Signature of a new EU support programme for air quality and environment in Belarus (28/07/2016)

28 July 2016, Minsk - Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus, and Mr Andrey Kovkhuto, Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, today signed a Financing Agreement for the programme "Strengthening Air Quality Monitoring and Environmental Management (SAQEM)" worth 14.5 million euro.

The programme "SAQEM" will help Belarus better monitor air emissions and ensure efficient environmental management. It will also help modernise the air quality monitoring infrastructure and promote better involvement of civil society organisations in implementing environmental policies and monitoring environmental risks.

"Air pollution does not know any barriers, and it is important to measure it to take appropriate measures. Based on Belarus priorities in this sector, the programme will ensure better pollution monitoring standards and help the Republic of Belarus to better protect its citizens and meet its commitments in terms of climate change and reduction of transboundary air pollution. The programme will also provide opportunities to improve cooperation between the authorities and the civil society in environmental monitoring," noted Ms Wiktorin.

Existing environmental monitoring clubs and “green schools" will be supported, and new ones will be set up to provide modern environmental education to young Belarusians. Civil society organisations will be supported in developing and delivering environment trainings and various outreach activities promoting environmental issues. EU experts will share best practices, and specialised equipment will be delivered to assist Belarus in ratifying and implementing relevant international agreements as well as adopting international and EU standards in the field of air pollution and radiation management.

 

Background

Environment is high on the EU-Belarus political agenda, and it is also a priority sector for EU-Belarus development cooperation in 2014-2017.

Recently, a programme worth 12 million euro was launched in the field of green economy. Based on priorities commonly agreed by the European Union and Belarus, renewable energies, green regulations and standards and local green initiatives were supported.

Over the past two decades, EU-Belarus cooperation in the field of environment has focused on air quality governance, strategic planning and management capacity in the field of environmental protection and information, involvement of local residents in resolving environmental problems, waste management and climate change mitigation.

European Union policy on air quality aims to develop and implement appropriate instruments to improve air quality. The control of emissions from mobile sources, improving fuel quality and promoting and integrating environmental protection requirements into the transport and energy sector are part of these aims.