50 most polluted dumpsites by the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA). Posing a severe environmental hazard, local authorities decided to redevelop the existing landfill in a project that will completely change the way Belgrade’s waste is managed.
Arup was appointed by Beo Clean Energy to carry out an independent Social and Environmental audit on behalf of funders European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group.
We are also involved in the Inclusive Early Childhood and Care Development Project which aims to improve the early development for children aged 0 to 6.5 years, focusing on children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, which will also reduce the burden of unpaid work. Our role is supporting the Ministry of Education in construction and refurbishment of sustainable childcare facilities.