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UNDA Project 1819AE: Bosnia and Herzegovina- Guidelines on sustainable agriculture

Lake Balkana in Mrkonijic Grad

Agricultural land occupies about half of the total land area of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is important to the country in social, environmental and economic terms. However, the sector is threatened in many ways. The Third EPR of Bosnia and Herzegovina noted that agriculture is one of the main sources of methane and ammonia emissions in the country, whilst also being the most sensitive sector to climate change. Indeed, the sector faces risks from droughts and water scarcity; as well as increased risk of fires; increasingly intense hailstorms; and increased wind speeds. The Third EPR noted that the country had taken few measures to implement policies or measures on adapting the agricultural sector. In order to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UNECE EPR Programme supported the development of Guidelines for the Establishment of Sustainable Agriculture in 2021.
The Guidelines highlight the benefits of sustainable agriculture for Bosnia and Herzegovina, given its favourable agricultural conditions, from its production of a large number of crops; its produce of excellent quality and tradition; the traditional indigenous knowledge and products in the country; and the efforts of agricultural producers. 

The Guidelines give several recommendations, which include, among other things, support for the development of agricultural facilities and legislation for regulating the food safety chain, and the support for professional development to help farmers, forest owners and small and medium-sized producers with their farms or enterprises. 

The recommendations given by the Guidelines also encompass measures to support the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. To help mitigate the effects of climate change, the agricultural sector could transition to the use of renewable energy sources, reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, and apply sustainable agricultural practices to reduce the amount of climate inducing emissions produced. Adapting to climate change is also vital, and such measures in the agricultural sector should aim to increase the resilience and adaptability of agrosystems to the consequences of climate change. These measures should be both practical and political: policy measures should be developed at the state level to develop strategies and plans that involve all stakeholders; and practical farm measures that individuals can apply themselves should be implemented with training and support in the form of financial and institutional assistance. 

The goal of sustainable agriculture is to promote and strengthen environmentally friendly agricultural practices; equalise business conditions in areas with natural constraints and protect vulnerable landscapes; strengthen water management systems in agriculture; raise awareness of climate change; and promote the use of renewable energy sources and the use of agricultural waste. With the possibility of gaining such benefits, the Guidelines provide a first step towards transitioning to sustainable agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina.