Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina gain new guidebook for participation in decision making on environment

Presentation of new guidebook for active citizens of Bosnia

Bosnia and Herzegovina has the most complicated legal system and the most confusing structure of the state administration in Europe (1). The majority of its citizens are not aware of their rights, and they do not understand official procedures. Their life could get easier soon. Lawyers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Czech Republic published a guide to help people navigate through decision making processes regarding the environment. Issues such as spatial planning, environmental impact assessments, and construction permits are all addresses within the guide. The guide can be downloaded at (2).

“Less than four million people live in Bosnia and Herzegovina hence the country has fourteen ministries of environment. Ordinary citizens have no chance to understand responsibilities of the different state authorities and the possibilities for using their own rights,” explains Zuzana Vachunova, environmental protection expert from Arnika, a non-governmental organization from the Czech Republic. “The complexity of the administrative system makes a serious barrier to the necessary inclusion of its citizens in decision making processes and opens room for corruption and legal abuse in favor of investors and business,” she adds.

The newly published guide focuses on spatial planning, the process of environmental impact assessment,  and environmental and construction permits. It presents cases from recent years and provides demonstrations for practical application of the law for the benefit and protection of both citizens and the environment: hydropower plant projects on Buna and Ugar rivers and the campaign to save parks in residential areas of Borik in Banja Luka.

“Citizens can learn the lessons from previous successful cases and use verified tools again. We believe that our guide will help active people all around the country effectively face harmful commercial projects which are damaging the environment and violations of the law from the side of the state authorities,” says Vanja Junuzovic, lawyer of the Center for Environment, a non-governmental organization based in Banja Luka.

People who will decide to actively deal with local environmental issues and will have specific questions, can also contact consultation office of Center for Environment by e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone +387 (0) 51 433 141, or visit the website for more information.

Notes for editors:

1) Bosnia and Herzegovina has a complex, multi-tiered, and overlapping system of governance unmatched, to such an extent, to virtually any other country in the world (Bosnia and Herzegovina has certainly the most complicated system of governance in Europe). The system produces dysfunctional institutions at all administrative levels, which are unable to create uniform policies and legal framework void of contradictory legislation, including efficient transposition of EU environmental acquis.(For more info, read the above mentioned guide, page 9).

2) Access to Information and Public Participation in Environmental Decision-Making in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Spatial planning, EIA, environmental and construction permit process:  Comprehensive guideline through environmental-administrative processes for the citizens. The guide can be downloaded here.

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