Key achievements and further developments were presented at the online closing conference of the project “Support to implementation of the Environmental Provisions of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement”. The online event brought together the project team, relevant representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, the EU Delegation and stakeholders from NGOs. The meeting was welcomed and chaired by the Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Ms. Nino Tandilashvili and Mr. Alexandre Darras, Team Leader in charge of Connectivity, Energy, Environment and Climate change.
“Environment is an issue that affects everyone. The EU is a global leader in environment protection and this topic is also a priority for our cooperation in Georgia. Through projects like this one just ending we are proud to assist the Georgian government in making important progress in key areas which have a direct effect on the well-being of people living in Georgia. We look forward to continuing this close cooperation in the sector of environment” noted Alexandre Darras, Team Leader at the EU Delegation in Georgia.
“The timely fulfillment of the Association Agreement obligations is especially important for the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. To this end, we are actively cooperating with the EU to bring our legislation closer to the EU requirements and standards. With the involvement of foreign experts, we had the opportunity to develop strategic documents, such as the Marine Environment Strategy and Action Programme, as well as the by-laws based on the Law on Environmental Liability. These documents created a basis for us to continue the implementation of the important reforms, aimed at establishing the effective system of environmental liability and improving the marine environment of the Black Sea” said Nino Tandilashvili, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.
Specific project results include:
Proposals for four by-laws on environmental liability
A draft National Marine Environment Strategy and Action Programme
Management Plans for three Emerald Sites: Samegrelo 2, Racha-Lechkhumi, and Svaneti-Racha
Reports on air quality aspects (emissions from petrol distribution and from paints production and distribution; air quality policy outlook)
Reports on protected areas monitoring and management.
Details on project achievements are defined below.
All these achievements will permit Georgia to accelerate the implementation of the environmental provisions included within the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and to improve its environmental protection system to the ultimate benefit of Georgian nature and the health of Georgian citizens.
More information about the achievements of the project
Damage caused to the environment can have significant economic consequences, not only in terms of remediation costs, but also concerning disruption and loss of economic opportunities.
The principle behind environmental liability is that ‘the polluter pays’, to avoid that non-polluters end up with paying the cost, e.g. through higher taxes or personal damage. In the EU, the Environmental Liability Directive is part of the legal system. In countries with an environmental liability regime, insurance companies offer products to cover this liability. Recently, the draft Law on Environmental Liability was adopted by the Parliament of Georgia on second hearing. The text proposal for the four by-laws, which was prepared with the support of the EU project, provides for the technical legislation required by the law and is crucial for its implementation.
Marine Strategy and Action Programme
Marine pollution is increasing rapidly, affecting wildlife and ecosystems. This can have far-fetching effects on economic sectors (like fisheries and tourism), and on public health.
Pollution includes acidification and eutrophication of the sea, underwater noise, accumulation of plastic (‘plastic soup’) and other wastes, toxins (pesticides, biocides) and comes from industrial, harbour, and agricultural activities, shipping, tourism, traffic, sewage water, and littering. Most of this pollution is carried to the sea by rivers.
The EU project has prepared a proposal for a Marine Environment Strategy and Action Programme that aims at improving the quality of Georgia’s Black Sea marine environment in line with the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are among the main polluters of ambient air. Petrol distribution and the use of solvents in paints, varnishes and vehicle refinishing are large sources of VOCs emissions.
VOCs are chemicals that, in the presence of sunlight, react with other substances in the air, developing ground level ozone. VOCs are harmful air pollutants that contributes to smog. It can trigger a variety of (mainly respiratory and allergic) health problems and is also a major greenhouse gas (climate pollutant), much stronger than carbon dioxide (CO2), causing warming. It is harmful to ecosystems and crop production.
Georgia is in the process of harmonising its legislation with the EU’s Paints and Stage I Petrol Vapour Recovery Directives. To support the process, the EU project has assessed Georgia’s capacity regarding VOCs control from the petrol and paints sectors and inspectors were trained to enforce the rules.
Also, an Air Quality Policy Outlook report for Georgia was drafted, concisely reviewing the country’s state of the ambient air, air pollutants and air polluters, with a number of recommendations for each of these for further action.
Emerald Network of protected areas
The ‘Emerald Network’ is a network of nature protection areas, launched by the Council of Europe in 1989 as part of its work under the 1982 Bern Convention, aimed at conserving wild flora and fauna and the natural habitats of Europe.
The EU and its Member States are Party to the Convention. To fulfil its obligations as a Party, the EU developed the Habitats Directive and subsequently set up the Natura 2000 network. Georgia is also a Party to the Convention and has the obligation to establish its own country Emerald Network. To date, 46 Emerald sites have been formally designated in Georgia and management plans must be elaborated for each site. The EU project supported this work with a series of workshops, the development of the first three management plans, and with monitoring and conservation activities.