United Nations Secretary-General visits sustainable development project in Serbia


During his visit to Serbia in July 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the WHO-supported SWIFT project for sustainable waste handling

As part of his tour of south-eastern Europe, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Belgrade, Serbia on 23–24 July 2012. The visit included meeting people at the "Dr Olga Hadži Antonović'' Daycare Centre for Children and Youth with Autism, and a WHO-supported project for sustainable handling of waste.

SWIFT (Sustainable Work Initiative for a healthier Tomorrow)

The SWIFT initiative, led by WHO with support from national and international partners, aims to improve access to health, improve social inclusion and develop sustainable-employment plans among the Roma community in Belgrade.

Visiting the project, Ban Ki-moon commented: “Above all, it is the employees of this cooperative who are bringing it to life. You are doing many important things at once: promoting sustainable development, creating economic opportunity, improving health, and protecting minorities and advancing their inclusion in society. The United Nations is glad to be your partner. This project is an excellent example of what we can do together.”

Through the project, the Roma (who are the main waste collectors) are recognized as waste-management experts who carry out important tasks to support municipalities in managing solid waste. Upgrading the Roma’s expertise in scavenging and managing waste in a healthy way enables them to increase their income, ensure a healthier work environment and improve their social circumstances.

The Secretary-General was guided on his visit by Dr Dorit Nitzan, Head of the WHO Country Office, Serbia, with Mr Dragan Đilas, Mayor of Belgrade, and Mr Prodan Vasic, president of the SWIFT cooperative.

Daycare Centre and meetings with officials

During the Secretary-General’s visit to the "Dr Olga Hadži Antonović'' Daycare Centre for Children and Youth with Autism, people with autism displayed their activities and artwork, and parents spoke of their concerns and expressed thanks for the special programme in place.

The Secretary-General also met high-level Serbian officials, including Mr Tomislav Nikolic, the new President; Mr Vuk Jeremić, Minister of Foreign Affairs (elected in June as President of the United Nations General Assembly)and Mr Ivica Dačić, the new Prime Minister.

During his tour of south-eastern Europe, the Secretary-General also visited Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.