SEPA leverages Emisoft to achieve efficient, compliant sustainability and environmental reporting for Serbia.
The world of environmental management may seem an unlikely setting for a classic underdog hero drama, yet the story of the Serbian Environmental Protection Authority (SEPA) is precisely that. As one part of a small, new, determined government’s plan to transform its war-torn country into a respected participant in the European agenda, SEPA recognised its opportunity to establish a considered, effective approach to environmental reporting and demonstrate its ability to not just comply with international regulations but lead by example in environmental monitoring. It seized that opportunity with the support of Emisoft.
Created in 2004, as Serbia struggled to establish itself in the difficult aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia, SEPA’s charge and challenge was clear from the start: to develop and manage a national environmental information system, monitor and report on the state of the environment, and recommend action for improvement of environmental protection. With the goal of European Union membership on the horizon, SEPA aligned its guidelines with EU standards. Serbia officially applied for membership in December 2009. The following year marked its inclusion for the first time in the EEA’s State of the Environment Report (SOER).
“We wanted to be successful in our environmental management,” says Filip Radovic, Director at SEPA.
“It’s a crucial part of Serbia’s participation in Europe and can be a source of national pride, so we were looking for the best way to build a reporting system.”
At the same time, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognised a need in the emerging Balkan nations for assistance in developing environmental protection authorities. Having worked with the Norwegian government since 2000, Emisoft was contracted to perform a technical assessment of three countries, Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia, and evaluate their needs for an environmental management system like Emisoft. The plan was to select one country in which to implement the platform, and Serbia’s size and historical position of leadership in the region made it the ideal choice. In 2011, just months before Serbia became an official candidate for EU membership, Emisoft implemented its environmental management solution at SEPA.
The powerful, flexible nature of the Emisoft environmental management platform make it an ideal solution for SEPA, which must collect, manage and report on environmental data from more than 15,000 companies and 4,800 facilities across the nation, including the 10 largest private and state-run companies. In 2015 SEPA collected more than 20,000 reports from organisations in Serbia, nearly 2,000 more than the previous year. SEPA delivers annual reports to international authorities and the Serbian people on a wide range of environmental management standards and topics, including air and water quality, waste management and biodiversity. And with decades of environmental expertise built into the system, in the form of extensive data libraries, business intelligence, advanced calculations and more, Emisoft gives SEPA a wealth of experiential knowledge and understanding they wouldn’t otherwise have.
As part of the implementation, Emisoft trained local resources to operate, configure and understand the system, and one of those resources remains employed by SEPA for ongoing configuration. Emisoft’s design lets users customise reports and build new ones to meet their specific needs and evolving requirements, which helps SEPA both implement guidelines at a national level and adapt to environmental reporting regulations internationally. After adding GIS functionality to the system for SEPA, Emisoft has acted essentially as tech support while the organisation creates new reports, forms, datasets and QA solutions on its own.
“The capability to configure Emisoft ourselves is one of the key benefits and ensures a sustainable solution for SEPA,” Radovic explains. “We are continuously adapting the software, which enables us to operationalise and simplify the annual reporting from the industry to the competent authority.”
As a candidate for EU membership, Serbia cooperates with the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET), which evaluates EEA-member countries for environmental management standards and reporting compliance. Serbia was first rated in 2004 at 17%. It climbed to 72% in 2011, when SEPA implemented Emisoft, and in 2014 Serbia was rated 90% compliant, ranking 15th among 39 nations.
Better and more consistent collection, processing and reporting of environmental data has meant significantly increased efficiency for SEPA, contributing to higher quality data and significant savings of time and resources. “The environmental reporting capabilities in Emisoft ensures that SEPA has all the information in the system easily available,” says Radovic.
“SEPA has never had better environmental data quality and fewer errors during the reporting period.”
As SEPA explores new uses for the environmental reporting applications, Emisoft is incorporating insights gained from the collaboration to expand its offering for national agencies in other countries. “Emisoft is a highly powerful, flexible tool that I would highly recommend to others,” says Radovic. “Our process of annual reporting is more efficient, streamlined and effective thanks to Emisoft.”
This case study was written for Emisoft, the environmental data management SaaS company. View the original here.