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Armenia

Armenia is a Party to the Protocol on SEA since 2014, and thus it belongs to the first countries in the Eastern European and Caucasian region joining the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (Protocol on SEA) to the Convention on the Environmental Impact Assessment in the Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention) .

Since June 2013, the UNECE Secretariat to the Espoo Convention assists the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource Protection of Armenia (hereinafter also the ‘Ministry’) in developing a national environmental assessment system in line with the Convention and its Protocol on SEA. The activities have been implemented in the framework of the EU funded programme ‘Greening Economies in the Eastern Neighbourhood’ (EaP GREEN) in several phases and in close cooperation with the non-governmental organisation EcoGlobe and the REC Caucasus.

Armenia, with the support from the EaP GREEN, has been gradually introducing the SEA elements into the planning and permitting systems in order to:

  • Improve national legislative and institutional framework to fully comply with the Protocol and relevant EU legislation;
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities of various authorities in the SEA process;
  • Build national and local capacities, develop practical experience and national guidelines for application of the SEA procedures in line with the Protocol and relevant EU legislation;
  • Raise awareness and common understanding of the benefits of the SEA at national and local levels and in different sectors, including the benefits of public participation and the consultation of relevant authorities.

Phase I of the programme was focused on capacity building on SEA and included training for governmental authorities and public (September – November 2013). In November 2013, the project partners implemented the first four day national training workshop for decision-makers, administrative officers and representatives of non-governmental organisations. The aim of the workshop was to provide the participants with the step-by-step guidance on application of SEA as a tool for strategic decision making and planning for greening the economy. The participants recommended to assess the existing legislative framework on SEA and to ensure that the relevant requirements of the UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment and the relevant EU legislation are appropriately incorporated into the national legislation.

Phase II (September 2014 – April 2015) aimed to review legislative and institutional frameworks for the application of EIA and SEA procedures  and provide for awareness on SEA on the national level. The Ministry, in cooperation with the UNECE Secretariat, also discussed its results at the national round-table meeting on 26 September 2014. The legislative review outlined that the legislation on Environmental Assessment and Environmental Expertise (adopted in August 2014) contains elements of the strategic environmental assessment. However, to fully comply with the provisions of the SEA Protocol and the relevant EU legislation, several changes and amendments to the existing legislation are required, including, for example, development of an SEA procedure.

In addition, based on the request of the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee, UNECE experts reviewed national law on EIA and ecological expertise. This review provided recommendations for changes of existing legal framework in order to fully comply with the requirements of the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. The recommendations resulted from the reviews were considered when in further legislative drafting (see Phase III below).

Phase III was implemented from December 2015 until August 2017, and included following activities: 

  • Conducting a pilot SEA of the National Strategic Development Plan, Road Map and Long Term Investment Plan for the Solid Waste Management Sector in Armenia together with a series of training workshops on specific SEA steps and analyses. For more details please see the dedicated webpage here.
  • Drafting amendments to the existing Law on environmental assessment and expertise as well as preparing a subordinate regulation on SEA (March 2016 – June 2017)
  • Organizing the legal roundtable to introduce SEA procedure as stipulated by the draft legislation (February 2017).

 

The final Phase IV was initiated in September 2017, and consisted of:

  • Preparation of the recommendations on practical application of SEA (September 2017- April 2018);
  • Drafting the national SEA/EIA capacity building strategy to outline steps and actions needed to further enhance the environmental assessment system in the country (September 2017- March 2018);
  • Organizing the final event on SEA and EIA activities implemented in Armenia during the EaP GREEN (December 2017)

Besides national activities, representatives of Armenia had an opportunity to participate in the regional events. In December 2014 five national experts took part in the in the Study Tour on Sharing Best Practices of the Czech Republic in the field of applying SEA.

In November 2015, five national experts benefited from other EaP GREEN regional experience sharing events, including the regional conference for exchange experiences on improving legal and institutional frameworks for application of EIA and SEA in the participating countries and the SEA train-the-trainers workshop.

Representatives of Armenia also had an opportunity to attend the second sub-regional workshop 'Sharing experience with introducing SEA and EIA in selected countries of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus', organized in Ukraine, 31 October - 2 November 2017.

The participants of the sub-regional events are supposed to take further lead in SEA development in the country - in particular to act as the lecturers in the training workshops and awareness raising events as well as to carry out SEAs with the use of the national expertise and knowledge to a maximum possible extent.

Main results and achievements

The legal review launched at Armenia's request has helped to identify those elements in the institutional and legal framework that needed improvement in order to be brought in compliance with the Protocol on SEA. Therefore, the preparation of the draft Law on EIA and Ecological Expertise and the draft Government Decision on SEA were important steps towards establishing a national legislative framework on SEA and EIA in line with the Protocol on SEA.

Another important achievement is the development of the national SEA Guidance that provides details on how to implement the SEA procedure. It needs to be noted that because the revised Law has not been adopted yet, the SEA Guidance is considered as the draft version to be finalized after the adoption of the Law.

The brochure and the video on the Protocol on SEA prepared in the Armenian language have proven to be a very effective means for disseminating the key messages regarding SEA. These can be continued to be used in the future.

Carrying out the pilot SEA brought a number of results, including determination of the factors to be considered when taking a siting decision for a waste management facility, and it revealed that the Waste Law of Armenia shall be amended based on provisions regulating the processes of waste reduction, sorting and recycling. Besides providing recommendations and suggestions for enhancing the solid waste management sector in Armenia, the pilot SEA experience allowed to make meaningful and tailored amendments to the draft Law and the draft Governmental Decision on SEA.

Extensive awareness raising activities, workshops and consultations in Armenia introduced up to one hundred and fifty participants to the notion and key principles of SEA, methods and tools to be applied.

Contact

Should you have any question, please contact Ms. Elena Santer, the Espoo Secretariat, at elena.santer@un.org or Ms. Elyanora Grigoryan, the National focal point of the Espoo Convention, Adviser to the Minister of Nature Protection, at interdpt@yahoo.com.

The EaP GREEN programme aims to help the Government of Armenia to establish an integrated policy framework for the transition to a green economy through: reforming policy instruments, adopting new analytical tools, improving access to finance, supporting capacity development, and rolling out pilot projects in the public and private sectors.