In numerous local communities in Serbia, the public is revolted by the harmful discharge of untreated wastewater into the environment. Self-organized, voluntarily, and through the existing legal mechanisms, citizens increasingly participate in local urban planning, influencing the transparency of decision-making. However, they often lack sufficient knowledge in the specific field to be able to articulate the right questions and map relevant stakeholders.

The project aims to engage citizens through a co-creation process with academic institutions and major stakeholders in joint scientific research on the implementation of the EU wastewater management guidelines involving a new paradigm of energy self-sufficiency and resource recovery, for a popular tourist resort Divčibare, Serbia. Through the co-participative process, citizens will build their capacity to improve public utility services and policies, strengthening the liaisons with the existing and new stakeholders.


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Project Description

The core of the project is the co-participation of Divčibare and Valjevo local population and environmental activists guided by the researchers from Belgrade University in research for the BAT for Divčibare WWT under the new EU energy/resource recovery guidelines. Based on citizen science inputs, student-level WWT designs will be developed to include several energy/resource recovery scenarios in at least two MSc theses.
The primary methodology focuses on a strong citizen science approach, and active involvement of the general public in scientific research through data collection, collaboration with researchers, other project team members and stakeholders, crowdsourcing, co-participative data validation, analyses and results interpretation, and public engagement to educate the wider population, including children and the youth.

Project Team

The core members of the DIVSCI team are citizens already active in the Divčibare community, mostly through the Citizens Association (CA) Sustainable Divčibare with 540 supporters, and researchers from UBGRF&UBMF. Bringing the CA as a partner is expected to increase the inclusivity rate of a wider range of citizens and other CAs to the project, establish new ties with stakeholders and strengthen the existing ones while simultaneously facilitating the Project Lead's management of citizen activities.

Project Impact

Citizens Large-scale citizen engagement in a scientific project will help address WW management issues from a wider, local and grassroots perspective. Through a collaborative process, citizens will build their capacity to identify the real research problem, what really matters, while stakeholders and researchers will be able to fine tune their theoretical knowledge by considering citizen input. will feel more confident about their role and involvement in decision- and policy making when it comes to shaping a sustainable future and protecting the environment for future generations.

End benefits include, inter alia, improved knowledge of water pollution control strategies, raised awareness of EU BAT in WWT, insight into the new EU guidelines for E-neutral/resource recovery WWT, equality-based platform to advocate for better WW management practices, influence policy and decision-making in Serbia, and post-project sustainability through the CitSci Platform.