A NEW NORMAL OF CLIMATE EXTREMES
Heatwaves and extreme weather events are fast becoming routine in Serbia and the surrounding countries, as the impacts of climate change make themselves felt. A recent World Bank report found that summer temperatures in the Balkans could average 7.5°C higher than in pre-industrial times, with water shortages and extreme weather events becoming far more frequent and severe.
This growing climate risk is already threatening Serbia’s recent socioeconomic progress. In 2014, the country suffered its worst flooding in over a century. The floods caused nearly $1.5 billion in damages, forcing more than 125,000 people into poverty and pushing the country into a recession. A severe and prolonged heat wave stifled much of Central Europe in August 2017, buckling train tracks in Serbia and forcing at least 10 countries to issue red alerts for health concerns and water conservation. Once a rare nuisance, extreme weather events like these are becoming more commonplace throughout the region – and more dangerous.
For development in the region to be sustainable, governments will need to be able to better absorb budgetary shocks from events like these, and be better prepared to cope with their socioeconomic impacts.