United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, visits the SWIFT recycling centre in Belgrade’s Zvezdara Municipality that is creating jobs, empowering people, and contributing to hope, health and prosperity
Belgrade, 24 July 2012 – As a part of his visit to Serbia, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, visited the SWIFT Centre (Sustainable Work Initiative For a Healthier Tomorrow), a UN joint-programme that supports the employment and inclusion of Roma and other community members, thus ensuring them access to health, education, legal registration, and a better quality of life. The Secretary General toured the site with Mr. Prodan, Chairman of the SWIFT Cooperative, Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas, Norwegian Ambassador Nils Kamsvag, EU Ambassador Vincent Degert, and with UN and government officials.
“The United Nations is a proud partner to the government and people of Serbia”, said Ban Ki-moon, “and SWIFT is an excellent example of what we can do together. It is a testament of your success that the co-operative was profitable within its first year, and that this model is expanding to other locations in Serbia and beyond. You are providing jobs and stable income – you are empowering and engaging vulnerable communities -- you are giving people hope.”
SWIFT established a Cooperative, a legally registered entity, that has 170 members and employs 50 full-time staff, generating hundreds of thousands of Euros in household income every year. Members of the cooperative receive formal employment, legal services and personal identification documents.
The SWIFT model was pioneered by the World Health Organization, and was originally funded by the Government of Norway, but it is now being expanded to six new communities and municipalities with support from the European Union, and the Government of Sweden. The partnership includes government ministries, a growing number of municipalities, and UN agencies.
According to WHO’s Dr. Dorit Nitzan, “engaging the Roma and other vulnerable families in formal sector employment, generates income that can be invested in healthcare, education, and nutrition – the social determinants of health.”
About the SWIFT programme:
The SWIFT initiative seeks to enhance healthy livelihoods through the creation of sustainable employment for the Informal Waste Collectors (IWC) that can be seen scavenging recyclable waste from bins in the City of Belgrade. This is being performed by organizing them into a cooperative able to collect, sort and/or (pre-) treat waste on a larger scale enabling higher profits, and thereby offering the basis for sustainable and formal employment. The SWIFT initiative supports the government priorities relating to EU accession, MDGs and poverty reduction and sustainable development strategies and can serve as a model that can be expanded to other locations in Serbia and beyond. Visit www.swift.rs to learn more about the initative.
About the UN in Serbia
The UN supports social, political and economic reform, peace and democracy, and sustainable development with the Government, civil society, and the people of Serbia. The UN is assisting the country on its path towards the European Union. For more information consult http://rs.one.un.org/ and http://www.undp.org.rs